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What’s the Most Delayed Game of All Time?

Skull and Bones
Skull and Bones. Image: Ubisoft

With Ubisoft’s Skull and Bones finally seeing a release this week – some five and a half years after it was first meant to come to our consoles – it’s had us thinking: what’s the most delayed game of all time? Obviously, Skull and Bones is up there, but it’s not alone.

Skull and Bones

Skull and Bones was first announced during E3 2017, but it’s been in development since around 2013. To put that into perspective, it was announced at the same show that showed off Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, The Crew 2 and Assassin’s Creed Origins. We’ve now had two Mario + Rabbids games, two more Crew games and, we think, four Assassin’s Creed games?

At that first announcement, Skull and Bones was given a release window of “fall 2018”. Of course, that didn’t happen. In summer 2018, we were told it was coming “sometime in 2019”. In May 2019, it was delayed until “at least” April 2020. Things then went quiet for a while, with a release date of 8th November 2022 being given in 2022, only for it to be delayed until March 2023 in September. One more delay pushed it into 2024 and finally, finally, it’s here.

That’s at least five separate delays and release windows, which might just be a record. Or is it? Other games have certainly had similar development hells, but often companies have just gone completely quiet about them rather than giving release window after release window.

Dead Island 2
Dead Island 2. Image: Deep Silver

Dead Island 2

One such game is Dead Island 2, which was announced in 2014 and released in April 2023. It was surprisingly good, given the shaky development period, which saw it change hands between Yager, Sumo Digital and Dambuster over its nine-year course.

But in that time, it’s only technically been delayed once or twice. Well, it was originally scheduled for Q2 2015, but that never happened: we learned in July 2015 that Yager had been dropped as the developer, and it wasn’t until March 2016 that Sumo Digital announced it had taken over. Things were quiet until August 2017, when Deep Silver made it clear it was still in development. But nothing more was heard until August 2019 when Dambuster Studios became lead developer.

At this point, we think we’d all given up on it ever actually releasing, but at Gamescom 2022 it was revealed and we were given a February 2023 release date. That was pushed back slightly in November 2022, when it was given its April 2023 release date.

Beyond Good and Evil 2

We also need to look back to Ubisoft for another of its titles that seems to have disappeared into oblivion: Beyond Good and Evil 2. A prequel to 2003’s Beyond Good & Evil, it was originally announced in 2008, but was met with nine years of silence ’til it was revealed during E3 2017. Ironically, the same showcase that Skull & Bones was first shown at.

It’s never been given a release date so we can’t technically say it’s been endlessly delayed, but Ubisoft has provided very little information about the game in recent years, so your guess is as good as ours. Now Skull and Bones is out of the door, though, maybe more progress can be made on it.

LA Noire
LA Noire. Image: Rockstar Games

Resident Evil 4 and LA Noire

Surprisingly, some games that we now consider to be huge successes underwent long developments and delays. Perhaps one of the most notable examples is Resident Evil 4 – the original game, not the remake. It was originally announced in 1999 before releasing six years later in 2005. During that time, several different versions of the game had been in development – one of which was retooled into, of all things, the Devil May Cry franchise.

Despite numerous changes in its development, however, few actual release windows were given and so rather than being continuously delayed, it instead had a long development period.

A now-classic game that did undergo many delays, however, is 2011’s LA Noire. Announced in 2005, its earliest release window was set for financial year 2008, but was pushed back to 2009, then 2010 and finally 2011. Thankfully, the final game was well received, but its development wasn’t without its issues.

Cyberpunk 2077 1
Cyberpunk 2077. Image: CD Projekt Red

Cyberpunk 2077

And who can forget 2020’s Cyberpunk 2077, perhaps one of the most recent games before Skull and Bones to have a rather… shall we say “colourful” development history. First announced in May 2012, it wasn’t given a release window until April 2020, but in a short space of time it was delayed numerous times until September, November and finally December. Its release wasn’t exactly met with fanfare.

We’ll spare you the full details of the controversy, but while we had a fine experience on PC, its console versions told a different story. It certainly could have done with more time in development, but with its developers receiving death threats – yes, the human race utterly sucks – there was serious pressure to get the game out there.

Thankfully, a few years and many patches later, Cyberpunk 2077 is the great game it was destined to be, but it’s always going to be marred by the trauma of its release. It’s a shame, really, but it wasn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last game to have such a tumultuous release.

What game has had the most delays?

So: finding the game with the most delays is actually a hard task, but we can say with certainty that Skull and Bones is definitely up there. Games being delayed so often definitely isn’t a thing of the past, but titles being announced very early into development seems to be: companies seem to have learned their lessons, with games more often being announced in the latter stages of development.

These days, minor delays of a few weeks or months are more common, and as time goes on, we think there’ll be fewer and fewer – if any – games like Skull and Bones, delayed time and again over a period of six years. Was it worth the wait? Well, we’ll soon see. Stop by in the next few days to see our thoughts on the game.

Editor in chief // Kim's been into video games since playing Dizzy on her brother's Commodore 64 as a nipper. She'll give just about anything a go, but she's got a particular soft spot for indie adventures. If she's not gaming, she'll be building Lego, reading a thriller, watching something spooky or... asleep. She does love to sleep.