Video games are a big business these days, rivalling (and even eclipsing) the film and music industries. This isn’t just reflected in the billions of dollars video game publishers are collectively raking in, but also in the sheer number of new titles released every year. Yet despite literally hundreds of games being added to online stores and store shelves each month, there are still some that have notoriously failed to materialize for some time now.
That’s right: despite production costs often on par with a big budget blockbuster movie, many games have languished in development hell seemingly forever. Of these so-called “vaporware” games, those that tend to garner the most interest (and anguish) are long-delayed sequels to hit franchises. That’s hardly surprising-- fans eagerly await a new installment in their favorite series, whether they’re addicted to its core gameplay mechanics or simply craving narrative closure for more story-driven games. When the release date for a follow-up game keeps getting pushed back – or worse still, is never announced in the first place – it can be understandably frustrating for devotees of the franchise in question.
At the same time, at least vaporware sequels offer fans some hope (however faint) that they will be released at some point in the future. It’s far more heartbreaking when the news breaks that development on a sequel has officially been halted, making the chances of gamers ever getting their hands on the finished product even less likely.
With all this in mind, here’s a round-up of 10 Video Game Sequels Still Stuck In Development (And 10 That Have Officially Been Canceled).
After the commercial failure of Shenmue II in the early 2000s, the outlook for this martial arts series looked dire. Not only did MMORPG Shenmue Online get canceled, but Sega put Shenmue III on the back-burner, as well. Although Shenmue’s dedicated fanbase were begging for the next chapter in Ryo Hazuki’s story, their pleas fell on deaf ears.
Enter: Shenmue creator Yu Suzuki, who licensed the rights to the franchise from Sega, and – off the back of a record-breaking crowdfunding campaign – began work on Shenmue III in 2015. So far, so good-- except the game still hasn’t been released. True, Shenmue III is officially set for release in August 2019, however it’s also been delayed at least once already.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is widely regarded as one of the greatest Star Wars outings in any media. Set 4,000 years before the original big screen trilogy, Bioware’s RPG was set in a fully-realized world populated by compelling characters, and served up a devastating plot twist that gamers rave about even today.
If sequel The Sith Lords (overseen by Obsidian Entertainment) didn’t quite live up to the standard of its predecessor, it was still impressive enough to build anticipation levels for what came next. Then nothing came next. Yes, LucasArts scrapped Knights of the Old Republic III while development was in full swing, due to financial issues the developer was experiencing. Bioware later released the well-received Old Republic MMORPG, but fans eager for a proper, single-player conclusion to the series were disappointed all the same.
The Last of Us was hailed as one of the greatest games ever made when it dropped in 2013, so Naughty Dog moving forward with plans for a sequel the following year was hardly surprising. What is surprising is that five years later, The Last of Us Part II doesn’t yet have a release date!
On the plus side, Naughty Dog clearly has a strong vision for the game – we know it revolves around protagonist Ellie’s post-apocalyptic exploits half a decade later – and the gameplay footage screened at industry conventions is truly breathtaking. Based on this, general consensus among fans and gaming press is that Part II will definitely see the light of day, with more optimistic insiders predicting a 2019 release.
In 2012, Hideo Kojima – the visionary behind the Metal Gear games– teamed up with Academy Award-winning auteur Guillermo del Toro to co-direct a new entry in survival horror series Silent Hill. With Walking Dead star Norman Reedus also signed-on to portray the main protagonist via motion capture, Silent Hills boasted undeniable creative horsepower. Toss in a fiendishly well-executed surprise interactive teaser, and you’re left with easily the most hyped game in the franchise’s history.
A year later, that excitement floundered when developer Konami revealed that it had pulled the plug on Silent Hills. It turns out Kojima and his senior staffers began butting heads with Konami’s top brass, leading them to sever ties with the studio. With his partner in crime no longer on board, del Toro jumped ship as well, and Silent Hills was kaput.
Pirate-themed naval action game Skull & Bones promises to be a rip-roaring adventure on the digital high seas – if it ever gets released, that is! Inspired by the naval gameplay elements in Ubisoft Montreal’s Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, the publisher’s development team in Singapore has been working on Skull & Bones since 2017, if not earlier.
That didn’t help them to hit their scheduled 2018 release date, though. On the contrary, Ubisoft Singapore has since made it clear that gamers had to wait until at least 2019 to play Skull & Bones, with a 2020 distribution slot not out of the question, either. In theory, this should ensure that when the game does finally arrive, it’ll be a more polished, enjoyable experience – which is small consolation for those desperate to set sail sooner.
Fantasy action-RPG franchise Fable has earned itself a devoted following over the course of its four main installments, so it’s fair to say excitement levels for Fable Legends were high. Promising a rollicking cooperative multiplayer jaunt through the virtual realm of Albion, Legends was primed to revitalize the increasingly tired franchise-- until Microsoft closed Lionhead Studios.
The moment that happened, Legends was officially terminated – literally, as both announcements were made in the same press release! This effectively put the entire Fable series on ice until January 2018, when Microsoft unveiled plans for another single-player game, Fable IV, by new developer Playground. Most gamers were thrilled by the renewed prospect of returning to Albion, but more than a few lamented that Legends and the team at Lionhead had both fallen by the wayside.
Watch Dogs 3 is yet another game on this list that’s drifting along without a concrete release date in place. Now, we’re not trying to suggest that Ubisoft Montreal’s latest hacktivist joint isn’t being actively developed – on the contrary, all available evidence points to the game coming along nicely.
It’s just not coming along all that quickly. Watch Dogs 2 came out in 2016, and other than confirmation that a follow-up is definitely in the works, we’ve not really heard much else since. Ordinarily, this would be cause for concern, but since Watch Dogs isn’t exactly the studio’s biggest title, this may simply be a case of there being other games for them to promote right now. Feel free to file Watch Dogs 3 firmly under the “Gonna Happen (Someday)” heading.
It’s bad enough missing out on a long-awaited sequel once, let alone twice – but that’s exactly what happened in the case of Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun! Intended to serve as the gothic fantasy series’ sixth chapter, Dead Sun was conceived as a story-driven single-player game supported by a robust multiplayer mode. Unfortunately, when development reached the three year mark, publisher Square Enix Europe canceled the project.
Efforts were then made to re-tool Dead Sun’s multiplayer component into a fully-fledged, standalone game called Nosgoth. The revamped sequel fared somewhat better than its predecessor – with open beta testing running from 2015 to 2016 – but ultimately suffered the same fate, when it was scuttled pre-release due to its lukewarm reception from fans and non-fans alike.
If you look up “vaporware” in the dictionary, you’ll probably be greeted by the promotional poster for Beyond Good and Evil 2. This sequel to director Michel Ancel’s acclaimed 2003 original has been in the pipeline (officially or otherwise) for 12 years at this point. During this time, we’ve been treated to the odd screenshot or snippet of gameplay footage – basically, just enough to prevent us from forgetting how much we want to play this game. We’ve yet to receive word on when it will actually be released.
There’s a good reason for that: according to Ancel, despite its protracted production cycle, Beyond Good and Evil 2 was only at “Day Zero” of development as recently as 2017. If you’re keen to play a groundbreaking open world sci-fi title in the foreseeable future, look elsewhere!
It’s been a strong decade for video games adapted from comic book properties, and Telltale Games’ take on Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham’s Fables, The Wolf Among Us, is no exception. This graphic adventure game tasked players with solving a mystery equal to anything scripted by Willingham, while its visuals brilliantly mimicked Buckingham’s pen-and-ink art style.
Critics and gamers generally agreed that The Wolf Among Us was a respectable effort and – pending the removal of a few technical bugs that plagued the game engine – welcomed the news that Season 2 was slated for 2018. Sadly, all was not well at Telltale, and the game (already delayed until 2019) was finally knocked on the head when the studio met with financial ruin September.
ELEX (Eclectic, Lavish, Exhilarating, Xenial) didn’t exactly light the world on fire when it came out in 2017 – but that didn’t stop the sci-fi/fantasy RPG from scoring a sequel. Interestingly, ELEX 2 reportedly received the greenlight before the original game was released, which is unusual for the first game in an untested franchise.
That said, perhaps the game’s lukewarm critical and commercial performance is the reason why this sequel has spent two years in development with little to show for it. Indeed, the absence of any screenshots or gameplay footage suggests that publisher THQ Nordic isn’t exactly rushing developer Piranha Bytes to finish the game. Nevertheless, the word on the grapevine is that THQ was eyeing a 2019 release date for ELEX 2, although there’s little hard evidence to support this claim.
An MMORPG set in the same universe as the blockbuster Halo franchise sounds like a license to print money, right? You’d think so, but that didn’t stop Titan from being shut down by Microsoft, after its developer, Ensemble Studios, went bust. As Titan’s production was kept top secret – which, incidentally, explains why its cancellation was never publicly announced in 2007 – we don’t know much about what the finished game would have been like.
Even so, leaked screenshots and comments by members of the Titan development team point to a third-person experience heavily influenced by World of Warcraft. Whether this would have resulted in an end product that was merely a poor imitation of that title is impossible to judge, but it would have been undeniably fun to explore the world of Halo outside the confines of a first-person shooter.
It used to be that fans of cult video game franchises were forced to accept that financial concerns effectively ruled out the possibility of a sequel actually getting made. Psychonauts 2 is the second entry on this list that shows how much times have changed, as it’s another belated follow-up bankrolled via crowdfunding.
For fans of the original who have been campaigning for a sequel since 2005, this appears to be a real-life fairytale ending. At the same time, it’s hard to ignore that Psychonauts 2 has also had its release date pushed back since it was announced in 2015. Depite being cheduled to arrive in 2018, the game is reportedly still stranded in the alpha stage of its development cycle.
Konami’s Zone of the Enders series won its fair share of admirers thanks to its inspired mash-up of hack-and-slash gameplay mechanics with the mecha genre. In deference to the Z.O.E. franchise’s popularity, Konami released HD remasters of the first game and its sequel, The 2nd Runner, in 2012. The only problem? The so-called Zone of the Enders HD Collection didn’t sell.
While Konami bore the brunt of the fallout from this – it was the publisher’s profits that took a hit, after all – fans were the real losers. That’s because the bigwigs at Konami decided that the lackluster sales of the HD Collection were indicative of the series’ popularity overall and halted development on Zone of the Enders 3 – apparently forever!
It’s traditionally viewed as a bad sign if a video game switches development studios once during production – which doesn’t bode well for Dead Island 2’s prospects. This open world survival horror romp has found itself under new creative management a whopping four times since its inception in 2012.
So when we mention that Dead Island 2 has struggled with delays over its seven year (and counting) gestation period, you’ll understand why. That said, the game may have finally secured itself a release date – at least, according to Amazon. The online retailing giant’s website currently lists Dead Island 2 as available for purchase in 2019, although its UK counterpart displays a 2025 release date, instead!
Fez 2 was initially canceled in the most unofficial of ways: a public meltdown on Twitter by Phil Fish, which saw the designer terminate the project before walking away from the industry entirely! In the aftermath, nobody was sure whether these were just the words of an overworked creative genius momentarily tipped over the edge, or if Fish would stand behind both announcements.
Unfortunately, the latter scenario turned out to be the correct one, and the sequel to 2012’s critically acclaimed indie puzzler was soon canned through somewhat more formal channels. It’s a real shame, too – the first Fez was a retro blast, so we would happily have taken its rotating gameplay mechanics for another spin.
Medieval action/RPG titles are a dime a dozen, but the Mount & Blade franchise’s novel combat mechanics and uncommonly deep skill system set it apart from the crowd. Gamers have been treated to two finely crafted spin-off expansions since the first Mount & Blade arrived in 2008, but that’s not enough: they want a proper sequel. And they’ll get one-- someday.
Yes, Mount & Blood II: Bannerlord is in active development at this very moment – TaleWorlds Entertainment has even posted 40 minutes of gameplay footage to whet fans’ appetites. Yet the game has been in production since 2012, and without even the vaguest hint from TaleWorlds as to when they expect it to be ready, we don’t foresee Bannerlord hitting shelves in the short-term.
This is a tricky one, as technically, Gotham By Gaslight never received the official greenlight before things went south. Still, Day 1 Studios had undertaken substantial work on the game – an adaptation of the classic comic book that pits Batman against Jack the Ripper – when the studio pitched it to publisher THQ.
For whatever reason, THQ passed on Gotham By Gaslight, which is kind of a bummer, since the footage that’s subsequently emerged is suitably moody and hints at a worthwhile gaming experience. Admittedly, this game being spiked cleared the way for Rocksteady’s masterful Arkham series, so it’s not all bad news. Even so, we’d still jump at the opportunity to don the long-eared cowl of this alternate universe Dark Knight and take on Saucy Jack!
Full disclosure: unofficially, Half-Life 2: Episode 3 seems like an unequivocal non-starter. It seems that at some point in last 15 years, Valve Corporation pumped the breaks on Episode 3’s development for good, if former employees and general industry buzz are to be believed.
The thing is, though, Value has never officially canceled Episode 3, and this – coupled with the strong desire to see Episode 2’s cliffhanger ending resolved – has earned the project the dubious “most anticipated vaporware game of all time” title. Despite the total lack of news regarding any further progress, some fans still believe that there’s a possibility that Value will eventually bring the Half-Life 2 narrative to a satisfying conclusion.
The mid-2010s was a particularly frustrating time to be a gamer who loved the Star Wars franchise. Why? Because a bunch of really cool-looking projects in development around that period fell apart. Commentators often cite Boba Fett-centric action-adventure joint Star Wars 1313 as the most promising of these titles, but the real winner was Ragtag.
Ragtag (in reality, simply a working title for the unnamed game) was to be s story-driven, single-player adventure based around the plucky crew of a beat-up starship. In short, it represented everything fans who want more out of their Star Wars experience could have dreamed of. However, that wasn’t enough to save Ragtag from becoming one with the Force when Electronic Arts pivoted its approach towards a predominantly multiplayer-focussed business model.
Did we miss out any video game sequels still stuck in development? Let us know in the comments!