Video games are incredibly hard to make. Be it the cost to create them, the staff needed to actually develop a game, or something else behind the scenes, a lot can happen to take it off course. While it’s sad for players, developers know best what their game needs, and time is almost always something developers could use more of. Sometimes, though, time can’t fix everything, and in those cases, games can find themselves stuck in what’s known informally as “development hell.”
This is a term used to describe games seemingly stuck in development forever. No matter what those development teams do, more and more barriers get in the way, and all of a sudden, a game misses its release date by a couple of months, then a year, then multiple years, and in some unfortunate cases, we just don’t ever hear about the game ever again. Here are five games stuck in development hell.
Part 1 of 3 in Game Informer's series detailing games that might be stuck in development hell.
Pikmin is a special franchise to many people, but despite its niche popularity, it’s never reached the heights of other Nintendo franchises. In total, the franchise has only sold around 8 million copies. However, Pikmin 3 Deluxe proved the franchise still had some (fruit) juice in it by selling roughly 2 million units in less than a year – a quarter of the series' entire sales – and fans have speculated that its financial performance could dictate the future of the series and the development of Pikmin 4.
Pikmin 4 was mentioned by series creator Shigeru Miyamoto back in 2015 when he told Eurogamer that it was in development and “very close to completion.” Time passed and then Hey! Pikmin, a 2D Pikmin spinoff, was announced and then released in July of 2017, and some speculated that this was the Pikmin 4 Miyamoto was referring to back in 2015.
Now, this is certainly a possibility, especially considering we haven’t heard a peep about Pikmin 4 since 2017, but in June of that year, Miyamoto told Eurogamer that “it is progressing.”
If Hey! Pikmin was Pikmin 4, it’d be odd to say Pikmin 4 is still in the works just a month before Hey! Pikmin hit 3DS. If a game is about to come out in a month, developers don’t typically say “it is progressing” when referring to its development in the final month; the game has likely gone gold and is being further optimized and cleaned of bugs.
However, that was the last Nintendo or anyone there referred to Pikmin 4, so where it’s at today is anybody’s guess. Here’s hoping Pikmin 3 Deluxe’s 2 million units sold sends a clear message to Nintendo that fans are ready for its sequel.
Skull & Bones
Skull & Bones has been in development for years and years and there’s still no sign that it will be releasing anytime soon. It was announced in 2017 as a you-play-as-the-ship-not-the-pirate multiplayer-focused game set in the Indian Ocean during the Golden Age of Piracy. For those familiar with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, it was basically the ocean-faring portion of that game broken off and spun into its own full release – or so it seemed.
Game Informer went hands-on with Skull & Bones back in 2018, and even at that time, there was no planned release date, although Ubisoft was aiming for a 2019 release. There was a beta planned and players could sign up for it starting in 2018. That beta still hasn’t happened.
In May of 2019, Skull & Bones was delayed to at least March 2020, just a couple of months after news broke that Skull & Bones would be getting a TV show to coincide with the game’s release. Things went quiet for over a year and Skull & Bones slipped past its 2020 release date. Then, in September of last year, Ubisoft announced that it had no plans to show it during its upcoming Ubisoft Forward showcase.
At that point, it had been years since anyone last saw Skull & Bones publicly and excitement around the title had almost certainly shifted to wondering: where is this game? In May, Ubisoft announced that Skull & Bones was scheduled to release sometime between April 1, 2022, and March 31, 2023. And so we arrive at some bittersweet news about Skull & Bones: it’s finally in Alpha, but getting to this point was apparently extremely difficult.
A new report from Kotaku revealed that it was originally set to be an expansion to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag before Ubisoft pivoted to it becoming an MMO tie-in for a game called Black Flag Infinite (that never came out, by the way). Then, it was turned into its very own IP. What this full-fledged pirate nautical warfare game turns out to be, only time will tell. However, a recent Ubisoft financial report released last week reveals that the company intends to release Skull & Bones in the "next fiscal year." We've seen it slip from release windows before, though, so there's no guarantee it's a sure fire release for next year.
Beyond Good and Evil 2
Beyond Good and Evil 2 has been stuck in development longer than most games on this list. Ubisoft first revealed a sequel trailer in 2008. Yes, you read that right: 2008, the year that happened 13 years ago. Two years after that trailer’s release, Ubisoft told IGN that the sequel was still happening and in development. Then, two years after that, in 2012, prototype footage believed to be from the sequel surfaced.
Later that year, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said Michel Ancel, the game’s director, is simply doing too many things at once. Ubisoft continued to reiterate the sequel is in development over the years, and then Beyond Good and Evil 2 was revealed, err, re-revealed in 2017. Ubisoft said then that it was extremely early in development. We got a look at Beyond Good and Evil 2 some more in 2018 and then a very-behind-the-scenes look at it again in 2019 during a developer livestream.
So that’s what, over 10 years of development hell at this point – no biggie. In 2020, however, Ancel, announced that he was retiring from games. This happened around the same time that he was accused of being “toxic” at work, creating a “grotesque” studio, something Ancel denied, as reported by GamesIndustry.biz. Ubisoft was quick to mention that development on Beyond Good and Evil 2 was still happening, though. The last we heard of it was in October of last year when Guillemot assured investors that it isn’t stuck in development hell (oh yeah, well this list says otherwise, Guillemot!) and “progressing well.”
News of Beyond Good and Evil 2 has been quiet ever since. Is this game coming anytime soon? Probably not, but who’s to say? Certainly not Ubisoft as it’s remained quite mum on the topic.
In the Valley of Gods
In the Valley of Gods was announced during The Game Awards in 2017 as a world premiere. Billed as the new game from the creators of Firewatch, In The Valley of Gods’ trailer teased a game where players primarily walk and explore a unique setting – in this case, the ancient ruins of Egypt. It looked beautiful and, coming from Campo Santo, excitement quickly rose as the three-minute trailer played.
And then things went a little quiet. No worries, games take time, right? Well, it turns out that in that silence, Campo Santo was in talks to be acquired by Valve. The company behind Steam, Left 4 Dead, and more did end up buying the developer in 2018, and it was revealed in that announcement that In the Valley of Gods was still in development – it would just now be a Valve game.
That familiar “is this game in development hell?” silence returned and in December of 2019, Campo Santo co-founder Jake Rodkin said In the Valley of Gods’ development was “on hold” as the studio helped develop and complete Half-Life: Alyx. However, after the release of Alyx, some eagle-eyed fans spotted something seemingly detrimental to the development of In the Valley of Gods: it had been removed from Valve’s website.
Now, In the Valley of Gods could still technically be in development, but all signs point to it likely being canceled. Neither Valve nor Campo Santo has officially said it’s canceled so on paper, it’s still “on hold,” or in other words, stuck in development hell.
Dead Island 2
Dead Island 2 was announced way back in 2014 during E3. Its reveal trailer was awesome, which makes knowing this game is stuck in development hell that much harder to handle. Initially, it was announced that Spec Ops: The Line developer Yager Development was put in charge of the sequel’s production. However, the following year, Deep Silver dropped Yager Development from Dead Island 2 and the reins were handed over to Sumo Digital, the studio behind Team Sonic Racing and Sackboy: A Big Adventure.
Some time passed and in 2019, Deep Silver announced that Dambuster Studios, the studio that took over development on Homefront: The Revolution, would now be leading Dead Island 2.
After over a year of silence, though, new life was breathed into Dead Island 2 when job listings for the sequel surfaced online. Then, Deep Silver confirmed last December that Dead Island 2 was still in development, and that was the last time we officially heard about it, although there was a gameplay leak last year.
If those December comments are anything to go off of, Dead Island 2 is still happening, but considering it’s been over seven years since it was first announced, who knows when we’ll see the presumed dead game walk again.
What game on this list do you hope to see come out soon? Let us know in the comments below and keep an eye out for Part 2 of this series!