Patience makes the heart grow fonder they say – ultimately not realizing that in video game terms waiting is a sign that something’s gone horribly wrong. Sometimes long development cycles lead to poor returns for gamers – as evidenced by these ten games that took their sweet time to arrive then just disappointed gamers anyway. To be clear – these games were heavily delayed prior to their arrival; adding to the frustration.
10. Black & White
Development Cycle: 4 years (1997 – 2001)
What Happened: Lionhead Studios developed something of a reputation for dragging out their development cycles – something that began way back with Black & White. The god simulator promised to give gamers an unparalleled level of control over a deity, worshipped by in-game settlers. The idea was you were supposed to protect them and ultimately grow to be a good or evil creature.
The Result: The game was a buggy mess right out the gate – users weren’t impressed with the state the game arrived in. Patches arrived but these didn’t cover the fact that a number of the games promised features didn’t make it to the final game. Disappointment abound as gamers slated Lionhead for their slow reaction to the issues at hand – most of which wouldn’t be fixed until the sequel came out several years later.
9. Alan Wake
Development Cycle: 6 years (2004 – 2010)
What Happened: Originally shown off in 2005, this game was heralded for its breath-taking graphics and cutting edge story techniques. Sadly while the game had much promise – Remedy Entertainment took the game back into development and changed it from an open-world mystery into a more traditional Twin-Peaks story adventure.
The Result: It was hard for gamers to remain excited by the underwhelming experience they were offered. The overall experience was lacking and while some praised it for its story; the franchise never took off in the way Remedy hoped. The development hell behind this game managed to rob it of the early excitement.
8. APB: All Points Bulletin
Development Cycle: 5 years (2005 – 2010)
What Happened: Attempting to use Grand Theft Auto’s success as a jumping off point, APB was shown off as an MMO GTA. The initial reaction was one of extreme excitement, with many gamers calling it the game they’d always wanted to play. Sadly the games E3 showcase turned into a disaster when the development hit all kinds of problems. Despite being helmed by David Jones, one of the founders of Grand Theft Auto, the game struggled to keep its budget.
The Result: The game launched in 2010 to mediocre reviews. So bad was the game upon release that it eventually was closed down and relaunched as APB Reloaded under new management. That version of the game also struggled to gain traction among gamers.
Development Cycle: 8 years (2000 – 2008)
What Happened: Will Wright’s next project after The Sims was supposed to be the universe expansive game that many hoped for. Work began in 2000 on it but the game was finally demoed in 2004 – with Wright boasting about how the games genetics would guarantee each play through would be different. The hype for this game reached fever pitch in 2007.
The Result: The game fell under EA’s banner and felt exceptionally stripped down. The features Wright previously boasted about went MIA as the game was broken up into segmented sections. Worse still, EA killed the games momentum soon after launch thanks to its DRM policy that locked many gamers out of their game. Wright left Maxis soon after the games release while that studio went on to make Sim City 2013….
Development Cycle: 4 years (1996 – 2000)
What Happened: When John Romero left id Software, there was excitement over what he’d be getting up to next. It wasn’t long before gamers found out – the answer was a new FPS game that would radically cause gamers to re-think their desires for the franchise. However even before the gameplay had been shown off – Romero heavily hyped the game and promised it would be out before the end of 1997. The reality was after several engine changes, the game would reach gamers in 2000.
The Result: An absolute dogs dinner of a game that all but buried Romero’s reputation for quality under awful graphics and slow gameplay. Daikatana has a few fans but most people couldn’t bear to play through it, proving that sometimes a hell of a lot harder to match claims if the hypetrain goes too fast.
5. Perfect Dark Zero
Development Cycle: 5 years (2000 – 2005)
What Happened: Originally conceived as a launch title for Nintendo’s Gamecube – Microsoft’s decision to buy-out RARE meant that version of the game never saw the light of day. Instead the company went back to the drawing board and began to produce several projects for Microsoft – eventually coming back to Perfect Dark in time for the launch of Microsoft’s Xbox 360.
The Result: Critically the game was panned for being too shiny and stiff to control. Commercially however the game performed well and managed to cement itself as one of the Xbox 360’s early success stories. Microsoft hasn’t released a sequel to this game however, opting to focus on the franchises earlier offering instead.
4. Gran Turismo 5
Development Cycle: 5 years (2005 – 2010)
What Happened: Shown off at the advent of the PlayStation 3’s unveiling, Gran Turismo 5 came to exemplify the issues surrounding the early period in Sony’s console. The game was reworked constantly and with a reported budget of $80 million, it was always going to be a huge gamble. By the time the game reached retail, it had become something of a joke among gaming culture at large.
The Result: Upon launch Gran Turismo 5 was given hell for not being the feature packed experience many expected. Car interiors were largely missing while the amount of content cut out for DLC purposes put some gamers in a bad place. Even the games graphics were the focus of critique, many feeling they fell short of the expected standard. Gran Turismo 6 arrived a few years later and was widely considered a much more rounded and complete experience.
3. Too Human
Development Cycle: 9 years (1999 – 2008)
What Happened: Originally developed as a PlayStation 1 game, the game shifted focus numerous times as its developer, Silicon Knights, struggled to keep the lid on their project and development delays pushed the game between three different generations. The game eventually made it to market in 2008 on the Xbox 360.
The Result: The game was lambasted upon release for feeling rushed and being mediocre – but the real fun didn’t end there. See Silicon Knights had used a stolen version of the Unreal 3 engine to develop the game for Xbox 360 – something the engines developers Unreal took massive exception too. They took Silicon Knights to court, won and managed to get a judge to rule that every copy of Too Human had to be destroyed. The game was yanked from the Xbox Live marketplace and can now be seen trading hands for exceptionally high prices in the second-hand market. This game may have taken a long time to reach the market but it’s legacy certainly lives on and it’s one hell of a warning to those who try to cut corners.
2. Homefront: The Revolution
Development Cycle: (2011 – 2016)
What Happened: THQ Montreal got to work on the sequel soon after the originals release. The financial collapse of THQ however mean that development was thrown into limbo – step in Crytek UK who took over development. As THQ collapsed, Crytek bought the franchise for just over half a million dollars. Things however got more muddy when Crytek entered financial issues in 2014 – leading to the company selling its stake in the franchise to Koch Media – parent company of Deep Silver. Development passed over to the newly formed Dambuster Studios which was formed of ex-Crytek UK staff. The game also managed to get delayed again in 2015.
The Result: A game that was lambasted upon release for feeling rushed, lacking focus and being cited as un-fun by many who played it. While the underlying ideas are fresh, they’re buried under a hell of poorly implemented ideas that are compounded by endless glitches and horrifying slowdown. Gamers hated the game and its poor sales reflected the negative stigma.
1. Duke Nukem Forever
Development Cycle: 15 years (1996 – 2011)
What Happened: Could it be anything else? After Duke Nukem 3D’s success, 3D Realms bet the house on its sequel. Showing this off at E3 1998 – the game was heralded for its effects and game play. Between this and 2011 however, the game underwent numerous engine changes, team departures and a heap of creative changes. The game became the poster child for vaporware and by the time the game staggered out in 2011, most gamers were aware of Duke Nukem for its long development cycle than for its previous entries.
The Result: An aged game that felt like it had been made in 1997. Linear levels, poor optimization and long load times crushed the games momentum – with console gamers getting the sharp end of a nasty stick. Even the humor felt weirdly out of sync; leading to a game that was scorned upon its release and effectively killed the Duke Nukem franchise. Gamers may have bought the game en masse – but it was more out of morbid curiosity than for the quality of the package.