For every great game that lands on digital and physical store shelves there are projects that never go beyond the pre-production phase or that get cancelled while in production. We've taken a look at some recent projects that have either been officially cancelled or that have quietly slipped off the radar-
Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age
(PC / Playstation 4 / Xbox One)
The horror-themed third person co-operative multiplayer was meant to have launched in the fall of 2014. Developed by Crytek and their David L. Adams (Darksiders) headed US studio, it was a free-to-play title built on the fourth generation of the CryEngine. But as is often the case in these matters, financial matters came to change things.
At the same time as Hunt was announced, in June 2014 (we remember seeing it at E3), there were rumours of financial troubles at Crytek - missed payments and bonuses pointed to a studio close to bankruptcy. Something the company refuted, but only a month later Crytek restructured their organisation extensively. And this put Hunt in a very precarious position.
The game had been developed at Crytek's recently set up US division in Austin, but the restructuring meant this studio was closed down and development of Hunt moved to company headquarters in Frankfurt. Many developers left the company during this transition period and on December 13, 2014 it was announced that the planned beta had been postponed. Since then we haven't heard a single thing about the game. Rumours have been doing the rounds that Hunt: Horrors of the Gilden Age would get a release this year, but as it stands we wouldn't be surprised if the project is dead and buried by now.
The most recent and perhaps the most painful wound. It hurts just writing about it. Silent Hills was announced at Gamescom last year, disguised as a seemingly innocent PS4 demo called P.T. A brilliant announcement. This "playable teaser" had been cooked up by Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima and movie director Guillermo del Toro. Two creative and twisted minds who had joined forces to scare our pants off.
Silent Hills was meant to reboot the old survival horror franchise. It was something of a dream announcement. A dream game from a dream duo. Sadly it ended up a broken dream. One day we woke up to the sad truth that Hideo Kojima and Konami were parting ways and Guillermo del Toro had returned to making movies. Silent Hills was killed in its infancy. We were given a quick and rather terrifying look at what might have been with P.T., but we'll never see the full promise of Silent Hills realised.
During Gamescom 2014 we were first introduced to the long rumoured Shadow Realms. Bioware unveiled an asymmetric multiplayer game with an episodic approach and only targeted for release on PC. The idea was for four players to pick one of six classes and take on the mysterious enemy known as Shadowlord - controlled by a fifth player. Developed by Bioware's Austin studio (Star Wars: The Old Republic) the game was to feature dynamic co-operative missions in a constantly changing world. Emphasis was also put on the narrative.
Suddenly it was cancelled. Six month after its announcement Bioware announced in a blog post that the project had been pulled. Fans were upset and developers of similar 4vs 1 titles like Evolve, Fable Legends and Sword Coast Legends were happy to lose the competition (we assume). The official explanation was the Bioware was to focus their attention on other, bigger projects like Dragon Age: Inquisition, Star Wars: The Old Republic and Mass Effect: Andromeda.
The unofficial explanation is said to be Andrew Wilson, CEO at EA. As development on Shadow Realms commenced John Riccitiello was in charge of the company. Wilson came in and changed much of the strategies moving forward. He has shortened marketing cycles, been more willing to delay big releases, and has been more keen to cancel projects that there wasn't enough confidence in. Many of them on PC, many of them with free-to-play models. Games like Command & Conquer and Dawngate. And Shadow Realms. There were also rumours that Bioware attempted to redesign the game and bring it to console in order to justify a bigger development budget, but ultimately Shadow Realms was not to be.
Rainbow 6: Patriots
(PC / Playstation 3 / Xbox 360)
Ubisoft Montreal's entry into the Rainbow Six series was announced nearly four years ago. The main focus was on a substantial solo campaign where the player would take the role of several Rainbow soldiers and fight the "True Patriots" - an organisation convinced that the US government was corrupt. An interesting premise, but as four of the creative minds between the project left it in 2012 things looked off.
Around the same time we started hearing rumours of the new consoles from Sony and Microsoft and these consoles were shown and released in 2013. Ubisoft announced that Rainbow Six: Patriots was no longer aimed at the old generation of hardware, and that it was instead heading to the new generation. But things were awfully quiet and there were many question marks surrounding its development.
In 2014 it was confirmed that Rainbow 6: Patriots had been cancelled, simply because it wasn't good enough. The project had apparently been restarted from the ground up three times, and Ubisoft made the decision to start completely fresh on the new generation. Patriots was put to the side and instead they came to work on a Rainbow Six focussed on multiplayer - Rainbow Six: Siege.
Star Wars 1313
(Playstation 3 / Xbox 360)
One of the biggest disappointments in recent years was the cancellation of the promising Star Wars 1313. The game was meant to tell the story of Boba Fett from a young age and up until his rather dark rise as the most feared bounty hunter in the galaxy. What LucasArts showed us at E3 2012 revealed beautiful cutscenes, a dark underground atmosphere, and anything but an ordinary gameplay experience. All of this in a brilliantly realised Star Wars setting.
But then the unthinkable happened. Disney knocked on the door and bought up Lucasfilm and its LucasArts subsidiary. They would later shut down the entire games division. Star Wars 1313 still early in production was naturally caught in the middle of this, developers were let go, and Disney would instead opt to license out the video game rights for Star Wars to EA. Star Wars 1313 was no more and given how far it still had to go, there is very little hope that the project will ever be resurrected.
Saints Row: Money Shot
(Nintendo 3DS / Playstation 3 / Xbox 360)
THQ had many big plans for the Saints Row franchise prior to filing for bankruptcy, but this game was actually not a casualty of the demise of the publisher. This spin-off, called Money Shot, but first referred to as Saints Row: Drive-By, was heading to Nintendo 3DS, PSN and XBLA. As the highly lethal Cypher we were meant to assassinate our way through the streets on rails with Cypher being able to fire off rounds and controlling them mid-air.
It was meant as a small downloadable appetiser for Saints Row: The Third, and players were to be rewarded with bonus items in Volition's third main game. For unknown reasons the game was cancelled just prior to its release, but there are clips on YouTube with footage from a more or less complete version of the game. Money Shot's heritage lives on thanks to DLC for Saints Row: The Third that unlocks Cypher's suit, weapon and vehicle in the game.
Banjo-Kazooie, Donkey Kong, Conker's Bad Fur Day and Perfect Dark are just some of the great titles from Rare. Another game that was met with lots of praise was one of the launch titles on Xbox 360 - Kameo: Elements of Power. Its popularity has seen fans ask for a sequel ever since, but even if the sequel was never officially announced, several former Rare employees have revealed that it was in development at one point.
It has been speculated that the game would be markedly different from the first game, with a darker world and more realistically depicted characters. Everything to make Kameo 2 more appealing to an older audience. The sequel was in development for Xbox 360, but was apparently cancelled as Kameo: Elements of Power never achieved much commercial success. It is unknown exactly how far into development Kameo 2 was, but it was cancelled towards the end of 2007, two years after the predecessor first saw the light of day.
(Linux / Mac / PC / PlayStation 4)
Norse mythology, adventures in Midgard, Jotunheim, Muspelheim, and so on, along with procedurally generated environments and quests, these were some of the core pillars of Paradox Development Studios' project codenamed "Project Nero".
The game was announced at PdxCon in January 2014, but had been in development for a couple of years already. It was a major departure from the usual grand strategy titles the studio was known for as it was a top-down RPG with turn-based strategy combat on a grid.
After the regular development diary updates dried up soon after Gamescom (August 2014) fans begun wondering what was going on with the game and why the developers were keeping quiet.
A statement from Paradox Interactive COO Susana Meza Graham came a few weeks later where the decision to cancel Runemaster was communicated. She said that it was a very ambitious project, but that it hadn't lived up to the quality standards they were hoping for and so development had been suspended indefinitely. We later talked to Johan Andersson, executive vice president of internal development, and he told us that the main reason for the cancellation was that "the core game loops just didn't feel fun enough" (the subject was brought up around the 7 minute mark in this interview.
For now Paradox have no plans to return to the project, but Andersson didn't rule out his dream of making an RPG one day at the studio. It's a shame as there were many promising aspects of the concept.
(Mega Man Universe)
(Playstation 3 / Xbox 360)
Mega Man Universe began development at Capcom in March 2010 and its campaign and overall story was based on fan favourite Mega Man 2, but with more of a 2.5D aesthetic rather the the classic pixels. Universe was more than simply a remake as it involved user-created levels, modifying existing ones and customised characters - not unlike what you see in Super Mario Maker. Other Capcom characters such as Ryu (Street Fighter) and Arthur (Ghosts n' Goblins) were meant to make appearances. Mega Man Universe was pitched as a digital release on PSN and XBLA, but was sadly never released.
At the end of October the same year, Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune announced that he was leaving the company he had worked at for more than two decades. Capcom assured fans that Mega Man Universe had not been cancelled, but that it had been changed drastically as it had been criticised for not being responsive enough and because of its visual departure. In March 2011, however, they threw in the towel and confirmed the cancellation of the project. An official statement made vague claims of "various circumstances". It's a shame, but we were at least recently treated to the nostalgic Mega Man Legacy Collection, and next year we'll be able to enjoy Keiji Inafune's spiritual successor, Mighty No. 9.
(PC / Playstation 3 / Xbox 360)
Prey was an underrated game and actually stands as one of the more interesting action titles of the last generation. It had a very strange path from original concept to completion as it bounced between studios and publishers from 1995 until its final release in 2006. But it was worth the wait and without it we would likely never have seen Portal. Few games today can measure up to the creativity of the puzzles in Prey.
We were therefore happy to travel out to Wisconsin a few years later to play Prey 2. Gamereactor's Jonas Mäki came home impressed and talked about a game that was shaping up to be something truly special. It appeared to be a mix of Mass Effect, Mirror's Edge and Doom. A great mix in other words. A few months later we visited Bethesda Days in Utah, where we once again got to see Prey 2 and it appeared even more promising this time around.
After that something happened. Or perhaps rather nothing happened. Development stalled, there was complete silence and rumours talked of halted development and conflict between Human Head and publishers Bethesda. Human Head announced a viking game (Rune), and it seemed they were no longer working on Prey 2. It finally disappeared off the radar in 2012 and there were rumours that Obsidian and Arkane were working on it, but nothing more happened and in 2014 Bethesda confirmed what we all knew to be true: the development of Prey 2 had been cancelled.