All the recent hubbub about The Last Guardian’s trademark being abandoned, and what that might mean for the long in development game has brought up the topic of vaporware games. Essentially, vaporware is when a game has been announced but hasn’t been released yet. This includes upcoming games in a way, but the term is more directly linked to titles that don’t seem to actually be on track for release.
So, for example, Battlefield: Hardline doesn’t really count since it is definitely getting worked on and has produced tangible results that should lead to the eventual release of the game. However, The Last Guardian has been announced, and only shown one trailer, with no expected release date in sight. To be fair, we’ll limit this list to just games that have been officially announced, or were heavily implied to be coming in previous games. So, the seminal Half Life 3 won’t make the list, but the series isn’t in the clear.
Honorable Mention: Duke Nukem Forever
For a while Duke Nukem Forever was the vaporware game. Over a decade of development, resulting in multiple versions of the game. Every time it seemed dead something would come along to resurrect it once again. The only reason this game isn’t on the official list is because it actually was released. However, it was a terrible game that didn’t even come close to living up to expectations, so in our hearts it remains an unreleased promise of what could have been.
5. The Last Guardian
The game that prompted the creation of the list. The Last Guardian is one of those games that people just can’t let die, including its publisher, Sony. Developed by Team ICO, the group behind the fantastic Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian promoted itself as a spiritual successor to those classic titles. The original trailer was revealed at E3 2009, but ever since then the only information has been talk.
As the years moved on speculation brewed that the game wouldn’t ever see the light of day. Eventually the lead developer left the team, although he promised to finish his work on The Last Guardian as a consultant. These combine with the recent trademark abandonment to signal that The Last Guardian will go down as one of the greatest vaporware games of all time. There is still hope though, as with every hint of delay and cancellation comes swift confirmation from Sony that The Last Guardian is still on its way. We’ll just have to keep waiting to see how it all turns out.
4. Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy 2
This one is more of a personal entry than the rest, as Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy was one of those games that I played for dozens of hours. The game hit at just the right time, presenting an action game that was full of psychic powers for you to mess with. The main story was woefully short though, and literally ended in a giant “TO BE CONTINUED” splashed across the screen. It seems like this will never come to pass though as its original publisher, Midway, has died out. The hope of a sequel is kept alive in the original game’s small fanbase though, as the prospect of a psychic powered game on new hardware is truly an interesting idea.
3.Beyond Good & Evil 2
Beyond Good & Evil 2 is an especially painful piece of vaporware, as fans never really thought they were getting a sequel in the first place, despite the cliffhanger ending of the first game. The unveiling of the game in 2008 came as a shock to gamers around the world. Don’t get me wrong, the first game was fantastic, but everyone accepted that its sales weren’t good enough to warrant a sequel and few expected one to come out. But Ubisoft surprised everyone when they announced the game, and then left us hanging with no further announcements. A few updates have tried to assure fans that the game is still in development, but with only a single teaser trailer to go on hope is pretty much gone at this point.
2. Starcraft: Ghost
The original and still one of the biggest examples of vaporware; Starcraft: Ghost looked to bring the venerable series to consoles (the N64 port doesn’t count) in the form of a stealth action game. The game was originally announced in 2002 for the PS2, Xbox, and Gamecube. Players would take on the role of a Ghost in the Starcraft universe, making this a huge departure from the RTS gameplay of the original series. It was too good to be true though and Starcraft: Ghost saw multiple delays and single system cancellations. Fans continued hoping for a resurrection, but finally the game was officially cancelled in 2014 making it forever the perfect example of vaporware and how it can play with gamer’s emotions.
1. Half Life 2: Episode Three
Here it is, the granddaddy of all vaporware games: Half Life 2: Episode Three. This might seem like a bit of a cheat, as I said that Half Life 3 wouldn’t be on the list, but bear with me here. The difference between Half Life 3 and Half Life 2: Episode Three is that the former has never been officially announced, while the latter is most certainly vaporware at this point. Shortly after the release of Half Life 2, Valve announced their bold plans for a trio of episodic sequels. Those add-ons took a while to come out, with Episode One hitting in 2006, a full two years after the initial game’s release. Episode Two followed shortly after in 2007, and Episode Three was set to conclude the story later that year.
This never came to pass though, with gamers left on a gut-wrenching cliffhanger of a finale that has haunted fans to this day. Eight years later there is almost no hope of an actual release for Half Life 2: Episode 3, which is the main reason why there is so much hype surrounding a possible full blown sequel in Half Life 3. Unfortunately, that game has also met with the same amount of questions and “delays”. The only saving grace for it is that it wasn’t officially announced by Valve, making it ineligible. It’s unreleased predecessor though, is fair game and stands as the biggest vaporware game of all time.