With today’s games industry being much larger than it used to be, in terms of both the number of users and revenue, it makes sense that developers and publishers see a need to get early buzz about their title, to keep a game in the public consciousness well in advance of the game’s projected release date. This had led to the unfortunate situation of some games being announced years in advance of anything remotely close to their release.
There’s probably a couple of games you are already thinking of right now that fit this description, and I’d be quite surprised if one of them didn’t contain the words “Last” and “Guardian” in it (although perhaps not for much longer). As I said, it’s understandable in this age of gaming ubiquity that when games can have budgets in the tens of millions (or higher, in some cases) then they want to ensure as high a chance as possible that they are going to turn a profit on a particular title. This means getting the word out about the game, putting up a site for it, continually rolling out tidbits about the game’s story, characters, etc., and hopefully forming a community of other like-minded people who are equally interested.
Other than The Last Guardian (announced in 2009!), there are several games that have done this. A notable example that’s relevant today would be CD Projekt RED’s Cyberpunk 2077. This was officially announced way back in the beforetimes of 2012, and right now is essentially limited to a single Youtube video which certainly looks cool… but that’s about it. CDPR recently stated that they did not anticipate giving any further details on Cyberpunk until 2017 at the very earliest, instead choosing to concentrate on The Witcher 3 for 2015 and 2016. So the earliest we would have details on Cyberpunk would be a full five years after the game’s announcement – and this would just be details about the game, not even the game’s actual release. I think it’s fair to say that CDPR certainly announced Cyberpunk too early. If it wasn’t their intention to provide almost any concrete details about the game then they did their fans (of which there are many – myself included) a disservice by announcing the game so far ahead of its release – whenever that ultimately turns out to be.
Another game essentially missing in action is Half-Life 2 Episode 3. Considering that Half-Life 2: Episode 2 was released in 2007 – 8 years ago – you would think Valve would have at least have said something with regards to Episode 3. Whether this turns out to be a new episodic game on an extremely sluggish release schedule, or a full sequel that would be considered Half-Life 3, the very words “Half-Life 3” have come to mean nebulous vapourware, almost the dictionary definition of a developer ceasing to discuss a particular title under almost any circumstances. I can only hope that when Valve choose to finally unveil the game officially, they choose 1st April to do so; this would be extremely fitting, and entirely appropriate.
The final honourable mention may actually see the light of day itself, shortly. Doom 4 was announced by id in 2008. Now seven years later, the game was rebooted by Bethesda (who’s parent company, ZeniMax, acquired id in 2009) in 2011. The game was officially “re-unveiled” at id’s 2014 QuakeCon, and is going to be showcased at this year’s E3. Whether a release date will be announced is anyone’s guess, but at least there’s a slow drip of information coming out (with the emphasis on slow).
I get it game developers, I do. It can be an expensive process, and you want to get people hyped and stay hyped for your game in the intervening years of you announcing something and finally releasing it. Keeping us hanging in some cases for literally years and years though, I don’t think that’s doing you any favours whatsoever. It may actually turn people against you in the long run by creating the perception that you are just stringing people along aimlessly. I’d like to see games announced no more than a year or two away from their projected release. This leaves plenty of time for communities to build, hype to be… er, hyped, and the game to actually be completed on schedule.
No more keeping people dangling for years, developers, if you can’t commit to delivering in a reasonable amount of time. Your fans, and this fan, will thank you for it.