Even though it usually involves a large combination of skilled teams working together as fast as they can, developing a blockbuster-level videogame can take at least five years on average, according to a Quora response from a freelance video game programmer, Mike Prinke.
He states that creating the various textures and character interactions that you see during gameplay is an incredibly time-consuming process with a lot of trial and error. Debugging faulty code can also cause a giant domino effect, potentially stalling your eagerly anticipated game release, along with all the other complex factors involved.
Without further ado, here’s our list of games that have taken many years to develop:
1. Too Human – 9 years
In our article on ‘Too Human: The Game That Will Never Be’, we explored the evolution of this third-party action “cyberpunk-horror” RPG.
Initially, it was in development for the PlayStation system when it was announced in 1999 but was eventually moved to the Nintendo GameCube system in 2000, then finally to the Xbox 360 in 2005. This lengthy release time is mostly attributed to changes in partnership agreements and the very controversial code theft from Epic Games by Silicon Knights. If you’re curious, it should still be available to download on the Xbox game store for free (as of July 2019), according to a Forbes article on ‘The Bizarre Story Behind ‘Too Human’ — The Game That Killed Silicon Knights’.
2. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty – 7 years
StarCraft II is one of the games credited by the community to contribute to the prolific rise of esports. Why did this game take so long to develop despite the success of its predecessor? For one, an article by Variety on StarCraft II and the esports industry recalls how a 2009 interview reported that the game would no longer include local area network (LAN) support and operate on a new platform. This was met with uproar from many fans, with a survey reporting 83 percent of respondents planned to spam Amazon with one-star ratings until it was reinstalled. Eventually, the game was released in 2010 after spending seven long years in development, also due to the temporary reassignment of Blizzard’s resources to the World of Warcraft franchise.
At the height of its popularity, players on a GameFaqs message board couldn’t help but compare StarCraft II to Age of Empires III, the latest iteration of a series of critically acclaimed real-time strategy (RTS) video games that focus on several historical events. Both games are still being played to this day, but it looks like Blizzard has put StarCraft on the backburner, with no news on a potential StarCraft III. Meanwhile, HP reports that Age of Empires IV is already in the works, 13 years after the last game was released. It’s been over two years since Age of Empires IV was announced, so we’ll see how long it takes the devs to finish that one.
3. Final Fantasy XV – 10 years
A highly successful franchise, Final Fantasy’s fifteenth iteration, unfortunately, spent a decade in development. It was initially introduced in 2006, but after many years of silence, the lack of updates, a title change, a director change, and the platform change, one of the Final Fantasy XV designers blamed its lengthy release on the development team, according to an article on Inquisitr on why it took 10 years. The designer Roberto Ferrari (who has since left the development team) referred to the team as highly disorganized, with a staff of “200 suffering souls.” The game’s story changed every three months or so requiring constant changes in terms of its animation. The good news is that its 2016 release has been received relatively well by fans, currently being rated at 81 percent on Metacritic and ranking 8.2 out of 10 on IGN.
Although they’ve spent almost a decade (or a whole decade) in development, many fans would say that these releases are worth the wait. Anticipation can make the heart grow fonder, and in the world of video games, there’s always something new to play in the meantime to keep the wait from becoming too painful.
And as we know well, being release late it’s always better than being cancelled and lost forever.
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- Hollow (ZootFly) [PC, Xbox – Cancelled] - 20-05-2023
- Plague of Darkness [XBOX/PS2 – Cancelled] - 15-02-2023
- TimeShift/Chronos [Beta – Xbox 360, Xbox, PS2, PC] - 09-01-2023