Computer or video game software or hardware with revolutionary or next-generation capabilities that is continuously hyped to the public, but doesn't seem to be coming any closer to store shelves. Note that long development cycles do not, by themselves, qualify a product as Vaporware; the game must be repeatedly postponed and put off, all the while being promoted as "Coming soon!"
Sometimes this is intentional, done by various promoters and stockholders solely to drive up the company's share prices, lure in new investors, or create a buzz in the marketplace that will keep their name on top. In the most extreme cases, the developing company itself may be a total fraud. That said, the vast majority of vaporware isn't malicious. Most of the time there is legitimate product being produced, but internal problems simply result in it falling behind schedule and being passed in the marketplace by competitors. The developers simply promised more than their programmers could possibly deliver in too short a time frame.
Often, when a big goal is for the product to be up with the current technology, it becomes a self-reinforcing feedback loop of sorts when work has to be scrapped to keep up with the times. Combine this with people leaving the project out of frustration with the lack of forward progress and it gets harder to finish with every delay. More than a few games have also fallen victim to runaway ego and perfectionism, where the designers get distracted by their own artistic visions or desire to create something revolutionary and genre-shattering and won't be satisfied until it's "perfect", cost, publishers, and release dates be damned! (With predictable results).
Whatever the cause, it annoys consumers to no end. If and when the product finally is released, its quality and abilities are often lower than what was expected, to further the disappointment of users.
Compare Development Hell, Stillborn Serial. Contrast Dead Fic and Orphaned Series, which actually manage to release more than a teaser (thanks to serialization) before eventually being abandoned incomplete. See also Saved from Development Hell for a few who managed to get completed.
Should not be confused with Vapor Wear, or soon.
The Wii game based on Connie Talbot's Over The Rainbow album was scheduled to be released on the first quarter of 2009, but copyright issues with the songs to be used left the game in limbo. And guess who developed it...
The entirety of the Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy XIII franchise appears to be suffering this at large:
Final Fantasy XIII was revealed for the first time at E3 2006, via a CG trailer. It had already been in development for at least a year at that point, and later interviews revealed that the game had been in development even longer (the battle system had existed on a PS2 as a prototype). Every subsequent year they released a slightly modified version of the same trailer with a few new scenes mixed in, any new information being slowly drip-fed. It wasn't until 2009 that Square Enix showed some actual gameplay footage and revealed significant plot details, the game finally seeing retail later that year.
Then there is Final Fantasy Versus XIII, announced alongside FF XIII at E3 2006. Actual discernible information on the game since then has been very sparse, and up until early 2010, trailers for it only contained CG and cutscene footage. The game has been languishing for so long that Noctis' costume hadn't even been finalised until some time in late 2009. Whilst development has definitely picked up since the release of FF XIII, Versus XIII will likely not see release until 2013, seven years after its initial announcement.
Finally, the portable title, Final Fantasy Type-0; again, it was announced alongside the other two games as a mobile phone game, but little was said or shown of it (save for some concept art and a logo). This persisted until an announcement at a Square Enix expo in late 2008, where it was said the mobile phone version had been cancelled in favour of a PSP version. After a name change, the game was finally released in late 2011.
Final Fantasy XII started development as early as the beginning of the 2000s. It had originally been slated for release in 2004, but then was pushed back to 2005 due to the lead designer leaving the project, but was pushed back again and finally saw release in late 2006, after the Fabula Nova Crystallis metaseries had been announced.
On the fraud front comes Mythic: The Story of Gods and Men, an entirely fake game fabricated and promoted with media from other, existing games just to raise funds for the project. Fortunately, it was exposed and the contributed funds returned.
Crimsonland 2 is certainly taking its sweet time to appear.
StarCraft: Ghost, a Stealth-Based Game starring a Terran Ghost named Nova. Initially announced in 2002, it was postponed six times before being put on "indefinite hiatus", a month before its projected release date. Nova turns up for one mission in Star Craft II where you can either help her keep a bunch of deranged criminal psychics from escaping a prison complex, or make life hell for her employer, The Dominion, by helping them all escape.
Given a Shout Out in World of Warcraft with a special grave stone in Netherstorm Outland for Nova, the would-be protagonist, with the N.O.V.A written on it. Nova herself appeared as a stealthed blood elf next to the grave at one point but has since been removed. The grave stone is known as the Nova Shrine among players.
Blizzard never actually canceled it (despite what some people may say) and keep saying they have plans to MAYBE finish the game (hence its "Postponed Indefinitely" status). Whether or not this can be taken as a glimmer of hope is up to you. Given the fact that Diablo 3 was in development for 11 years before release and survived the closing of Blizzard North in 2005, it's not beyond the realm of possibility.
Sonic X-Treme is a notorious example of Vaporware meets Finagle's Law: thanks to an overdose of Executive Meddling, a massive drop in employees, the director's failing health, and the failing popularity of the Sega Saturn (which the game was to be released on), X-Treme never made it out. Although game content such as music and level design as well as game engine builds of the game have been publicly released, it's highly unlikely the game in it's entire form will ever see the light of day.
An unofficial continuation/recreation of Sonic X-treme known as Project-S (which was supervisied by one of Sonic Xtreme's original staff members Chris Senn) began production in 2006, only for the fangame to cease production four years later, much like it's (spritual) predecessor.
The name Project S was also used as a code-name for Sonic Rivals during the early stages of that game's development. This caused some confusion in 2006 when Sonic Rivals was released, but when what was done of the aforementioned fangame was also released to the public, it became obvious that the two had nothing in common.
Neverwinter Nights; originally announced with a 1998 release date, delayed until mid-2002. Along the way, production company Bioware broke off its collaboration with publisher Black Isle, an entirely new engine was written for the game, and the Third Edition of Dungeons & Dragons was released, necessitating a reworking of nearly all the game's mechanics. In this case, however, the finished product was a popular success.
The Mac and Linux versions were originally going to ship in the same box as the Windows version, as full versions with development tools. About a week before release, Bioware announced that the Mac version was going to be a separate SKU after Mac Soft ported it, which they were going to start doing Real Soon Now, the Linux version would be available for download eventually, and neither would include the development tools. Mac and Linux users were a bit upset.
Fallout 3 spent five years in development at Black Isle studios, and was almost at a releasable stage in development, when Interplay went belly-up in 2003 and closed Black Isle down. Bethesda Softworks eventually acquired the rights to develop the game for a late 2008 release, but opted to begin entirely from scratch, meaning that Black Isle's "Van Buren" version of the game will likely never see the light of day, outside of the leaked tech demo that the Fallout community began distributing in 2007.
Other Fallout vaporware included Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 2, Fallout Tactics 2, and Fallout Extreme.
Fallout New Vegas was developed by Obsidian Entertainment (primarily made up of former Black Isle staff), who incorporated elements of Van Buren's plot into the game's backstory and setting. Caesar's Legion, the primary antagonists of New Vegas, are particularly inspired by a similarly named group of slavers from Van Buren.
Talking about Fallout and all the problems the whole saga already had with development through time, its spiritual predecessor Wasteland also suffered many backdrafts with its own sequels. After been published in 1988 and receiving many awards, problems within Electronic Arts and Interplay leads to the former publishing its own "second part" (Fountain of Dreams, albeit they removed the "Wasteland 2:..." from the title in the last minute) with poor results, and later Interplay tried to get lucky by creating "Meantime", the true second part and succesor (but in some sort of alternative timeline due to the history of the game itself) to the original Wasteland (but without the usage of the original name in the title, which copyright belonged to EA) Regrettably, several problems led to Development Hell, and after many unsuccessful tries for reviving the game, it turned to vaporware...all of this is always remembered by old Fallout/Wasteland fans with great pity, and for a very good reason, since the game was going to allow you to travel through time, fixing the whole events which leaded to the WWIII, fighting back the "bastards" who intentionally created the apocalyptic scenario (thus repairing the events in Wasteland...and somehow in the Fallout saga although the two universes are not related...well not exactly true...), and even recruiting historical characters for your team during your journeys like Albert Einstein, Al Capone, Amelia Earhart, Cyrano de Bergerac, Wernher von Braun and P.T. Barnum from a wide range of many others from all the world history, all with a big f*cking Grand Finale repairing the future and thus eliminating all the events foretold in both franchises (this is why this game will be always the "holy grail" for all the older Wasteland/Fallout fans) Fun fact? They´re finally going to release a Wasteland 2...25 years later, and ignoring the alternative timeline with the great fix and the historical characters (and no, of course, they are not going to put and end and give away their money maker saga...)
Vaporware is not a new phenomenon. Way back in the 8-bit days of 1984, Psyclapse and Bandersnatch (for the Commodore 64 and the ZX Spectrum, respectively, although practically the same game) were in development for Imagine Software. Advertising promised much - hardware dongles to support new features Never Seen Before on either system, and promoting the achievements of its outrageously large development team (of nine, nearly nine times the average for the time). Despite the hype, it eventually became clear that Psyclapse never got past the design stage, and Bandersnatch would need to sell for a ridiculous amount of money just to break even. By the time the BBC arrived to film the spectacular successes of a Liverpool-based firm at the forefront of the then-upstart computer games industry, Imagine were absolutely in the toilet, and the BBC found themselves making a cautionary tale about corporate excess that finished with the bailiffs arriving to repossess everything Imagine ever owned (and very nearly the BBC cameras, too). A couple of splinter companies later, Bandersnatch was picked up by Psygnosis and released as Brataccas for the Amiga, Atari ST and Apple Macintosh. Imagine and Psyclapse were resurrected In Name Only as secondary labels of Ocean Software and Psygnosis, respectively.
Another notorious ZX Spectrum example was Street Hawk, a spin-off from a barely-noticed American action TV show that suffered such severe delays that the software company had to give a completely different game with the same title to a magazine that they'd promised copies to for a subscription gift offer.
Yet another notorious Spectrum effort was Spirit Software's Formula One, which promised greatest ever realism because it included a steering wheel peripheral (at a time when joysticks were not standardised but were an expensive add-on which were at least usable for many games). Adverts ran for literally years until the game eventually dribbled out onto the market to poor reviews and annoyance that the "peripheral" wasn't something you plugged into the computer, it was a cardboard ring that you rolled across the keyboard.
Scooby-Doo in the Castle Mystery was originally previewed in magazines as a Dragon's Lair-like game for the ZX Spectrum. The publisher ultimately decided the original concept was technically unworkable, and so commissioned a simpler game using the same license. This inspired Crash Magazine's "Scooby Award" for much-delayed games.
Will Wright's Spore was once considered by many to be vaporware, as it was announced in 2000 under the title "Sim Everything" and wasn't released until September 2008.
Closely related to the 64DD (see next section) is Mother 3, the sequel to the game released as EarthBound in the United States. Originally announced to be a 64DD title in 1996, it was seemingly cancelled despite a scenario being written for it and the opening part of the game designed and shown in videos. It was eventually re-imagined as a Game Boy Advance game and finally saw release in late 2006. To put things in perspective, Duke Nukem Forever didn't surpass Mother 3's development time until late summer of 2007. And don't even ask about an English translation (An official one, at least).
The Nintendo 64's path through history was littered by the emaciated bodies of partially developed games. Some, like Robotech: Crystal Dreams, Fire Emblem 64, 64 Wars and the above Earthbound 64, simply collapsed under their own weight and died. Others, like efforts toward a 3D Kirby game and sequel to Mario 64, produced various side-projects in lieu of their originally intended design. In fact, the N64 was legendary for this sort of thing, with games supposed to be launch titles stuck in development for years afterwards (Body Harvest, Mission: Impossible) and swapping between multiple development teams, executive meddling, and ultimately numerous cancellations. None of this helped the flagging fortunes of the system as gamers frustrated by the long software droughts often abandoned Nintendo for the more reliable Playstation lineup.
Remember Freak Boy? No? Didn't think so.
The Panel De Pon remake/sequel is a really odd case. The Japanese release of the game was canned, but the game did make it into worldwide markets as a Dolled-Up Installment featuring Pokémon characters. Japan (and regrettably, only Japan) would get what the game was originally intended to be one generation later in Nintendo Puzzle Collection.
D2, the sequel to D, was first announced for the stillborn Panasonic M2 (see below), and then for the Sega Saturn. Several years and a Wired Vaporware award later, it finally was released for the Sega Dreamcast.
Rare picked up quite a few of these in the hey day of the N64 and Gamecube era, each of which deserves its own entry:
One of the first platformers announced for the Nintendo 64 was a game called Conker's Quest. The cute platformer starring a child-friendly squirrel was intended to be a counterpart to the more complicated platformers of the time. This incarnation of Conker even made a cameo (along with future Rare star Banjo) in Diddy Kong Racing later the same year, intended to pave the way for his future franchise. Though initially shown at E3 in 1997, Conker's Quest disappeared for awhile before resurfacing in 1998 as Conker's Twelve Tales. Footage of this incarnation can found floating the net. Another game based on this version of the character came out in 1999 for the Game Boy Color, Conker's Pocket Tales, but there was still no sign of the N64 version. In 2000, in what many at first assumed to be an April Fool's prank, Rare unveiled that they'd completely tossed out all work on the child-friendly Conker's Quest, retooling it into Conkers Bad Fur Day, a violent, sexually charged platforming parody of gaming culture, its genre, and pop culture in general. When everyone realized that Rare was serious, pandemonium broke out. This essentially consigned the original Conker game to the mists of vaporware history, though fans of the game that finally came out don't seem too broken up about it.
Conker would once again have trouble with this as a sequel for the Gamecube was announced, but cancelled. Then an Xbox remake was announced then vanished for some time. Eventually, it became Conker: Live and Reloaded, altered from Conker: Live and Uncut due to the game actually getting more censorship from Microsoft than it had from Nintendo.
Kameo: Elements of Power went through planned releases on three different consoles before being launched on a fourth. Originally planned for the Nintendo64, it was advertised on the boxes of Gamecube's at launch, switched to the Xbox after Microsoft bought Rare, and finally released on the Xbox 360'. Rare themselves engaged in some Lampshade Hanging by including an alternate costume for the title character based on her much older incarnation that had been used to market the game up until the 360 version gave her a new design.
Throughout the Nintendo 64's lifespan, Rare had worked on a title called Dinosaur Planet. Nintendo eventually repurposed the title from an original IP into a Star Fox-based game, though still slated for release on the N64. This got delayed further and further until it finally dropped on the Gamecube as Star Fox Adventures instead, becoming Rare's final console game for Nintendo as they had been already been sold to Microsoft before the game's release.
Perfect Dark, the Spiritual Successor to Rare's hit Golden Eye 1997, became embroiled in a three year development process that led to slow updates and many speculating the game would be cancelled as the end of the N64's lifespan grew closer and closer. During the development, two of the key designers left to form Free Radical Designs (later making Time Splitters), causing the entire game to be reworked and only the main story and characters retained. It finally launched in 2000 just as the N64 wound down, leading to lower sales than anticipated.
Its prequel, Perfect Dark Zero, was originally announced for the Gamecube, with art of an anime-styled Joanna leaking around but few details. After the sale of Rare to Microsoft, the game was announced again for the Xbox. Like fellow refugee Kameo, however, Perfect Dark Zero got pushed back long enough that it turned into a launch title for the Xbox 360 instead.
Banjo-Kazooie was originally scheduled to be released in November 1997, as Nintendo's big game for the Christmas season; ultimately, it had to be pushed back to Summer 1998 and Nintendo replaced it with Diddy Kong Racing, which thus became the first released game to have a playable Banjo or Conker.
Banjo-Kazooie was actually re-tooled from yet another game that never saw the light of day. This game, which bore the working title Dream, was to have been an RPG on the SNES to start, starring a human hero named Edison, and a bear named Banjo. It was gradually turned into a 3D platformer on the Nintendo 64 with an animal star shortly after the dev team previewed Conker's Quest and considered it vastly superior to their idea. All that has surfaced of Dream are a couple of screenshots drifting around on the Internet and 10 pieces of music, plus a brief history of the game, found on the composer's website. And Blackeye the Pirate, who was to be the Big Bad in Dream, got a cameo in Banjo-Tooie and a statue in Viva Pińata.
Banjo-Tooie launched several years late in 2000, without the "Stop n' Swop" feature that would interact with Banjo-Kazooie, which Banjo-Kazooie itself had promoted, even showing images of these sequences being activated. For years, people speculated as to the loss of the feature, leading people to eventually uncover a patent that appeared to mirror the process by using a feature of the N64 that involved storing data for roughly 60 seconds after shutdown. Speculation led to many fans concluding that, because later models of the system could not hold data this long, the feature had to be dropped due to it no longer being technically feasible. "Stop n' Swop" eventually returned - on the Xbox 360 Live Arcade releases almost a decade later.
Banjo-Threeie was planned for a Gamecube release, but soon got the axe. It was reincarnated for the Xbox 360 in 2008 as Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts.
Donkey Kong Racing, a racing game slated for the Gamecube that would focus around the entire Kong family, and would have you riding on animals instead of vehicles. It was canned once Rareware was bought out by MS.
Rareware made an HD port of Killer Instinct that they were going to release for Xbox Live Arcade, and the port was already complete, but they got into a lawsuit from FOX, who had a TV show with the same title.
In a curious twist, many people believed BioShock would fulfill this trope - but not only did the game come out, it was actually pretty good and received much critical and commercial success.
Ultima IX was stuck in development for five years, as conflicts between Richard Garriott and EA hampered production, much of its staff was diverted to Ultima Online, and the advent of 3D graphics caused the original Ultima Online-like version of game to be scrapped for a new 3D one. Upon its release in 1999, it was poorly received and is generally considered one of the worst games in the series, and certainly not the grand finale that long-time fans were expecting. Many fans prefer to ignore its existence, and one group of fans is currently developing their own Ultima IX as a mod for The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion.
Ultima X, on the other hand, never saw the light of day at all.
X-COM games Genesis and Alliance were eagerly expected after years of development, but given the various studio shifts that Microprose suffered at the time, they were permanently delayed/cancelled.
Freelancer was announced in 1999, and the first demo was shown at E3 in 2000; back then, Digital Anvil promised entire worlds with moving transports, changing weather, dynamic economies, lots and lots of side quests and a non-linear story, you could buy and set up your own base, and the NPCs had their own personalities. However, Digital Anvil soon ran out of money, the owners had to sell the company to Microsoft Games, and while they were gathering up the needed money, they had to stop and scale down the goals of the project. Four years later, in 2003, the game was finally released: the economy was now static, the NPCs had a painfully generic personality, the worlds were reduced to pretty-looking menus, the storyline was made 100% linear (and oddly ends fairly early in the game before 80% of the content is even unlocked), and the side quests were removed. However, the final product did not suck, and still stands today as an example of excellent game design. The graphics were extremely outdated however.
The Survival Horror game Winter for the Wii was originally accounced in 2007 and after making a demo and a trailer no publisher has been interested in publishing it. Last word from the company on the game was in 2009 and saying they were hoping that as they continue to update the game a publisher would grow interested.
Working Designs initially announced a United States release of the Sega Saturn version of Magic Knight Rayearth in 1995. It was delayed for three years before finally being released after the console itself was officially dead in America (for six months). The first year of delay was for mostly unknown reasons (most likely relating to the vast amount of voice work involved), but the other two years were no doubt due to Bernie Stolar (head of Sega of America at the time) and his draconian policy towards third party developers. The game was actually finished for a good amount of time, but due to Stolar's involvement, it took a large amount of time before it was finally released - so long that it ended up the last Saturn game ever to come out in the United States.
Another part of the problem was a hard drive crash that deleted sections of the source code for that game (and several other Working Designs projects), forcing the developers to replace the lost sections from scratch.
Another possible part of the problem was the fight between WD and Sega over names. You see, Sega had thought Rayearth would be an awesome series to bring to the US and the game would be one way to bring the anime over. However, as it was common in the day, they wanted the names changed in the game to match it. Working Designs, originally planned to change the names in a different way but eventually fought to use the original names.
Mythri was an indie RPG by Team XKalibur initially announced for the Gameboy Color in 2000 that first received press when news site RPGamer began covering it and started a campaign to get a publisher for it. Variant Interactive eventually signed on board and the project jumped from the outdated (by 2003) GBC to the then-viable GBA, complete with comparison screenshots of improved graphical engine updates. After two years with absolutely no updates, news eventually trickled out that Variant had dropped the game and Team XKalibur was once more seeking a publisher. The game was finally quietly cancelled. Not long after, the developer was disbanded and the staff scattered across the industry.
While vaporware comes up occasionally in the commercial games industry, it's practically standard operating procedure among amateur authors. Case in point: Work began on Return to Dark Castle, a modern sequel to the beloved classic from the monochrome Macintosh era, by a two-man team in 1996 (a decade after the first game's release.) First announced with a late 2000 release date, development and occasional beta releases dragged on for years while news petered down to nothing, causing most fans to write the game off. It ultimately made a surprise reemergence in 2007 as "nearly done" and was then delayed again until 2008 due to legal issues, when it was finally released. As of 2013, the level editor still isn't out.
Valve has a habit of this. What makes them notorious for their extremely long delays is their demand for perfection in their games, as they stated in the commentary for Team Fortress 2. Basically, unless they are happy with how the game is coming out, they will not release it:
Half-Life Gold (Half-Life with the High-Definition Pack and Blue Shift expansion) was set to come out on the Dreamcast. It was even featured on the cover of GamePro and had a strategy guide to Blue Shift. But due to an announcement by Sega that they would be ending production and support of the Dreamcast, the game was never commercially released. The game was eventually leaked onto the Internet. Those who've played the leak can vouch that while Valve used the leak as an excuse for demoralization and how they felt they needed to redo things, the truth was that the game was anything but finished at that stage. The demo levels they were demonstrating were around the only levels they had that were remotely finished. All the other content was still in alpha stage.
For several years, Half-Life 2 was considered one of these, due to the mysterious nature of the release dates and an infamous delay announced on the day it was supposed to come out. That the game not only came out a year later but turned out to be one of the greatest games of all time is truly mind-blowing considering its difficult development cycle. A common rumour supposed that the game was delayed so that Valve could restart development due to a leak of half-finished code. The truth is, no power in this or any other universe could've got a game like that out in the timeframe Valve set themselves.
The Half-Life 2 sequel episodes (Episode One, which came out in mid-2006, and Episode Two, a year and a half later), while they were greatly praised by critics and players, lasted only a few hours each and there were no justifications for such delays. Multiple critics noted that content of this type was designed to be released quickly. We're now past five years since Episode Two, and nothing has been seen or heard about Episode Three yet, and frequent rumors say it has been ditched in favor of moving the storyline forward in Half-Life. Valve has expressed regret for this choice of episodic gaming, saying it has lengthened development. The complete failure of SiN Episodes probably hasn't helped.
The Source developers wiki currently lists Episode Three with an announced release date of Christmas 2007, and an actual release date of "coincident with the Rapture".
Fans are beginning to fear that Half-Life 3 has begun to turn into this, with a continuation to Episode 2 promised, but not happening since the game's release in 2004. It doesn't help that Valve absolutely refuses to talk about the subject.
Team Fortress 2 was originally announced as a realistic military FPS, got as far as having trailers and screenshots, then suddenly vanished for seven years. After winning a few of Wired's infamous Vaporware Awards, the game miraculously reappeared in 2006 with a new look and the admission by Valve that they'd rebuilt it several times before coming to terms with a game they liked. The game was finally released in 2007 to much fan and critical acclaim, again, despite its turbulent development.
Valve somehow promised that Left 4 Dead would receive frequent updates like Team Fortress 2. After seeing all the problems in the gameplay that Left 4 Dead had and what needed to be fixed, Valve most likely would have to change and patch so many things that they believed it would be better to release a sequel that addresses all the issues. Fans naturally reminded Valve daily about the promise that was broken.
Left 4 Dead 2 is an inversion of this trope for Valve because it was literally released one year after the first game was published. This was Valve's response to everyone that made fun of Valve for their infamous Valve Time and Valve wanted to prove that they can release on a fixed schedule. However, the game came with many problems that are still around years later and many fans are starting to say Valve Time is a good thing now.
The Cold Stream DLC was released in beta in March of 2011 and was open to the public for feedback and suggestions. Along the way, Valve also added ports of the campaigns from Left 4 Dead and were also open to suggestions and feedback. Valve said they would try to aim for a Halloween release, but that schedule slipped and no more news was posted about Cold Stream other than some bug fixes for the beta DLC. More than a year and a half passed since the beta's release and Valve finally announced towards the end of June in 2012 that they would release the DLC near the end of July. Since the DLC was coming to the Xbox 360 as well, the DLC got delayed significantly due to Valve having to go through Microsoft's certification process and Valve wanting to make sure the DLC package is close to being bug free as possible.
In a sad and hilarious twist, the Xbox 360 version of the DLC got delayed yet again (PC version was released on time) by a week. The DLC itself is generally bug free, but the rest of the game itself still has other significant bugs that have yet to be fixed.
Following in Valve's footsteps are the makers of the Half-Life 2 mod Black Mesa (formerly Black Mesa: Source). Announced in 2004, the Black Mesa team made steady and well-documented progress chipping away at no small task: recreating the entirety of the original Half-Life on Half-Life 2's Source Engine. It usually won the "Top Unreleased Mod of 200X", but eventually the accolades turned into dubious honors, as it racked up its first Vaporware Award at the end of 2009. The team tried to settle on a late 2009 release, but were ultimately unable to meet it. Since then they underwent a total media blackout, only publishing updates on their progress every once in a blue moon. It was finally released on 9/14/2012, a good 8 years later. However, the current version is incomplete, missing the last five chapters and the Hazard Course training level, though the latter is explained as them taking extra time to make sure the Xen levels do not suffer from the same problem they did originally.
Speaking of Half-Life, the fan film Escape From City 17 has seen an update (which just stripped away some of the unnecessary dialogue) and a teaser for the second part, those were in October 2009 and nothing has yet been seen since.
This is Older Than the NES: the numerous never-released games for the Colecovision are pretty close. Some games, like Chess Challenger and Mr. Turtle, were advertised on the system's box, but never saw release, most likely due to the end of the system's production run in 1984.
League of Legends champions Evelynn and Twitch were severely nerfed by Riot in late 2010. By Riot's own admission, this was to get people to stop playing them - they intentionally broke the characters beyond all reasonable viability. This was so they could retool the characters' mechanics, and an overall stealth mechanic for the whole game. It was said that the rework would arrive very soon. After all, they wouldn't intentionally destroy two characters for over a year, right? Almost 2012, place your bets.
As of June 2012, this still hasn't happened yet.
Rework finalized and implemented in-game in July 2012
L.A. Noire was announced in 2004, as a launch title for the PlayStation 3. The next time anyone heard anything was October, two years later, with a pure CG trailer. No one heard from Rockstar Games regarding the game for years after, until 2010, when it resurfaced as a PS3/360 cross platform game, and was released the following year.
The Legend Of Zelda Twilight Princess for the Gamecube came close to being called Vaporware and even picked up one of Wired's Vaporware Awards, but eventually hit the shelves... as a launch title for the Wii with added motion sensing controls, and a bit after for the console it was originally made for. While the official announcement was only three years prior, only Nintendo knows for how long the title had been in development.
As of 2008, Nintendo announced they won't talk about new games until they are far enough in development it's clear they will be released to stores. This is done mostly to prevent Vaporware and Hype Backlash (but Rule of Perception means the Fan Dumb thinks games aren't being developed at all).
Keep in mind that Miyamoto often pushes the releases for games back because of his philosophy "A late game can eventually be good, but a bad game is bad forever."
After its cancellation, Joss Whedon expressed interest in further exploring the universe of Firefly as an MMORPG, and there was even evidence that it was in the works; Penny Arcade even remarked on it ("Everyone just rolls shaman"). There's been little word on the game since 2006, and while developer Dark-Cryo has picked up the pieces of what was developed, they seem to be doing so without authorization from 20th Century Fox or Mutant Enemy.
Battlecruiser 3000AD spent over seven years in development before Take Two Interactive released it to stores as-is in one of the video game industry's most infamous Executive Meddling moments. The sequel, Universal Combat, had a half-dozen different release dates, eventually resulting in a publisher switch after initial release.
Along the same creator, there was supposed to be some episodic game by him coming out exclusively on Gametap. It was on the Coming Soon list without much info for a while. It then quietly disappeared.
Harvest Moon games, and indeed most anything localized by Natsume, are notorious for being delayed months or even years at a time before finally being released. Most fans know that any release date is tentative at best and could be pushed back at any time right up to the day before release (A Wonderful Life, anyone?). You're probably safe if you assume that "release date" means "will likely be released within a year of this date."
Of particular note is the long promised, but still missing Harvest Moon MMORPG. Online connectivity (read: the ability to buy, sell, and trade items between other players) has also been long promised since Save The Homeland debuted. It finally appeared in limited form in Island Of Happiness via the Nintendo DS' WiFi.
The American release of Tree Of Tranquility was pushed back numerous times, finally being released more than a year after the Japanese version and still shipped with a Game-Breaking Bug, which they took their sweet time fixing as well in a very quiet recall.
Just how slow Natsume is was further emphasized when Marvelous let XSEED Games, which it has partnered with on other games, handle localization of Rune Factory Frontier. The result? The game came out mere months after the Japanese release with zero delays.
A game based on the comic series The Red Star was originally to be released by Acclaim, before the company went bankrupt (most likely because of how horribly BMX XXX failed), and this game was thought to be doomed to permanent Vapor Ware status. However, the PS2 version was picked up and released by XS Games in 2007, only about a year after the game was supposed to be released, and it didn't suffer for the delay.
There was supposed to be a 2.5D Kirby game for the GameCube, but it never materialized on that system and soon reincarnated into the Wii game Kirbys Return To Dreamland in late 2011, to the fanbase's delight.
When the gamer completed Max Payne 2 The Fall Of Max Payne at the end of the credits the encouraging message received was that "Max's journey through the night will continue." The third game in the series was announced by Jeffrey L. Lapin, the CEO of Take-Two Interactive (whom Remedy Entertainment sold the series to), in 2004. Thanks to drama in the background from former publisher 3D Realms, the third game went several years without any substantive news. The game was later announced for winter 2009, though that passed with no further news. Actual previews of the game surfaced, proving its existence but also showing a drastic change in the character and setting.
Max Payne 3 has since been entrusted to developer Rockstar Vancouver, was slated for a March 2012 release date, and had undergone enough of an advertising blitz that consumers could be forgiven for presuming that the game is actually going to come out.
Development of Limbo of the Lost began in the early '90s on the Atari ST. It was finally released on the PC in 2007, and befell the same fate as Daikatana — except Daikatana didn't get forced off the market due to accusations of copious plagiarism.
Star Fox 2 on the SNES, despite being almost complete, never saw the light of day. Then again, it was near the end of the console's lifespan and the developers didn't think it would do well. Instead, some of the elements (such as all-range levels and the Star Wolf team) were worked into Star Fox 64, and Command for the DS got the rest.
Also worth mentioning are the other cancelled Super FX2 chip games: Commanche, FX Fighter (which saw a PC release), and Power Slide.
Time Shift was suddenly (and unexpectedly) delayed, its release changing from "two weeks from now" to "some unspecified time in the future" - the game disappeared from people's sight for a year, and the entire game ended up being completely redone, and eventually released.
Seiken Densetsu: The Emergence of Excalibur, a Famicom Disk System title that was planned to span five disks. What makes this entry so bizarre is that pre-orders were placed before one line of code could be typed because of a clever marketing campaign that involved very convincing-looking mock-ups. It was apparently unrelated to the later World of Mana games except for the title. More info here on that game and the planned fourth Final Fantasy game for the Famicom that was canceled to focus development on the Super Famicom sequel that became Final Fantasy IV.
George A. Romero's City of the Dead. It showed up at E3 2005 with no playable demo, and was soon canned.
Thrill Kill. The game was raked across the coals of Development Hell for years, its publisher - Virgin Interactive - trying to tone down the violence in it to conform to an M rating before being picked up by EA. While it's now available through filesharing by the game's developers, there will never be an official release of it; EA found the game so senselessly violent that they actually refused to sell the game off to someone else, for fear of it getting out and tarnishing their reputation.
Although a developer did get the rights to use the engine, which was the basis for Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style.
The game Manhunt 2 almost suffered the same fate when it received an AO rating (a de-facto ban). It had to be Bowdlerised to receive an M-Rating, although the death scenes were still shocking. Ironically, the first Manhunt was just as gory as the AO version of the second game, but it only received an M rating.
The controversy it had already stirred up might have been a factor. (The BBFC had refused to give it classification, essentially banning it in the UK).
Jet Moto 4 for the PS2, which was semi-officially announced, but never started, probably due to poor sales of Jet Moto 3 (which came out in the PS1's dying days).
California Raisins: The Grape Escape instantly springs to mind, developed late in the NES' lifespan. That's right, a game based on a marketing ploy to eat more fruit. Despite being finished and reviewed by many magazines, it utterly vanished into the night without being released on the NES. It actually had some cool concepts, like moonwalking... which resulted from a game bug. More can be found here and here.
The equivalents of Duke Nukem Forever in the Doommodding community are Mordeth Episode 2 and Millennium. Mordeth in particular is so notorious for this that the Cacowards' "longest development time" award is named the "Mordeth Award" in its honor.
Not even Game Makers are safe! In the MegaZeux community, the general rule is that if someone publishes a demo of their game, that game will never be released. Period. This trend is popularly known as the demo curse; among its best-known victims are A Death Beyond Imagination, Honor Quest 2, and Weirdness (by the creator of MegaZeux himself, who released only the first chapter before leaving the community.)
Alan Wake was originally previewed at E3 2005 alongside the Xbox 360 announcement, and was expected to be released some time in 2006. The game then promptly disappeared and the developers went very quiet, releasing a very vague trailer and a handful of screenshots in the space of 3 years. It was long assumed to be languishing in development hell, until E3 2009, where the game appeared again apparently very far along in development. As of May 2010, it was finally released to mostly positive reviews, although many critics felt that the end product didn't justify its development time. Especially since it ended up with less than what was promised, such as free-roaming and a PC version of the game.
The game finally had a PC release in February 2012.
Freeware developer tapeworm has been working on Velella for nearly five years, and Avaus for three. On his site, he mentioned he wants to have Avaus done by the end of 2007, then struck it through and appended 2008. Well, it's 2012 now...
The Legacy of Kain series has had a long history of finessing out of development and legal complications. However, its admirable run ended tragically with the cancellation of the sixth installment, to be titled Legacy of Kain: Dark Prophecy, after only three months in development. Only some concept art remains as evidence of its existence before evaporation.
Lugaru 2 was like this for awhile, mainly due to the core programmer being in college. It was announced in 2005, with some initial work. However, the one-man programmer went to college and Lugaru 2 just sat there collecting dust. Although he did create some physics tests and such (one even involved a moving ball that actually sounds like it's moving), the core of the game wasn't worked on a lot. After he graduated (near the end of '08), he changed the name to Overgrowth and his company, Wolfire Games has been "leaking" out alphas Since the beginning of November '08. Overgrowth was originally planned to be released in the first quarter of '09, then the second quarter, now it's done when it's done.
There was a sequel planned for the Macintosh First-Person ShooterSensory Overload (which came out about the same time as Doom), but development apparently never commenced.
Halo Combat Evolved was, originally, an extremely impressive project with graphics beyond stunning, especially for being developed by such a small team, and expected to come out at the end of the year 2000 or beginning of 2001. Then creator Bungie was bought by Microsoft, who decided to use it as an exclusive title to support the launch of their upcoming Xbox. The game WAS a smashing success on that console, but the PC version was delayed by over 2 years (We're talking longer than Daikatana here), and when it finally came out, was a mildly interesting but bland standard shooter riddled by grindingly dull Copy And Paste Environments. The result is that Halo is a powerhouse franchise on the Xbox, but a pathetic joke of a franchise on the PC. The Apple Macintosh port took even longer than the Windows port, which is painful considering that the Mac was Bungie's primary platform prior to the Microsoft buyout.
One running joke among players of the serial MMORPGA Tale In The Desert comes from the lead developer's insistence that 'This Telling (iteration) will be shorter'. Of course, that was back in the second Telling, which ran for a year and a half, and led to the third Telling, which ran for over two years. At this stage, there are no predictions for how long the fourth Telling will run, though a Tech Tree quickly pushed forth light years ahead of its predecessors is a good sign...
The recent Gran Turismo games, particularly Gran Turismo for the PSP, have their experience in this field. The PSP iteration was announced at E3 2004 as Gran Turismo 4 Mobile, and was scheduled for release in 2005. However, due to the frankly astonishing amount of content that will apparently be in GT 5 (close to 1000 cars and around 70 variations of 20 tracks), the bigger project demanded most of Polyphony Digital's 100+ development staff, causing the PSP game to be stuck in development until its eventual release over 5 years after its announcement. An interesting case of one game being stuck in a long development phase directly causing another game to also get stuck in development.
Robotech: Crystal Dreams for the N64 slipped into vaporware oblivion when its developer, Gametek, went belly-up. Only a ROM of the demo version exists.
Warhawk 2 for the PSX. They did recently revive the franchise on the PS3, though.
GURPS Online. It's still advertised in the text for GURPS 4th Edition.
For that matter, many of the online tools for Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition (Especially the online game table app) have still not been released, despite advertising that they would be bundled with 4th edition on release in 2008.
Too Human started development in 1998 for the PlayStation. It was later moved to the GameCube when Nintendo announced an official partnership with developer Silicon Knights, but they started developing twoother games and Too Human got left behind. Eventually it started development for the Xbox 360 when Silicon Knights were bought out by Microsoft, and came out in 2008. The finished product was generally considered underwhelming by reviewers, and quickly forgotten by all but the most die-hard fans.
The English version of Digimon RPG ran into some delays after the site that would be hosting it disappeared. It finally came out in 2010 under the title of Digimon Battle.
Sadness for the Wii was announced so long ago that Nintendo's machine was still called the Revolution at that point. During "development" of the game, Nibris came under heavy criticism for not producing any evidence of any development, no images, demos, gameplay trailers, etc. All Nibris has to show for it is some concept artwork and broken promises. In the end, Nibris stopped develping games.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game oscillated between this and Development Hell. It was finally complete, and in time for a Halloween 2008 release, when the publisher decided not to publish it without warning. Frantic searching for a publisher meant that it was finally released June 16th, just in time for the 25th anniversary of the original Ghostbusters movie. It would appear that the delay (which the developers used to polish the game and fix bugs in the engine) actually helped out, too; the game received overall positive reviews and may have reignited interest in a third Ghostbusters movie.
The last Commander Keen game ends with an ad for "Commander Keen in The Universe is Toast!", planned for Christmas 1992. It never happened — their publisher at the time, Apogee, offered more guaranteed money for a game featuring John Carmack's new 3-D engine rather than a sidescroller. What makes this vaporware instead of a mere tease is that it's never really been officially abandoned, and a couple of the creators still insist they'd like to make the sequel.
Another classic that promised a never-to-appear sequel was Infocom's take on The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, potentially called Milliways: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Delays, including the development of Bureaucracy (also written by Douglas Adams), meant the game was delayed, with Infocom eventually going bankrupt before the sequel could be made. All that is left to show for it are some of Douglas Adams' notes and a very, very small amount of code with nothing more than a few locations on the surface of Magrathea, only two of which have any description whatsoever. All of the code, what little there is, is playable online here. A complete history (as complete as anyone can make it, anyway) can be found here.
A couple of years after Final Fantasy VI was given its release Square turned to a Western PC game company to oversee a PC release of Final Fantasy V, but due to communication breakdowns between the company and Squaresoft Japan (and the company pretty much not caring about video games at all in the first place) that project was scrapped too. A remnant of their work exists: They are the source of the "Blind Idiot" Translation that V got in the Final Fantasy Anthology for the PlayStation, released in 1999.
Only Puzzle Quest players on the Xbox 360 and PS3 got the expansion pack Revenge Of The Plague Lord. Versions were announced for the Wii and PC, but never emerged, nor were any cancellations of same announced. Though apparently, many of the elements from Plague Lords were integrated into the iPhone version of PQ. The PS3 version came out so much later than the others that it was bundled with the expansion.
Freeware space exploration simulator Noctis IV saw a good (and justified, given how an entire galaxy was squeezed in 700 kilobytes of data) popularity in the early 2000s; the author announced Noctis V, a version with native Windows support, a renewed engine and many more new features and adjustments, around that time. For a while, it completely fell off the radar, and contributions to the NIV starmap weren't even included in the game anymore. Then, support to NIV resumed and its source code was released, but as of July 2009 (when the author once again assured that he hasn't given up on the project), NV still hasn't come out, while the older iteration shows more and more the signs of its age (like complete lack of sound, a very cumbersome interface, and low resolution).
Note that Noctis V is taking awhile primarily because its sole developer (who works on it without pay) is currently focusing on writing an entirely new programming language on which to build the game.
Line's End, the sequel to the freeware RPG, A Blurred Line, has been eluding expectations of a conclusion to A Blurred Line's engrossing story for several years. The creator seems to have abandoned it in favor of a career in law.
Chip's Challenge 2. The original game developer, Chuck Sommerville, produced this sequel, but then the company that had the copyright on the game decided not to have it published.
The developer Zoonami is infamous for this. The studio was founded in 2000, and hyped up to be a major third-party publisher for Nintendo, but its two major projects (A FPS for the Gamecube called Game Zero and the rhythm game Funkydilla) were announced but never released.
Twisted Metal Black 2: Harbor City was supposedly cancelled due to several developers dying in a plane crash, though that's now widely believed to be a hoax as there is no actual proof that anything like that ever happened and Jaffe himself more or less admitted it was false, it's more likely that Jaffe was too busy working on God Of War to be able to devote his full attention to Twisted Metal, so he ultimately pulled the plug on the game because of it.
Dwarf Fortress's interface ('It's not coming in your lifetime, but it's coming.') will supposedly get a revamp when it gets closer to the fabled v1.0. Understandable, since it's an alpha product. Tarn Adams jokingly estimated in one interview that at his current rate of progress 1.0 will come out sometime in the early 2020s.
Which isn't to say that it's not being worked on. The Toady One releases progress reports on a fairly regular basis, but given the type of game that Dwarf Fortress is, it will be a very, very long time before it's near completion.
Tiberium, a strategy/FPS hybrid in the Command & Conquer universe, drew along for some two years before being canned by EA's Quality Control. According to Game Informer, it controlled well, but they just couldn't make it fun.
The team developing the game said it was cancelled for very different reasons, simply put there were rampant disagreements amongst the dev team, as several people wanted to take control of the project and all had they're own ideas for the game, with so many people competing for control of the project, the game development severely slowed down to the point where EA decided it was cheaper to cancel the game outright, rather then risk any more delays.
This appears to what has happened to Rock Band Japan. In June 2008, Harmonix said they were codeveloping the game with Q Entertainment for Japanese release, featuring popular Japanese artists. There has yet to be word of it since.
The fifth Ace Attorney game (known as Gyakuten Saiban 5 in Japan) looks to be barrelling into this territory; it was announced in May 2007, and there has been no mention of it since. Since then, Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth was announced and released in Japan in May 2009 (two years after the announcement of GS5!) and in early 2010 for all major Western regions, and a secondAce Attorney Investigations game was released in Japan in February 2011.
The Court-Records.net Forums have recently started calling the game "The fabled GS5" (usually written this exact way, including italics) and some pessimistic fans there use the term in a simmilar way Duke Nukem Forever was used not too long ago. However, despite the fact that not one, but TWO Spin Off games, starring Edgeworth and Phoenix respectively, are in the works, the developers (including Shu Takumi) keep dropping hints that the second Apollo game might actually exist left and right... Fans are indeed confused.
And the odds of ever seeing it just got a little lower, with Capcom announcing the series' 10th anniversary project is a live action movie... starring Phoenix, not Apollo.
An 10th anniversary event in late January 2012 has reconfirmed Gyakuten Saiban 5, although no new info besides a logo.
It is vaporware no more! Screenshots have been released showing that Phoenix returns as the main charcter, Payne's brother is the prosocutor for the first case, a new female assistant and the first case features a young woman accused of blowing up the court house! And it is on the Nintendo 3DS with the game getting a Video Game 3D Leap.
Mega Man Anniversary Collection for the Game Boy Advance would have collected MM's five original Game Boy adventures. One speculation was that creator Capcom had lost the source code for the original games. Eventually, Capcom declared it too expensive to produce, and that the GBA was in decline anyway.
Quantic Dream had originally planned on making a sequel to Omikron: The Nomad Soul called Nomad Soul: Exodus. However tensions between Quantic Dream and Eidos forced them to scrap it. A few years later they announced yet another sequel, this time called Omikron 2: Karma. Once again, the project was put on hold so Quantic Dream could focus on Heavy Rain. Given the long developmental cycles their games tend to have, who knows when—or if—Omikron 2 will actually see the light of day.
The now-defunct Tabula Rasa, an MMO by gaming legend Richard "Lord British" Garriott, spent ten years in Development Hell, cost $100 million, and, according to the hype, was going to do to MMOs what Ultima did to RPGs. The game was canned about a year after release. Ultimately, Garriott sued the publisher, with each claiming the other was responsible for one of the game industry's most spectacular failures to date. It turns out it was NCSoft's fault, through what can only be called a real life example of Corrupt Corporate Executive behavior — they cancelled the healthy MMO and forged a resignation letter from Richard Garriott to keep him from getting a stock windfall. This backfired gloriously though, as Garriott successfully sued them for $28 million.
MapleStory DS was an example of this for a while. It was announced at E3 2006, and received multiple previews and release dates. The date got pushed from September 2007, to 2009, to January 2010, and was finally released in South Korea on April 15, 2010.
Resident Evil 2 was intended to be released during the spring of 1997, but ended up being revamped from scratch after the designers were unsatisfied with the nearly finished build of their first version (now dubbed Resident Evil 1.5), delaying the game by a whole year. The original version (1.5) had Leon S. Kennedy as the main male protagonist like in the released version, but instead of Chris Redfield's sister Claire, 1.5 had Elza Walker, a college student/motorcyclist with no relation to Chris or any other previously existing character. The police station the game was set in looked more like a regular office building in 1.5 than the art museum-like design of 2. A group that had gotten hold of an early build has since compiled a playable ISO image of 1.5 that can be found online. It's buggy as hell and not even close to a complete game, but sure to please those who've been itching to try 1.5 ever since news first broke that it was canned.
The Gameboy Color port of Resident Evil 1 was canned at about 90% completion. Two ROM images were eventually released online, and even though both are unfinished, it's possible to play through the whole game between the two beta images.
Official Dreamcast Magazine did a preview write-up on an intriguing Survival Horror game titled Agartha and developed by Frédérick Raynal, the man behind the original Alone In The Dark series. Unfortunately, Sega Europe pulled the plug on many of the games in development and so Agartha never saw the light of day.
Metroid: Dread was hinted at in the Metroid Prime series, and since then, every Metroid fan has been demanding to know its status or quick to assume any upcoming title will be Dread. With the announcement of Metroid: Other M, the first thing Nintendo did was state that it was not, in fact, Dread under another name, and were coy that such a game was ever even under development. Later, they claimed that it definitely existed, but had been "shelved indefinitely" during work on Other M. More recent interviews have stated that Dread exists, without a doubt, but no further details about which studio will work on it, where in the timeline it will fit, or when work on it will resume have been released.
Metroid Prime Hunters came dangerously close to becoming vaporware, having been promised to be released on the Nintendo DS' release date, and maybe even included. However, numerous push backs finally brought the game to release a few years after intended release date.
After Other M was released, one developer for Nintendo basically confirmed a script has been worked out, but nothing else. What power-ups and enemies will be used will be determined by the design team, and the script is being shelved "until the right time."
The originally-in-English dating simulation Shira Oka Second Chances began development around 2005. Demos were shown at conventions, but no demo was released to the public until July 2010, and the full Windows version was released through Impulse Driven in December 2010. (Several similar indie games such as Summer Session and Spirited Heart were created, completed, and released during that time.)
Knights of the Old Republic 2 was released in late 2004 in a very reduced state due to LucasArts giving Obsidian Entertainment only 13 months to work on it. Obsidian even offered to do a mega-patch for the game to restore all the cut content but in their infinite wisdom, LucasArts refused the offer. In Spring 2005, shortly after its release on the PC, a group of modders calling themselves Team Gizka started work on restoring the content that was still in the game, but not accessible. This effort was known as The Sith Lords Restoration Project. Work went on for many years, with even the developers of the game hoping to see it complete. As time went on, people began to think that the mod was just Vaporware, until 2008 when a closed beta was announced (the beta was later leaked to torrent sites and the like). In Summer 2008, a video was posted on YouTube which seemed to suggest that the mod would see a release very soon, but summer came and went without a release or any news. Cut to 2010 and it seems that Team Gizka's website is gone and the mod is apparently dead for good.
Fortunately, another team of modders known as Zbyl2 and Darth Stoney decided to attempt to restore much of the same content that Team Gizka was working on after progress on the Sith Lords Restoration Project seemed to slow to a trickle. They finished their mod, which can be downloaded here.
Freedom Fighters had a sequel announced half a year after its release in 2003. Very little has been heard of it since.
Translation of Narcissu -side 2nd- was put through this because the combination of economic recession forcing one of the translator to take a job with no free time to work on it and complete disapperance of the other translator. It came out roughly a year behind schedule.
A sequel to 1987's The Fools Errand was announced in 2003, with a projected release date of Hallowe'en. This date was pushed back at least 38 times over the next nine years, but The Fool and His Money was finally completed in 2012.
Dreamfall Chapters, the third game in The Longest Journey series, was first mentioned in 2007 and only started production in November 2012, due to designer Ragnar Tornquist working on The Secret World (itself also delayed frequently). Also, it's apparently not even going to be the proper conclusion to the series, which is going to have to wait for The Longest Journey 2... expected to be released some time around 2030.
Castlevania: Resurrection was announced as a Sega Dreamcast launch title. Late in development, it was canceled for reasons that remain mysterious.
There was also a Castlevania title in development for the Sega 32X that also got canned when it was obvious that the system was not selling; some of its spritework was recycled for Symphony of the Night and Portrait of Ruin.
A very meta example: Makai Kingdom included a preview of the next game's protagonist, Asagi, as a bonus character. Her game, Makai Wars, has never surfaced so she's become a running gag who attempts to take over other games for her own. In-universe, Makai Wars was being worked on as a movie for well over a hundred years and Disgaea 2's PSP port's Axel Mode, tells us that it was scrapped during or after the game, and they skipped directly to Makai Wars 2.
The computer game adaptation of Champions, the pencil-and-paper superhero RPG, provides an epic example of this trope. Cover-featured in a 1992 issue of ''Computer Gaming World'', it promised to be an ambitious and groundbreaking game that would be faithful to both the RPG and the superhero genre. It never happened. According to Steve Peterson, designer of the original Champions, the game was about 50% complete when it was canceled. Problems included the game's extremely ambitious design for its day along with the divorce of the game's chief developers, a husband-and-wife team. Champions would finally become a computer game in 2009 as Champions Online, but apart from the underlying intellectual property, it has no relation to the vaporware classic.
It is a very common trope in independent game makers to plan out plots or characters and sometimes go as far as produce screenshots or artwork, only for the place updates of the game are posted on to go from frequent to quiet and for the game to eventually (and quietly) be dropped (a common red flag is when the latter updates over-emphasize how close it is to completion or something along the lines of "we're not dead, we're still workin' on it!", yet no real progress is shown otherwise). It is common because the core idea of the game was usually done out of a quick jolt of inspiration or impulse, and, among other reasons, die either because the creator's interest in the game waned, it turned out to be too much work (and if the engine in question isn't freeware or fully freeware, costly) than they expected, conflicting thoughts between the group (especially if the original creator was more dis-organized, inexperienced or holier than thou than the rest of the dev team they hired), personal reasons (school, work, personal life, we've all heard it before), or legal reasons (especially if said work was a fanfic embodied in a game, was a painfully obvious cut-and-paste of another source, or was meant as a fan-remake of another game). It has come to a point now that if there was someone out there that plotted out ideas for a game and was looking for a team, most would more than likely say "screenshots/demo/(privately-transferred-)prototype or it isn't serious." It is especially common in community boards dedicated to freeware game-making programs such as RPG Maker, Game Maker, DS Maker, Ren'py, Blade, Novelty, some ROM hack projects and tools, and so on.
Nexus: The Jupiter Incident, produced by Mithis and HD Publishing, released way back in 2005, was scedualed to have a Nexus 2 come out later in 2007. Its 2011. Many claim that no ship-to-ship space combat sim produced since has ever rivaled it, yet only a crusty layer of dust-caked die-hards can even remember its name. This is probably past vaporware by now...
Dead Island was announced at GC 2007, with a promised release date in 2008, and promptly went quiet until the release of a new trailer in 2011. The game was finally released in September of 2011.
The Zoo Tycoon 2 User-made extension pack "Cretaceous Calamity" is still being worked on, but the high amount of leaks and the fact that it's been years since the pack was first announced is worrying to say the least. Not to mention that the pack has no release date.
The UXP has had a history of trouble, having even been accidently reported as cancelled and then worked on in secret for a while to stop the leaks. The leaks continued. One of Mysterious Map Marvels' other packs Awesome Avians, has been cancelled, and the fate of Jurassic Park Pack part 2 is unknown. 9 members have left Mysterious Map Marvels.
Update: The UXP is now on hold, again.
There have been hundreds of UX Ps made for Zoo Tycoon 2, but only roughly five or six UX Ps ever released
The Incarna expansion pack EVE Online developers CCP has promised for years, which would feature walking in stations outside of ships, continues to be delayed since its set launch date for 2010. Since its announcement as a coming feature, 7 or 8 other expansion packs have been released.
Now it's been released - Well... it lets you walk around in your ship. That's something!
Rosenkreuzstilette Freudenstachel had developed a reputation for this during its production; it was originally intended to be released Summer 2009, but delays and setbacks pushed it back roughly three years. When it finally came out, the release date was October 20, 2012.
After severing ties with Banpresto, Winky Soft, developers of Super Robot Wars Gaiden, created a similar game called Seireiki Rayblade. In 2001 they announced a sequel... Which hasn't come out yet, despite the official site being updated every few years. With the release of Duke Nukem Forever, it now holds the dubious honor of being the oldest unabandoned videogame project.
Postal III was officially announced way back in 2006, with development going even further back, and the first gameplay footage was released in 2008. It was released in 2012 in an Obvious Beta state and was trashed by most of those who played it.
For a while, there were rumors about a third Baten Kaitos game for the Nintendo DS. It was later confirmed to have never gotten part the first stage of production; however, rumors about Baten Kaitos 3 still persist.
The latest Mech Warrior game was announced to much rejoicing from the fans along with a spectacular looking trailer, in 2009. Then, news surfaced of a lawsuit by Harmony Gold, and nothing had been heard since. Fans had already resigned themselves to another Mech Warrior-less decade. Then, the game resurfaced asMechWarrior: Online, a free-to-play game set to go live in August of 2012. Word Of God in 2011 was that were was no lawsuit, but rather a cease and desist order aimed at IGN, where the original trailer was first posted. The real issue was being unable to scare up a major publisher for what would have been a Mech Warrior 5.
Ultimate Journey was to have been released by Bandai America for the NES in the early 1990s. Apparently a Ninja Gaiden-like game with an Magical Native American warrior who could transform into animals, it must have been at least nearly finished, since box art was produced and Electronic Gaming Monthly gave it a full-page review, yet little more about it has emerged since.
Vic Viper, a 3D racing game by Konami, was described by EGM as "30-percent finished" when they previewed it in 1995. EGM's suspicions that the game might not be released proved correct.
After Conduit 2 flopped, High Voltage Software's Wii games The Grinder and Animales de la Muerte are becoming this. While both were close to being finished when last seen in 2010, High Voltage has not been able to find a publisher willing to release them, and now that the Wii is about to be replaced, it'll likely remain that way.
Ever heard of the (very NSFW) Emo Game? There was a Super Emo Game III' in development for a long time. Scheduled for a 2006 release, it... was never released. Very, very occasional updates were released for years. For a while, it was claimed the game was going to be on a CD you could order online. And then, to close the cycle, superemogame.com was taken down and all mention of Super Emo Game III was removed from emogame.com, as were the links to the blogs discussing it.
Tiny Toons: Defenders of the Universe was being developed by Treasure in the early 2000s under contract from Conspiracy, with screenshots and previews being shown. However, years passed by and there was nothing new on the release of the game. Eventually, the game was confirmed as cancelled, the reason supposedly being that Conspiracy went bankrupt around 2002, and lost the rights to Tiny Toon Adventures before the game was released. Fortunately, the game wasn't completely lost, as a ROM of the beta was leaked, and can be played on a PS2 emulator.
Thunder Force VI was first announced for the Sega Dreamcast, and an intro movie from late 2000 exists. The next year, Sega abandoned the console market, and Technosoft folded. The unreleased game's soundtrack was released. Sega ended up licensing the series and releasing an all-new Thunder Force VI for the PlayStation 2 in 2008.
Shadowgate Rising was fairly close to complete as another Nintendo 64 installment in the franchise, but the GameCube's imminant release coupled with the middling reception Shadowgate 64 had garnered both combined to seal its fate.
The graphic adventure Indiana Jones and the Iron Phoenix, a sequel to Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, was never produced except for a comic book tie-in. One reason for its cancellation was the worry that a No Swastikas version could not be produced for Germany, as the plot involved Nazis using the Philosopher's Stone to resurrect Hitler.
The Bonk/PC Genjin series had an advertised but never-released RPG spinoff called RPC Genjin. Many years later, a revival titled Bonk: Brink of Extinction was being developed for WiiWare, XBLA and PSN; some gameplay footage of it was shown at E3 2010, but the next year it was canceled along with many other Hudson Soft titles.
Bio Force Ape, a fast-moving NES Platform Game by Seta starring a genetically altered chimpanzee using pro-wrestling moves, was previewed in 1991 as an upcoming release, but canceled within a year. Reports in 2005 that a prototype of the game had been discovered turned out to be a hoax, but five years later an actual prototype cartridge of the game was discovered.
Ys IV was slated to be released for all three of the main 16-bit platforms in Japan: the PC Engine, the Mega Drive and the Super Famicom. Each version was to be developed by a specific team based on a rough outline provided by Falcom. While the Super Famicom and PC Engine versions (produced by Tonkin House and Hudson Soft respectively) were eventually released, the Mega Drive version, which was to be developed by Sega-Falcom (the same co-production between Sega and Falcom members that developed the Sega CD port of Popful Mail), was canceled without even a single screenshot released.
Lufia: Ruins Chaser for the Sony PlayStation, cancelled due to the bankruptcy of its developer.
Lufia: Beginning of a Legend for the Game Boy Color, originally in development alongside Ruins Chaser.
Doom 4 was first announced in 2008, but has repeatedly hit delays due to id Software being bought out by Zenimax, as well as development resources being channeled into Rage, and is not expected to be released until 2013.
Agent by Rockstar. Revealed at e3 2006 as a Playstation 3 exclusive title, and has been MIA since. As of 2012, nothing has been shown of the title other than the logo.
Stellar Dawn, a Sci Fi MMORPG by Jagex, has been in development since 2008 or 2010, depending on whether or not you include the never finished predecessor Mechscape. Its development has currently been paused indefinitely.
Metal Gear Solid: Rising, a hack-'n-slash (with stealth elements) spinoff of the Metal Gear series, was first announced in E3 2009, with a gameplay demo being shown the following year. However, the project was on the verge of cancellation when the developers failed to produce anything more than a tech demo by the end of the year, and couldn't get the game to play the way they wanted. As a result, Kojima Productions handed development of the project to Platinum Games and the game resurfaced as Metal Gear Rising Revengeance, released in February 2013. The final product was still a stealth/hack-and-slash hybrid just like the original incarnation, but it doesn't play like how it was originally going to.
Koei announced Ni-Oh! back in 2005, based on a lost script by Akira Kurosawa. The movie never happened, and the game was believed completely cancelled. Until late 2012, in which the President of Koei revealed there was a working alpha build, and the game is still happening.
Shadow of Atlantis, first in development for the Sega CD and later for the 32X, was ultimately canceled in 1997.
Shogo: Mobile Armor Division had two Expansion Packs, Shugotenshi and Legacy of the Fallen, neither of which was released due to a sudden drop in sales the month after the main game's release (blame Half Life). Rumors of a sequel were substantiated by a tech demo of a new version of the LithTech Game Engine with images labeled "Shogo 2"; unfortunately, LithTech 3.0 turned out to be too buggy to be used in any released game.
Grandia Online was announced a few years ago but very little, if any, details have come of it.
Tengai Makyou III: Namida was announced in 1995 as a potential Killer App for the unpopular NEC PC-FX console (which did get a Full Motion Video game based on the series), but was not released until 2005 on the PlayStation 2, eight years after the series' fourth installment came out.
AHighlander video game was announced several years ago, then repeatedly postponed and pushed back until the company making it was sold in 2011 and the new owners ultimately pulled the plug.
Infinity: The Quest for Earth, a indie space combat/trading MMO has been continuously in development for nine years, with the "expected release" generally a year to two years ahead of the date at the time. The game appears to be caught in the development hell of constantly trying to stay up-to-date; the development newsfeed is composed almost entirely of graphical changes.
Mirrors Edge 2 has reportedly been languishing in development hell since 2008. It was revealed then that the original game was only the first part of a planned trilogy, and less than a year later, Electronic Arts confirmed that the sequel was in full production. Since then, various announcements have popped up online every few months, usually with one or more EA executives or developer staff members saying the game is being worked on. Yet, more than one prototype for the game was scrapped by the publisher, and despite the dev industry generally knowing the game is in development at DICE, there's been no announcement for months as to the overall status of the game. Rumors suggest that the game is being pushed for a next-gen release on the Frostbite 2 engine.
On the news of Star Wars video games, Star Wars Battlefront III was first (unofficially) claimed by Computer and Video Games magazine all the way back in September 2006 that Free Radical Design was developing the game, and it took a full year and nine months later from a different magazine just for a rumor that a LucasArts employee was in the creation process. Then, nothing for another five months before Activision Blizzard got a ratings classification from the Austrailian Film and Literature Classification (Which got an E10+ equivalent for the Nintendo DS), along with announcements that Free Radical lost the rights to develop the game. After that, things started to leak, such as gameplay footage, character renders, models and textures, and pre-alpha footage. As of yet, however, Pandemic Studios and LucasArts seem to be pretty much up on the air on this one. However, the general consensus is that the game is pretty much dead.
Fear and Respect was a wide-open sandbox game set up as a vehicle for Snoop Dogg and was produced by John Singleton that was set to be ready for a 2006 release. But despite having much buzz (such as a cover story in Game Informer and the announcement of a film version that would also feature Snoop Dogg), Midway canceled the game due to a crowded market.
A sequel to Skies Of Arcadia has occasionally been hinted at, but with no media to back it up. It's also been rumored that they were going to make a sequel at one point, but cancelled it for the Gamecube remake instead. Also of note is that said remake, Legends, was slated for a PS2 and PC port as well, but both were cancelled for unstated reasons.
Introversion Software (Uplink, DEFCON and Darwinia) spent many years hinting at their new project, Subversion, and even produced an intriguing twenty-part development blog - before abruptly halting all announcements and going dark for ten months. A lot of people feared Author Existence Failure, but the reality was more mundane; they'd realised that Subversion's ideas weren't coalescing into a game in they wanted it to, so they threw it onto the back burner and turned to a new game, Prison Architect. Subversion remains as a project and an idea, but it's pretty much on indefinite hiatus as a game.
Sword of Legendia was first announced in 2006 by Namco Bandai Games and was to be an RPG for the Wii. Though the title sounds similar to Tales Of Legendia, produce Tsutomo Gouda said it wasn't actually part of the Tales series and that the name would likely change. Other than one piece of character art, nothing was revealed about the game for years. No other pieces of art were shown, no screenshots, no trailers, not even any basic information on the story or gameplay. In a 2008 interview with Gouda regarding Tales Of Vesperia, he said that Sword of Legendia was still in development. Kentaru Kawashima, producer of Fragile Dreams Farewell Ruins Of The Moon also claimed the game was still in development in a 2009 interview. Finally, in a Japan Expo 2011 interview with Yoshizumi Makoto, it was revealed that Sword of Legendia was cancelled years ago.
Planet Michael, a Michael Jackson-based MMORPG, was announced in 2010 for a 2011 release. Nothing's been heard of it since; the Wikipedia page claims it's coming in 2013, but doesn't have a source listed to back that up.
Many PC games that uses mods will always fall under this trope at some point. Usually, the modder or a team of modders will get a bit too ambitious in their work and give up trying to complete the mod or real life issues pop up that prevent them from finishing their work. It is not unheard of to see mods with great potential that won't ever see the light of day.
Sonic 2 HD, a Fan Remake of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 had potential when the alpha stages of the remake were shown to the public with brand new shiny HD graphics and remixed music, and quickly became very popular. However, after months of releasing no further information of the game after the Emerald Hill Zone release, the development team decided to come out and say that L 0 ST, the main programmer of the game, had refused to stay in contact with the team, put DRM in the demo to stop people from trying to look at the game's code (Which was actually based off of Sonic 2's) and spent ages trying to make the game suit his vision perfectly, even going so far as to replace other members' work if he wasn't pleased with it. Eventually, the team got sick of his antics and cancelled the project.
Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium will most likely be left unfinished thanks to the fall of Vigil Games after its parent company went bankrupt and was unable to sell the studio. However, the members of the studio have repeatedly tried to calm down the crowd, stating that game isn't dead yet.
Bounty Arms, a 2D run-and-gun game for the PlayStation by Data West starring a pair of Lovely Angels with mechanical arms, was announced for the system in its early months. All that was ever released of the game was a playable demo of Obvious Beta quality, not counting the fact that it ends after half a stage.
Star Wars 1313 has apparently been put on hold due to Disney acquiring ownership of the Star Wars franchise, delaying the game for at least another year.
With the closure of Lucasarts and the cancellation of all of its current projects in 2013, we most likely won't be seeing this game anytime soon, if ever.
Fireteam Rogue, an Action Adventure game developed in the mid-1990s for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Publisher Accolade intended it to be the launch of a major franchise, including a toyline and a TV series. For all its ambitions (Accolade promised over 100 hours of gameplay), and despite being previewed in several magazines, the game was never finished.
Lobo, a fighting game based on the DC Comics character, for the SNES and Sega Genesis. Very little info was released before it was cancelled. A prototype was eventually found and a ROM dumped.
Kemco also announced a Lobo game for the Xbox. That was it. No screenshots were ever released and Kemco eventually announced it was cancelled with no work whatsoever having been done on the game.
Quite infamously, Star Trek: The Secret of Vulcan Fury was heavily hyped for a 1997 release, featuring the full cast of Star Trek: The Original Series reprising their roles and 3D character animation that could arguably rival Pixar's work in animated film ten years later. By 1999 the project had been cancelled due to Interplay's financial difficulties, key team members jumping ship, and a rapidly inflating budget.
Sam And Max Freelance Police, a 3D Sam & Max game that was to be published by Lucasarts and released in 2004, and even finished development and got rated by the ESRB, was infamously cancelled because Lucasarts claimed that "no one would be interested in the project", and fired most of their "creative division" as a result. Some of those people in the "creative division" went on to forming Double Fine, while the others went on to forming Telltale Games, who would later remake the 3D Sam & Max project. The rest is history.
Predating this is Sam & Max Plunge Through Space, a game that would've been an action game rather than a point-and-click adventure, and was going to be released for Xbox. The developing company went under about six months later, and so they pulled the plug on the project. To this very day, not much is known about the project.
Video Game Systems & Peripherals
The Phantom game console has earned numerous vaporware awards and frequent comments on its auspicious name (as if the entire thing was a practical joke on a massive scale). First announced in 2002 (when its download-only sales model seemed downright insane), it was repeatedly delayed and pushed back until being put on infinite hold in 2006. The design company has since been accused of fraud by the SEC, changed names, and decided to focus on releasing the console's couch-keyboard-and-mouse accessory for other platforms. Unlike the Phantom, this one actually was released, and the reviews for it were quite favorable. The only recurring complaint would be the terrible mouse that had to come along with it. That said, the company is still in dire straits regarding its financial and legal troubles. The other problem with the Phantom was that the CEO was a well-known con artist who specialized in vaporware.
Nintendo's SNES was to get a CD-Rom attachment — also known as the PlayStation X — which not only never materialized, but resulted in the Sony PlayStation and the worst slump in the company's history.
The 64DD, a disk drive for the Nintendo64. By the time it was released in 1999, everyone had long since lost interest, and it never saw the light of day outside Japan.
Many of the designs invented by Active Enterprises were doomed to fail from the start, but the most ambitious of these was their planned portable gaming console, the Action Gamemaster: Conceived as a massive, foot-and-a-half wide beast with a 3.2 inch screen, this system would not only be compatible with proprietary game discs (including "killer app" Cheetahmen 3), but it would also house an expansion port that would accommodate cartridges for the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis, and it could also be used as a portable television set, with a projected price point of 500 dollars. It seems as though Active were truly ahead of their time with their idea for a multisystem portable - many of the Gamemaster's features now seem to have manifested in Sony's Playstation Portable instead. Or in Nvidia's case, the Project Shield, which had a similar controller-with-screen form factor, sans the 18-inch device footprint.
The Panasonic M2 console was to have been the 64-bit successor to the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, but was canceled very close to its announced 1997 release. Konami did release a few arcade games based on the M2 architecture (namely Battle Tryst, Polystars, Evil Night, Heat of Eleven '98 and Total Vice), making it possible for the public to appreciate the system's mediocre 3D rendering capabilities and Loads and Loads of Loading.
As buyers were shifting from consoles to computers during The Great Video Game Crash of 1983, Colecovision promised an expansion module that would essentially turn their console into an Adam computer in an attempt to draw in customers. It never went past the prototype stage.
Wii Vitality Sensor was shown at E3 2009. It has not been shown again or talked about since by Nintendo. Some video game journalists seriously doubt that project was ever real and the sensor itself was just a mock up shown because Nintendo didn't have anything new or interesting to reveal at E3 that year.
The Konix Multisystem, a british console that definitely got past the prototype stage was looking pretty good before it disappeared.
The Atari Jaguar was to have had a model combining the CD attachment with the console. This may never have gone further than mock-ups, with the Jaguar's CD add-on selling poorly and Atari Corp. approaching bankruptcy.
In an ancient example, back to the 1960s, one of IBM's very first operating systems, OS/360 for their System/360 mainframes (released in 1965), was released in 1966 after budget over-runs, excessive hardware requirements and several mismanagements of time. Despite its numerous development problems, however, derivatives of the OS/360 operating system are still in use today.
The book The Mythical Man-Month was written based on the experience of developing OS/360 and goes over the errors that led to the project taking longer than expected. Despite being widely read by programmers, similar errors keep being made.
Because OS/360 was not ready when the System/360 hardware was, IBM patched together a quick and dirty operating system, DOS/360. A year later, when OS/360 was ready, users who had bought DOS/360 insisted that IBM continue to support it. It's still around, z/VSE being its descendent.
Talk of a sequel to His Dark Materials, The Book of Dust, started soon after The Amber Spyglass was released in 2000. As of May 2011, there isn't even a tentative release date.
Anti rape condom Rape-aXe from South African doctor Sonnet Ehlers was introduced in August 2005 in South Africa and production was scheduled to begin in April 2007. Nevertheless, up to now (Feb 2011) nothing has come of it.
It was banned on the grounds that women might forget to take it out...or that they would use it to torture men.
There are projects in application and system software that are older still. The most notorious example is Project Xanadu, the first computer hypertext system and intended to catalog all human knowledge: begun in 1960, still arguably in development, although its creator seems to have abandoned it of late.
The Vector must be the ultimate in automotive vaporware. Ten years from concept Vector W2, in 1978, to a production run of seventeen W8s. Then fourteen M12s made in 1996. Then another ten years roll by before the WX-8 prototype turns up at the LA motorshow.
GNU HURD operating system kernel. Once meant to replace commercial UNIX, it long ago lost that honor to Linux, which it is now championed to replace Any Day Now. Meanwhile, the constellation of open source software meant to be built around it has been Linux-based for decades now and will have to be ported back to its officially "home" system if the thing ever sees release.
For some perspective, development on HURD began in 1984 and the first actual, installable OS based on it came out in 2003; there is yet to be a release of even beta quality, meaning the project is older than this editor and still in alpha!
The fact that the GNU toolchain is most widely associated with Linux (and, to a lesser extent, Mac OS X and Solaris) led to GNU creator Richard Stallman attempting to get people to refer to the system as a whole as "GNU/Linux", which some have seen as justified acknowledgement of Stallman's work and many others as a sour-grapes attempt by Stallman to latch onto Linux's success. The issue remains a very polarizing one.
It also doesn't help that the HURD is based on a type of architectural design so complex (a microkernel with multiple user-space servers for OS functions) that no one has ever really succeeded in pulling it off. In fact, microkernels in general have fallen out of favor due to unresolvable problems with speed and operational overhead; the only really successful design on the market is Mac OS X, and it doesn't work even remotely like a microkernel was "supposed" to (specifically, the "kernel" is, operationally the kernel itself (xnu) as well as a number of other processes running in privileged mode).
And besides, the Mac OS X kernel is just the Mach microkernel (HURD is based on a fork of the same) and parts of * BSD slapped together. Hybrid kernels (ex. the NT kernel) are becoming more popular, being a mix of both monolithic and microkernels.
There are useful and reliable microkernel-based operating systems (e.g. QNX), but they see very little desktop use - practically speaking, they seem to be best suited for a few niches.
Ovation. It was going to be the great software release for MS-DOS, and the company flogged it mercilessly in the late '80s, claiming it would be THE killer app, replacing anything you could think of, with every bell and whistle imaginable. It never came out. Not even an alpha test version.
The SCEE display was vastly superior in both energy efficiency and color reproduction compared to CRTs, LCDs, and Plasma, and was supposed to enter mass-production "real soon now" - since 1989. Besides production problems, a lawsuit slowed things down in the mid-2000s, followed by the crash of 2008, and Canon finally threw in the towel in 2010 when LED-LCD screens obsoleted the technology.
Similarly, e-Ink and OLED have been in and out of the tech hype cycle since the '90s, and only reached production use in the late '00s, with both still limited to fairly niche markets. (e-Ink being too slow for most uses, and OLED being unavailable outside prototypes on monitor-sized screens.)
Both have caught on. Though e-Ink doesn't seem in wide use (mostly in E-Readers and thumbdisks as a "capacity left" indicator), color e-Ink now seems to be the vaporware extension of it. OLED however, has taken off in cell phones and portable media players. Televisions and displays using OLED are another story however.
The Mac OS was infamous for its replacement projects that either got stuck in Development Hell (Taligent and Copland) or never even started (Gershwin). In 1996, while on the verge of bankruptcy, Apple finally gave up and bought NeXTSTEP to get Steve Jobs back, which eventually became Mac OS X and helped save the company.
Chapter 2 of the Star Wars fan film series IMPS: The Relentless was in post-production, "almost done", for four years. It was finally released November 2009. Only 6 more to go according to the website.
The conclusion of the second "Starship Exeter" fan episode was originally promised to be released around Christmas 2007. Nearly 4 years later, no word on when or even if we'll see it beyond "a few months from now" (though the person doing the editing has released some screenshots on TrekBBS).
Trillian Astra - an improved version of the multi-client IM app, Trillian, has been promised since 2006. The Windows and iPhone versions finally came out of beta three years later. The MacOS version is still in alpha as of May 2010.
NASA's X-33/Venture Star, which was supposed to replace the space shuttle.
Along the same lines, scramjets, precooler jets, combined cycle ramjets, or any other technology promising hypersonic, air-breathing aircraft. Attempts to build such date back to the 1970s, at least.
The Moller Skycar. In the words of the SEC when they brought a suit against the company for exaggerating the likelihood of it ever working, "As of late 2002, MI's approximately 40 years of development has resulted in a prototype Skycar capable of hovering about fifteen feet above the ground."
Rumors of a new American Girl doll, Rebecca, began to surface in the adult collector community as far back as 1998, when Mattel trademarked the name of the character. Eventually details leaked that she'd be the first Jewish historical, and after that, she seemed abandoned, with dolls such as Native American Kaya and '70s girl Julie (and the entire Best Friends line) appearing instead. Rumors of prototypes of Rebecca being seen by company insiders floated the entire time, with various descriptions given of her appearance, but most of the collecting world have given her up as an idea dumped on the drawing room floor. Following the retirement of Samantha in 2008, American Girl finally confirmed they were producing Rebecca, who was released in May of '09.
Fusion reactors. With a fusion reactor and a glass of water, you could power a city like New York for 3 years. Research has been conducted since the 1950s, at which time they promised the first commercial fusion reactors by the year 2000. For a time, this was a joke on soc.history.what-if: "Kolker's Law: The estimated time until commercial fusion reactors will arrive remains constant." In other words, if an expert believed that fusion was 20 years away 20 years ago, he probably still believes it's 20 years away today. Not to say that progress hasn't been made. The advances in superconducting materials and lasers that modern experimental fusion reactors are built around hadn't been made when fusion research started in the '50s and what is now known as the field of plasma physics hadn't even been recognized fully as a discipline unto itself. Partly the reason why development has been so slow is also because fusion is always deemed of being too far away and too difficult to get any near-term returns from an accelerated effort. Presently several countries are involved in national and international scale projects in fusion and plasma control, and interest has grown, but given the timeframes of experimental research in the field, several decades of Vapor Ware are still to be expected.
In the same vein, advanced nuclear fission reactors (such as Gen IV reactors) may fall in this. Their benefits are great: they produce more energy with less fuel and produce less dangerous waste. Some designs eat the waste of the widely deployed Gen II reactors and some are essentially meltdown proof. But with events like Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima, it seems the prospects of nuclear energy have gone down the tubes in several countries.
Years after the events of 9/11, Ground Zero remained depressingly empty. Plans for a new World Trade Center were approved in 2003, scheduled to finish by the 10th anniversary; a cornerstone was laid in 2004... and all work halted until late 2006 while financial and architectural lawsuits raged. The actual tower construction didn't start until 2008, and the Port Authority now estimates 2013 before it's ready for move-in.
Chyoo, an adult create-a-story[[note]]Think Choose Your Own Adventure erotic fiction, collectively written.[[note]] website run by the same folks who run Literotica, has been advertising "Chyoo 3.0" for several years. In fact, their front page has a notice claiming Chyoo 3.0 will be released in a few months... that dates back to 2006. In actuality, the Literotica owners have apparently lost all interest in maintaining Chyoo. Lack of quality content probably has much to do with it.
Guns N' Roses' album Chinese Democracy spent 14 years in development hell before being released in 2008 to mixed reviews. Dr Pepper even offered a free drink to everyone in America if Axl Rose ever got his act together and released the album. They did, though the event was marred by website problems and poor communication.
Remember all that noise about the "All American Basketball Alliance", that supposed all-white baksetball league that supposedly was supposed to start in 2010, supposedly? Remember Don "Moose" Lewis' inflammatory comments about fundamental basketball and wanting to take the street out of it? No? Well, that's hardly surprising, since that's as far as this stupid idea ever got.
Wintersun's second studio album Time was originally slated for release in November 2006, and was pushed back to August 2007. When August 2007 came, it was postponed to 2008. It still has yet to be released and no date has been given. However, if frontman Jari Mäenpää is to be believed it is nearing completion and only 2 songs remain to be recorded.
Time is being released as two parts. The release date for Time I was announced as October 12th, though it was delayed by another week, with Time II expected to be done sometime in 2013. Things are bound to change, but so far it looks like the wait is coming to a close.
Immortal's Handbook, a third-party splatbook for Dungeons & Dragons. For awhile, the front page, at a glance, seemed to be 60% "look at all the cool stuff that I'm making!" and 39%, apologizing for not updating or releasing anything for years. Then, the website was changed. The new one seems a bit better in that regard, but not by that much.
Castle Greyhawk. Dungeons & Dragons fans have been waiting since the mid-'70s for an official release of Gary Gygax's home dungeon. Gary was looking at releasing the complex as early as 1978, but got sucked into the monumental task of writing The Temple of Elemental Evil and released only a few levels. In 1986, just as he had promised the castle again, he was unceremoniously fired as head of TSR. Any hint that Gygax would be releasing new Greyhawk or AD&D material would have sparked a lawsuit. In 2007, however, Gygax announced that he was creating a non-Greyhawk version of his iconic castle. One box set was released, detailing the castle fortress and the first level of the dungeons. Then Gary Gygax died on March 4, 2008.. Co-writer, Jeffrey Talanian was set to complete the project using Gygax's copious notes, but he was fired within six months and the Gygax Games site seems to be all but abandoned. Gygax's original co-writer Rob Kuntz was releasing material from his notebooks, but he has also dropped the project. Finally, a dedicated fan who knew both Gary and Rob and had played in Castle Greyhawk released his own version of the dungeons starting on level 2, which is probably the closest we will ever get to the actual Castle Greyhawk.
Speaking of D&D, the newest (so far) 4th edition never received a promised Virtual Tabletop app.
IPv6, the replacement Internet protocol for IPv4. No clue when it's going to see widespread deployment, let alone when it will fully replace IPv4... and now that the last IPv4 block has been given away, the problem is growing more acute by the day. IPv6 will require a wholesale updating of hardware, firmware, and software, along with major networking changes, that most companies are loathe to pay for in a recession, despite the writing being on the wall for a decade. (Though it's worth noting that I Pv 6 isn't itself vaporware; the protocols are all there, it's just a question of adoption. Until lots of eyeballs use I Pv 6, there's no point putting content onto I Pv 6, and until lots of content uses I Pv 6... you get the idea.)
Vocaloid CV04. Fans rejoiced when they learned that it was the fourth product in Crypton Future Media's "Character Vocal" series. Fans rejoiced further when it was announced that he would be a male voice instead of a female one. The few fans that heard the demos rejoiced even further when it was implied that YuukiKaji would supply the voice. The fans were incredibly annoyed when they realized that he was taking so dang long to be released and that they don't even know his real name. It's been about three years since his existence was made known and still nothing. And don't go searching for those demos either, they're long gone. Worse still, it's been announced that Vocaloid3 will be released this September and the CV series is in Vocaloid2. Unless CV04 is released soon or released with Vocaloid3, he may stay this way forever.
There was a fourth Bard's Tale game in development. Rumor has it that it was about 80% completed before being killed for unknown reasons. Much later, a completely different company announced, via a very nice-looking website, a spinoff game called Bard's Legacy: The Devil's Whiskey. All that ever came of it was a demo and a few song files.
Beyond the countless pilots that are shot but never picked up, some TV series never even make it that far despite being talked about.
Fearless Photog was a character created for a 1986 HeMan contest by then twelve year-old Nathan Bitner. Among other prizes the winning character was supposed to have entered into production. It wasn't until 2011 and after a massive case of "whatever happened to...?" on the Internet that Mattel announced that it would indeed be produced in 2012.
The tenth and final book in the Night World series. It's been more than a decade since the last book came out, and the publishers even re-released the earlier books in pretty omnibuses in anticipation of Strange Fate. Alas, she is still writing it.
Furaffinity.net, an art gallery that caters to the Furry Fandom, is notorious for promising new features and updates that never materialize. Shortly after the site launched in 2006, a rewrite of the entire site was announced (dubbed Ferrox) and that it would be in closed beta "soon". A year later, another announcement was made that a new version of Ferrox was in development. That project was eventually shelved two years later. Another project which would overhaul the UI has seen similar delays, first announced in 2007, having mock-up previews released in 2009, and finally setting a deadline of Summer 2011 for completion, which didn't happen. Dozens of other planned features have gone through similar treatment.
Pottermore, an esoteric and unexplained online supplement to the Harry Potter book series. Originally opened for limited beta testing in July 2011 and scheduled for public release that August, release dates have been continually pushed back…and back…and back…
Pottermore opened to the public on April 14, 2012, so it is Vaporware no more!
Bruce Coville's The Unicorn Chronicles. After writing books one and two in fairly quick succession (1994 and 1999 respectively), and leaving the captive audience with a massive cliffhanger, he then dropped off the face of the earth for nine years before publishing the third book in 2008… which ends with another cliffhanger. Coville even lampshades this in his author's note, saying that he feared fans of the first books would have outgrown the series before he finished it.
Stephenie Meyer began a P.O.V. Sequel for the Twilight series, entitled Midnight Sun. She originally hoped to publish it in 2008, but after a partial draft was leaked, she put it off indefinitely, saying she wouldn't touch the novel again until she was "sure everyone's forgotten about it."
Microsoft had several of these in Windows' lifespan, these include:
Windows Nashville - Would've been Windows 96, which included internet integration and several features from the ActiveX technology. A lot of the features were instead shuffled into Windows 98.
Windows Neptune - The consumer version of Windows 2000 with a few features that were instead shifted to XP. Instead, consumers got the horrible Windows ME. Although in its defense, Windows Neptune would've required more resources than most consumers had at the time.
Windows Longhorn - The successor to Windows XP and arguably Microsoft's most famous vaporware. Longhorn had several pioneering technologies, but the project had blown up way out of proportion, and Microsoft shoved Windows Vista out the door as an interim solution. Vista was not a great success, being exceedingly buggy even by the standards of newly-released Microsoft products and a serious resource-hog to boot. Longhorn, or at least something very like it, would eventually see the light of day as Windows 7.
Fans of rapper Dr. Dre are well acquainted with the concept thanks to his promised "Detox" album, which was described in 2001 as "The most advanced rap album ever" and was set to be released in 2005, before being delayed and set to be released by Interscope in 2010. Since then, two singles have been released, and Eminem and 50 Cent claimed the album would be released in 2012. Since his last album, 2001, came out, Dre has gone on tour, done production work on Eminem's "Relapse" album, promised an instrumental album based on the planets of the solar system and, in 2011, decided to take a break from music. Notably, the second single, "I Need A Doctor" is themed around Eminem trying to get Dre to stop wasting time and work on his album.
The Chinese Confucius Peace Prize was set up by a Chinese group in 2010 with possible government backing in response to a Chinese dissident winning a Nobel Peace Prize. Obviously intended to exist as an alternative, it was awarded to the former vice-president of Taiwan Lien Channote
who only learned of it by reporters asking about it
in 2010 and Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2011. Since then it hasn't been awarded to anyone.