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Release date: July 11, 2006
Platforms: Mac, Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360

10 Games That Took Way Too Long to Make

Ten games, original and sequels, that went through years of development and production hell before their final release

These days, games are announced at E3 years before they’re ever going to be released. This means there are so many games up in the air it’s easy to forget when a game gets stuck in development hell. Thankfully, sometimes games avoid the curse of becoming vaporware and actually get released. We’re looking at 10 games that took way too long to make.

Darkfall — 2001–2009

In November 2012, the official Darkfall servers were closed

Darkfall was first announced in 2001, but it took until 2006 for it to reach the point of having a non-playable demo. It took another 3 years before the game finally released. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very well received. Developers Adventurine had made a lot of promises during development and failed to deliver. The game also had bugs and lacked a lot of polish that it needed.

Total time: 8 years

Spore — 2000–2008

Official Spore trailer

When the mastermind of the SimCity and The Sims Will Wright set out to work on Spore, Simulation genre fans' theories went wild with speculation at the idea of a game that was effectively being called SimEverything. With Will Wright behind the project, it was practically guaranteed to be a hit. But, the idea the studio had for the game proved to be more than they could take on. After 8 long years in development, the game finally released and disappointed many of the fans who had waited for it for so long. Following the game’s disappointing release Will Wright stepped away from making games for a decade. He’s now working on a mobile game called Proxi.

Total time: 8 years

The Last Guardian — 2007–2016

The Last Guardian E3 2015 Trailer

Sony first announced The Last Guardian in 2009, though by then it had already been in development for two years. After the announcement, several delays came about as key developers left the project and they had difficulties moving the game to the PlayStation 4. It was reintroduced to the world at E3 in 2015 and finally released later in 2016 with favorable reviews.

Total time: 9 years

Too Human — 1999–2008

Too Human E3 2008 Trailer

Development for Too Human was a bit of an odd one. When it was announced in 1999 it was set to be a PlayStation title. Then it was announced that the studio, Silicon Knights, had signed an exclusive partnership with Nintendo, making it a GameCube exclusive. Five years later the console changed again, this time the Xbox 360. It then took another two years to release. Too Human was a disappointment both critically and commercially despite the long development time and large budget. Epic Games then sued Silicon Knights who ended up having to pay $4.5 million. In 2013, the studio served Microsoft a recall notice and removed the game from the Xbox Marketplace. Following the lawsuit the company filed for bankruptcy and closed.

Total time: 9 Years

Team Fortress 2 — 1999–2008

Team Fortress 2 Funny Moments

Team Fortress 2 was another game that started its life in the public eye in 1999. At that time, though, Team Fortress 2 looked very different. It was a serious military shooter that emphasized tactical team play. The game was delayed when they transitioned to Valve’s Source engine. It was 5 years before the public heard about the game again. By then, Team Fortress 2 had adopted the highly stylized look you know and love today. Valve later admitted the studio had built and scrapped three or four different games before they got to TF2’s final design. The game is still insanely popular today, so unlike many other games on the list, this one was worth the wait.

Total time: 9 Years

Prey — 1995–2006

Prey E3 2006 Trailer

Prey spent 11 years in some stage of development before it finally released in 2006. The game was originally meant to be a flagship title for 3D Realms (more on them later). The project had an outline that was thrown out a year later when project lead Tom Hall left to found a studio with John Romero. The game then went through several iterations until in 2001 they started over from the very beginning again. After it launched, a sequel was announced, and Zenimax acquired the rights. Then it was announced that Prey 2 was canceled. In 2017 they released Prey, a reimagining of the IP.

Total time: 11 Years

Diablo III — 2001–2012

Diablo III Official Trailer

Work on Diablo III started shortly after the release of Diablo II, back when Blizzard North was still around. Seven years later, the game was officially announced at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational in 2008. But it would spend another 4 years in development. What took so long? That’s anyone’s guess.

Total time: 11 Years

Duke Nukem Forever — 1996–2011

Duke Nukem Forever 2001 Trailer

The story of Duke Nukem Forever is one that should be an inspiration to anyone who fears the game they’re looking forward to is stuck in development hell. After 15 years of being stuck in development, Duke Nukem finally launched. But by then, society’s attitudes had changed, fans had grown up, and the game was pretty terrible. It took so long to make because of a series of unfortunate events.

In 1997, the year after the massive success of Duke Nukem 3D, the studio behind the game 3D Realms announced they were working on the next Duke Nukem title. For the next 4 years, the studio kept pushing the release date back more and more. 8 Years after the initial announcement, the world finally got its first look at Duke Nukem Forever. But, 2 years later the game’s development team were all let go from the company because of financial troubles.

Duke Nukem Forever Best and Funniest Scenes

This would normally be the end of the road for a game, but, Take-Two Interactive sued because they had publishing rights for the game. A year later, 2K Games got their hands on Duke Nukem Forever and Gearbox Software, the team behind Borderlands, was chosen to finally get the game released. In October of 2011, the Official Xbox Magazine reported that Gearbox was planning on rebooting the Duke Nukem franchise. Since that announcement, the studio has released several games including We Happy Few. In 2015, an interview suggested that a new Duke Nukem game was still in the works, but that it wouldn’t be coming any time soon.

Total time: 15 Years

UnReal World — 1992–ongoing

UnReal World Official 2016 Trailer

Yes, you read that right…a game took 26 years to release. The first version of the game was freeware released in 1992. Then, the two-man development team continued to work on the game, expanding it, making the move from DOS to Windows, and other development work. It was finally released on Steam in 2016. But, that isn’t the end, the two-man development team is still working on updating the game. It has been praised for its depth and realism. As well as being called one of the best RPGs of all time.

Total time: 26 Years

Honorary Mention:

Star Citizen — 2011–ongoing

Star Citizen E3 2018 Gameplay Trailer

It has been 6 years since Star Citizen first caught the public’s eye when the studio behind it launched a Kickstarter campaign to help them finish the game. They were originally looking for just $500,000 and ended up with over $2 million. Since then, the game has raised over $191,000,000! The game is still only in alpha testing, a test that costs at least $45 to take part in. Fan patience is starting to run a bit thin, however, as former backers have requested refunds and are going so far as calling the game a scam. Others simply say that it has bloated beyond what the studio can handle. Even more accuse Chris Roberts and his wife of taking the money. Whatever the truth may be, we’ve now been waiting for the game for 6 years and there doesn’t seem to be any end to the wait in sight.

Total time: 7 years

Shannon Doyle