Not every game that we hear about ends up seeing the light of day. Over the years, we’ve seen a number of games get cancelled before they ever released.
Whether it be for financial reasons or otherwise, it’s always unfortunate to see games with such promise fall by the wayside. So many terrible titles get greenlit and released, yet some video games we truly get excited for end up in the trash half way through development. Here, we’ve rounded up 10 cancelled games we’re truly sad to never have seen.
Games get cancelled for a myriad of reasons. Perhaps the development company is no longer profitable and has to shut down its operations altogether. Or perhaps the direction the game was taking isn’t quite aligning with a developer’s original vision. Either way, it’s always sad.
So, read on, and despair at the cancelled games could have been if not for various market forces that often conspire against us gamers.
This list was first published in 2015 and has been updated since.
1. Zone of the Enders 3
A third entry into Hideo Kojima’s Zone of the Enders series had once been promised but never materialised. In 2012, during a promotional event for the Zone of the Enders HD Collection, Kojima announced that a new game, codenamed “Enders Project”, was in development. Little detail was given about the game, besides a few prototype character models and that it was to be set in an ancient civilisation.
Unfortunately, Enders Project never got much further than those initial prototypes, as a year later, Kojima announced during a radio interview that the project had been cancelled, due to the poor reception of the Zone of the Enders HD Collection.
2. Prey 2
In 2011, Bethesda Softworks announced it was working on a follow-up to its highly successful 2006 title, Prey. The sequel, being developed in collaboration with Human Head Studios, was to follow the story of Killian Samuels, a US Marshall who is a passenger on an aeroplane when it crashes into the alien world of Exodus (a scene we see in the original Prey). The story picks up several years later, with Killian believing he is the only human alive on Exodus.
In 2012, rumours circulated that Prey 2 had been cancelled, but Bethesda quashed these rumours saying it was still in development, but its original release target would be moved. It wasn’t until 2014 when it was finally announced that Prey 2 was indeed cancelled. Upon announcing the cancellation, Bethesda Vice President Pete Hines had said “It was a game we believed in, but we never felt that it got to where it needed to be – we never saw a path to success if we finished it.”
Hines follows up with, “it’s a franchise we still believe we can do something with — we just need to see what that something is”. And indeed – in 2017 we got Prey, which is pretty hard to be disappointed with. It’s not exactly the sequel everyone had hoped for, being completely different from the 2006 game, but it’s still bloody good.
3. StarCraft: Ghost
StarCraft: Ghost was intended to be developer Blizzard’s first foray into console gaming, with the title announced for PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube back in 2002. Ghost was a third-person shooter, following female protagonist Nova, and set out to offer players a more in-depth look of the StarCraft universe.
However, after several delays to the project, Blizzard announced that the game was on hold indefinitely in 2006, before it was officially announced as cancelled in 2014. Blizzard is renowned for its tight quality controls, and wouldn’t release a game unless it was sure it would meet its stringent requirements, so we can assume that it was never fully satisfied that StarCraft: Ghost would deliver what it hoped it would.
4. Resident Evil 4 (alternate versions)
With development on Resident Evil 4 starting in 1999, the game went through a process that saw many iterations being conceptualised before the final action heavy title was released in 2005.
Initially the project was helmed by Hideki Kamiya, now famous for titles such as Bayonetta and The Wonderful 101, but the action-heavy title he envisaged was deemed too distant from the core of the Resident Evil brand, and subsequently birthed the popular Devil May Cry franchise. More promising however, were the two scrapped concepts that came after Kamiya’s input to the series. Promising more traditional style Resident Evil gameplay but with some first person gameplay elements, the “fog version” as it is now referred to was around 40% complete and featured Leon S. Kennedy stuck in Umbrella’s head office in Europe, whilst the “hook man” version saw Leon fighting paranormal creatures and promised to be truly terrifying.
While Resident Evil 4 did eventually get released to critical acclaim, we would have loved to see the other planned versions come to fruition. Resident Evil 4‘s action-heavy orientation signalled a change in the series that has since seen its reputation tarnished in the eyes of horror fans. Still, at least we now have a shiny (and excellent) new remake to cherish.
5. Guillermo Del Toro’s inSANE
Announced in December 2010 at the Spike Video Game Awards, inSANE was a project between Guillermo del Toro, Volition, and publisher THQ. A 30-second abstract teaser trailer of the promised horror game was shown off, and it was announced to be the first game in a trilogy. On speaking about the game, del Toro had said, “I want to take players to a place they have never seen before, where every single action makes them question their own senses of morality and reality”.
Unfortunately, he never got to take players anywhere, as THQ announced that the project was cancelled in August 2012. Del Toro still owns the rights to inSANE, though despite him claiming at the time that the project was still in development with undisclosed publishers, nothing has been heard of it since.
6. Thrill Kill
Back in 1998, developer Paradox Development set out to create the next big thing in fighting games: a brutal beat ’em up called Thrill Kill that allowed up to four players to fight in the same room. It was initially received with high regard and much hype, with many citing it as “the next Mortal Kombat”. Thrill Kill‘s plot was simple: the idea of the game was to brutally kill your opponent by whatever means necessary. The gruesome and sadistic nature of the game ensured it received an adult-only game rating.
Though the original publisher was set to be Virgin Interactive, the company was acquired by EA during the game’s development, and a few weeks before Thrill Kill was due to release, EA pulled the plug on the project, saying it did not want to have such a violent game under its label. As the game was essentially completed having been denied at such a late stage, it gained infamy as becoming one of the most widely-available cancelled games, with bootleg copies still available freely online.
7. Star Wars 1313
A very promising looking third person action adventure title from LucasArts, Star Wars 1313 appeared to be a gritty entry into the franchise, but it was unceremoniously killed when Disney bought LucasArts in 2013.
Focusing more on weapons and gadgets used by bounty hunters rather than lightsabers and “The Force”, many hoped that development of the title would be continued via a third party, but Disney must not have seen the appeal that the game offered and let the trademark expire at the end of 2013. Many a Star Wars fan will have no doubt been dismayed by the news – the gameplay trailer released in 2012 looked phenomenal – but we guess it just wasn’t meant to be.
8. Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun
The Legacy of Kain series is highly regarded by action adventure fans, but after 2003’s Legacy of Kain: Defiance the prospects of a new entry into the series seemed slim due to the closure of the series’ overarching story and waning sales.
It came as a displeasing shock then, when in 2012 news surfaced that a title called Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun had been scrapped without ever being formally announced. A single player action adventure title set far into the future from previous Legacy of Kain entries, Dead Sun was set to reboot the series’ mythology and featured both human and vampire protagonists on a quest for revenge. News of the projects cancellation set the internet ablaze, with fans disillusioned that a project with so much promise had been killed before being shown to the world.
9. Silent Hills
Fans of the seminal horror series Silent Hill have had it rough for a good number of years. After the series hit a highpoint in the PS2 era of games with Silent Hill 2 and 3, it’s been a steady slope downhill from there, with owner Konami outsourcing most of the recent entries into the series to western developers that seemingly just don’t get the series’ salient traits.
A glimpse of hope however, was bestowed upon gamers worldwide when a mysterious little title called P.T. appeared on Sony’s PSN store during the Game Developer’s Conference of 2014. Delivering a slice of terrifying puzzle action, those who somehow completed this descent into madness were treated to something that no one was expecting at all: a trailer for a new entry into the Silent Hill series starring The Walking Dead‘s Norman Reedus.
With the highly regarded Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro at the helm, the internet was abuzz with talk about the new game. Silent Hills quickly sounded like it could possibly return the series to its former glory. Unfortunately, in 2015, Kojima parted ways with Konami, and with his departure also went any hopes of Silent Hills coming to fruition. Stilll, we can enjoy Kojima, Del Toro and Reedus working together in Death Stranding – although it’s a far cry from what Silent Hills might have been.
An action RPG filled with dragons, magic and fantasy, Scalebound was a highly anticipated Xbox One exclusive being developed by Platinum Games. It was announced back in 2014 to much hype, with a launch date scheduled for 2016.
That release date was later pushed back to 2017, and Microsoft and Platinum kept the hype alive by drip-feeding us with new trailers at various events and conferences. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be: Scalebound was cancelled in early 2017. Very little reason was given for the cancellation, with an official statement from Microsoft simply stating “After careful deliberation, Microsoft Studios has come to the decision to end production for Scalebound“.
It was a blow for Xbox gamers, being one of only a few exclusive titles to be excited about at the time. However, following Microsoft’s acquisition of multiple studios over the last two years, it looks like there may soon be a wealth of new titles to take Scalebound‘s place. Whether any of them will live up to the promise of a dragon-filled adventure remains to be seen.