Note: This article was updated in May of 2019.
There is a number of great video game titles announced but unfortunately never make it out into the market. Some become canceled or scrapped for a different project while others wind up in what is known as development hell. Essentially, these games are not technically canceled but are tossed on the back burner with hopes of being finished up for release.
While most of these games end up being completely scrapped, there are some video game titles that manage to release into the market after years of development. In this list, we’ll look at ten video games that had longer than expected development cycles. Also please note that this list is not ranked in any particular order and we’ll continue to update this list with new games to look at examples of a title left in limbo or uncertainty before being picked up and finished.
#11 Aliens: Colonial Marines
Aliens: Colonial Marines was a title that was first being kicked around by development studio Check Six Games where it was initially being developed for the PlayStation 2 with a release set for 2001. Players were supposedly taking the role of a colonial marine that was sent out to investigate the disappearance of the squad from the second Alien cinematic film. A year after development started it looked as if the game was scrapped.
During an E3 showing, it appeared that the gameplay suffered from slow frame rate and according to rumors it seems that the development team found the game to not be suitable for the PlayStation 2 hardware. The game would later be picked up again in 2006 after the video game rights for the Aliens franchise was purchased by Sega.
Development started in 2007 with Gearbox Software among other development studios that continued to work on the game. For the most part, it seems that the same overall gameplay remained the same however when the title finally launched in 2013 the reception for the game was poor. Most found Aliens: Colonial Marines to be filled with bugs and subpar graphics.
#10 Duke Nukem Forever
During the nineties, Duke Nukem was a staple video game franchise. Only three titles released as main installments though additional spin-offs and portable games have also released further fleshing out the franchise. Starting in 1997 development began on Duke Nukem Forever which would be a follow-up to the 1996 release, Duke Nukem 3D.
Duke Nukem Forever would stay in development for years where it would be exchanged between different development teams and publishers. Since the initial game announcement the development team was able to show off Duke Nukem Forever at various events such as 1998’s E3.
However, the first main delay was caused for a sudden engine replacement which resulted in most of the game has to be scrapped and worked on again which pushed the release from 1998 to 1999. Not long after the rights for Duke Nukem Forever ended up falling into various publishers after the original publishing team GT Interactive was purchased by Infogrames.
Years rolled by and while Duke Nukem Forever was still under development, the game would soon be forgotten about. It wouldn’t be until 2010 that the development for the game turned out to be something tangible. Under the control of Gearbox Software, Duke Nukem Forever was announced once again at Penny Arcade Expo in 2010 where attendees were able to play a part of the game.
After over ten years of development, Duke Nukem Forever finally launched into the market in 2011. Unfortunately, the game was riddled with bugs and technical issues.
#9 Final Fantasy XV
Before Square Enix slapped the Final Fantasy XV label on the game, developers had initially set to make this game as a companion title for Final Fantasy XIII. Final Fantasy Versus XIII was first revealed in 2006 where it was set to be a PlayStation 3 exclusive title where the title would be connected to Fabula Nova Crystallis.
The development was also said to be worked on by the team that also worked on the Kingdom Hearts series. However, over the years since its announcement we got very rare and small glimpses of the game with the PlayStation 3 exclusivity becoming more obsolete after the PlayStation 4 was unveiled in 2011.
It wouldn’t be until 2013 after leaks and rumors started to circulate that the development team confirmed Final Fantasy Versus XIII would be scrapped and transformed into the next main Final Fantasy installment, Final Fantasy XV. Despite the changes, developers had decided to keep a few elements of the previous video game production such as the cast of characters.
Finally, after ten years the game officially launched in 2016 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One while PC gamers received the title a couple years later in 2018.
#8 The Last Guardian
Team Ico was a beloved development team under Sony that released both Ico and Shadow of the Colossus on the PlayStation 2. In 2007 the developers were working on a brand new project known as The Last Guardian where a small trailer showcased a young boy being aided with a large creature. The game was being worked on for the PlayStation 3 though it would be years of mostly silence before more information was unveiled.
The hype was already building for the game due to the success of both Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. However, it was unveiled during the Tokyo Game Show in 2010 that fans could purchase a copy of the game at some point in 2011. That started to seem less likely when a key member of the team, director Fumito Ueda, decided to leave Sony.
Despite leaving the company, Fumito Ueda had stayed on the project as a freelancer but again years would roll by before any further news was released in regards to The Last Guardian. That was until 2015 when the game was once again unveiled at E3 but this time as a PlayStation 4 exclusive title. Again the game was hit with delays but it finally managed to release into the market in December of 2016 worldwide.
#7 Team Fortress 2
Team Fortress was a big hit when it first hit the market as a Quake mod. In fact, the game mod was such a success that Valve took noticed and scooped up the creators to create a port known as Team Fortress Classic. However, this was a title just to tie gamers over while a sequel would be released in 1998.
This team class base shooter finally had a sequel announcement reveal in 1999 during E3 where the game looked like a more realistic military shooter. Since the announcement, the development team kept silent as the years rolled by.
Valve had acknowledged the game is still being developed though it wouldn’t be until 2006 during E3 that the game was once again shown off. This time, however, the gameplay was drastically different as the realistic military theme was dropped with the gameplay being more lighthearted with cartoonish visuals.
The game launched in 2007 where it’s currently available on the PC platform as a free-to-play FPS along with developers continuing to support the title.
#6 esident Evil 4
The Resident Evil franchise was well established at the time Capcom decided to make a fourth main installment. Originally, the developers were hoping to release a game in 2000 where the studio wanted a new action-oriented style video game.
Developers started to work on a variety of versions though the version in which first got a significant reveal didn’t happen until 2003 during E3. This version saw Leon Kennedy searching a mansion in which players would be fighting off ghosts and spirits. While reception seemed to be positive on this new take, Capcom decided to scrap the version and work on something new once again.
A year later in 2004 Capcom revealed what we now know has Resident Evil 4. Players still got the chance to play as Leon Kennedy once again but in a new setting with gameplay being aimed for a more action-oriented experience. This was a massive hit where the game is available on most current generation platforms with updated visuals and mechanics.