Making games isn’t easy and any developer worthy of the name is fearful of the dreaded development hell. It happens that certain games just take a while longer to fine tune and complete, while others are passed from developer to developer like a hot potato, destined to fail when they finally release to the general public. Here are eight games that, for better or for worse, took a mighty long time to make.
1. Duke Nukem Forever
Duke Nukem Forever unconditionally takes the crown for the game with the longest development time. Development began in 1997 after the huge success of the original entry in the series, but due to a change of engine, publisher conflicts, a small team, and ultimately the resale of the IP, the game didn’t release until 2011. That’s 14 years. To make matters worse, Duke Nukem Forever was simply awful with poor graphics, dated humor, and an overall feel of having been made nearly two decades ago.
Some games are just doomed and Prey, both games of the same name, apply. The original Prey was released in 2006, yet development began in 1995. Bucked by various delays, the game did ultimately sell very well and received acclaimed reviews prompting plans for Prey 2. Development was once again slow and passed to Bethesda, then Human Head Studios, and ultimately to Arkane Studios, who started again from scratch effectively removing the sequel prefix and settling with simply Prey, a reboot or re-imagining with no tangible relation to the original game. Prey released in 2017, 11 years after development began, and was generally well received.
Simulating life’s evolution is no small feat and Spore is testament to how hard it can be. An 8 year development cycle begun in 2000 delivered a rather lackluster game that failed to live up to the hype surrounding it when released in 2008.
4. Team Fortress 2
Team Fortress 2 is one these games that simply took a while to make and didn’t suffer any significant bumps along the road to release. First announced in 1999, Team Fortress 2 was the spiritual successor to the massively popular Quake, though by the time of its release in 2007, it looked radically different with cartoon-inspired graphics. 8 years later and the game was praised all round.
5. Beyond Good and Evil 2
Once again featuring at this year’s E3, things are looking good for Beyond Good and Evil 2 after a long period of uncertainty wavering between outright cancellation and leaked trailers to delays linked to a jump to next-generation consoles. News of development dates back to at least 2007, though we now know the original version was scrapped and the narrative reworked from a sequel to a prequel. With everyone in the dark for many years, Ubisoft announced the game at E3 2017, with steady news ever since. No release date yet, but we know for certain that Beyond Good and Evil 2 is on its way.
6. Half-Life 3
No one is 100% sure whether Half-Life 3 is actually being developed, but a quick scour of the internet digs up detective-level speculation from enthusiasts with some compelling arguments. Only time will tell with this one.
7. The Last Guardian
Hotly anticipated due to being developed by Team Ico of Ico and Shadow of The Colossus fame, The Last Guardian entered development in 2007. Upon being announced in 2009, the game was slowed by conflict between Team Ico and Sony over the direction it was taking, as well as a last minute console generation switch to the PS4. With little news for the better part of 6 years, Sony showcased The Last Guardian at E3. 18 months later the game hit stores in December 2016. 9 years for one of the best games of 2016 isn’t too bad.
8. Final Fantasy XV
Final Fantasy games have historically taken a while to make, which isn’t surprising given the huge worlds and narratives Square Enix conjures up for players. Final Fantasy XV was, however, a little different with a 10 year development caused by conceptual changes from a Final Fantasy XIII spinoff to a normal mainline game, engine switch, change of platform from PS3 to PS4 and a protagonist recasting. Upon release in 2016, Final Fantasy XV did well both commercially and critically.