Back in 2018, VentureBeat published an article examining the average cost to develop and produce a video game, and how that figure is continually rising each year. Because of the money involved, when a developer or publisher cancels a game, you know there were probably some serious problems behind the scenes. Unfortunately, many studios get ahead of themselves. Sometimes a studio may announce a big title at an E3 or on Twitter, and the hype train is let loose.
But what happens to that hype train when a game is cancelled? In some cases, it sputters to a stop. Other times, fans are already quite excited and there is no easy way to slow down the train. Even years after a project is dead and gone, when there’s no new information or teasers or concept art to leak, some fans cling to hope that maybe, just maybe, another studio will pick up the project.
From long-running franchises to brand new IP, developers long to create the projects of their dreams. Sometimes, unfortunately, either the funds fall through or the games are outright canceled, robbing players never of the chance to enjoy them.
Here are some of the many overhyped games that were never released. May you find something else to play in your spare time.
Agent – Rockstar Games
With so many hugely popular franchises under the Rockstar Games umbrella, the idea of a new IP from the studio might sound both exciting and terrifying. We may never know how a new IP would have turned out; after announcing Agent in June 2009, Rockstar eventually ceased development on the spy thriller.
According to Rockstar’s description, Agent would have placed players in the shoes of a counter-intelligence operative at the height of the Cold War. At its announcement, the team revealed their plans to release Agent exclusively on the PlayStation 3. On paper, the concept is stellar. At least, fans certainly thought so.
A few years back, even after work on Agent went quiet, gamers were still excitedly talking about the title when a former developer leaked development screenshots. Sure, some folks wanted a new Red Dead Redemption at the time, and others had no clue what Agent was, but many were genuinely holding out hope.
Although the studio continues to list Agent on its website, DualShockers reported in 2018 that Rockstar had abandoned the title and trademark altogether, making it even more unlikely that the game will ever truly exist. Perhaps it’s not all bad, though. Some players speculate that the work done for Agent could end up benefitting Grand Theft Auto 6, whenever that releases.
Deep Down – Capcom
How do you feel about Dark Souls? Bloodborne? With their grueling difficulty, both titles exemplify the hardcore RPG experience. When Capcom announced Deep Down — their answer to FromSoftware’s unbelievably difficult RPGs — gamers were beyond excited. Over the last few years, the announcement video has racked up almost one million views total, with thousands of comments from excited fans. Sadly, those fans never got to experience the actual game.
Following the game’s announcement in 2013, Capcom went eerily quiet regarding its Souls-like game set in New York City. In 2019, in an interview with Eurogamer, producer Yoshinori Ono said, "It’s not been completely given up on."
Unfortunately, in 2020, Yoshinori Ono left Capcom and, without an experienced producer working on the project, Deep Down seemingly went dark once more. In fact, as of 2021, the trademark for Deep Down has officially been abandoned.
It seems as though the gaming community will never get to play Deep Down, and many remain quite upset. Folks over on Reddit still pine for Capcom’s RPG, though it looks like it may never arrive.
Scalebound – Platinum Games
At E3 2014, Microsoft debuted an announcement trailer for Scalebound, which brought in thousands of views and hundreds of comments from players excitedly awaiting its release. Scalebound, an action role-playing game for Xbox One and PC, was in development at Platinum Games. The title featured third-person gameplay, dragon companions, and a ton of customization options, like any good role-playing game. For fans who wanted a hybrid RPG experience on their Xbox consoles, Scalebound appeared picture perfect.
Then, like many other cancelled games, the studio went quiet. Speaking with IGN in 2017, a Microsoft representative confirmed that Scalebound, after "careful deliberation" at Microsoft, was cancelled. Instead, the publisher chose to focus its efforts and finances on games such as Crackdown 3, State of Decay 2, and Sea of Thieves.
Speaking about Scalebound on Twitter, JP Kellams, former producer at Platinum Games, expressed sorrow and regret in having failed to deliver a worthwhile RPG to the community. Some fans commented on his Twitter thread, asking for information, and Kellams replied, "It is none of your business, really."
Speculation as to why Scalebound was cancelled abounds. Unfortunately, the hype is gone. The game’s subreddit has become nearly as quiet as the title itself.
Rainbow Six: Patriots – Ubisoft
With Ubisoft at the helm, the Rainbow Six series has offered tactical first-person shooter co-op action that fans adore. When the studio announced Rainbow Six: Patriots in 2011, those same fans were rightfully excited. The debut trailer, which was still receiving new comments from interested fans years after its release, hinted at a more realistic and brutal type of game, with everyone’s favorite squad of elite operatives going up against a socially-motivated enemy.
Ubisoft even went so far as to announce a release window of 2013, which, as you may have figured by now, never happened. Why? Well, as it turns out, the studio decided to ditch Rainbow Six: Patriots and its controversially mature themes in favor of focusing on Rainbow Six: Siege. The team wanted a next-gen experience for the new consoles, using destruction technology to change how players move through a map.
It would appear that, despite the hype for Patriots, the studio made the correct business decision. Over on Steam, Rainbow Six: Siege routinely enjoys thousands of players at any given time.
Silent Hills – Kojima Productions
Who doesn’t love a good survival horror experience? Unfortunately, it has been quite some time since the last Silent Hill entry. Fans were ready, and so when Kojima Productions’ Silent Hills was officially announced in 2012, the hype was definitely real. It was to be the ninth installment in the main series.
This time around, Konami and Kojima Productions partnered with Norman Reedus as the lead actor for the project. Film director Guillermo del Toro was also on board, presumably to ensure the horror aspects of this new release were on point. However, in 2015, the game was officially cancelled.
Before its cancellation, the studio released a demo on the PlayStation 4, dubbed P.T. (a.k.a. "Playable Teaser"). It was perhaps one of the scariest game demos ever released, and it helped to generate plenty of interest in the final product. Unfortunately, it was removed from the PlayStation Store following the game’s cancellation.
Fans miss the P.T. demo, even years after the full game’s cancellation, but that might not be the end. There are rumors within the gaming industry that Silent Hills might one day be revived as a PlayStation 5-exclusive title.
StarCraft: Ghost – Blizzard Entertainment
Way back in 2002, developer Nihilistic Software received the green light by Blizzard Entertainment to develop a brand-new game set in the StarCraft universe. That title was a stealth-action game called StarCraft: Ghost. This was meant to be a unique experience, as fans basically only knew StarCraft from its real-time strategy iterations. Ghost was meant to feature complex combat, climbing maneuvers, and pilotable vehicles.
Unfortunately, StarCraft: Ghost never happened. The game toiled in development hell until 2014, when Blizzard officially confirmed the title was cancelled. So, what went wrong? Speaking with Polygon, Robert Huebner, of Nihilistic Software, revealed that Blizzard outright cancelled the game because it was felt that the new installment wasn’t up to snuff. The publisher had allegedly demanded new features and experimentation, rather than a finely-tuned and focused game. Pairing that with "inconsistent feedback" from higher-ups led to Ghost‘s untimely end.
Unfortunately for fans, Blizzard moved on. But for those players who were excited for the game, moving on wasn’t quite so simple. Many fans, some of whom managed to play StarCraft: Ghosts at BlizzCon 2005, took to the internet to share stories and their dashed hopes for the game. People still want StarCraft: Ghost, even today, but it will probably never see the light of day.
Star Wars 1313 – LucasArts
Following the purchase of the Star Wars IP by Disney, the franchise has continued to grow in popularity worldwide — that is, at least, when it comes to movies. What about the video games?
While EA worked on improving Star Wars: Battlefront 2, many fans clamored for more focused single-player experiences. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order would eventually deliver that, but Star Wars 1313 was meant to do it first. The game would have featured fluid motion capture, character-driven experiences, and a ton of lore faithful to the franchise. An E3 demo from 2013 has racked up over three million views and nearly 8,000 comments, with more arriving by the day.
On paper, Star Wars 1313 was the perfect single-player Star Wars game. So, what happened?
After acquiring LucasArts, Disney almost immediately shut down the game division of the studio, laying off 150 employees and canceling both 1313 and Star Wars: First Assault. In 2013, a LucasArts rep told Game Informer that they hoped Star Wars 1313 would see a second life on next-gen consoles, but that unfortunately never came to pass.
Mega Man Universe – Capcom
In July 2010, to much fanfare from the community, Mega Man Universe was revealed to the world, and the announcement trailer alone brought in hundreds of comments from nearly 200,000 viewers. Mega Man is a franchise with a strong cult following, dating back to the first game on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987. Past titles were simple platformers, in which the player moves from the left side of the map to the right-most side of the map, with enemies and the occasional boss in between. Mega Man Universe promised more of the same beloved gameplay, with classic levels updated for the modern era, and your choice of character from a broad selection.
To the retro gamer, Mega Man Universe sounds perfect. It’ was to be a refreshing take on a beloved franchise. So, why did Capcom cancel and abandon the game entirely? The folks at Kotaku believe it’s because Keiji Inafune, the series’ creator, left the studio. Unfortunately for the curious among you, Capcom is mum on why it cancelled your favorite blue-armored fighter’s big return. The only reasoning Capcom gave was to vaguely blame the cancellation on "various circumstances."
Fez 2 – Polytron
Over on Steam, the original Fez, from developer Polytron and creator Phil Fish, sits comfortably at a ‘Very Positive’ rating with almost 10,000 unique reviews. It’s an indie game success story, which is why Mr. Fish featured prominently in Indie Game: The Movie. A follow-up made complete sense, what with the success of the first game. So, why did a second game never launch? It was certainly hyped-up, what with an announcement trailer that netted thousand of views, and all for an indie game.
In an episode of Invisible Walls, GameTrailers.com‘s Marcus Beer openly criticized Phil Fish. Beer claimed Fish did not deserve the recognition and fame he received within the indie game community. Fish, obviously, was unhappy with Beer’s comments. At the time, he angrily lashed out on Twitter, claiming Fez 2 was officially cancelled and that he was quitting game development. Later on, in early 2015, reports surfaced alleging that Fish significantly stole from indie hit titles such as Dyad and N++.
Hate him or love him, Fish was working on a indie follow-up that folks still yearn for. Even over on the Steam Forums, where activity is usually focused on solving bugs or begging for free games, players discussed Fez 2, with some announcing their love for the game and hope for a second release.
TimeSplitters 4 – Free Radical Design
TimeSplitters held a special place in many fans’ hearts. It was a goofy, over-the-top first-person shooter, complete with firearm-wielding monkeys, mad scientists, and other whacky, zany features, characters, and maps to explore. The third game, TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, launched in 2005 for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox.
Fans fully expected a fourth game, with some calling for a Kickstarter to help fund the sequel. The thing is, publishers actually weren’t too keen on TimeSplitters 4. In an interview with Eurogamer, an ex-developer explained that Free Radical’s failed shooter, Haze, tainted the studio’s reputation, along with a changing landscape in the gaming industry, making it harder to sell a TimeSplitters-like game to the masses.
A lot of work went into the fourth game before its untimely demise. Concept art for the game eventually leaked online, revealing new characters who would have been joining the series. Of course, this tease meant that folks had to remember the pain of yet another abandoned video game. People want TimeSplitters 4, even today!
Fable Legends – Lionhead Studios
In 2013, Microsoft and Lionhead Studios announced the latest entry in the famed Fable franchise. Fable Legends, exclusive to the Xbox One, was meant to be a cooperative entry in the long-running role-playing series — a much-anticipated way to finally enjoy the shenanigans of the Fable world while bringing a partner along for some laughs. Peter Molyneux, the creator of Fable, led development on past games; he handled game design, public relations, and many other tasks at Lionhead Studios. When Molyneux left the studio, Microsoft took over the reigns and requested a new role-playing game set in Molyneux’s world, albeit with new concepts and a focus on a games-as-a-service model.
Thus Fable Legends was conceived as the fourth entry in the series. So, with over one-thousand comments from both excited and wary fans on the E3 Gameplay Demo, how come Fable Legends never came out? For a few reasons, it turns out.
Fable Legends was built using Unreal Engine 4, which wasn’t quite ready for use at the time. Furthermore, reports claim the studio hired a "competitive multiplayer expert," who advised numerous changes, all of which the studio ignored. The game’s budget ballooned to $75 million before Microsoft gave it the axe.
inSane – Volition
Anyone who loves the horror genre will likely know the name Guillermo del Toro, whose work includes the likes of Mimic, Blade 2, and the original Hellboy. In partnering with developer Volition and publisher THQ, Guillermo del Toro sought entry into the world of video games with inSane. The announcement trailer, released in 2010 at the Spike Video Game Awards, promised a "new terror," and fans were notably excited for more survival horror greatness.
It’s unfortunate, but inSane never escaped development. In 2012, publisher THQ announced the game was officially cancelled, and the intellectual property rights were transferred to del Toro. Theoretically speaking, with the rights in his possession, Guillermo could choose to finish the game one day. For that, however, he would need to find a development studio, publisher, and funding.
The world may know very little about inSane, but judging from the comments on the announcement trailer, folks were excited. If del Toro were to announce the upcoming release of inSane on, say, the PlayStation 5, folks would probably jump at the chance to play a brand-new survival horror experience.
Project Titan – Blizzard Entertainment
There are an estimated 5 million players enjoying World of Warcraft each month, so it’s safe to say that Blizzard Entertainment is king of the MMORPG. When the studio announced yet another MMO, this one dubbed Project Titan, people were both excited and hopeful for a new generation of MMO gaming. The studio put some serious work into the project, spending seven years developing this next-gen MMO. When the news came about that Blizzard was officially cancelling their MMO project, the world sat aghast. So much money and time, all gone down the drain — why?
Speaking to Polygon on the topic, Blizzard’s Chris Metzen called the game’s cancellation "excruciating." CEO Mike Morhaime agreed with the sentiment, saying, "It’s always really, really hard to make those kinds of decisions … But it has always resulted in better-quality work."
With the continued success of World of Warcraft, perhaps Blizzard Entertainment will once again take a crack at creating a brand-new MMORPG. Only time will tell.