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The "I survived development hell" club (7 years+) of games.


CliffyB's Cock Holster
nioh took that long??

well i liked it.
there better be a next gen nioh.

Mostly a technicality as it was less a case of the game that was finally released having a particularly troubled development, it was more about the name and historical story on which the game was loosely based kicking around for years until people were happy with it.

For example literally nothing in the final game's story is reflective of the Kurosawa influence, it basically takes the name of William Adams and various other historical figures as a basis and that's it. If you look at the 2005 trailer (which was the first time the name NiOh was used) it looks like a Dynasty Warriors variant no more, no less.
A seven year development cycle can be sustained by the likes of Blizzard and Rockstar who have revenue streams.

Most studios need to release games though.
StarCraft 2 I don’t think falls into this category. It was a massive undertaking that ended up being split into three full-size campaigns.

And it was only 3 years from announcement to release, which isn’t out of the ordinary. Tons and tons of games not on this list would fall into this category if we knew the exact date each project began pre-production, but we don’t know what we don’t know. And the way games are normally introduced and unveiled to us publicly is when they are in some of full-on pre-alpha production. Very, very few games are announced before the teams are assigned to begin pre-production. And that’s normally only because the developer needs to announce what they’re working on in order to hire the proper talent to make the game. Recent examples would be Smash Bros 3DS/ Wii U, and Retro’s reboot of Metroid Prime 4.
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RSI Employee of the Year
Squadron 42 …

Even if SQ42 will release at the end of next year or early somewhere in 2025, then it’s still not that long for a game that was developed by a team that first needed to build and hire their staff. It was in active development since 2016.
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Gold Member
Kirby’s Return to Dreamland started development 2000 and released 2011 I think.

Owlboy was also about a decade, 2007 to 2016.

Scorn should be here as well, that game took forever - 2013 to 2022.

I guess we’ll be adding Metroid Prime 4, Skull and Bones and Beyond Good and Evil 2 as well sooner or later.
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Fafracer forever
Homefront was sad development hell
Most of them are.

I guess your criteria would preclude star citizen but if that ever gets released oh man
Well - it's a dead heat between SC and Skull & Bones right now, but neither of them have caught up to DNF quite yet.
Had anyone asked me that last decade I'd put money on S&B releasing first - but now I'm no longer sure.

Was announced in 2011 and we don't know when development started. So only spent 5 years in development hell as per my rules.
Is >5 years the cut-off for the list? Anyway Hunt just skirts the border there - it came out of early access in 2019, and while announced in 2014, was obviously in dev since 2013 when Vigil was scuttled and became Crytek US.


Was bored today so decided to revisit this thread. Added a couple of more games people have suggested (Kirby's Return to Dream Land and Scorn) as well as more details regarding the development of Diablo 3 and NiOh. Also rewrote galleon slightly. Didn't know the "forgotten" Xbox exclusive that i barely found any info about was actually a cult classic.

Not adding Owl Boy though. That's definitely an Indie game.


Jim Ryan Fanclub's #1 Member
satoru iwata fighting GIF
Im still waiting the N64 versión.

And six days in Falluja ?
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* = Games i initially forgot

With Dead Island 2 finally releasing i thought it was time to look back at some other members of this club. Note that this will not include games that will "never be finished" such as Unreal World, Dwarf Fortress and MMO's and will count from when development began, alternatively from when the game was announced if we don't know. Indie games are also excluded because they tend to have a long development cycle anyway and there are way to many of them. I will also set the limit to 7 years as you have to set it somewhere. Also while many sites tends to list it as an example Starfox 2 isn't included. The game was finished after all. Feel free to add any i forgot though.

L.A. Noire: 2004-2011 (7 years)

A detective stands with a gun; in the background is a dead woman (left) and a dead man near three policemen (right). In front of the detective is text: ROCKSTAR GAMES PRESENTS above the larger L.A. NOIRE.

The brainchild of one Brendan McNamara who had previously worked with Team Soho on The Getaway. "Ambitious" would be the best word to describe his and team Bondi's noir inspired detective thriller and the for its time revolutionary "MotionScan" facial animations. The technology and game would prove to be a bit too ambitious though as development was hell on the workers with constant turnovers and the jump from being a PS2 exclusive to a multiplatform 7th generation game didn't help matters. It ultimately released in 2011 to mostly positive reviews but the ballooning budget meant team Bondi didn't last long afterwards.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty: 2003-2010 (7 years)

StarCraft II - Box Art.jpg

Being announced to the world in 2007 with development having started shortly after The Frozen Throne. Blizzard's much anticipated follow-up to their classic Sci-fi RTS faced multiple delays due to the studios focus on World of Warcraft and technical difficulties. Which would also make it miss its Beta launch. It finally fully released in 2010 with huge fanfare and despite the development issues would prove to be smash hit.

Galleon: 1997-2004 (7 years)


(edit, might have ruffled a few feathers with this one. Turns out its actually something of a Cult Classic but i'm just quoting reviews from the time here)

Made by the original designer of Tomb Raider (Toby Gard) who had left Core Design in 1997 to form his own studio Confounding Factor. The game ended going through multiple delays and at least 4 platforms and 3 publishers before finally landing in 2004 as an Xbox exclusive and in a state that reviewers often described as "unplayable", even if the scope was almost universally praised. And the game was quickly brushed aside by the public. Confounding Factor didn't last long afterwards and Toby ended up joining Crystal Dynamics where he went back to Tomb Raider.

*Devil's Third: 2008-2015 (7 years)

Devils Third boxart.jpg

To say that the first and only game from Tomonobu Itagaki's new "Valhalla Game studios" was plagued by bad luck is an understatement. Originally partnering up with Microsoft in 2008 for the sake of making an X360 exclusive but with negotiations breaking down after a few years. The studio then found another promising partner in the form of THQ, and switching to a modified version of the engine used for Relic's W40K: Space Marine development went smoothly with everything set for a 2012 PS3 and X360 release... If THQ hadn't imploded like it did the very same year. Desperate to find another publisher (and funder) the company made a deal with a south korean company called Doobic on the condition that they would also make PC and Mobile ports of the game... only for Doobic to go belly up soon thereafter too. Oh and if your wondering why they had to switch to the "Space Marine" engine? Its because the company behind the one they where originally licensing had gone bankrupt. No I'm not joking!

Now truly desperate the CEO of the studio (Satoshi Kanematsu) got in contact with one Satoru Iwata who agreed for Nintendo to fund the game in exchange for it A: Being a Wii U exclusive and B: Being given a significant online component. Accepting the deal Valhalla Game studios started reworking the game from scratch (as with Relic having been bought by Sega they no longer had access to their tech) and it was finally launched in 2015 to mostly positive (Japanese) reviews but unfortunately for VGS, the studio wasn't done being screwed over by things outside their control. As the failure of the Wii U meant Nintendo only gave it and half-assed US release which combined with a trademark lawsuit from Valhalla Motion Pictures meant the company didn't last long afterwards.

Spore: 2000-2008 (8 years)

Originally being developed under the name "SimEverything". And Will Wrights ambitious follow-up to the original Sims certainly promised everything. Inspired by concepts such as the SETI Project and the Drake equation. Spore would be the ultimate "God Game" where you guided an entire specie's evolution but like many games on this list, it proved to be a bit too ambitious for its time and multiple delays and setbacks meant it wouldn't be released until 2008. 8 years after its initial announcement and while reviews were mostly positive the game failed to captive the publics imagination, and is now mostly forgotten.

Dark Sector: 2000-2008 (8 years)


Originally announced in the year 2000 as a follow-up to Digital Extremes classic collaboration with Epic Games Unreal Tournament. And like it would be multiplayer only. This version was quickly scrapped though in favor of what would become Unreal Tournament 2003 (which was actually released in 2002) and it was instead re-revealed in 2005 as an single player, sci-fi action game involving mech suits and set to launch the following year. But this did not end up happening as the game once again morphed in 2006 to a Resident Evil 4 inspired horror-shooter as the developers thought the original concept was outdated. And this final version launched for booth the PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2008 (with an infamously bad PC port by CD project the next year) to decent reviews and Digital Extremes ended up recycling many of the ideas from it into their next game, Warframe.

Nights: Journey of Dreams: 1999-2007 (8 years)

The cover art shows NiGHTS, the game's main protagonist, floating in the air with a Big Ben-like tower in the foreground, and a large full moon behind it.'s main protagonist, floating in the air with a Big Ben-like tower in the foreground, and a large full moon behind it.

(Note, i might be cheating here as Air Nights and Journey of Dreams were technically unrelated to one another beyond being sequels to Into Dreams. I say they're close enough conceptually to count as the same game though).

Announced in 1999 (though evidence suggests the game had been in development for a few years at that point, cant confirm that though hence why it isn't higher on the list.) and built around a motion controller peripheral for the Dreamcast. Air Nights ended up cancelled with the console and Yuji Naka, who really wanted the game to make use of motion controls, didn't follow-up on it until 2005 when Nintendo revealed their Wii console which he thought would be a perfect place for another Nights game. Two more years would pass until it eventually hit store shelves and despite somewhat mixed reviews and poor sales, Naka himself was very pleased with the end product.

*Cyberpunk 2077: 2012 -2020 (8 years)

A CGI rendering of a man holding a gun

Being announced in 2012 but being shelved in favor of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Development on CD Projekt Red's huge open-world board game adaption wouldn't start properly until 2016 after an Engine switch and its ambitious scope ultimately proved a bit to much for the Polish studio, with multiple subcontractors having to be hired and with another two years reportedly just being spent writing the script for the story. And when the game finally released in late 2020 it was a buggy mess that left a really sore taste in the mouth of those that worked on it.

*Scorn: 2014 - 2022 (8 years)


(Like M&B: Warband below Scorn might be considered an Indie game. But I'm including it anyway as it did have a publisher)

Inspired by the works of H. R. Giger and Zdzisław Beksiński. The first game by the Serbian studio Ebb Software was announced to the world in 2014 with a Kickstarter that actually failed completely. Development started anyway though thanks to the donations from some private investors and would continue for the next three years when the studio unexpectedly announced a second kickstarter with a promised release date in 2018, but this did not end up happening despite this one succeeding. This lead to many angry backers accusing Ebb of pulling a scam which was made worse by the developers radio silence regarding the game and the very salty and somewhat hostile posts made by the game creative director Ljubomir Peklar about the backlash. The game finally released in 2022 to mostly average reviews that praised the setting but criticised the often confusing gameplay. And despite the controversy the game actually sold quite well.

The Last Guardian: 2007-2016 (9 years)

The Last Guardian cover art.jpg

Inspired by certain player feedback to his prior game Shadow of the Colossus (Especially how players would find themselves emotionally attached to the hero's horse). Fumito Ueda and Team ICO's follow-up to said game was announced to the world in 2007 and set to be released as a PS3 exclusive in the following years, but that of course didn't end up happening. Technical difficulties, departures within Team ICO (including Ueda himself, though he was contractually obliged to finish the game), an eventual switch to the PS4 and another internal studio at Sony caused multiple delays and when the game finally launched in 2016 people had mostly stopped caring. And despite good reviews the game ended up underperforming.

TOO HUMAN: 1999-2008 (9 years)​

Too Human.jpg

Silicon Knights infamous Norse mythology inspired sci-fi epic was originally announced in 1999 as an Playstation exclusive, but this version never saw the light of day as the studio soon formed an exclusive partnership with Nintendo (and the game moving over to the Gamecube) and not much was heard from it until 2005 when the game was unexpectedly re-revealed this time as an Xbox 360 exclusive. What followed though was 3 years worth of broken promises, scalebacks, missed released dates and stolen tech before the game finally launched in 2008 to mostly middling revies, poor sales and a lawsuit from Epic Games regarding the after mentioned stolen tech that forced the game to pulled from stores. And its now mostly seen as an example on how to not do a game within the industry.

Team Fortress 2: 1998-2007 (9 years)​

Tf2 standalonebox.jpg

The original 1996 Team fortress was a popular multiplayer mod for Quake made by Robin Walker and John Cook. Booth ended up hired by Valve in 1998 where they started development on a Half-Life version of the original mod (1999's Team Fortress Classic) as well as a sequel made using the same engine. This version was scrapped as the project was moved onto the Source Engine in the year 2000 and that was the last we heard from it in almost 6 years. The duo reportedly couldn't decide on the direction for the game while they also got busy with other Valve projects (such as Half Life 2 and Steam). And the game was often mentioned in the same breath as the below talked about Duke Nukem Forever. Finally, the game was re-revealed in 2006 with a brand new cartoony art style and this version was released in 2007 to critical and public acclaim as part of the Orange Box compilation.

Doom (4): 2007 - 2016 (9 years)

Doom Cover.jpg

Leaked in 2007 (with evidence of it having been in development for a while. But like Nights i can't confirm it) with a full reveal the following year. Doom 4 was infamously given low priority within ID Software in favor of Rage with John Carmack promising that full development would start once that game was finished. But Rage suffered its own issues and wouldn't be released until 2012 and developers were reportedly not happy with how the the often nicknamed "Call of Doom" was turning out in the meantime. Resulting in a complete restart in 2011 but this version wasn't seen as very good either leading to yet another restart in 2014. And its this version that eventually released in 2016 (without the numeral) to critical acclaim from booth reviewers and players.

Final Fantasy XV: 2006-2016 (10 years)

FF XV cover art.jpg

Announced in 2006 as "Versus XIII" and part of Nomura's so called "Fabula Nova Crystallis" series of FF 13 companion games (of which only Type-0 ended up being released) by the team normally responsible for Kingdom Hearts. The project suffered from an burgeoning scope almost immediately though and a perfectionist attitude from Nomura as more and more stuff got added. And as early as 2007 there were internal talks at Square-Enix to rebrand it as the next mainline Final Fantasy tittle in order to recoup the development cost. The game continued making sporadic appearances throughout the entire 7th generation and quickly became a punchline akin to Duke Nukem Forever and when the the game was officially rebranded as Final Fantasy XV alongside a generation jump to the PS4 and Xbox One in 2012. Tabata (who had now taken over from Nomura) estimated it was only around 20% complete and project was rebooted from scratch. Spending another 4 years in development before finally releasing in 2016 to good reviews. Even if its Action-RPG gameplay proved a bit controversial among fans of the series.

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord: 2012-2022 (10 years)

Mount & Blade II - Bannerlord cover.jpg

(note that this might be considered indie game and shouldn't be on this list as per my own rules, but I'm not so sure. Its high profile enough that i'm including it).

TaleWorlds long awaited (with embassies on long) sequel to their classic medieval Strategy/Roleplaying hybrid was announced in 2012 and kept making sporadic appearances as the decade wore on, with people eventually commonly dismissing it as vaporware. Finally, an early access version was released in 2020 with a full releases arriving two years later to great sales even with a lot of complains that the game felt unfinished.

Diablo III: 2001-2012 (11 years)

Diablo III cover.png

Development on a third game in the classic ARPG series started at Blizzard North shortly after the release of Lord of Destruction. But not long thereafter a huge developer exodus ended up taking place at the studio with over 30 developers leaving reportedly due to a conflict with Blizzards then parent company Vivendi (With many forming new studios like Castaway Entertainment and Flagship Studios). This ended up having a devastating effect on the studio and eventually lead to it being closed down in 2005.

Development moved over to the main Blizzard Entertainment studio but like StarCraft II it ended up being given low priority in favor of World of Warcraft and the game wasn't even officially announced until 2008. What followed was another 3 years of mostly silence though as the game wasn't talked about that much until a Beta was announced in 2011 with a full release the coming year which ended up breaking sales records. Even if the game proved somewhat controversial thanks to its controversial real-money auction house, always online DRM, WOW inspired art style and other factors.

Prey: 1995-2006 (11 years)

Cover art

Originally announced by 3D realms in 1995 as a showcase for their new Build Engine (an honour that would go to Duke Nukem 3D instead) and headed by Tom Hall of Rise of the Triad fame. This original version didn't get very far though as Hall left the company the following year to form Ion Storm with John Romero and development was restarted under Paul Schuytema. This version of the game was to built around "moveable portal technology" which combined with destructible environments would give an unique and exciting experience for the players (and if successful would also have been used for the inevitable Duke Nukem 5) but sadly it proved way to ambitious for its time, as after multiple delays Schuytema would leave the project as well and the game was canceled. This changed in 2001 though when the project was resurrected this time licensing id Tech 4 with Human Head Studios brought in as the developer and 2K as publisher. But even after this relaunch the game would still face multiple technical issues and after years of sporadic information the game was finally released in 2006 to surprisingly good reception and sales. Even if the promised sequel (the 2016 game is unconnected) never materialised.

Dead Island 2: 2012-2023 (11 years)

Dead Island 2 cover art.jpg

The one that inspired this list. Development on the successor to Techland's and Deep Silvers zombie slasher started in 2012 under Yager Development (the former being to busy with Dying light) and the game was announced in 2014 with a tentative 2015 release date. Needless to say, This did not end up happening as after missing its release date Yager was kicked from development and the so called "Jack Black" incarnation of the game was scrapped. Sumo Digital was instead brought in to make another, mostly unseen version of the game and who kept making sporadic announcements regarding it until they to left development for unknown reasons in 2019. THQ Nordic (aka Embracer, who had bought Deep silver the prior year) instead handed the game to Dambuster studios who proceeded to make another new version that finally saw a release in 2023.

*Kirby's Return to Dream Land: 2000-2011 (11 years)


Development on the next mainline Kirby game started at HAL Laboratory not long after the release of Kirby 64 and like it would be 2.5D platformer but made to specifically to take advantage of the GameCube's four controller ports by having four player CO-OP. This version was eventually revealed in 2005 and set to be released in the coming year but the concept had actually ended up proving too much for the Gamecube. Development was instead restarted with the game becoming an open-world 3D platformer inspired by Super Mario 64 but this version was quickly scrapped too in favour of yet another 2.5D game this time inspired by Yoshi's Story alongside an generation jump to the Wii

All of this back-and-forth meant that the only Kirby tittle for the Gamecube ended up being the racing spinoff Kirby Air Ride. And when "Return to Dream Land" ended up skipping several years worth of E3's many believed it had been cancelled despite Nintendos insurance that a Wii Kirby game was in development. These rumors ended up being even more justified when Kirby's Epic Yarn was announced at E3 2010 for the Wii, but only until the 2011 Nintendo Financial Results Briefing where "Return to Dream Land" was unexpectedly re-announced and set to be released the same year. And it ultimately launched to quite favourable reviews and sales even if it was somewhat of accused of feeling outdated.

Mother 3: 1994-2006 (12 years)

Deluxe package.jpg

Development on Shigesato Itoi third game in the mother series started shortly after the release of the second one (Earthbound) and like it would be a Super Famicom game. What followed though was over a decade worth of chasing trends and tech as, inspired by Super Mario 64, the original 2D game was scrapped in favor of a 3D N64 version. His vision proved to ambitious though and the game instead jumped to the ill-fated N64 Disc drive, only to jump back to the N64 when the add-on proved to be a commercial failure before being cancelled all together in the year 2000. Nintendo deeming the game to risky as roughly another two years would have been required for it to release in state that meet their standards. That would have been the end of it if not for a very successful re-release of the first two games on the GBA in 2003 and reluctantly Nintendo agreed to restart development on said handheld and once again in 2D form. And while development went slowly the game was finally released in 2006 to critical acclaim.

Nioh: 2004-2017 (13 years)


Originally announced in 2004 as "Oni" based on an unfinished script by Akira Kurosawa and as a traditional JRPG. Oni development (headed by Kou Shibusawa) dragged on for more than 4 years before being scrapped due to "not being fun" and replaced by an action game made by Omega Force (Dynasty Warriors) and this time inspired by movies such as Yojimbo and Seven Samurai alongside a rename to "Ni-Oh". But this version was quickly scrapped too for the same reason. Koei had during this period though merged with Tecmo who in 2010 proceeded to enlist the help of Team Ninja who eventually took over development despite them taking a disliking to the "Dynasty Warrior with a Western protagonist" concept. Resulting in them trying to morph it into their own thing except this ended up not sitting well with Koei (who still had final say in it), Shibusawa in turn not being happy with how his samurai game was turning into a "Ninja Gaiden clone" and the teams attempt to compromise went nowhere.

This stalemate remained until
2014 when the CEO of Koei-Tecmo Hisashi Suganuma finally told booth Koei and Team Ninja to get their heads out of their proverbial asses. He had signed a deal to deliver a PS4 exclusive and "Ni-Oh" was going to be that game. And with that development was finally on track and the game was was released without the hyphen in 2017 to great sales.

Duke Nukem Forever: 1996-2011 (15 years)​


The one, the only. You probably already know the story. I have mentioned this infamous game several times already and as you might summarise. Its the go-to example of games that were stuck in development hell.

The tale of what happened to DNF is one of mismanagement, reboots, perfectionism and an in general attitude of casualness among 3D realm employees who never could agree on anything regarding the game but would also never let anyone "compromise" their vision. And when it missed its initial 1998 launch window in favour of its 2001 relaunch (that also never happened) it was already considered a joke within the industry. Having been in development for a pretty much unprecedented 5 years. What followed though was another 7 years of mostly the same thing as the game was relaunched more times than probably any other game in history and by 2009, Take Two's patience had finally run thin as they refused to finance the game any more leading to its cancelation. Or at least it would have if Gearbox hadn't bought the rights to the franchise and made its own version of DNF who finally after 15 years saw a release in 2011 to mostly negative reviews. Mainly due to the very idea of the game releasing having set people expectations sky high.

Metroid Dread: 2005-2021 (16 years)​

Samus Aran stares at the camera in her signature pose while 7 EMMIs look at her from behind.

Yes, there is a game that spent longer in development hell than even Duke Nukem Forever. Or at least kinda-sorta. The original version of Metroid Dread was designed for the DS with different versions being developed between 2005 and 2009, none of which met Yoshio Sakamoto high standards for the franchise and he was reportedly not to fond of the DS to begin with. The game was never officially announced though (the only contemporary proof of its existence is a leaked Nintendo list of "games to look forward too") and while a version for the 3DS was also considered, It never went beyond the concept stage. It wasn't until 2017 following the success of the Samus Returns remake that the game was once more relaunched and officially announced in 2021 as a switch game to be released later the same year. And counting all the years the game spent in limbo, its the game spent longest in development hell.
Great thread and good job doing your homework. The notable ones missing from the list and that were agony for me are MGSV (2008-2015) and DMC5 if you don’t count the 2013 offshoot (2008-2019).


Wow, a lot of those turned out awesome. Starcraft 2, Diablo 3, Dragon Age Origins, The Last Guardian, Metroid Dread, DOOM, Prey, Nioh were all amazing games.

Probably because a lot of them were games merely put on ice or with higher studio priorities than real cases of ‘development hell’.
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