Long developments may plague games like ‘The Last Guardian’

Game Informer published a tantalizing post this past week claiming Square Enix would have a demo of “Final Fantasy XV” next year.

That means nine years after the game was initially announced — under a different name at the time, “Final Fantasy XIII” — gamers will get a taste of a long-awaited game.

Games like “Final Fantasy XV,” “The Last Guardian,” and “Duke Nukem Forever” present a weirdly compelling question: How long is too long to wait for a game?

These projects are typically called vaporware — games that have been announced, but seem to be in limbo. Vaporware may never be released, but the project don’t seem to be cancelled, either.

“Duke Nukem Forever,” the sequel to the 1996 title “Duke Nukem 3D,” was among the most cited examples of vaporware. Announced in 1997, “Duke Nukem Forever” would go 15 years, a lawsuit and a developer switch before it was released in 2011. The game bombed, with many critics calling it one of the worst games released that year. It had bad graphics, poor controls and disappointing level design.

Many gamers fear the same could happen to “The Last Guardian” and “Final Fantasy XV.”

“The Last Guardian” is the third game developed by Team Ico, the company which created “Ico” and “Shadow of the Colossus,” both award-winning games and amazing examples of artistic game design. People were very excited about “The Last Guardian” when Sony announced it in 2007, but when its target release window in 2011 came and went, people grew nervous “The Last Guardian” had been canceled. Gamers became worried when developer Fumito Ueda, the driving force behind Team Ico’s creations, resigned from Sony at the end of 2011 but stayed on as a contracted employee to help finish the game.

A similar situation took place with “Final Fantasy XV.” Square Enix originally announced the game as “Final Fantasy Versus XIII,” a game based on the “Final Fantasy XIII” universe. The game went through several years of development with little word on its progress, similar to the long development times for previous “Final Fantasy” titles, which led fans to speculate the game was canceled.

That didn’t exactly happen, however. While “Final Fantasy Versus XIII” is no more, Square Enix developers took many of the concepts to create “Final Fantasy XV,” which was officially announced in 2013. Since then, there’s been little word on the game.

Yet gamers may wait a few years or more for either title to be released, which is unheard of in a time when many large-scale games are developed in less than three years. It could be 10 years between the time “Final Fantasy Versus XIII” was announced and “Final Fantasy XV’s” release. The same could be said for “The Last Guardian.”

Such a long wait time isn’t good, as many gamers will likely question how relevant either title will be in today’s gaming atmosphere. Will both games feel dated? Will they take advantage of current-gen console power? Will gamers care about either game once they’re released?

Time will tell. That could be part of the problem for both games.

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