Troubled Production / Video Games

"I loved that game, but am probably most dissatisfied with the final result. Certainly tried my best, but that thing nearly killed me."

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  • The much-anticipated mystery game 1666, that was being developed by Patrice Desilets of Assassin's Creed and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time fame, has been delayed due to conflicts between Patrice and Ubisoft due to Ubisoft acquiring the rights to the game after THQ's bankruptcy. Since Patrice had left Ubisoft for THQ due to creative differences, Ubisoft wasted no time in firing Patrice over "creative differences". However, as one final act of spite, Ubisoft did not outright cancel 1666, since that would revert ownership of the rights back to Patrice. Instead, they put development "on hold" indefinitely just so they can keep the title out of Patrice's hands. Patrice is now pursuing legal action to force Ubisoft to release the property.
  • The Act was a story-centric interactive game with hand-drawn animation from ex-Disney animators. It was initially seen as an arcade game with later plans for console and PC ports. The developer, Cecropia, test-marketed the game in several New England locations. Despite positive reviews, publisher interest sadly didn’t materialize, and Cecropia ended up closing its doors in 2008. Several arcade kits were auctioned off, however, which ended up in arcades in Utah and Florida, and a dedicated cabinet currently makes annual appearances at the California Extreme pinball and arcade show in Santa Clara, California. A third-party company named React Entertainment did port the game to iOS devices in June 2012. However, the game was later removed from the App store in early 2015, with React Entertainment having ceased operations.
  • Action 52 is what happens when you get four inexperienced programmers together in a recording studio, have them work on 52 games at once in less time than it takes to make one, constantly change ideas throughout development, and expect to kickstart a franchise with little promotion. It's lucky to have even been finished, and almost no bug testing took place.
  • Aliens: Colonial Marines spent six years in Development Hell, and it shows in the finished product. Reportedly, the game's sorry state involved a clusterfrak of epic proportions on the part of publisher Sega and developer Gearbox Software alike.
    • 20th Century Fox had tried to get production rolling for many years, beginning with an aborted attempt by Check Six Games (which was intended to be released for the PS2 at one point) in 2001, and culminating in their hiring of Gearbox Software in 2006.
    • However, production was very slow for the first four years, and there were a lot of "cooks in the kitchen" with different ideas about where to take the franchise. Allegedly, Gearbox was using money Sega paid them to work on other projects, including Borderlands 2 after the first game became a surprise hit. They eventually farmed out the game to TimeGate Studios (makers of Section 8 and the non-canon F.E.A.R. expansion packs) so that they could meet their obligations to Sega.
    • The first indication that something was wrong happened when TimeGate got their hands on Gearbox's assets for the game. What they found was a hodgepodge of barely functional code that clearly wasn't the result of four years worth of work, forcing TimeGate to scrap most of it and rebuild the game from scratch. Complicating this was the fact that the script had not been finalized yet, so content was continually being scrapped or changed due to last minute story changes. The creative process was also hampered since TimeGate had to pass all decisions through both Sega and Gearbox, leading to multiple conflicts. Finally, Gearbox and TimeGate had wildly different design philosophies, with Gearbox being more content with delaying games to ensure quality, while TimeGate being more concerned with shipping games as quickly as possible.
    • During this time, an amazing-looking teaser reel was released at E3 2011 showcasing sections from the Hadley's Hope stages, helping to get people pumped for when the game came out. This video was made of nothing but lies. The demo was cut together using pre-release code running at a higher framerate than the finished game, polished to a greater extent, and featured gameplay elements and setpieces that were not present in the final product. Furthermore, the demo was a prelude to another series of delays, as the release was eventually pushed to February 2013.
    • By 2012, most of their replacement assets were still incomplete, and Sega was becoming impatient with progress to the point that they could threaten legal action for contract breaching. Gearbox had to step up, try again from an incomplete product, and rush the game out the door despite knowing it was in no condition to hit the market in order to get their contract fulfilled.
    • After the game's critical drubbing, a planned Wii U port was scrapped, and Sega and Gearbox were hit with a class-action lawsuit for knowingly misrepresenting the levels, graphics, and AI in previews and press demos, as well as restricting reviews until after the game's release. Sega agreed to a $1.25 million settlement, but not before accusing Gearbox of lying to them as well by presenting the demo as indicative of their progress.
  • The cancellation of the indie game Ant Simulator — along with the controversy that ignited afterwards — tells a story of both deception and dysfunction. It’s hurt the spirits of everyone involved, and tons of money and hours spent developing the game were lost. However, there’s two conflicting accounts from the three developers regarding what actually happened behind the scenes.
    • Erik Tereshinski, one of the developers, made a video in January 2015 announcing that Ant Simulator was cancelled, and claimed that his lifelong friends and business partners Tyler Monce and Devon Staley had spent the development money on things like “booze and strippers”. Later, he bemoaned Monce’s incompetence with submitting the game to Sony for a software development kit, asserted that Staley had been dishonest regarding conversations with Sony, and accused the two of overspending on setting up an office in the basement of Staley’s mother’s home.
    • On the other side of the coin, Monce and Staley denied Tereshinski’s allegations and began pointing fingers at him. They claimed that Tereshinski had complete control over their company ETeeski — which included bank accounts, social media accounts and the website — partly because of his ego. They also accused him of transferring funds from the studio to his personal bank account. Monce and Staley have since considered pursuing legal action against Tereshinski.
  • Apocalypse contains a full list of credits for the version of the game that Activision tried to develop internally but eventually gave up on and had Neversoft rebuild from the ground up.
  • ARMA III's development eventually led to a somewhat-infamous incident where two members of the dev team were arrested in Greece and held for over 4 months under charges of espionage. Greek officials asserted that they were taking pictures of Greek military facilities as research for the game's setting, while the devs retorted that they were simply on vacation and that the planning and designs for the setting were already pretty much finished by then.
  • Battlecruiser 3000 A.D. In 1989, Derek Smart had the idea for a grand, sweeping game set on a large ship cruising a realistically large galaxy. Players could choose how they wanted to experience it, from either the strategic level commanding fleets of ships in interstellar campaigns, to just shooting it out on a planetary surface with a blaster. Three years later it was a gaming magazine's cover story as "the last game you'll ever want."
    • Smart posted regular, lengthy updates on multiple online forums. This got him in his first bit of trouble. He claimed at one point that he'd figured out how to make the opposing AIs use neural nets, a potential quantum leap in not only gaming but computing as a whole. Many developers and programmers were skeptical, and Smart's updates soon engendered one of the longest-running flame wars in Usenet history due to his penchant for writing lengthy and confrontational replies, then lengthy and confrontational rebuttals to the lengthy and confrontational responses those replies got. Some people say that the feud between Smart and his critics might as well have been the real game, since at least most people could play it.
    • Offline, his personality was having the same effect on his backers. He went through several before landing at a small, relatively new company called Take-Two Interactive. They got tired of his antics and, in 1996, called one of Smart's frequent bluffs by actually releasing the game. The buggy, unfinished result of seven years of hype, development, and online acrimony got the expected horrible reviews.
    • Smart immediately went online blaming Take-Two. He was just as incorrigible with the company's executives. During one of the fights he had with management there, he started trashing the company's office, reportedly completely destroying a Coke machine at one point (an account he denies).
    • Smart has released some later versions as freeware. The flame wars are probably still going on somewhere on the Internet. And given his interest in the development of Star Citizen, a game that he feels is a similarly troubled production (a charge that we won't elaborate on here), they likely won't end anytime soon.
  • Beast's Fury — a 2-D fighting game with a cast of anthropomorphic characters — was plagued with tons of issues and controversies during development, to the point of reducing its developers to infamy. This article describes it all as a "sideshow circus", and for good reasons.
    • The project began in 2013 when Austrailian indie game developer Rhyan Stevens and his Montreal-based company, Evil Dog Productions, note  sought to capitalize on the fame and recognition of Lab Zero's popular 2-D fighter Skullgirls with a 2-D fighter of their own. The fact that development had begun on such a propitious note –– coupled with how high the bar had been set by its predecessor –– was perhaps a sign of the meltdown to come.
    • Inspired by Skullgirls' successful Indiegogo campaign, Stevens created his own. Two back-to-back failed campaigns later, he returned with a third one. To incentivize donations, Stevens promised YouTube personalities Maximilian Dood and Egoraptor their very own guest characters if stretch goals were met...in exchange for promoting the campaign. The project also enjoyed free publicity from small YouTube channels and indie gaming websites who were eager to help. All of this proved successful, and the campaign raised over $20,000.
    • Shortly after, Evil Dog realized that their projections for the animation costs had severely undershot what they were in actuality. Furthermore, they were unable to complete the first two characters with what they had received. With little support elsewhere, Evil Dog approached the fighting game community with a fourth campaign. They stated that contributions would strictly be used to create something presentable for potential investors and publishers...who never arrived (save for one, which was apparently turned down). This forced Evil Dog to continue relying on crowdfunding money, who, despite skepticism, raked in over $47,000.
    • Unbeknownst to the public, numerous problems ran amok behind the scenes. The biggest was Stevens himself, whose verbally abusive and demanding nature ex-employees contributed to a stressful working environment without leadership or morale. He was also alleged to have been forgoing pay to multiple animators and voice actors — including Danielle McRae — who were involved with the project. This led to Maximilian Dood and Egoraptor's characters being scrapped, as their respective likenesses distanced themselves from the project altogether.
    • The animators had it worse: on top of Stevens' arrogance, they were hamstrung by the sluggish nature of developing the hand-drawn sprites. In one case, they painstakingly resized every individual sprite to improve frame rate. Expenses skyrocketed from the Mortal Kombat-esque finishing moves, which required exclusive animations when performed on all current and future characters in the cast. note  Even worse, only two animators were working on the game in their spare time. Evil Dog promised to expand their roster and speed up progress with yet another Kickstarter campaign, which improved nothing, despite making twice its goal.
    • Most of the funds were wasted away on the game's aesthetic and less on developing and refining the gameplay. This included in-game cinematics, 3-D models (one of which Stevens apparently wanted in a shower scene), and versus splash art and idle animations for characters hadn't yet begun development. Egregiously, despite being yet to release the very first demo, Evil Dog was already making plans for a sequel and an animated short film.
    • The demo finally arrived after numerous delays, though wound up a major letdown. Stevens and Evil Dog had previously claimed that they were "experienced" in fighting game development, but the bugs, wonky controls, unbalanced characters and exploitable moves proved otherwise to seasoned fighting game players. Though Evil Dog promised to patch the game, to the chagrin of players they dedicated entire updates to adding in non-gameplay features like the finishing moves.
    • Backlash erupted following the revelation that furry artist Adam Wan — who was accused by the fandom of being a bully and a sexual predator — was tied to the project. In panic mode, Evil Dog quietly dropped all mention of Wan from their crowdfunding campaigns, but didn't officially announce if he was actually removed from the team...which led to mass speculation that Evil Dog was deliberately hiding this information. Wan's involvement was later confirmed by one of Evil Dog's game designers on an Internet chat log, but the damage had already been done.
    • Vying for the support of Skullgirls' campaign backers, Evil Dog promoted Beast's Fury on the official forum, Skullheart. What followed — in an epic public relations fail — was Stevens and his lead programmer, Marco Arsenault, relentlessly attacking Skullgirls fans and critics on two different threads. Skullgirls' developer Mike "Z" Zaimont was among them, whose advice and offer to provide the Skullgirls game engine to Evil Dog were harshly (and stupidly) turned down. Elsewhere online, a dedicated Evil Dog stalked and harassed naysayers. Their treatment of criticism like the devil was widely condemned, granting the project instant notoriety among the Skullgirls and fighting game communities.
    • Despite the online acrimony, Evil Dog returned with another Indiegogo campaign and a Patreon in May 2015. For good measure, they also solicited promotion from professional fighting game player Justin Wong. The goal was an immense $185,000, which was far more realistic — if not daunting — than their initial campaigns. By this point, however, Evil Dog's incompetence and animosity had burned so many bridges that the majority of their fanbase refused to support them out of protest. The campaign flopped in spectacular fashion, grossing $1,620 note ...a mere 1% of their goal. Anticipating the campaign's failure, Stevens bailed on the project to focus on his personal life.
    • Beast's Fury was finally cancelled in January 2016, as confirmed by a FurAffinity interview with Stevens. His perceived indifference to campaign backers and development team members who had withstood his hostility ignited a massive Internet Backdraft, whereupon a conga line of angry, unpaid voice actors and animators stepped forth to deride Stevens, demand their money, and warn others. Stevens and Evil Dog's reputations were mercilessly ravaged until they were no more. The fighting game community have since then used the project as a perfect example of the "don'ts" of game development.
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine's development for Chapter 1 started off not too bad, but became a huge problem during the making of Chapter 2. According to a Patreon post, The Meatly describes how the decision to release Chapter 2 within two months "almost killed us," and his and his co-creator's health suffered as a result of working so hard on the game. And the night before the launch date the game broke completely, refusing to run at all. The problem was rectified before Schedule Slip could occur, but it was a very close call.
  • Team Alpha, the maker of the popular Alphabirth Game Mod for The Binding of Isaac, wound up being destroyed by their work on its third edition, as outlined in this blog post from the head of the mod team. Most of the problems stemmed from the new application programming interface (or API) introduced with the official expansion Afterbirth+. While it was intended to be mod-friendly, it instead suffered from clunky programming and design that made modding work far more difficult. Fixes were slow in the pipeline, especially for modding tools, and Binding of Isaac developer Nicalis was slow in communicating. While the mod was released, the burnout suffered by the team caused them to hang it up afterwards.
  • The partnership between Silicon Knights and Crystal Dynamics (with Activision involved on Crystal Dynamics' side) on the development of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain and a proposed, canceled sequel degenerated into a pileup of legal screwovers and Executive Meddling on ownership and content of the IP — with Crystal Dynamics winning and bridges burned. Because of this, don't expect to see a re-release of the first Blood Omen in the near future, although it is available on the PlayStation Store as a download for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable.
  • Body Harvest was originally slated to be a launch title for the Nintendo 64. However, during development, publisher Nintendo took issue with the game's violent themes and thus dropped out of the project altogether. The game was presumed vaporware until a small third party publisher picked it up and released it in October, 1998... more than two years after it was originally slated to be released! According to Rusel DeMaria's video game history book, the real reason Body Harvest fell through was because of DMA Design's and Nintendo's different ideas (DMA's free-form/mission play similar to GTA vs. role-playing elements that Nintendo wanted), and the game ended up being not as great as could have been after Nintendo didn't decide to publish it.
  • Bubsy 3D's status as one of the most infamous video games of all time was a result of its terrible production. After the release of Bubsy 2 almost killed the franchise, lead designer Michael Berlyn wanted to take the series in a new direction by taking the titular bobcat to the third dimension. The development was a challenge due to Berlyn and Eidetic's inexperience with the software required for 3D environments. After the release of Super Mario 64, Berlyn became worried. Thinking that the game would be out-shined by Mario, Berlyn and Eidetic tried making the game more complex, but due to the deadline getting closer, it was already too late. When the game came out, it was indeed out-shined by not only Mario, but also newcomer Crash Bandicoot released on the same console. The Bubsy franchise was killed due to poor sales, with a Sega Saturn port scrapped.
  • The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, as chronicled in the Polygon article "The Many Faces of The Bureau", spent seven years in Development Hell and faced long periods of uncertainty, not helped by constant criticism and bad PR:
    • During 2005-06, Take-Two Interactive bought up a number of developers and rebranded them as a singular entity called 2K Games. Take-Two bought the rights to the X-COM franchise from Atari and planned to kick things into high gear with a new installment of the franchise. Irrational Games was renamed "2K Boston" and, together with another Irrational regional studio renamed "2K Australia", began to draw up concepts for a new game. However, none of the concepts got past the drawing board with the exception of a multiplayer prototype (which was later scrapped).
    • After the success of BioShock, 2K Boston gave up interest on the proposed X-COM title and development became a joint venture between 2K Australia and 2K Marin in California. After BioShock 2 (which had been farmed out to 2K Marin) shipped in 2010, the two studios still hadn't come up with a workable pitch for the next X-COM, but they were helped by 2K Australia creative director Jonathan Pelling, who got some traction with a pitch titled "X-COM: Enemy Unknown" (after the international name for the very first game in the series) that was intended to take place in the 1950s. 2K decided to rush into production and use the Marin staff as support so the game could be finished and ready for release by 2011.
    • What followed was a communication breakdown between Marin and Australia. The Marin team was already divided into teams working on DLC for BioShock 2 and development of a new IP in addition to the X-COM project, while 2K Australia was working on the single-player campaign while Marin worked on the multiplayer component. The two studios were merged into a single unit (as Marin) and the game was officially announced (as "XCOM" without the hyphen), but this didn't ease tensions between the two studios.
    • Once it became clear that the game wouldn't meet its original ship date, the multiplayer component was scrapped yet again and the teams were forced to rush to get a prototype ready for E3 2010. The Marin team took the lead on development of the single-player campaign, but the directives from the Australia branch were confusing and vague. The teams attempted to work out their differences by swapping small groups of programmers between the studios, but many staff quit in response.
    • A hastily thrown-together vertical slice shown at E3 2010 was met with mixed reactions from the press. In the months after, several high-profile employees departed the studio and the project was rebooted. Also, Firaxis had begun work on what would eventually become XCOM: Enemy Unknown, which was more traditional and grounded in the franchise's strategy roots.
    • The Marin team dropped development of their new IP and continued tossing out more pitches and ideas for XCOM while development continued. The game slowly morphed from a first-person shooter to a third-person tactical game, and Marin took over lead development duties. It was given another ship date — March 6, 2012, the date that Mass Effect 3 was set to launch. The Marin team continued to rework the game and had voice actors come in to record lines (only to re-record it a year later with new actors). In October 2011, the main branch of 2K (reeling from the long development cycles being taken for XCOM and Bioshock Infinite) pulled 2K Australia from the project and instituted a mandatory "crunch" development period for the Marin team. This caused morale to drop and the March 6 release date to be scrapped.
    • 2012 saw more setbacks for the team, including the departure of creative director Jordan Thomas (to work on Infinite), the official announcement of Enemy Unknown (which received far more praise) and screens from the game that leaked online. However, the Marin team pulled together under the direction of design director Zak McClendon and started including classic enemies from the earlier games after the critical success of Enemy Unknown (and after 2K had previously told the team not to use said enemies like the Sectoids). It finally hit its development deadlines and was rebranded as The Bureau: XCOM Declassified before being released in August 2013.
  • Shortly after the release of the critically disappointing Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 in 2014, several anonymous sources came forward to shed light on the game's troubled production. Said sources ended up being from various employees of the game's developer, MercurySteam, claiming that development on the game had been a "degree of 'hell'".
    • Most of the blame was placed on MercurySteam's leader, Enric Álvarez. Outside of his seemingly friendly demeanor in the public media, in actuality his ego had grown since the success of the first Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, and he completely undermined and overlooked his programmers, designers and artists, running development based on his own personal criteria. As such, employees were often forced to include game features and mechanics into the final game that they didn't even like (such as the stealth sequences).
    • There was also a great degree of distrust between him and his employees, with the communication so poor that they were only informed about the game's features not from Álvarez himself, but rather from the press. This treatment was the final straw for José Luis Vaello, the Art Director for the first game, who ended up leaving MercurySteam to join another developer. Once work on the game had finished, MercurySteam laid off over 35 people- and more were to be expected.
    • MercurySteam's primary game engine was coded by only two people, and since Álvarez was prone to hovering over and monitoring his employees, killing ideas that he didn't like left and right, it was never updated, reducing the development down to a very sluggish pace. In response to the game's poor reception, Álvarez claimed that the reviewers's gripes had no merits and that they weren't doing their jobs properly. Additionally, he seemed to deny the complaints of his employees, as a post on his Twitter page showed.
  • The Kickstarter-funded, motion-controlled sword-fighting game Clang proved to be a failure of massive proportions. The game was developed by Subutai Production and sci-fi author Neal Stephenson, the latter of which making the game out of dissatisfaction over the portrayal of sword-fighting in most modern video games. Its 2012 Kickstarter campaign received over $500,000 in donations, which were intended to help Subutai attract investors and publishers. Shortly after, production slowed to a crawl following the announcement that the developer had exhausted all of the backers’ funds, ran into financial troubles and couldn't find anyone to invest in the project. Refunds were finally issued two years later in response to growing frustration from backers. Stephenson then announced the game's cancellation and also claimed that several people –including him and members of Subutai- were dealt significant financial losses at the end of the day.
  • Another Kickstarter project: Code Hero, a game coined as being able to teach players how to make games. The campaign began in January 2012 and nearly doubled its $100,000 goal. But when February arrived, people began complaining that they had not received their backing rewards. Developer Primer Labs' website and Twitter accounts were infrequently updated, and two proposed release deadlines would be missed. Fearing that the project was insufficiently funded, backers to demanded refunds en masse. Code Hero designer Alex Peake assured everyone that Primer Labs was “committed to finishing this game” when backers began to threaten legal action. Later, it was revealed that the funds raised covered the costs of the game only up to October, after which most of the game’s developers became volunteers. Some versions of the game have been made available on the Internet, but since 2012 Primer Labs’s Facebook and Twitter pages have been inactive.
  • Crash Twinsanity suffered through this. Deadlines not being met, scrapped concepts, the pressure of Universal needing the game out, and too many ambitious ideas led to about a third of the game's original ideas being cut. The final product, while still regarded as a good game, shows the lamented development cycle in many areas. However, the dev team have been kind enough over the years to explain and show off various parts of the game that got cut, even supplying cut voiced dialogue and storyboards, all of which can be found online.
  • Daikatana, as chronicled in "Knee Deep in a Dream".
    • Despite the success he'd enjoyed with Doom and its progeny at id Software, John Romero was unhappy with his job because he felt his vision as a designer took a back seat to the company's technological considerations. When his idea to split the company into separate divisions devoted to design and technology was nixed by the founders, he threatened to leave and start his own company instead, and was eventually let go.
    • Carrying out his threat, he and id cofounder Tom Hall started what became Ion Storm at the end of 1996, where "Design is Law." On the strength of their names and accomplishments, the company was able to raise millions. Some of this was spent on high-cost real estate, renting office space in the top floors of a Dallas skyscraper, featuring the Ion Storm logo carved into terrazzo in the lobby because, Romero said, he had always wanted to work in flashier offices at id. But all did not go well from that auspicious start.
    • Romero's dream game, Daikatana, would be the sort of First-Person Shooter he had pioneered, but with two sidekicks and multiple levels in four different time periods across a 4,000-year period. He told the media it would be available within a year, since the plan was to build it on the Quake engine. As you might expect, such an optimistic prospect was just asking for trouble.
    • First, Ion Storm had some internal warring because the Daikatana team felt the development of Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3 was stealing resources and staff, which ultimately hurt that game and forced the abandonment of the other early titles Ion Storm meant to bring out.
    • Then, they tried to move from the old Quake engine to the Quake II one, a process much more complicated and time-consuming than they thought. In June of 1997, they made it official — Daikatana would not be shipping that year. That didn't stop the company from taking out ads that cheekily promised "John Romero's about to make you his bitch", alienating some gamers and ramping up expectations for others. Romero has since apologized for the campaign and tried to distance himself from it; others involved say he was much more enthusiastic at the time.
    • Romero's prowess as a designer and programmer, despite his experience at well-managed id, did not transfer to management or leadership skills. His entire development team quit on him en masse to start their own company because they were so fed up with the lack of direction they were getting. To maintain goodwill with potential competitors, Romero avoided hiring away any of their programmers, instead hiring amateur programmers whose homebrewed levels for id's games had been the most downloaded — a fact which, another Ion Storm executive admitted later, told them nothing about what it was like to work with this person or what their work habits were. During the development of the game, the staff changed completely three times.
    • This turnover had a chaotic impact on the game code, with fragments inserted here and there by totally different people who had never communicated. Demos made from this increasingly buggy mess failed to impress at industry events. Communications between all the people working on the game did not get any better: one artist submitted the infamous "1,300-pixel arrow", a texture file for a crossbow bolt that was inexplicably 1300 pixels by 960 pixels. note  When Romero hired his then-girlfriend, Stevie Case, to work on level design, he nearly triggered another full-staff walkout.
    • The programmers who were working had some unexpected physical problems with the skyscraper office space. Some of them were under skylights where, around midday in the Texas sun, they would get too hot to work, and even if they didn't the light was too distracting. People were covering their cubicles in blankets to get their work done.
    • Ion Storm missed Daikatana's 1997 ship date, and its 1998 ship date, and its 1999 ship date. It became a punchline within the industry, as one webcomic memorably demonstrated. Eidos, Ion Storm's parent company, finally had to step in and straighten things out. And as things were finally turning out, id released the Quake III game engine. Recalling how much fun they had had three years earlier upgrading to its predecessor, Ion Storm understandably opted not to do it again, meaning the game they had poured so much design effort into would be technologically behind from the moment it was released.
    • The game ended up delayed so much that, by the time it came out in 2000, it was seriously outclassed by competing games like Half-Life, System Shock 2, and the soon-to-be-released Deus Ex. The resulting product ended up being a complete bust and pretty much ended the fame and career of John Romero, who, before Daikatana, was a superstar developer on a par with Sid Meier and Tim Schafer thanks to his work on Doom and Quake.
  • The cancelled Daredevil game owes its nonexistence to this trope, as this video would explain. In a nutshell...
    • 5,000 Ft, a game studio located in Reno, Nevada, wanted to make a game of their own after assisting 3DO with their Army Men series for the PS1. After being bought by publisher Encore, Encore proceeded to buy out a few licenses to several Marvel products, such as Captain America, and of course, Daredevil.
    • 5,000 Ft thought of doing a Daredevil game for the PS2 because of their interest in the character. They presented their ideas to Encore, which consisted of a linear third person brawler that was heavily tied into the comics. The game was meant to be a series of vignettes based around famous Daredevil stories as a way to celebrate the character’s legacy. After a week of creating a workable prototype for Encore, the game was greenlit for production under the name Daredevil. Marvel themselves became heavily involved with the game’s development, at first being very easygoing with 5,000 Ft such as giving the writers full creative control over the story of the game.
    • Sony Pictures then called upon former 5,000 Ft president, Tim Page, to inform him of the then upcoming Daredevil movie. Because of this coincidence, Encore decided to port the game to PC and Xbox alongside its original PS2 port. This forced both Microsoft and Sony to watch over development of the game.
    • After meeting with Sony, 5,000 Ft was forced to increase the budget and scale of their game. The game became an open world action game that was meant to be a lot more combat focused. The game was then given a deadline: February 2003, around the time the movie came out. Microsoft, in contrast, was much more laid back in their approach to the game, allowing the developers to do whatever they wanted. Both cases of contradicting philosophies caused friction during development.
    • If that wasn’t bad enough, Marvel’s ideas for the game contrasted even more with Sony’s ideas. While Marvel wanted a game that was more faithful to the comic, Sony wanted a game that was more experimental. Marvel would constantly shoot down any ideas presented by Sony, such as a grinding mechanic inspired by the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series.
    • The game had some conflicts with the engine. 5,000 Ft wanted to use the new Renderware engine, used in games such as Grand Theft Auto III. Encore, however, didn’t want to use it, not wanting to pay engine fees. 5,000 Ft ended up having to use the base of Renderware’s technology, and build upon it, creating their own engine in the process.
    • Due to the release of the first Spiderman Game, 5,000 Ft not only wanted to copy that game, but also outdo it, giving Daredevil a swinging mechanic that allowed his billy club to grapple onto buildings, loads of people for Daredevil to interact with, and a new, cutting edge mechanic called The Shadow World, which allowed the player to see the game from Daredevil’s perspective (basically the precursor to detective mode).
    • At this point, the game grew into a giant, bloated mess that ended up causing problems for 5,000 Ft’s development team. Tensions started rising up, with multiple developers and staff members, including one of their most skilled engineers, leaving. Their replacements ended up being nowhere near as talented. What’s worse, drug problems ran rampant among the staff. Multiple developers started showing up to work intoxicated, with one of the engineers doing drugs during his lunch break. 5,000 Ft then attempted to make Encore give them full creative control over the final product, which resulted in the studio dividing itself due to several staff members’ growing ambitions and conflicting ideas.
    • By now, the engine had started taking its toll, struggling to handle the game’s graphical fidelity and scope, which ended up causing a weak framerate. After multiple edits and cuts of certain levels, 5,000 Ft decided to cut the game’s overworld entirely, turning the game into a linear third person brawler that had almost none of the features 5,000 Ft had promised. The new linear and tight level design caused the aforementioned grappling and Shadow World mechanics to become useless.
    • Because of the engine’s limitations and the upcoming deadline getting closer and closer, 5,000 Ft had to rely on help from many different studios such as Electronic Arts in order to get the engine working properly. By now, the game had missed its February 2003 deadline, resulting in the game getting pushed to the summer.
    • The game, now going under Daredevil: The Man Without Fear, was now almost fully complete, with a new story and overworld created. Unfortunately, during 5,000 Ft’s now six month development time, a large chunk of the staff left, resulting in control of the project being given towards their hired consultants, who ended up cancelling production of the game because of Marvel’s refusal to release it.
    • In the end, Daredevil: The Man Without Fear was shelved thanks to 5,000 Ft leaning more closely with Sony’s ideas rather than Marvel’s, who pulled the license from 5,000 Ft. An attempt to make another IP using the same engine and mechanics ended up not happening. 5,000 Ft sunk into third party obscurity until their demise in 2012.
  • The development of Doom went generally smoothly, but its infamous 3DO port was something else. It was produced by a company called Art Data Interactive that reportedly believed that all one had to do to port a game to another platform was to recompile its code, and that new weapons could be added just by importing new art assets. This ultimately led to the port being developed by one programmer in ten weeks, which forced her to live in her office to complete it in time. This alongside the difficulties she ran into with the 3DO explains why the result was such a Porting Disaster. Nine years later, the programmer, Rebecca Heineman, released the source code alongside her story of its production and a wish that she had time to polish her work before release.
    • Also, it appears that Art Data attempted to create Full Motion Video cutscenes for the 3DO version of Doom, if this still photo from Rebecca Heineman is any indication. A few more stills were also dug up by fans in all of their So Bad, It's Good glory, which was likely why they weren't added to the final game.
  • DOOM had a hard time getting finished.
    • As covered in the DOOM Resurrected documentary, The game started life as Doom 4. id Software originally built the game as a much more scripted, cinematic experience in the style of Call of Duty, but development suffered a number of restarts and employees leaving, with poor management and direction being blamed for the lack of progress. When screenshots and concept art leaked out, fans were deeply upset at its derivative Follow the Leader nature. Id realized the direction of the project was a poor fit for Doom, and rebooted the project with Zenimax's blessing.
    • Even then, it was a rough road; Its Quakecon 2014 debut was behind closed doors with no footage allowed, and its E3 2015 showing was met cautiously by the fanbase. Id was forced to outsource the multiplayer as they scrambled to finalize and polish the single-player elements. Bethesda chose to heavily promote the multiplayer in its marketing, which left fans restless about the state of the single-player and only got worse when the multiplayer open beta was slammed for its lack of features and Halo-style weapon loadout system. Bethesda withheld review copies in response, which sunk expectations to rock-bottom.
    • However, when the game finally released, it was greeted warmly by both fans and critics with the single-player in particular being praised as a quality Genre Throwback, though its multiplayer was and still remains a divisive element.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition suffered technical issues during development due to EA having the team use the Frostbite engine that had been developed by DICE for use in their games. While Frostbite is an excellent engine for making Shooters, it is really bad at making other kinds of games, especially RPGs. This is because DICE only really ever intended the engine to be used in the FPS games that they excel at making.
  • Duke Nukem Forever's infamous development. Instead of ruining a single man's career, the issues demolished DNF's development staff. The fourteen-year Development Hell that ensued was due to switching engines, 3D Realms founder George Broussard publicly insulting DNF's publisher, tons of changes beyond engine switches that would necessitate restarting the entire project, and more. DNF is truly spectacular, in that its production was so troubled that the staff had nothing worth publicly showing aside from a couple of screenshots. In the end, Gearbox Software took over production, and suddenly revealed the game would come out. Gearbox took the code and levels that 3D Realms had "finished" — which were largely conceptual and unrelated — and, in one year, completed the project that 3D Realms couldn't in fourteen.
  • In a partnership with Nintendo, Silicon Knights' Eternal Darkness started development on the Nintendo 64 — and neared completion before Silicon Knights were asked to throw away everything and rebuild the game from scratch on the GameCube for launch.note  Additionally, in its GameCube incarnation, there were some internal concerns on the Middle Eastern areas due to 9/11, causing a delay. Altogether though, the development of the GameCube version (as well as that of The Twin Snakes) were far less catastrophic due to the constant supervision of none other than Shigeru Miyamoto and Satoru Iwata (no word if Silicon Knights' workplace conditions under Nintendo were as difficult as those of Retro Studios' concurrently).
  • The infamous ET The Extraterrestrial for the Atari 2600, which was so rushed that it ended up being made just in six weeks. Considering that it was made basically by a single person, Howard Scott Warsaw, and that programming for 2600 was notoriously idiosyncratic, it's actually a minor miracle that the game is playable at all. The game was enormously hyped by the Atari's marketing department — they actually made more carts than there were Ataris, expecting the game to be so popular it'd create a console sale boom. Instead, it catastrophically failed to live up to expectations, with many people calling it one of the worst games ever made. The game's failure played a huge role in triggering The Great Video Game Crash of 1983. It led to Atari secretly burying tons of unsold cartridges in a secure New Mexico landfill, which were later excavated in 2014.
  • As explained in this article from Eurogamer, development on the Fable games was a long series of Troubled Productions that slowly destroyed Lionhead Studios.
    • After the success of Black & White, Lionhead made a decision that Peter Molyneux felt in hindsight to be a bad idea: it brought on two smaller developers, Big Blue Box and Intrepid, as satellite studios, leading to Lionhead turning into a quite large and bloated company. Big Blue Box began work on what would become Fable, which attracted the attention of Microsoft, which was looking for a Killer App for their new Xbox console and liked what they saw. They immediately stepped in to publish and fund Fable, and all seemed to be going well.
    • Unfortunately, Lionhead's plan to raise money by having the company float on the stock market backfired spectacularly after 9/11 and the resulting crash in the stock market. Leaking money, the company absorbed Big Blue Box and Intrepid, canceling the latter's caveman survival game B.C. and its own internal "Project Dimitri" (which the Black & White dev team had been working on before being shifted to Fable) in order to meet its commitment to Microsoft. All the while, Fable grew more ambitious than initially planned, the result of Molyneux's penchant for constantly thinking of new features to add (some of which his developers resisted), turning into by far the biggest game that anybody involved on it had ever worked on.
    • When it was ultimately released, Fable had all the hallmarks of a Lionhead game: a lovely Wide Open Sandbox that was absolutely packed with features, characters, monsters, and ways for the player to experiment, but not much of a cohesive story tying it all together, a critical element for a console Role-Playing Game. The long, drawn-out production also meant that, while the game looked good by the standards of an Xbox launch title, at the time of its 2004 release other games had long since passed it by. Many Lionhead veterans maintain that it was Microsoft's support that had saved Fable and ensured it was any good at all, and that Lionhead was in way over its head making such an ambitious RPG.
    • After Fable, Lionhead grew large and bloated, with over three hundred employees at one point in 2005 working on such games as a Fable expansion, Fable II, The Movies, Black & White 2, and more. Molyneux later admitted that the company's resources and his attention were drawn too thin, especially when The Movies and Black & White 2 underperformed in sales and left Lionhead in financial trouble.
    • In 2006, Microsoft purchased Lionhead, hoping to secure Fable as a flagship RPG franchise for the Xbox 360. The deal was based on an earnout, and to secure the rest of the money, Lionhead not only had to make Fable II, but they also had to release Fable III by the end of 2010. Microsoft's involvement marked a change in the culture at Lionhead; the "boys' club" culture that had dominated the company in its early years would no longer fly, and while many grumbled at the increasingly uptight, HR-focused nature of the new Lionhead, most employees agreed that Microsoft's management was for the better. The company redirected its resources towards Fable II, and even though development required heavy crunch towards the end to get the game finished on time, as well as butting heads with Microsoft over some of the content and marketing, the game came out in 2008 to much fanfare.
    • Now, Lionhead had just eighteen months to make Fable III... time that was clearly not enough, especially not with the design changes Molyneux had planned, some of which (like the "Road to Rule" feature) he only announced late in the development cycle. Fable III launched in 2010, and while it received positive reviews, critics noted its technical problems and undercooked story and compared it unfavorably to the previous game. Problems continued to hit Lionhead with their experiences working with Microsoft's Kinect motion control system. One game they were working on, Milo & Kate, fell apart due to both the reduced technical specs of the Kinect and fear that the game would be used by pedophiles as a 'grooming simulator', while Fable: The Journey received mixed reviews, with many critics again citing the technological limitations of the Kinect. After the departure of several veteran developers, Molyneux left Lionhead and formed an independent studio, allegedly because of his disillusionment with being unable to make games at Lionhead that weren't sequels to Fable (a game that, having originated at Big Blue Box outside of his purview, he wasn't so personally connected to in the first place).
    • The final straw for Lionhead was Fable Legends, the most troubled production of them all. The remaining Lionhead developers wished to work on a proper Fable IV, but Microsoft, launching the Xbox One at the time, was keen on the idea of 'games as a service', and wanted to make a multiplayer Fable and rejected Lionhead's single-player game. The developers were incensed by Microsoft's Executive Veto, but had little room to push back given Microsoft's ownership of the studio. And so they got to work making Fable Legends, which was stymied by constant Executive Meddling designed to shoehorn the game into Microsoft's constantly evolving brand strategy, as well as by Lionhead's inexperience at making multiplayer games and designing for competitive balance. Up to $75 million was spent on Fable Legends according to some sources. As development continued to drag on with little to show for it, few developers were surprised when, in 2016, Microsoft cut its losses and closed down Lionhead, canceling Fable Legends in the process.
  • Faith and a .45, a cooperative Third-Person Shooter set in The Great Depression, fell victim to this. Though it was mainly external factors and Executive Meddling that killed both the game and its developer, Deadline Games.
    • According to a post-mortem by lead developer Søren Lundgaard, the project originally started as a Bonnie and Clyde video game, directly based on the historical Outlaw Couple. While publishers were receptive to the idea, they also demanded the game not use innocents or police officers as enemies, which flew in the face of the concept and forced the developers to spend years reworking the premise.
    • Eventually, the project became Faith and a .45, which now featured Expyies of Bonnie and Clyde running from John Mammon, an oil baron who had bought out part of the United States. Deadline proceeded to pitch the game to a number of publishers, but the game was repeatedly rejected with the reason being "Old West games don't sell". Demoralized and confused by this response, the developers realized that publishers had no idea what to do with a game set during The Great Depression, and as few games had covered the setting before, it was treated as a western game in the eyes of publishers, which were seen as poor sellers. There were also doubts about the game's focus on a romantically-involved couple not going over with shooter audiences, as Rated M for Manly shooters such as Gears of War and Army of Two were the hot sellers of the genre.
    • In an attempt to get publishers to take on the game, Deadline revealed it to the public with a number of screenshots and trailers, most of which can be seen in this Unseen64 article. While the initial publicity and positive reception was a major boost for the developers, publishers remained unconvinced and uninterested in the game. In a last-ditch attempt to sell the concept, Deadline repitched the game in an After the End setting akin to Fallout. This was also brushed off by publishers, who by now had made clear that they wanted nothing to do with the game regardless of its setting.
    • Unable to secure funding for Faith and a .45 or any other in-development games, which included a sequel to Total Overdose, Deadline filed for bankruptcy in 2009 following the financial failure of Watchmen: The End Is Nigh, and closed down shortly after.
  • While Fez emerged as an "underdog darling of the indie game scene" and went on to attain critical acclaim, it was highly-publicized for the five-year Development Hell Phil Fish and his company, Polytron, had faced. The documentary Indie Game: The Movie highlights just a few of their struggles.
    • During Fez's prototyping phase, Fish opened Polytron as a startup company through means of a Canadian government loan. However, they began to run out of money, and the loan wasn't renewed for the game's production phase. Polytron also lost funding from the organization supporting themnote  when their producer, Jason DeGroot, left the company. Fish — contemplating cancelling Fez outright at this point — was forced to borrow money from friends and family for three months in order to keep Polytron open. To his luck, Québécois developer and publisher Trapdoor offered their support in exchange for a portion of Fez's earnings—a turn of events which Fish himself believed to have saved the game.
    • Fish was embroiled in a legal dispute with DeGroot, who was yet to sign his side of a final separation deal; because of this, DeGroot had the ability of potentially block Polytron from presenting at 2011 PAX East. The situation left Fish suffering anxiety attacks as Polytron was getting ready for the Penny Arcade Expo. Fortunately, his new partner, Ken Schachter, met with and came to an agreement with DeGroot, settling the problem once and for all.
    • At the Expo itself, last minute changes to the build caused Fez to hang up or crash, to which Fish would have to restart the game. This turned out to be a minor issue, however, as player reception remained positive. His confidence regained, Fish went back to work on the game. Fez was submitted for certification in February 2012 after a few delays, before getting released exclusively to Xbox Live Arcade on April 13, 2012.
    • Months later, Polytron and Microsoft clashed when the former released a patch which, while fixing some technical issues, had introduced a new one that corrupted the saved games for one percent of users. Polytron withdrew the patch, only to reinstate it later after finding Microsoft's fee for subsequent patch releases unfeasible; the latter eventually announced that they would no longer be charging for patches, and Fish went on to criticize Microsoft for mishandling Fez's release, citing poor advertising and little promotion or publicity.
    • Fez 2 was announced in June 2013. However, after an argument with game journalist Marcus Beer, Fish angrily cancelled the game and left the industry. This bit of news surprised the rest of Polytron, and ever since then are loathe to discuss upcoming projects (besides ports). On account of what happened, Fish himself became a persona non grata among portions of the gaming community. Fingers were still crossed that Fez 2 would see the light of day, but those hopes were quashed when Fish sold the rights to Fez and Polytron after his personal information was hackednote .
  • Firefall, a team-based hybrid of an MMORPG and a First-Person Shooter, was announced in 2010 as a potential e-Sports contender with a heavy focus on PvP. However, as explained in this GameFront article, over the course of its development things went downhill fast. As of this writing, the game is still in development, but studio Red 5 has laid off a sizable chunk of its workforce, putting its future in doubt.
    • Frequent changes in direction from Red 5 studio founder Mark Kern, the studio's horizontal structure making it hard to coordinate efforts, and Kern's hot temper, absenteeism, and attempts to dictate the production all led to wasted work and what former employees described as a once-pleasant, tight-knit work environment slowly turning toxic. The original focus on PvP also faded as Kern lost interest in e-Sports, culminating in the game's beta dropping PvP altogether in 2014, despite all the work that had been put into the PvP side of the game.
    • There was also Stage 5 TV, a YouTube channel designed to promote Firefall. Kern and Red 5 spent lavishly on Stage 5, with highly produced short films and reality-style shows shot with very expensive (over $40,000 each) 4k-resolution video cameras, along with a studio, a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van, and other equipment.note  Kern would greenlight short films left and right, throwing money at projects that often turned out to be either very low quality or having little to do with games at all, and not the sort of thing that Red 5 wanted to showcase. Stage 5 quickly became a money sink that diverted resources away from Firefall, before being scaled back drastically in 2013.
    • Red 5 finally decided to pull the plug entirely on July 2017. At this point, most of the playerbase agreed that it was only a matter of time.
  • Final Fantasy XIII was envisioned as the starting point for a "ten year project" of games sharing a common mythos (ala the Ivalice Alliance) called the Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy. Unfortunately the project was plagued with issues mostly stemming from XIII being the first Final Fantasy game produced for the Seventh Generation. The vast majority of time and effort was spent on the creation of the Crystal Tools engine, which was envisioned as the engine Square Enix would use on all of their future Seventh Generation games. Meanwhile, the team struggled to arrive at a cohesive creative vision for the game: an early trailer (featuring Time Stands Still battles) was closer to an concept movie than anything else, and the ridiculously extravagant Summon Magic was a contribution from the art team rather than a collective decision. The tastes of roleplaying game fans had also moved on: new technology allowed for sprawling open worlds, and fans rejected the linear storytelling style that had been critically beloved in earlier instalments like Final Fantasy X.
    • In 2006, Square Enix announced Final Fantasy Versus XIII, which was planned to be a PS3 exclusive game. The game's development didn't really go anywhere for years to come, and the title was still in Pre-Production phase by 2011. News of its progress was sparse as Versus XIII consistently abstains from the game exhibitions, and rumours of its cancellation began to spread. In 2013, the production team announced that the game would be released in PS4 and Xbox One (rather than the intended PS3), and it is retitled to Final Fantasy XV. A year later, it was announced that Tetsuya Nomura has stepped down as the game's director and was replaced by Hajime Tabata, who has since announced a number of large changes to the game's established story, characters and gameplay. The game was then set to be released on September 30, 2016, but was later delayed again to November 29, 2016 in order to avoid a Day One patch... only to release a Day One patch in order to enhance gameplay mechanics and add new moves.
  • Atari's Firefox arcade game was plagued with problems from start to finish. The success of Dragon's Lair prompted management to demand the game be ready in a few months, so it could appear at the October 1983 AMOA show in New Orleans. Experienced designers and engineers balked at the schedule; the role of project engineer fell on a new hire who had claimed to be a programmer, hardware engineer, and systems developer, yet who had never designed an arcade game before. The game used three boards designed by different groups, and a laserdisc player that had never been tested in an arcade environment. The incomplete game was rushed to the AMOA show in Nolan Bushnell's private jet, but despite the assurances of the project engineer, remained a dormant shell for the entire show. The project engineer quit afterward; Jed Margolin was cajoled into the project, working 12-hour shifts for three weeks straight to resolve numerous engineering issues, including a new raster monitor that tended to explode when it did not receive a sync signal. The final insult came after the game was released; its high price and declining demand for laserdisc games resulted in Firefox being a flop right out of the gate.
  • Fracture suffered from various Executive Meddling from LucasArts, such as a lack of creative control, being forced to change the game from a first-person shooter to a third-person one (which caused a lot of technical problems), and George Lucas coming in to force some more changes such as a request to change the main protagonist's name from Mason Briggs to Jet Brody (despite marketing already naming him the former). As a result of the game selling poorly, LucasArts cut all of its ties with Day 1 Studios, leaving Day 1 seeking a new publisher to stay afloat.
  • Gex, as discussed by programmer Gregg Tavares here. The development team was inexperienced, overworked to the point of doing 12 to 16 hours a day, understaffed and rushed to finish the game for Christmas. A lot of content was cut due to time and manpower constraints, and lead designer Justin Knorr was fired after hiding an insulting message that included Crystal Dynamics co-founder Madeline Canepa's actual phone number.
  • Greed Monger was a Kickstarter game by Electronic Crow Games that was meant to be a Free-to-Play MMO RPG with a focus on crafting, economics, and politics that allowed the player to do literally whatever they wanted. While the project made almost four times its original goal, it ended up suffering due to terrible behind the scenes problems. Where to begin?
    • The game was thought of by Web designer/Mortgage consulter/Club promoter/Voice actor/DJ competitor/Jujitsu competitor/Head of his own marketing SEO company Jason Appleton, who wanted to get into game design. After many months of zero progress, backers became suspicious and impatient. Looking at the development pictures, backers wondered where their money was going to, especially since Appleton stated in a video that he already had the budget for not only the video game, but also a server farm.
    • Enter James Proctor, the game's sole programer. Proctor was a Unity developer best known on the Unity forums as a guy who creates loads of games every five minutes that he never ends up finishing. Appleton hired Proctor because of his love for programing, thinking that Greed Monger will get finished quickly and safely when in fact, the opposite happened.
    • What backers ended up seeing was a game that had no original assets or models. All the money that the backers spent ended up being used by Proctor to buy Unity store-bought assets. Three years later, photos were shown to backers in order to calm them down and show that the game was progressing. Instead, it caused a lot of animosity thanks to the game looking just plain awful. It was then revealed on the Unity forums that Proctor quit the project because he hated working with Appleton, since not only was Proctor not getting paid until the final product was released, but if he were to ever quit development, Appleton would sue him. Worse, Proctor was almost about to lose his life thanks to all the stress both Appleton and the project were putting on him. Proctor didn't have a contract to prove this. Instead, he had his and Appleton's Skype conversation.
    • "But wait!" you say, "How could Proctor pay for things like taxes, rent, and electricity if he was working on the game for years without pay?" Well, it was later revealed that Proctor suffered from depression, and that he couldn't leave his house without having a panic attack if he were to see a large crowd. Because of this, Proctor was getting disability checks from the government. Yup, the game was actually being funded by tax payers, while the backers' money was spent on already made assets.
    • The project ended with Greed Monger never getting released, Proctor quitting the project, and Appleton leaving the project with the remaining Kickstarter money, having gone silent, though Proctor randomly shows off the build for the game from time to time, most likely never able to finish it.
  • Valve Software's Half-Life 2 spent five years in development, and had a number of setbacks and challenges that impeded work. Aside from spending close to a year on a single gameplay trailer (which had to be reworked over and over because Gabe Newell and Jay Stelly were unimpressed by it), the project was originally given a release date of September 30, 2003, despite the dev team knowing that there was no way they would be able to make the deadline because near-final maps and minor storylines had been thrown out. The problems were then compounded by a delay announced on the week before the game was to be released, and making matters worse, an incomplete build of the game along wtih the source code for the game engine was stolen from Valve and released online a week afterward. This triggered a massive Internet Backdraft over Valve lying to the fans over the release date and the stolen build showing that the E3 demos were heavily scripted. It took another year before the game was released, though it was met with resounding critical praise and commercial success. The original storyline and scrapped gameplay elements can be seen here.
  • Halo 2. As detailed here, Bungie did not want to just retread on Halo: Combat Evolved and would indulge in Sequel Escalation. They built a new engine that pushed the Xbox to the limits, created an impressive trailer, and then discovered the console couldn't actually handle the tech, meaning they had to restart from scratch after 18 months of work. The planned sprawling levels had to be scaled down considerably, the storyline was cut down (leading to a rushed ending that served as a shameless Sequel Hook) and trying to reach the November 2004 deadline meant the developers had to discard almost everything planned along the way. It became a Killer App, particularly for groundbreaking online console multiplayer, but everyone agreed the single player campaign required more polish, and Bungie felt the game was not as good as they planned (thus much more effort was put into Halo 3).
  • Highlander - The Last of the MacLeods, according to a comment on Spoony's review of the game, had a terrible production.
    • Lore Design, the makers of the game, were just a bunch of inexperienced 24-year-old Highlander fans wanting to make a game. Problems had already arisen when the folks at Lore Design were forced to make a game based on Highlander: The Animated Series, which they all despised. Also, no one except the boss of Lore Design knew where the budget for the game was coming from.
    • Coding for the Atari Jaguar CD was a nightmare, since because the Jaguar CD wouldn't allow Lore Design to use an already built engine like the one used for Quake, they had to code everything by scratch.
    • The composer for the game, Paul C, had a miserable time making the music. He could only come up with 2-second loops that didn't go anywhere. The team would have been able to allow longer music tracks by writing a small wavetable synthesis engine, but that would have taken up more space in the RAM and CPU, which would have led to a decrease in the graphics.
    • The game development caused the developers to drink heavily, which might have influenced some of the more weirder parts of the game.
    • When the game was released, it sold poorly thanks to the Atari Jaguar CD's atrocious hardware not allowing its games to be played at all (including this one). As a result, Lore Design closed its doors shortly after the game shipped.
  • Homefront was the subject of a very lengthy and excruciating production for its developer, Kaos Studios. This article, appropriately named “Death March”, goes into more details, for those interested.
    • Publisher THQ was exercising a new greenlighting policy, scrutinizing prototypes and giving feedback before authorizing development on games. Impressed with the pitch demo, THQ requested that Kaos prepare a demo for E3 2009. In a frenzy of pressure, the development team worked for over 18 months on the demo – which was only about five minutes long- eating up tons of resources in the process.
    • Coupled with the fact that THQ constantly requested new features to be added into the game was that the future of Kaos was heavily doubted upon, along with the headship of the new development lead Dave Schulman, who was convincing his team to continue adding more into the game per THQ’s request. There was no clear direction on where the game would go- multiple people on the team were throwing all sorts of unrelated ideas into the game, making things such as the vehicle and weapon designs very inconsistent.
    • THQ and Kaos undertook an audit of Homefront to see how long it would take to get every feature into the game, only to both realize that it would be next to impossible to create what they envisioned. All the while, Kaos had been seizing millions of dollars to pay off development on the game and had little to show for it. Schulman fought with THQ executives who were frustrated over how he was managing the company and responding to publisher directives. He continuously refused demands for more transparency, and shortly after he left Kaos.
    • Creative director Dave Votypka became the general manager, but struggled with doing both jobs at once. THQ’s vice president of core games, Danny Bilson, then stepped forth in an effort to get the game back on track. Despite his past experience, Bilson’s arrogance and inconsistency at times threw off a lot of Kaos employees. His ideas were suddenly pitching the game as a rival of the Call of Duty series — a task deemed by Kaos and THQ as too large to undertake. However, the team would press forward doing so anyway, which clashed with their original ideas for the game’s story and environments; they made tons of last-minute revisions in the hopes of surpassing what Call of Duty offered.
    • By late 2009 and early 2010, it was looking extremely unlikely that the game would be shipped. Kaos brought in several veteran shooter developers to help, including some from Electronic Arts. They also got a new production lead: David Broadhurst, who was rather controversial in his efforts to get Kaos to finish the game on time; he rode several employees hard to ensure that progress would be made, and publicly rebuked them in front of the rest of the studio. Despite the fact that he was solely credited for making sure that Homefront would be finished, many employees bemoaned his hostile leadership over Kaos.
    • The final year of work on the game proved to be a nightmare. Most of Kaos’ employees at this point were emotionally and physically weathered, feeling that their labor was being wasted through mismanagement. This was exemplified when a speech from Votypka at the 2010 Kaos holiday party got a bitter response. A comment from Bilson on Twitter fueled a complaint towards THQ and Kaos by a developer, and Votypka had to scramble to defend Kaos and deny several allegations. During this time, other game studios empathetically began to offer jobs to several of Kaos’ employees, who were more than happy to work on other projects and escape the dysfunction. Morale at Kaos soon lowered drastically, and many personnel quietly left the studio.
    • At the end of the day, Homefront received mixed reviews from critics at release and had completely undershot Kaos's expectations. In March 2011 there was a large stock drop, and shortly after in June, THQ announced that Kaos was shutting down.
  • And production on the sequel, Homefront: The Revolution, had to deal with the fallout from the last game on top of its own new problems, to the point where the end credits opened with a message from game director Halit Zala concerning it. It took until 2016 for the game to finally come out, upon which it received mixed reviews. To quote the linked Kotaku article:
    "Even this first-hand explanation sells the chaos short. First, the developers of the original Homefront closed. Then the series was moved to THQ Montreal, then Crytek UK. Then publisher THQ closed, and Deep Silver picked up the tab. Then Crytek UK ran into financial issues, which led to many involved in the game’s development — including Hasit Zala himself — to walk out. *deep breath* Then Deep Silver’s parent company Koch Media stepped in, bought the property, set up a new studio and delayed the game from 2015 to 2016. Zala returned to head up development once more. So when he says 'the path has not always been a smooth one', he’s not kidding!"
  • This trope can affect gaming hardware as well as software. The best known example goes back to the early days of home video gaming: the Keyboard Component to Mattel's Intellivision.
    • Starting in 1980, the back of the Intellivision box had given a third of its space to a large promotion for the Keyboard Component. The console itself was really the Master Component of what was to be fully functional home computer with a secondary processor, 64K of RAM, a built-in cassette drive and a connection for a thermal-printer cable (all of which would have sounded impressive at that time). Just buy it, play the games, and wait. This could have easily justified buying an Intellivision over the cheaper Atari 2600, especially for parents not wanting the expense of buying both a video-game console and a home computer.
    • However, behind the scenes the engineers responsible weren't as confident as the marketing departmentnote . Their prototypes were neither reliable nor reasonably cost-efficient to make. The ship date of the KC kept getting pushed back, to the point that Jay Leno got his biggest laugh at the company's 1981 Christmas party when he said that the three biggest lies were "the check is in the mail, I'll still respect you in the morning, and the Keyboard will be out in the spring".
    • By that time, the executives had grown concerned enough that they secretly established another group of programmers within the company to come up with a more scaled-down version of the KC, perhaps limited to the function of teaching kids BASIC programming. It was codenamed the LUCKI, or Low User-Cost Keyboard Interface, and its creators kept their work a secret out of (justifiable) fear that the main KC group would use their influence in the company to kill the LUCKI project if they learned of its existence.
    • Mattel's executives weren't the only ones having concerns, and acting on them. Customers who'd waited almost two years for the KC began to complain to the Federal Trade Commission, accusing Mattel of defrauding them. After enough of these complaints, and further stalling from Mattel, the FTC said that if they didn't make their latest promised ship date with the KC they would be fined $10,000 a day until they did.
    • It was still nowhere near ready. To appease the FTC, the company put about 4,000 of the latest prototype on shelves in selected test markets. Some sold, but the overall results were not encouraging.
    • After almost three years, the Keyboard Component was officially cancelled late in 1982. The FTC dropped the mounting fines when Mattel agreed to offer a full refund to anyone who had purchased one of the limited production runs. Those who wanted to keep them had to sign a full waiver promising not to seek any support or later refund from Mattel (in-house, the KC saw some limited later use when modified versions proved to be ideal development boards). A few are still out there somewhere.
    • As a consolation prize, the company brought out LUCKI, now formally named the Entertainment Computer System. While you could write and save programs to its (much-simpler) cassette drive (at a time when floppy disks were displacing tapes as the preferred storage medium), making it technically a computer, it only offered an additional 2K of RAM, putting it far behind any real PC on the market at that time. It was further the ECS's bad luck to hit the market in the spring, as The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 was becoming an undeniable reality. Mattel went from aggressively hiring programmers to laying them off in one two-week period that spring; it further decided to switch its Intellivision focus from hardware to software, leaving the ECS with little marketing push behind it. The entire KC-ECS debacle played no small part in Mattel's decision to discontinue Intellivision a year later.
  • Jurassic Park: Trespasser: As explained in an online feature or this video about this infamous botched 1996 FPS, Trespasser had a host of design and logistical problems that caused its design team to severely scale it back from their initial goals. An ambitious plan to have friendly and hostile dinosaurs that reacted to you through a groundbreaking AI system was largely abandoned because the creatures couldn't decide what mood to pick (the AI was set to maximum hostility as a quick fix). The melee weapons didn't work (so they had all their mass removed, making almost all of them useless), textures were largely scaled back because of compatibility issues and there were serious issues with the game's physics system. A botched licensing deal (they couldn't use John Williams' iconic music in the game, so they had to create their own), mismanagement between the game's design team, and a continuously delayed release caused the game to be dead on arrival, and it was quickly forgotten.
  • Kaiju Combat was a 2015 Kickstarter funded game by Sunstone Games that was meant to be a large, ambitious fighting game where players could fight using their own, backer created Kaiju monsters with the play style of the Pipeworks Godzilla fighting games. The project reached its goal and nothing came of it. Some backers were already suspicious of the game, since it showed no original gameplay footage. On November 23, 2016, the project's development was revealed to be suspended indefinitely (basically game development purgatory) thanks to the unexpected death of Sunstone's environment artist, Ron Clayborn, which halted production on the game. Without an environment artist, game developers can't work on a game, so it's very likely the game will never be released, much to the dismay of the backers.
  • King's Quest: Mask of Eternity: Right out of the starting gate, the game was to become a Action-Adventure RPG, similar to Sierra's own Quest for Glory series, which was suggested by Sierra employee Mark Seibert to fill in the large empty maps of the game in-between puzzles.
    • This ran into stiff opposition from sister company Davidson & Associates, creators of the Math Blaster series. Founders Bob and Jan Davidson, both devout Christians, were appalled at how the game was straying from the King's Quest series' Thou Shalt Not Kill roots. This only compounded their pre-existing disgust with Sierra over the Leisure Suit Larry games and Phantasmagoria, the latter of which had been designed by Roberta Williams, co-chair of Sierra and the writer and designer of Mask of Eternity. The Davidsons coerced CUC Software, the company that owned both Sierra and Davidson & Associates at the time, into giving them permission to make their own Christian-friendly version of Mask of Eternity, which would remove any and all violence and combat, ironically making it more like a standard King's Quest game.
    • Upon hearing this news, Williams felt like she was losing control over her game. She became adamant to work on it, and almost threatened to quit the game altogether. This changed when Davidson & Associates went out of business, meaning their version of the game was canceled. With their deadline steadily approaching, Roberta bounced back full force and helped salvage what was left of their game, but it wasn't good enough as it ended up being the last game she would ever work on, and would be one of the last adventure games made by Sierra.
  • Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a particularly extreme example. The game as it was showed great promise, and in fact ended up selling over a million copies, but due to either extreme overconfidence or extreme shortsightedness, developer 38 Studios borrowed money left and right from the state of Rhode Island, ultimately racking up a 75 million dollar debt. They were apparently confident that they would be able to pay back all the loans with the game's sales, as well as the sales of the then-in planning MMO, but it then turned out that the game would have had to sell 3 million just to break even. Long story short, 38's financial situation imploded, they went bankrupt, and all their assets, including the Amalur IP, were seized by the State of Rhode Island.
    • Note also that the head of that company was famous Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who traded heavily on his celebrity in convincing Rhode Island to suspend their own funding rules to loan his company more money. Not that RI necessarily needed convincing; to the state that, at the time (and possibly still today), had one of the five highest unemployment rate in America, the promise of a major high-tech firm bolstering their economy must have been very easy to get excited about. (RI's long rivalry with Massachusetts may also have played a role: here was one of Boston's star sons offering to bring his business to Providence instead.)
    • The New York Times did a long story about this. In addition to the above points, there's the fact that RI governor Lincoln Chafee had not endeared himself to Schilling when, as a candidate while the state was doing the deal, he dared to repeat insinuations that the Schilling had put red paint on his sock himself rather than actually bleeding during the most famous game of his career. While he tried to make up after he was elected, Schilling still resents that.
    • Schilling was probably out of his depth with his ambitious plans for the game. A complex multilevel PVE game is challenging to develop even for an established game maker with a success of exactly that type. He hired R.A. Salvatore to create a 10,000-year backstory for the game, for which Salvatore has yet to get paid any of the $2 million he's owed. One of 38's original executives said he had tried to convince Schilling to develop and release the game in stages, rather than "trying to build a skyscraper on the side and then stand it up."
    • Schilling paid very generous salaries ... by his estimate, the average pay at 38 was $86,000. The company went so far as to pick up the mortgage payments on its employees' unsold Boston-area homes if they moved closer to Providence. And since the state had made the investment to create jobs, 38 ultimately hired 400 people—a lot for a new game developer with only one title out.
    • In the end, everybody got hurt. Over three hundred people were let go from the jobs Rhode Island wanted so badly. Schilling claims to have lost his entire fortune from his baseball career, and had to auction the bloody sock. Chafee has a very low popularity rating and announced he would not run for another term. The state is suing Schilling, claiming he knew the game was unlikely to succeed (not hard to have seen that coming, since he couldn't get financing in Boston, where there are tons of venture capitalists focused on tech companies) and was attempting to defraud the state.
  • L.A. Noire competely destroyed Team Bondi due to the lead designer having serious rage issues and treating it like his masterpiece. In order to get the game back on budget, they hired and chewed up nearly every budding game programmer and artist in Sydney (some of whom completely abandoned the industry due to their treatment) and were so hostile toward their publisher, Rockstar Games, that Rockstar publicly swore off ever working with them again. Team Bondi shut down shortly after the game was released. Said lead designer and other ex-Team Bondi staff reportedly went to work on a Spiritual Successor titled The Whore Of The Orient, but it was officially put on hold in 2016.
  • Two developers claim this happened to the infamous Last Action Hero licensed game. After the planning stage, word from a lawyer came that Arnold Schwarzenegger did not want to be "associated with violence" due to his then-recent involvement in family friendly comedies, and that the game could not feature him using firearms, completely ruining the original concept. This led to the game being hastily retooled as the deadline was fixed with no chance for extension. Communication with the legal department was exceptionally slow, leading to the developers being clueless on even basic questions such as whether or not Arnold's character could punch, and the development of the PC version ground to an halt after the graphic artist refused to do work because of an unrelated payment issue with the publisher.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky was a knockout hit in Japan and a porting nightmare in the United States. Over three million characters of Japanese text, deathmarch hours, subcontracting difficulties, incompatible formats, and Falcom threatening to pull out resulted in a suicide attempt and a great deal of lost weight among those working on it. Fortunately, the story seems to have had a happy ending so far.
  • LucasArts' fall from grace and eventual dissolution has been covered in multiple feature stories, and showed a company that was equal parts mismanaged and directionless.
    • According to various sources, promising projects like Star Wars 1313 and the multiplayer shooter Star Wars: First Assault were prone to delays and shifts mid-development because of George Lucas, who was unfamiliar with the game design process and constantly asked for revisions or major gameplay additions in the middle of production. A hiring freeze in late 2012 killed LucasArts' momentum, and planned marketing initiatives for the in-house projects were shunted to the sidelines. A month later, the studio was shut down due to Disney's acquisition of LucasFilm, and the in-development projects were all canceled.
    • Many sources blamed the studio's former president, Micheline Chau, for causing strife and distrust between the various staffers by forcing them to rehearse what they would say to Lucas and not give any unscripted feedback of their own. Other staffers alleged that Lucas would give them bizarre or confusing design requests, including nonsensical character names and bizarre gameplay motivations, which fueled the animosity between the staff and executives.
    • Coupling with What Could Have Been..., LucasArts' dissolution caused many promising projects to be scrapped in mid-development. These scrapped games included (in addition to 1313 and First Assault) a complex open-world game designed by Far Cry 2 developer Clint Hocking, a proposed third installment of Knights of the Old Republic by Obsidian Entertainment, a remastered version of Day of the Tentacle and more. They were also several completed projects, including a mobile game where you could control the Death Star and another mobile game called Outpost where the player could create their own Empire, that were scrapped just before their release for no discernible reason.
  • The Sega Saturn game for Magic Knight Rayearth was initially listed as one of the first games for the system. It didn't show up in the U.S. until three years after the Japanese release and six months after support for the system came to an end, effectively being the last North American Saturn game. What caused this game from Working Designs to fall this far down? Numerous problems, including:
    • The usual need to translate and dub the voice bits from Japanese to English.
    • The computer holding the data for the game crashing, forcing them to rebuild pieces of it.
    • A fight between WD and Sega over what to name the main heroines (Sega had realized Rayearth was a good enough series to franchise to the States. However, as it was common at the time, they wanted to give them English names. Both Sega and WD had different names for the girls before they both threw their arms into the air and left them Hikaru, Umi and Fuu.)
    • And after it was all done, then-current Sega head honcho Bernie Stolar's draconian policy against third party developers kicked in, leaving them high and dry until the Saturn was dead in the water.
  • Marvel aka Marvel: Chaos, the cancelled Marvel Universe fighting game from Electronic Arts, was plagued with problems from Day 1:
    • The creative team initially wanted to use an analog control style, similar to the company's successful Fight Night and Def Jam series. Unfortunately, while an analog control scheme worked well for games about boxing or street fighting, it quickly proved insufficient for a game featuring a wide range of superpowered attacks.
    • EA was interested in a more realistic visual style, with Spider-Man sporting a very scrawny physique to highlight his youthfulness, Wolverine appearing even more bestial and disheveled than usual, Doctor Doom wearing a tank-like suit of Powered Armor, and The Incredible Hulk having a bulkier, almost overweight appearance. Marvel strongly objected to these creative liberties, forcing EA to go with more traditional designs instead.
    • One of the major selling points for the game was that unlike past fighting games such as the Marvel vs. Capcom series or X-Men: Next Dimension, Marvel would take place in a sprawling, open world environment that could be interacted with. Characters could cause damage to the surrounding city, and even use objects like cars and street signs as weapons. While groundbreaking in theory, the idea proved horrendously challenging to implement, with the main problem being that huge arenas made it difficult for the characters to get close enough to each other to actually fight.
    Michael Mendheim: When you are in a big play environment, and say you have the Thing over here and Beast over there, and they're two blocks away — they're just kind of running towards each other on a street. It wasn't very compelling.
    • Another idea was that the environments would feature interactive crowds of civilians who could participate in the fight. For instance, if one player rescued some civilians, the civilians might repay the favor by attacking the player's opponent. Similarly, causing damage to the surrounding area could provoke attacks from the police or military. It quickly proved difficult to actually include as many bystanders as the developers wanted, and the creative team soon realized that the AI required for such a feature would be incredibly complex. Some members of the team also found the idea distracting, especially given how fighting games are known for being fast-paced and tense. The concept was ultimately scrapped.
    • Because of the success of Fight Night 3, the employees at EA Chicago were feeling very confident and adventurous, which meant that very few people involved with Marvel were willing to make decisions to limit the scope of the game, despite it rapidly becoming obvious that many of the original ideas were completely unfeasible in practice.
    • The game lacked any sort of story mode to explain why any of these characters were fighting each other, and plans to include a plot based on World War Hulk or a Skrull invasion proved fruitless. While the fighting system was improving, the staff admitted that they hadn't yet come up with any sort of motivation to move the players from one battle to the next.
    • Adding to the existing problems was that EA Chicago had recently moved into a brand new studio in an expensive downtown neighborhood, which greatly increased overhead costs. This, combined with a massive staff increase and the failure of Def Jam: Icon, greatly hurt EA Chicago's profitability in the eyes of its parent company. Around this same time, EA also began cutting back on the number of licensed games it produced, beginning with them dropping the Def Jam franchise. A combination of these factors led to EA closing its Chicago branch and cancelling Marvel, ending the company's partnership with Marvel Entertainment.
  • According to this video, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite had a rocky development cycle thanks to loads of Executive Meddling from Capcom, such as slicing the game's intended budget in half (with the other half going into making Street Fighter V DLC). This caused the game to not only have the lowest budget in the series, but also the downgrade in model quality, cutscene animation, and gameplay features.
    • Speaking of these features, to cut costs, the makers of the game had to reuse assets from the Capcom characters used in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, as well as other older games they were in. This also meant that the reused character models from MvC3 had to be reshaded in order to make them fit with the art style and engine; given how heavy on shading the art style for MvC3 was, the poor model quality really shows.
    • Additionally, Marvel engaged in a bit of Executive Meddling themselves, refusing to allow the game to use characters from the X-Men or Fantastic Four franchises due to their film rights being controlled by 20th Century Fox. The conspicuous absences of fan favorites like Wolverine, Magneto, Storm and Doctor Doom were immediately noticed by fans, leading to massive amounts of online backlash and negative publicity.
    • All of this caused Capcom employees to become extremely disappointed in the product, while the higher-ups wouldn't have any concerns with the game until fans started reacting really negatively to the graphics and models on social media (in particular Chun-Li's model, which ended up being reworked on before the game shipped, to better reception). The higher-ups also forced Black Panther and Monster Hunter to become paid DLC characters, despite having already been completed and meant for the final game.
  • Believe it or not, a freaking baseball game fell victim to this trope! Major League Baseball Featuring Ken Griffey Jr., a spiritual successor to Ken Griffey Jr.'s Winning Run on the Super NES, was supposed to be released in late-1996. However, the game was delayed left and right before finally being released in May of 1998. By which time its graphics and gameplay were ultimately surpassed by Acclaim's All Star Baseball 99.
  • As detailed in this article, most of the problems that made Mass Effect: Andromeda fall short of its high expectations can be traced back to its turbulent development history, most of which can in turn be attributed to the mandated use of the Frostbite engine. While a very powerful engine, it simply wasn't designed for building RPGs and thus lacked many features considered crucial for this genre. Figuring out how to build a Mass Effect game on Frostbite tied up so many resources that for a long time it wasn't even clear how ME:A's gameplay would look. The team realized that their ideas, like a free-roaming procedural system, were too ambitious to handle, throwing out years of effort. A lot of components (motion capture, facial animations, etc.) were outsourced to dozens of studios all over the world, many of which couldn't work efficiently because they also didn't know which direction the game was going. Of the five years the game was in development, only the final 18 months were spent on actually building the game. it's a small miracle ME:A was released in largely working condition at all.
  • While the Metal Gear franchise has been acclaimed and cherished by many, they weren't all exactly a walk in the park.
    • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty suffered a rushed development in order to try getting the game out in time for the Chinese Year of the Snake. But the biggest problem was the September 11th attacks happening just three days before the game's intended release date. The fact that the game's climax involved New York getting destroyed and appearances of the World Trade Center (which ironically went untouched in the original script) caused the game to be delayed by a few months, and its cutscenes and climax to be hastily edited to avoid controversy.
    • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was intended to be series creator Hideo Kojima's masterpiece, but it also marked the end of an era, as it was his final project for Konami due to a contentious production.
      • Despite the game's auspicious reveal (with the main game being announced only by its subtitle and helmed by a "Moby Dick Studios", a fake name for Kojima Productions), the project faced controversy immediately when it came to light that long-time Solid Snake/Big Boss voice actor David Hayter was unceremoniously fired in favor of actor Kiefer Sutherland (who also provided facial capture for the Big Boss character). While it was suggested that Kojima did so in order to avoid paying a higher salary for Hayter, the latter contends that he was never approached about the issue and still harbors resentment.
      • In March 2015, it came to light that Konami restructured their corporate offices, with Kojima apparently out of the company as a permanent employee and his production studio intended to be disbanded at the end of Phantom Pain's production. This was followed by Kojima's name and company being removed from all marketing materials, including the final cover art for the game and future releases of Ground Zeroes and The Legacy Collection. Over the next few months, several people (including voice actress/singer Donna Burke, composer Rika Muranaka and Akio Ohtsuka, Snake's Japanese voice actor) publicly spoke out against Konami for their poor treatment of Kojima. This also resulted in the cancellation of Silent Hills.
      • In April 2015, an online movement began to express questions about the likeness of a doctor featured in one of the trailers to real-life neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero, who was believed to be part of a viral marketing campaign for the game. In response, Canavero denied any involvement with the project and decided to sue Konami for an unauthorized use of his likeness.
      • Several months later, a damning report from Japan's Nikkei news service came to light that exposed the circumstances behind the game's development. It was reported that Kojima became a pariah because Phantom Pain was delayed, leading to its production budget exceeding $80 million U.S. dollars by April 2015. It was also revealed that Konami executives (having restructured their efforts more towards mobile games and its ancillary divisions like pachinko machines and health spas) was overseeing Kojima Productions, now renamed "Number 8 Production Development", with an iron fist. Employees were reportedly monitored on social media and on emails, and publicly shamed if their lunch breaks went for too long. Additionally, it was suggested that making mistakes at Konami led some employees to be transferred to menial office tasks in other divisions until they quit the company.
      • When the game finally came out, it was immediately bombarded with universal acclaim... with the exception of a notoriously Disappointing Last Level, with several promised features not coming to fruition, the game's Twist Ending revealed suddenly and out of context, and the game's True Final Boss deleted and reduced to unfinished cutscene footage as a special edition Blu-Ray extra. An entire third chapter of the game appears to have been cut when it became apparent that the game was not going to break even for Konami. It's rumored that the game has become a Creator Killer for Konami's AAA game production, though the company has publicly denied this.
  • Metroid: Other M had many issues pop up during development due to the game director, Yoshio Sakamoto, trying to assume total control over the game's development. Whatever issues the dev team had an issue with, Sakamoto either ignored it or told them to work with it. Sakamoto also demanded that the controls be mapped to the Wii Remote only, even though the dev team pointed out that it was more difficult to control Samus on the D-pad and would be way easier to use the Nunchuck's analog stick. Sakamoto also told Samus' voice actress, Jessica Martin, to deliver her lines in a repressed way to emulate someone with a troubled past, which made Samus sound extremely flat and monotone most of the time. The overall result was the game receiving massive backlash from critics and fans alike for making Samus look weak as a person, bad writing, and awkward controls. What makes it even more painful that Super Metroid was also handled by Sakamoto and that game is considered to be the best game in the Metroid franchise, making many people wonder what happened between that and Other M.
  • Metroid Prime. Not counting that producer Shigeru Miyamoto asked to throw out basically everything during early stages, at a certain point, the Japanese crew was spending most of their year in America overseeing the game and Retro Studios' staff was pulling all-nighters, working 80-100 hours a week neglecting family and nourishing on atomic fireball candy (a total of 72 gallons of them among the staff).
  • Mighty No. 9 was initially scheduled for a 2015 release, but after multiple delays ended up released in mid-2016... at which point not only were there multiple counts of backer keys either not working or receiving DLC keys instead of the game, but the Wii U version caused the console to hard crash, and the release of the game on the Xbox 360, Mac and Linux were delayed even further. Upon release it was also critically savaged and creator Keiji Inafune accepted responsibility for the disappointing final project.
  • The Nintendo 64 adaptation of the 1996 Mission: Impossible film. The game was originally slated to be released in late-1996. However, constant Executive Meddling (resulting in the game switching development teams midway through development) and problems fitting such an at-the-time ambitious game onto a small cartridge resulted in the game not seeing release until mid-1998 in North America. The final game actually wasn't half bad. However, its long development history definitely showed with its dated (even for 1998) graphics, buggy programming, and somewhat underdeveloped gameplay. The impending release of the competing Metal Gear Solid that same year certainly didn't help matters.

    N to Z 
  • Neverwinter Nights 2's premium module Mysteries of Westgate didn't take long to develop. However, Atari wanted the DLC shipped with a DRM scheme. This delayed the release of the game. Adding to this, Obsidian patches constantly broke down the Adventure Pack, pushing the game's release even further, much to gamers' frustration.
  • Atari's home port of Pac-Man was supposedly the demo version, made with great difficulty over six weeks due to the differences in underlying hardware. When the developer showed it to the suits, they said "OK, we're shipping this." It did well on the strength of the title but took a pounding in the media.
  • Parasol Stars, a spin-off from the Bubble Bobble series, was ported to several systems in the early nineties. However, the Commodore 64 version was cancelled because of a relatively minor Troubled Production. The port was assigned to a programmer whose marriage was falling apart. One night, the programmer got into a heated argument with his wife, so she got on his computer and erased all his work on the port. You're probably thinking "But why didn't he make backups?" Actually, he did, but his wife found those and destroyed them as well. At first, Ocean Software tried to cover for the programmer by claiming his computer had been stolen, but later came clean.
  • PlayStation Home, a virtual world created by Sony for the PlayStation 3, effectively existed in a state of limbo for its entire lifespan. This article on Kotaku UK lays out the whole story of "Sony's most successful failure".
    • Home began life as an online mode for the PlayStation 2 game The Getaway: Black Monday, but soon expanded once Phil Harrison, vice president of Sony Europe, had a look at it and decided that it could be something far more. Harrison envisioned the project, then known internally as 'the Hub', as a 'space between games' that would function as a lobby system of sorts for a whole slew of games. While Harrison was able to secure funding for what was becoming his dream project, many of Sony's other executives didn't understand his vision for the Hub, a problem that would plague Home for its entire lifespan. The Japanese executives especially couldn't get their heads around it — to them, multiplayer gaming was a social activity where friends get together in the same room, the antithesis of the Hub's Western model of playing with strangers through online matchmaking. (A similar philosophy was visible in Nintendo's much-maligned "friend code" system.)
    • With the announcement of the PS3, what was now being called Home was soon positioned as a flagship title for the fledgling console. This led to a number of problematic design changes. The original animesque character style, for instance, was thrown out in favor of a more photo-realistic one designed to showcase the new console's power, but it soon turned out that having hundreds of such highly detailed, player-controlled characters in a virtual space (especially an online one) was incredibly taxing on the PS3's hardware; the number of avatars in any given space had to be capped at fifty. Furthermore, these more realistic models fell straight into the Uncanny Valley.
    • The greater world's introduction to Home came at E3 2007, in the form of an incredibly awkward presentation featuring the digital avatars of Sony executives Jack Tretton and Kaz Hirai. It was a poor first impression, and it added to the woes that the PS3 suffered early in its life cycle. Furthermore, Home missed its planned autumn 2007 release date, being pushed back into the following year.
    • Phil Harrison's departure from Sony at the beginning of 2008 produced a revolving door of producers, many of whom didn't understand the concept of Home and whose expertise came in widely disparate fields. Oscar Clark, the man brought in to sort out the disorganized project, remarked that, in early 2008, there essentially wasn't a Home, the project having been filed with all manner of half-formed ideas.
    • When Home finally launched in December 2008 after more than a year of delays, it was an Obvious Beta. The massive amount of detail on the avatars and the worlds they inhabited produced outrageous load times of up to ten minutes, and there was a good chance players couldn't get into the areas they were trying to enter due to the strict, resource-mandated caps on the number of avatars in any given space. The team could do little to fix these problems, as they were small and underfunded and the bugs so numerous and deep-rooted; there's a reason the game never left its Perpetual Beta. There was little content to see either, and a number of features planned for later updates were scrapped. One such feature was the Hall of Fame, a personalized room where players could see physical, three-dimensional trophies corresponding to their achievements in various games; most studios, even Sony's second-party developers, saw designing dozens of unique trophies as a waste of time.
    • Developers' skepticism extended to Home in general. Few of them saw any point in creating virtual spaces and other content in Home for their games, especially given how difficult the process of creating such content was, and as a result, most of Home's actual content had little to do with video games. While a few companies like nDreams and Veemee did create a number of unique original games for Home, shopping for clothes, houses, yachts, and other items for players to customize their avatars with became the main activity. Home had gone from a gaming hub to a bizarro version of Second Life...
    • ...which actually allowed it to start turning a profit and develop a passionate fanbase. Commercially, it was a huge success in the long run, even if it was swiftly forgotten outside its cult following. In fact, it was precisely this financial success that caused Sony to wait until 2015, after the PS3 had become a Daddy System, to finally shut down its servers.
  • Another 3D Realms game with development issues was Prey. The first attempt (1995-1996) of the developers failed because the creative director left the company to join his friend's new business and pretty much the rest of the team did not stay in the project, either. The second attempt (1996-1998) failed due to technological problems the team could not solve. In the third time (circa 1999), there was only one person working on the game, the tech programmer. This attempt, too, was unsuccessful because of technology-related issues. The project was eventually transferred in 2001 to Human Head Studios, which then developed the game. It was finally released in 2006.
  • Princess Maker 2 was slated for an English release in 1995, but publisher Intracorp went bankrupt before it could be released. MS-DOS becoming obsolete, and the dominance of first-person shooters in the PC market, did it no favors. The English beta of the game eventually leaked to the internet several years later... but thankfully, a fully-translated version of the Updated Re-release Princess Maker 2 Refine was released in September 2016 by CFK on Steam.
  • Before its cancellation, the Star Wars game codenamed Ragtag suffered from tumultuous development according to Kotaku. Much of the defunct game's quagmire could be attributed to the actions of publisher Electronic Arts and Star Wars rights-holder LucasFilm.
    • Before working on the game, developer studio Visceral Games was in bad shape after Dead Space 3 and Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel had flopped in 2013. These flops had left the demoralized and short of manpower, leading to much bad blood between the studio and its owner Electronic Arts. When the studio was given the Star Wars license and writer Amy Hennig joined the team, there was hope that the studio could recover and deliver a solid game.
    • However, the studio was constantly hamstrung by Executive Meddling. Contrary to internet rumors, EA's meddling was not because of game's singleplayer nature but rather its quality. EA wanted a game to score a 90% on Metacritic and develop an innovative gameplay mechanic like the Gravity Gun. LucasFilm wanted to inspect and approve of every game design decision while also placing restrictions on the game's tone and lore. These demands have led to situations in which approving character costumes, which normally lasts about a week at most, could last for months.
    • Furthermore, the Visceral Games was short on talented staff. The high costs of running the studio in San Francisco meant that EA couldn't hire new employees. Exacerbating issues is that for much of 2014 and 2015, many of Visceral's employees had to also work on the spin-off game Battlefield Hardline. Motive Studios, one of EA's existing subsidiaries, tried helping out only to be pulled away to work on Star Wars Battlefront II (2017), leaving Visceral Games again short on manpower.
    • Given the constant redtape, lack of employees, and poor morale, it was clear by 2017 that Ragtag couldn't meet the demands of being a best-selling licensed Star Wars game with quality comparable to Knights of the Old Republic. The game was cancelled in 2017 and Visceral Games was shut down. Given how tumultuous the development phase became, it was seen as a mercy kill with many employees actually happy that they were let go.
  • Per word of a podcast with Mike Stout and Tony Garcia, the development of Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal was very turbulent, hence the heavily scaled down feel of the content, and there was a genuine fear that the game was going to be a flop, with one of them going as far as saying the game was a disaster until two weeks before it went gold.
  • According to emails released following Leslie Benzies' departure from Rockstar Games and subsequent lawsuit against the studio and its founders, Sam and Dan Houser, two of the games that Rockstar made after the mid-'00s fell into this category in one way or another.
    • The first was Red Dead Redemption, which was apparently an unplayable trainwreck just months before its release, with Sam Houser desperately emailing Benzies begging for his help getting the game in working order. According to the lawsuit and emails, while the Housers were the "idea guys" at Rockstar, handling the story, characters, and soundtracks of their games, Benzies was responsible for overseeing programming and ensuring that the studio worked smoothly behind the scenes, and so when the Housers tried to go without Benzies on RDR, they found themselves flailing in the wind. Benzies did indeed save the day, but even so, the mad rush to get the game finished, and the tangled mess of code that resulted, ensured that RDR will likely never receive an Updated Re-release on PC or eighth-generation consoles, as Rockstar did not want to risk a Porting Disaster similar to the one that afflicted Grand Theft Auto IV's PC version. While RDR won rave reviews and became the most successful non-Grand Theft Auto game that Rockstar ever made, the experience produced a strained working relationship between Benzies and the Housers.
    • The strains that developed with RDR burst open during development on the online component to Grand Theft Auto V. Grand Theft Auto Online, as it was known, was Benzies' pet project, though the Housers cared little for it and preferred to focus on the single-player story. The big sticking point for the Housers, however, was when Benzies' name was placed at the end of GTA V's opening credits, a spot normally reserved for Sam Houser, indicating that he was the lead producer on the game. Apparently, Sam only found out when he sat down and played the game after release, a point that Benzies brought up in the lawsuit to question just how involved Sam was in the game's production, if he hadn't seen its opening credits until it was already released.
    • After production on GTA V wrapped, Benzies received what he was told was a six-month paid sabbatical as a reward for his hard work. Instead, according to the lawsuit, this sabbatical turned out to be a prelude to a termination. When he found his work email and cell phone disabled, he went back to the studio only to find that the locks on his office had been changed, leaving him wondering if he was even still employed at Rockstar. Upon concluding that he had indeed been fired, Benzies sued Rockstar for $150 million, claiming that they had screwed him out of royalty payments. The Housers maintain that Benzies had left Rockstar voluntarily, thus dis-entitling him from royalties.
  • ''Scalebound, a game about a badass smart-aleck who could fight and control dragons that was stuck in Development Hell for seven years, finally looked like it was going to get out of it in 2015 as a collaboration between PlatinumGames (specifically Hideki Kamiya) and Microsoft Studios. Unfortunately, the game ended up being cancelled in early 2017 due to the two companies' different creative ideas and design philosophies clashing together, resulting in a negative impact on the moral of the development team. Platinum wanted a large world that had a consistently great frame-rate, while Microsoft wanted a more scaled down game that showed off the graphical capabilities of the console. All of these disagreements caused the game to remain in limbo until its cancellation, and for Kamiya and producer J.P. Kellams to take a month long absence from their respected companies to recuperate their mental health.
  • Silent Hills immediately emerged as one of the most anticipated horror games on the horizon after a demo called P.T. (for "Playable Teaser") was released at Gamescom 2014 and scared the pants off nearly everybody who played it. It was to be a Silent Hill game made by a Dream Team of Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro, with Norman Reedus voicing the protagonist. Unfortunately, P.T. was all that ever came of the project, as production came to a halt several months later thanks to a bitter feud and falling out between Kojima and publisher Konami (described in the section above on Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain), with both Del Toro and Reedus confirming that the game was delayed indefinitely, if not outright canceled. Rumors briefly swirled that Microsoft was looking to buy the rights and restart production as an Xbox One exclusive, but those hopes turned out to be little more than wishful thinking. The experience (together with that of inSANE, a previous video game project of Del Toro's that became vaporware when THQ went bankrupt) caused Del Toro to swear off working on video games. Fortunately, some good did come of the experience, as Kojima and Reedus would later collaborate on Death Stranding, with Del Toro confirmed to be making a cameo appearance.
  • Skullgirls was hit with a litany of production problems, mostly after its release in April 2012:
    • In May 2012, Autumn Games and Konami, the publishers of Skullgirls, got hit with one heck of a lawsuit involving the game Def Jam Rapstar. This led to the development staff for the game being laid off by the original developer Reverge Labs. The game's development team was able to form a new studio called Lab Zero, and were allowed to maintain the game and release the planned Downloadable Content because Autumn Games owned the Skullgirls IP. The legal and financial hurdles in the formation of the new team is what caused the six month delay.
    • The first patch for the game arrived in November 2012, but only for PlayStation users (and from an entirely different developer) — Xbox Live Arcade size limits prevented the patch from being released on the Xbox 360.
    • After a Japanese localization was released and the developers used crowdfunding campaigns to raise enough money to realize the first four DLC characters (as well as the Xbox patch), Konami wouldn't respond to any contact from Lab Zero, meaning the DLC couldn't be released on consoles. Lab Zero decided to cut their ties to Konami and seek publishing from Marvelous AQL, who published the PC version. In response, Konami requested the game be delisted from both Xbox Live and PSN in December 2013. Lab Zero was only notified of this after Microsoft and Sony approved the delisting. Thankfully, due to the transfer of publishing rights from Konami to Marvelous AQL, the game was re-released as Skullgirls Encore in January 2014, and included the long-awaited console release of DLC character Squigly (for free, no less!).
    • Not long after the announcement of Encore, Cyberfront, the game's Japanese publisher, closed up shop, and the game's future in Japan is now uncertain.
    • And just when everything semed like it would be going smoothly, the Red Cross requested that Valentine's crosses have their color changed (the symbol of the Red Cross is protected by the Geneva Convention; this is why you'll never see a Nurse Joy with a red cross on her hat). Lab Zero at least took advantage of the necessary patch to add a new character (Fukua) to the game.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog franchise has a startling frequency of hectic productions, most of which haven't ended well in the long run:
    • Sonic the Hedgehog 2's history can be chronicled by the many alphas and betas made along the way, including a very early build given to Nick Arcade. Rumor had it that 2 would've had a Time Travel mechanic, but it took up too much ROM space. Many Zones were planned and scrapped, including the infamous Genocide City and the legendary Hidden Palace.note  Sonic Team director Yuji Naka, dissatisfied with Sega of Japan's policies, flew with his team to the USA to make the game at Sega Technical Institute. Unfortunately, development there was marred by conflicting work ethics and language barriers between the Japanese Sonic Team and the American STI staff.
      • An HD Fan Remake of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was cancelled in 2012 when the lead programmer, LOst, had Creative Differences with the rest of the team and provided a build of the game with DRM protection. Since he had not released the source code for the game's engine, the game could not be updated. Production restarted in 2014 when a fan of the project developed a replacement engine.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles were split into two games because of a licensing deal with McDonald's that pushed Happy Meal toys before the game was out, expecting a Christmas 1993 release. When that didn't happen, Sega released the first six stages of the game —as Sonic 3— in February 1994 to keep their end of the deal. The rest of the game was released half a year later —as Sonic & Knuckles— in a special cartridge that could be hooked up to Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 for new play experiences. (The first game, however, isn't compatible because most of its graphics were built around Sonic's color palette and Knuckles's sprites interfering too much; Sonic 2 didn't have that problem thanks to Super Sonic.)
    • Sonic X-treme stands as one of most notorious examples of troubled videogame development—unlike most of the other examples here, the game never finished development. Many things went wrong with the development of what was supposed to be Sonic's Video Game 3D Leap on the Sega Saturn.
      • What would eventually become Sonic X-treme for the Sega Saturn was actually the byproduct of a slew of several failed pitches for a Sonic game developed by Sega Technical Institute, which underwent many ideas for stories, game design, and even platforms (with the game previously planned for the Sega Genesis, and then its add-on the Sega 32X). Things did not get better when development for X-treme started, as the game's development staff was split between two teams, with lead designer Chris Senn leading development for the main/platforming levels, and lead programmer Ofer Alon leading development for the boss levels. Even with Mike Wallis monitoring both teams, the teams basically built two different games; which naturally led to led to some high tensions between both groups. (Not helped by smaller factions formed within the main teams to work on different aspects of the gamenote  as well as Ofer's reclusion from the rest of his team). Then production delays kicked-in, thanks to a busted development process; the game was originally programmed on a Mac computer, quickly ported to PC and then to the Saturn. Thus the game had atrocious framerate issues on the Saturn, playing at a consistently sluggish 3 to 4 FPS.
      • SEGA of America stepped in by hiring contract developer Point of View to smooth out development, but it didn't work out. They were first hired to assist in porting the game's engine to the Saturn, but ended up taking over development duties from Alon and failed at it - POV's programming demo was just a basic image of Sonic on a checkerboard background, and they still couldn't port Sonic X-treme's engine to the Saturn. POV's inexperience ultimately led to the breaking point in March 1996, when some Sega of Japan representatives-including then-President Hayao Nakayama-visited STI to check on the game's progress. While Alon and Senn formed a new group out of the main engine's original team to continue their own work following POV taking over production duties, and by the time of Nakayama and co's visit had succeeded in porting their engine to the Saturn before the visit; POV-without the original devs' knowledge-had already demo'd an older version of Alon's engine to the Japanese executives and utterly failed to win Nakayama's favor. Then Coffin's boss engine was shown in action, and Nakayama ordered the entire game redesigned around it to be completed for the holiday season. Despite Senn's best efforts to get the Japanese execs to stay longer to see Alon's newly polished engine, they just wouldn't budge.
      • From then on, development was mostly restricted to Coffin's team to finish the game for the holidays; all other work on the main engine was effectively discarded. In desperation, Coffin's team asked for and was granted use of the engine used in NiGHTS into Dreams... to speed things up. Then Sonic Team director Yuji Naka found out that it was being used without his permission and threatened to quit Sega if it stayed that way, sending STI back to square one and prompting Alon to leave Sega.note  Then Coffin and Senn did most of the work on their own, working 20 hours a day and sleeping in the offices until Coffin got pneumonia and Senn became so ill he was told he'd have six months to live if he kept going. With the game far from finished and two months left until the deadline, Wallis had no choice but to pull the plug on production, and a later attempt by Senn and Alon to get their work released on PC was rejected.
      • Sonic X-treme's cancellation has been pointed out as a reason for the Sega Saturn's commercial failure; the hole left in its wake meant that the Sonic series wouldn't have a proper 3D platformer on the Saturn and the console wouldn't have a guaranteed Killer App. X-treme has been blamed for Sega Technical Institute's closure the year after, and Sonic wouldn't get an actual 3D entry until Sonic Team revamped the series for the Dreamcast.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) also ended up as a victim of this — although the game, unlike X-treme, was released, the final product was likewise far from finished. After Yuji Naka — one of the founding members of the Sonic franchise — resigned from Sega and consequently left ongoing development of the game, massive pressure was then put on the game's director Shun Nakamura and the rest of the development team to have the game (which was supposed to help re-launch the franchise on what was a new generation of consoles) finished in time for that year's Christmas season as well as be released before year's end to qualify as the 15th anniversary title. And then if that wasn't enough, the development team was split so that a new team could work on a new Sonic game for the Wii console, the result of Sega discovering that a Wii version of the game (which was in development along with the PS3 and 360 versions) was unfeasible due to the Wii's technical limitations. The fact that they had to develop two remaining console versions of the game at the same time during the short development process did not help matters. The final product was ravaged by reviewers and fans alike as one of the worst videogames ever, and —contrary to popular belief— sold poorly, resulting in a black mark the series has still struggled to move on from even to this day.
    • After the game came out to scathing critical reception and even worse sales, people were left absolutely flabbergasted as to what exactly happened behind-the-scenes with the Sonic Boom videogame tie-in Rise of Lyric. Efforts from Sonic researchers managed to get in touch with an anonymous former member of the game's developer Big Red Button, who revealed the whole sordid story behind the game.
      • The game started life as Project Apollo in 2011 (later given the working titles Sonic Origins and Sonic Synergy). Heavily taking after Jak and Daxter (which members of the studio had previously worked on), the project initially started out as a standalone action-adventure game with heavy focuses on exploration, multiplayer co-op, and story (boasting an origin story about Sonic and Eggman with time-travel and ancient beings), with notably different character designs. As the studio spent two years developing a vertical slice demo for Sega, mandates by the publisher and chief studio Sonic Team kicked in, causing heavy changes to the original concept (among other things, speed was increased, exploration was downplayed, character designs were retooled to be closer to the main series, the origins backstory was axed entirely, and various game mechanics were scrapped).
      • The game was originally developed for a digital release for Steam, with Xbox Live and PlayStation Store releases planned if sales were good (development kits for the PlayStation and Xbox platforms can be spied out in certain developer footage and screenshots for the game). This was undone by Sega pitching the game's vertical slice to publisher Nintendo, and ultimately folding the project into an exclusive partnership deal between the two parties; resulting in the game compromised into the game being Sega's third and final exclusive Sonic game for Nintendo's Wii U platform. This proved to be a major problem since the game ran on the CryEngine 3 game engine, which was not officially supported on the Wii U.note  When the team starting porting the game to the Wii U in mid-2013, the results forced fundamental changes to the game—four-player co-op was restricted to two-player co-op, many game mechanics had to be reworked or removed, and levels were streamlined into a lineal progression. A notorious quote from one of the game's developers was that the team "was fighting against the engine the entire time".
      • During this time, a separate group of people pitched to Sega the idea of an animated Sonic TV series, which would eventually develop into the Sonic Boom sub-franchise. Despite BRB's game spending most of its development as an unrelated project, Sega later gave control over the game to the production team for the show a handful of months before the game's release, resulting in more changes being made to the game (particularly its story and Knuckles' personality, as well as requesting for characters, levels, and cutscenes to be added to the game) to bring it closer to the animated show. This chiefly explains why the final game and the animated show have only a handful of tenuous connections to each other.
      • The bottom of the game's production eventually fell out when a large chunk of the team was found to have left in July 2014, either voluntarily or being let go; with the game reportedly going gold that same month. This revelation, alongside the previous Nintendo-exclusive Sonic games in the partnership selling poorly, has led to the common consensus that Sega rushed the game's development so they could release the game and quickly conclude the contract (as well as shove the game out in time for the Christmas season).
      • In the long run, the final game that was released as Rise of Lyric had a whole murderer's row of glitches and design oversights, as well as unpolished graphics that left a lot to be desired — a stark contrast to early footage released for the game, which showcased impressive visuals. In a telling move, Sega enforced a review embargo to prevent official reviewers from telling the public about the mess the game was in, not that it did any good once the game was launched. The resulting fallout from the game's failure was was BRB nearly going out of business (having only worked on AR/VR games since Rise of Lyric) and the game being partly responsible for Sega undergoing layoffs and restructuring the following year, followed by the publisher's CEO later apologizing for betraying consumers' trust in recent years.
  • Sega went through a lot of grief in producing a CD add-on for the Genesis/Mega Drive. Technical hurdles to getting the Sega CD to work with the Genesis, as well as paranoia about the capabilities of competing hardware, pressed the development team into continually beefing up the add-on’s specs to the point where it became ridiculously expensive. Adding to the mess was the lack of cooperation and coordination between Sega's Japanese and American branches (which would go on the derail the Sega Saturn), with Sega of Japan refusing to send prototypes to the West, rendering Sega of America and Sega of Europe unable to promote the add-on to consumers and developers before its release. When systems finally arrived at Sega of America, they found them plagued with manufacturing defects up to and including spontaneous combustion. All of this scramble to simply get the hardware out the door meant that Sega couldn't properly solicit game developers for the system, causing the Sega CD's library to consist mainly (though not entirely) of FMV games, with only a few or so games that actually made (comparatively) more innovative use of the system's specsnote .
  • Splinter Cell: Conviction: It took almost four years from the time the game was announced (via an internal leak of images from the game in mid-2006) to its release because of several major gameplay shifts, including a halfway-finished product that was essentially thrown out midway through production. The original game, helmed by Ubisoft Montreal, featured Sam Fisher (now on the run from Third Echelon) as some type of homeless drifter sporting a beard, hoodie and makeshift weapons and devices, and the gameplay was intended to be a sandbox-type shooter where Sam would investigate various locales to get information (and memories) about his daughter. The game was seen as a serious departure from the franchise, and Ubisoft canned it midway through development over negative fan reaction and claims that its gameplay was too similar to the original Assassins Creed (also made by Ubisoft Montreal). Several features were unceremoniously thrown out (including several abilities that enabled Sam to blend into his environment, move objects around and fight hand-to-hand against enemies), and the game's entire structure was revamped. Conviction would eventually be released in early 2010.
  • Star Trek Online started out being owned by Perpetual Entertainment and was given a set schedule for launch. However, two years into development, they had plenty of pretty conception work, but no actual gameplay and it's been said that Perpetual was only doing this for shadier reasons. Either way, CBS was angry at the waste and gave the license to Atari and Cryptic, who forced the companies to rush out the game (though it was thankful that Cryptic had the easily compatible engine from Champions Online to use). However, even that wasn't enough as the game was bleeding players as Atari used the money the game brought to pay off their massive debts. It wasn't until Perfect World Entertainment bought Cryptic that the game would flourish.
    • A good example of Cryptic's forced rush was the Klingon faction. Compare the group at launch and compare the group during the first expansion, "Legacy of Romulus": Klingons were not chooseable at the start, they were unlocked when a Federation player reached Level 20. The Klingons started out at Level 20, but had no extra places to actively gain levels like the Federation did and had very little ships to play with. As well, the Gorn race was laughably bad in design, looking almost as bad as the Star Trek: The Original Series versions. Nowadays, the Klingons are chooseable at the start, the Gorn look much better and there's an entire starting story for the Klingons.
  • Free Radical's Star Wars: Battlefront III was subject to a large amount of development troubles and studio in-fighting with LucasArts before it was scrapped. Despite it never being formally announced, the details of its turbulent production are infamous:
    • The developer started production on an internal prototype for the next installment in the Battlefront series. According to interviews with co-founder Steve Ellis, the concept was so good that LucasArts was pushing them to release it as soon as possible, and they promised gameplay elements like a seamless transition from the player flying a ship in space to landing on a planet and exiting, cutting-edge tech upgrades and more. Likewise, LucasArts reportedly promised the developer that they could also develop a Battlefront 4 if the third installment was successful.
    • In early 2008, LucasArts went through a round of layoffs and the relationship between the publisher and developer soured. According to Ellis, the new executives were sour on the concept and wanted to trim as many projects as they could. Consequently, the game began missing content milestones, and previous cash injections that were given by LucasArts dried up. Other accounts claim that the company was deliberately lying about their progress on the game to continue receiving support payments from LucasArts. All of this was compounded by the failure of the PlayStation 3 game Haze, which sold poorly and garnered harsh critical reviews.
    • The game missed an April 2009 launch date. Soon after, Free Radical was hit with a round of layoffs and the game was supposedly canceled for financial reasons, In interviews afterward, Ellis claimed that the project was "99% finished" and only needed bug fixing before it could be released, but his account was disputed by an anonymous ex-Lucasarts employee, who said that it was canned because Free Radical was missing target deadlines, lying about their progress and that the game tested poorly internally. Ellis stated that the game was mutually scrapped after it became clear that LucasArts couldn't afford to continue development.
    • Gameplay of the reportedly near-final version leaked in 2012, and showed that the project was playable, but also suffered from random crashes and numerous bugs. The Free Radical team later published a video ridiculing LucasArts executives for failing to fund the project through to completion.
    • To add insult to injury, Battlefront III wasn't the only Free Radical project that fell through. The team created a working prototype for Timesplitters 4, but were turned down by multiple publishers who complained that they didn't know how to market it. This was the final straw before the company disintegrated in 2009.
    • The Battlefront project reportedly passed through several more developers before it was eventually given to DICE Software, who released a reboot in late 2015.
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords is legendary for its turbulent development history and botched release. The game notably featured an incomplete and haphazard ending, caused by LucasArts rushing Obsidian to get the game out the door for a Christmas release. Major elements like the HK-50 Droid Factory, M4-78 droid planet, much more content with the player's squadmates (and a coherent ending) were either left unfinished or scrapped entirely, and Obsidian's attempt to resolve the issues via a major content patch after the fact was rejected by the publisher. KOTOR 2's release is also rumored as being partially responsible for the company nearly going bankrupt in 2004 and being forced to restructure and focus more on in-house development.
  • One would think that, as bad as Superman 64 was, it was solely developer Titus' fault. However, in an interview with Eric Caen, one of the founders of Titus, with ProtonJon, it's revealed a lot of the reasons for the game's poorness was politics with Warner Bros. and DC Comics towards Titus (the virtual reality world? They didn't want Superman kicking real people). In fact, Caen mentions that the game was "not even 10% of what they envisioned" and that while it was a money-maker, it hurt them in the long run because they were forced to cancel the PlayStation version of the game.
  • An odd one — Super Robot Wars Alpha 3 was actually held back a few months because of a music problem: JAM Project just couldn't hit a specific high note for the game's theme, GONG. Even now, they'll still sing the song in their shows, but they will not attempt to hit that high note.
  • "Troubled" doesn't even begin to describe the genesis of Tattoo Assassins, Data East's Mortal Kombat clone. According to insider accounts, the idea was born when Data East Pinball executive Joe Kaminkow got a script treatment from Back to the Future's Bob Galenote  and decided to turn it into a game — with a development schedule and budget that was less than half of the typical arcade game of the time. The developers were promised lucrative bonuses for making the deadlines, which resulted in 12-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week grinds. To make matters worse, the team was hamstrung by nonstop demands for additional fatalities, time was spent preparing demo prototypes for trade show demos, and the final hardware was far underpowered for the game's intended design. The playtesters had to be forced to test the game, while the developers simply wanted to finish it and move on — and at the end of it all, the game was never released.
    "We knew the game was crap, and that we were no longer capable of fixing it. After we got back from the show, we were so 'crispy' that we no longer cared about the money — our only true reward for finishing up was that we wouldn't have to work on it any more."
  • Thief (2014) was in various states of Development Hell for nearly six years, and the results showed greatly in the final product.
    • Prior to Eidos Montreal overseeing development of what would eventually become the final game, ION Storm Austin (producers of Thief: Deadly Shadows) apparently planned to create a modern reboot, which would take place in the present day and feature Garrett working in an urban city. The concept was only worked on for a short time before ION Storm closed its doors.
    • Eidos began development on Thief 4 in 2008, and intended for it to be a sequel to the original series. After a teaser website and logo appeared in 2009, there was no word for years on the status of the project or where development was at, and various reports and rumors claimed that it had already been worked on for a long time prior to its announcement, that work was being outsourced to another studio, and that Eidos Montreal still hadn't decided on whether it would be a sequel or not.
    • Work went on for so long that an incomplete leak of a CGI trailer from the game's prologue mission made news in 2012, and after the game's release, it was revealed that Stephen Russell, the original voice actor for Garrett, had provided dialogue for the unused trailer, but he was replaced for the final version.
    • In March 2013, a damning report came out stating that the development team was completely fractured. Designers were coming and going constantly, and all of them had differing visions on where to take the game. Screenshots released around this time also showed a third-person gameplay perspective. The same month a Game Informer cover story came out, lead designer Dominic Fleury left the team.
    • The dev team then spent nearly a year working on press demos instead of the game proper, with heavily modified code being shown to media outlets (which was not released to the public because the team was unhappy with the end result). That also coincided with Eidos being forced to secure additional funding for the game from a German investment firm.
    • During the development of the press demos, the animators were tasked with animating sex scenes for the House of Blossoms level, which they were reportedly very uncomfortable with.
    • The game was eventually released in February 2014 to middling reviews. Three years later, rumors of a fifth game being in development (in tandem with a feature film supposedly being produced by Straight Up Studios, which was later removed from the studio's site) led Eidos Montreal boss, David Anfossi, to mock the announcement, claiming that fans should just "forget" any chance of seeing a Thief 5.
  • An interesting case for the indie game This Is The Police - the game had to be delayed a few days because... they forgot to send it to Steam for final approval.
  • Based on The Digital Antiquarian's coverage of the game (123), the development of Time Zone, the sixth adventure game by On-Line Systems (later known as Sierra), was among the earliest major examples of this in the computer game industry. To make a long story short:
    • Time Zone was the latest of the Hi-Res Adventures, whose selling point was the colorful artwork accompanying every room at a time when most adventures were text-based. It was not to be just another adventure game, however; Roberta Williams, the designer, envisioned an epic adventure through time and space where the player must travel to different points in history, culminating in a climactic showdown in an alien planet of the future that would itself be bigger than any adventure game of the time.
    • To this end came the first semblance of modern "AAA" game development where instead of a few jacks-of-all-trades, it would be created by a team of people performing different specialized tasks for the game—the largest ever assembled at the time. Williams designed the game; three people translated her design into game code, with each "time zone" coded as a game in its own right; and three people handled the game's artwork, with one drawing on graph paper and two others digitally tracing the art into the game. All of this was managed by Bob Davis, who himself had just finished and shipped his own game, Ulysses and the Golden Fleece, as the fifth Hi-Res Adventure.
    • Alas, Davis did not have the experience or temperament to be a manager, and almost immediately, the project devolved into a desperate attempt to figure out how to fit all the different sub-games together in time for a Christmas 1981 release. It was not until Jeff Stephenson, an experienced programmer who had last worked for the developers of VisiCalc (the first PC spreadsheet application), joined the company that the team managed to fit the whole thing together. The final result is essentially the bare minimum of Williams' vision, with each sub-game essentially stuck together with duct tape and glue.
    • Worse yet was what the lead artist had to go through. The one person who drew the art, Terry Pierce, had to draw 1,400 images for Time Zone... most of which were empty landscapes, as the Hi-Res Adventures brand dictated that every room of the tediously-oversized game grid needed its own artwork no matter how important or interesting it was. The stress of having to scribble hundreds of featureless "fields," "forests" and "city streets" on a tight schedule eventually drove Pierce into a nervous breakdown that reportedly led him to walk down a freezing highway shirtless and barefoot. Unsurprisingly, Pierce not only never worked on a game again, but never spoke to anyone at On-Line for over two decades.
    • All this, and yet there was no way the team could make the Christmas deadline. Instead, On-Line settled on a March 1982 release, at an ambitious and unheard-of price of $99.95 based on the sheer number of locations. Adjusted for inflation ($239.96 in 2012, when the blog articles were written), this makes Time Zone the most expensive single computer game ever made, and the game indeed became a flop largely because of its price tag. One of the few team members remaining afterward was Stephenson, who became the lead programmer because of his leadership, and thus eventually the head architect of the AGI and SCI engines that would power On-Line/Sierra's future and greatest hits, beginning with Williams' King's Quest two years later. Much of the rest left the industry altogether, happy not to work on another game.
    • Worst of all, however, was what happened to Bob Davis. He had a long past of alcohol and drug abuse, but had become clean by the time he worked for On-Line. Unfortunately, by the end of Time Zone's production, the money he made with Ulysses and the Golden Fleece led him to fall off the wagon big time, and soon he quit On-Line with the ambition of making his own games to sell to publishers. Alas, he could never do this without development tools to work with, even when sober... and even if he hadn't tried working with the Atari 2600, one of the most infamously difficult platforms to code for. He lost his shirt and his marriage when the royalty checks dried up, he was reduced to constantly calling On-Line to try to get hired again (or, increasingly, to try to get money), and he ultimately ended up in jail after burning bridges all over his hometown by writing one bad check after another. His downfall would taint On-Line's memories of Time Zone's production, and haunt the company for many years after.note 
  • The Tomb of the TaskMaker, the sequel to the mid-1990s Apple Macintosh RPG TaskMaker, ended up being the undoing of its publishers, Storm Impact. After the success of Storm Impact's first two products (the first TaskMaker and a skiing game called MacSki), the company's next two products (a debug program called Technical Snapshot and a space game called Asterbamm) both failed to catch on. A publisher who kept losing money orders didn't help, neither did the rush to get Tomb out on time — the game has a huge number of cut corners, and version 1.0 just barely got out before Storm Impact went under. See more information here (Wayback Machine archive). The deciding factors were undercapitalization (Storm Impact was mostly just two guys), an inability to get the product out on time, a declining Mac market at the time, and considerable advances in computer gaming since the first TaskMaker came out.
  • Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness was beset by a litany of problems that began the moment the game entered development.
    • With Core Design's main team working on Tomb Raider Chronicles, an underfunded new team was put in charge of the Tomb Raider series' next-gen debut on the PlayStation 2. This team had no experience with the PS2's exotic hardware, and spent a year just trying to figure out how to work with it. When Richard Morton, the lead programmer on Chronicles, finished that game and went on to bring his team to work on The Angel of Darkness, he was mortified at what he saw. He and his team had to dump the entire year's work and start from scratch.
    • The game was essentially made by committee. The senior management at Core was seeking to play Follow the Leader with the big games of the time, and told the team to incorporate Metal Gear Solid's stealth gameplay, Shenmue's character interaction, and RPG Elements, among other features. They also commissioned a Darker and Edgier 'epic' story that would span multiple games and take place mostly in modern city environments, as opposed to the tombs and lost civilizations that were the series' hallmark. This led to the game being essentially cut in half midway through development, leaving behind a tangle of plot holes, inconsistencies, and characters and story elements that felt tacked-on. None of this went over well with the developers, who had enough trouble getting the game to work properly on the PS2 hardware.
    • The public first became aware of these problems at E3 2002, when Eidos and Core showcased 'playable' levels that were little more than tech demos, showing that the game was nowhere near a state where it could be finished by its Fall 2002 release date. Another demonstration at a buyers' conference saw Core co-founder Jeremy Heath-Smith cursing on stage over the buggy state the game was in.
    • The game finally came out in June 2003, whereupon it met a scathing reception and sales numbers to match. The fiasco was a Creator Killer for Core and a Franchise Killer for Tomb Raider, which only survived by way of a reboot from Crystal Dynamics.
  • Silicon Knights (as documented in the Blood Omen and Eternal Darkness entries above) hit its creative nadir with CEO Denis Dyack's pet project and self-considered masterpiece Too Human. It took second place to Duke Nukem Forever as the king of Vaporware: announced in 1999 and released in 2008, having effectively existed in three incarnations on three console generations (PlayStation/Sega Saturn, Nintendo GameCube, and the final released product on Xbox 360). It was cancelled the first time around by the original publishers (a partnership between Electronic Arts and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) for reasons unknown to even the developers, and sidelined the second time around due to too much workload with Nintendo. The reason why the Xbox 360 was ultimately chosen? Because Dyack, a man of graphics and technology, was utterly disgusted by the Wii hardware's lack of horsepower and immediately burned bridges with Nintendo.

    This proved to be a fatal mistake, for without Miyamoto and Iwata to keep watch over him and his work, Dyack's ego spiraled out of control and he grew progressively more hostile towards virtually everyone, including his own staff (see one interpretation of the X-Men Destiny situation for more details). Development on the game suffered dearly for it. This resulted in mediocre sales and reviews, a bunch of projects left in the garbage bin over the next few years and most importantly of all, a disastrous lawsuit against Epic Games. Silicon Knights paid a license to use the Unreal Engine 3 for Too Human, didn't like it, and began reverse-engineering it until they decided the engine was now 100% Silicon Knights and 0% Epic. They stopped payments to Epic and demanded refunds for the money they already paid to them. Problem was, the "new" engine used in the final product still contained portions of Epic code... and Silicon Knights lost big time and paid the ultimate price in 2013.
  • The Typing Of The Dead Overkill was developed under constant threat of cancellation: It began development with a deadline of four months at Blitz Games Studios, which went bankrupt before the game was completed, taking down Sega's original contract from the game with them. Afterwards, the developers negotiated for a new contract to release the game, which they got... with a measly deadline of six weeks. Also, due to not being employed, the staff had no choice but to become bedroom coders in a crowded apartment; fortunately for that one, Sega saw the location situation and granted the staff temporary office space at one of their subsidiaries. That it sold well with this history is a complete miracle.
  • Ultima IX: Ascension spent 5 years in development — and it shows. As noted on Hackl's Ultima Page, "The Conquest of Origin" and its Executive Meddling entry, the game was fraught with problems behind-the-scenes:
    • Lead creator Richard Garriott originally planned to have IX pick up exactly where the previous game left off (the Avatar confronting the Guardian on the latter's homeworld). However, after realizing that the fanbase likely wanted a return to the series' roots, he scrapped the idea. Shortly afterwards, in 1997, the team came up with a new concept for the game, using an isometric 3D engine. However, this idea was scrapped when the rise of 3D accelerators forced the team to jettison their existing project and begin another new version of the game.
    • During this time, Don Mattrick (later of Microsoft's Xbox brand), who was president of EA Worldwide Studios at the time, assumed control of the division. Mattrick pushed the development teams to stick to their schedules, and began cancelling Origin's projects for unexplained reasons (or outright killing in-production titles). As a result, Origin began to move into the online gaming sector.
    • Garriot went to EA CEO Lawrence Probst to get funding for Ultima Online, and it was initially treated as near-irrelevant by the publisher. However, after said game's beta test drew 50,000 volunteers, EA insisted that Garriott shelve Ascension and work solely on Online...
    • ...and that's when everything fell apart. In the rush to finish Ascension for retail release (after EA set a firm deadline when Garriott wouldn't acquiesce to their original demand), many shortcuts were taken. As a result, the engine was bug-ridden, the team didn't have the time to fully implement the plot from the isometric version of the game into the 3D version, and cutscenes and dialogue were left unfinished.
    • Things finally came to a head afterwards, during pre-production on what was to become Ultima X: Odyssey. EA cancelled all of Origin's planned projects (including Ultima Online 2) and forced relocation of Odyssey's development from Austin, Texas to California, leaving developers who couldn't make the move due to family issues out of work. This subsequently led to the project being scrapped altogether, and Origin eventually being disbanded a short time later.
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, the final installment in the critically-acclaimed Uncharted series, wasn’t exactly smooth sailing for developer Naughty Dog. In March 2014, it came to light that series writer and creative director Amy Henning, along with game director Justin Richmond, the who worked Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception and — at the time — Uncharted 4, had left Naughty Dog to work at Visceral Games and Riot Games, respectively, citing Creative Differences with Naughty Dog. Later, Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley, the game directors for The Last of Us , were revealed in June 2014 as taking Henning and Richmond’s place. Conversely, this meant that some plot ideas and eight months of shooting were scrapped. Todd Stashwick was also set to play Drake’s brother Sam, but he was later replaced by Troy Baker. As a result of this, the game missed its 2015 launch to ensure extra development time, and after several small delays was finally released in May 2016.
  • Unsung Story: Tale of the Guardians was a kickstarter game that had loads of promise, talent, and potential behind it. But instead, what resulted was loads of false promises, miscommunication, and delays.
    • The game was created by Yasumi Matsuno as a spiritual successor to Final Fantasy Tactics as a partnership alongside board game company Playdek with a goal of $600,000 and a release date of July 2015. Problems instantly arose when the game couldn’t make its required funding in time despite the big names attached (including composer Hitoshi Sakimoto and artist Akihiko Yoshida). That is until a Kotaku article by Jason Schreier got people’s attention and allowed it to reach its goal in time (something Schreier would later come to regret).
    • After a few mundane backer updates, backers were getting concerned when Playdek was hyping up the digital card game rather than the actual game. The company’s PR manager had to calm down the fanbase a few weeks later making some promises, such as an update in August 2014 (which didn’t happen, and was the first of many broken promises).
    • A year after the game received its funding, development became slow, until an update showed off some work-in-progress screenshots of the game, which were poorly received, looking like something made in a few minutes on the cheap. On September 2015 (a month after the game’s expected release date), Playdek CEO Joel Goodman apologized for the slow development (a contradiction to the previous month’s update, which talked about how smooth development was), and explained that the game was being delayed due to trying to find an outside publisher for the game, and Playdek suffering from a financial crunch. Out of nowhere, Joel Goodman promised an online PvP multiplayer mode, something that not only wasn’t promised, but also wasn’t what backers wanted. On an AMA session on Reddit, Goodman confirmed that Matsuno jumped ship, despite the game being far from complete.
    • In October 2015, gameplay footage was finally shown, and, well, to say fans were disappointed would be an understatement. The footage contained slow gameplay, and amateurish graphics that look no better than a mobile game. Info about the gameplay was going to be released immediately after, but Playdek, as always, went silent.
    • Four months later, Playdek delivered some bad news. Development was facing more setbacks such as financial issues and losing key staff members; worse, development on the game would be put on hold so that Playdek can create other games in order to secure a proper budget, even requesting an outside development team for assistance. Backers requested refunds, but to no avail. Playdek later announced that they have gotten a budget for the game, and that they have already spent $1.5 million on development. A playable beta build was promised for October 2016 (which ended up not happening, and would never be brought up again). In September 2016, it was announced that Unsung Story would be turned into a franchise thanks to a partnership with a big development company (sound familiar?).
    • No updates would be announced until August 2017 (the last one being in December 2016), where Playdek announced their biggest bombshell: they would be leaving development of the game, throwing the game in publisher/developer Little Orbit’s hands. Little Orbit had to start development of the game from scratch and pay for it out of their own pockets, this time focusing on the single player aspect of the game, and promising to deliver on the backers' interests and requests.
  • Sir-Tech Software were so confident that Wizardry IV: The Return of Werdna would be available by the end of 1984 that they actually told a magazine to announce it was available in its November 1984 issue. The game wouldn't actually see release until 1987; when it was released, a combination of still using tech from 1981 and ludicrous difficulty even by dungeon-crawler standards made it the poorest-selling product in the company's history. The Other Wiki has more on the story.
  • The World of Darkness MMO, as detailed in this Guardian article, spent nearly a decade in Development Hell before finally being canceled. Those years had all the makings of this trope.
    • Icelandic developer CCP, fresh off the booming success of EVE Online, bought out a troubled White Wolf in November 2006 hoping to get its hands on that company's lucrative tabletop gaming IPs, chief among them being The World of Darkness. Almost immediately, CCP began production on an MMO based on the game, opening a studio in Atlanta to work on it.
    • Troubles began almost immediately. While CCP, to their credit, kept on most of White Wolf's important staff and trained a stable of programmers and artists to work on the game, The World of Darkness was very much of secondary importance compared to the golden goose that was EVE. Developers wound up frequently poached to work on expansions for EVE, often for months at a time, causing constant delays in production that saw features being planned, partially completed, and then scrapped. During production on the Apocrypha expansion for EVE in 2009, production on The World of Darkness halted entirely as the whole team was put to work on that project.
    • Furthermore, the manager in charge of the project had little in the way of a coherent vision for the game beyond "buzzword-laden rambles", exacerbating the delays and the problems of work wasted on various abandoned gameplay mechanics. Much of this was driven by CCP's corporate culture of "the war on the impossible", the idea that they should strive to outdo all of their competitors and deliver things that nobody had ever seen before in an MMO. These grandiose ambitions led to the EVE spinoff DUST 514, which further cannibalized the staff. Thanks to all of this dysfunction, the game reached alpha stage (i.e. with the fundamentals of its core gameplay mechanics all implemented) a total of three times, with the staff going back to the drawing board for each one as all of the disparate game mechanics failed to gel together. As production stretched out, management frequently attempted to deflect blame for the delays onto the programmers. Design meetings were described by one former developer as "whoever shouted longest and hardest would dominate".
    • In 2011, the Incarna expansion for EVE experienced its own troubled production, causing CCP to bring in the Atlanta team to help finish the job that their main team in Reykjavik, Iceland was struggling with. When the Atlanta team got the job done in a fraction of the time that the Reykjavik team took to do just a quarter of the work, their work ethic was vindicated, but the Reykjavik team was left bitter that they'd been shown up so badly.
    • The beginning of the end came in late 2011 when, between the failure of DUST 514 and the Internet Backdraft against CCP for introducing microtransactions to EVE, a humbled CCP began cutting costs. Morale fell apart as developers saw cuts to their pay, to their free meals, and to their medical benefits, and twenty percent of the workforce was laid off by the end of 2011. A teaser trailer was released at EVE Fanfest in 2012, but while it got the feel and style of the source material down, it notably didn't contain anything even resembling gameplay footage. Resources were stretched even further in 2013 when CCP announced EVE Valkyrie, a Space Fighter game for the Oculus Rift set in the EVE universe. At that point, its cancellation in 2014, the only product of its development being some cool concept art, was a Foregone Conclusion. CCP eventually sold White Wolf to Paradox Interactive the following year, washing their hands of the failed World of Darkness MMO and driving the final nails into its coffin.
  • Two conflicting accounts on the difficult development of X-Men: Destiny exist. Whichever rings more true is, as of the end of 2015, up to the reader's discretion.
    • The first account, via Word of God from Silicon Knights chief Denis Dyack, claims that behind-the-scenes Marvel Comics licensing problems threw a monkey wrench into the game's budget: He says that the game was intended as a major AAA release at the end published by Activision, who formerly held the Marvel game license at the beginning of development, with Silicon Knights even pumping even more money into the budget than its employees' salary.

      What neither Activision nor Silicon Knights could have foreseen was Disney's acquisition of Marvel midway during development: With Disney publishing games themselves, Activision and Disney got into disagreements over the former's Marvel video game contract, causing the budget to shrink down in the process; Silicon Knights was not paid by Activision during conversations and had to fund the game's development out of their own pockets at the point. The game suffered for it and with Activision's Marvel contract being "so complicated and detailed to unravel" that Disney couldn't do anything to help the project, the final game had to be released as a mess. Disney would eventually buy out nearly all of Activision's Marvel licenses a few years later.
    • The second account, as described by anonymous sources who were former employers kept anonymous claims that Dyack's growing egoism since Silicon Knights broke ties with Nintendo has reached its final evolution into power tripping and corporate mismanagement, insisting on holding absolute control of game development to himself to an absurd degree and ready to throw down with anyone who disagrees with him both inside and outside of Silicon Knights.

      Dyack, who was said to be not a fan of the X-Men and therefore didn't care much for the development of Destiny, effectively procrastinated on production of the game as much as possible for about two years by stalling communications with Activision and shuffling manpower onto his pet projects. Compounding this was that more senior developers were shuffled onto his pet projects (such as Eternal Darkness 2) while leaving an inexperienced staff to deal with a new type of programming. A case of chasing two hares and catching neither; nothing came of fruition from Dyack's projects and it became harder to appease Activision to obtain more funding and time on the project. Eventually, Activision got fed up and retaliated by publicly announcing the game about a year before its release date with no possibilities of delays while development was still in a severely messed-up state, forcing Silicon Knights to rush out the final game under the extremely tight deadline of 12 months, predictably resulting in a mess.
  • Development on Yandere Simulator began in 2014 by its sole programmer, "YandereDev", and ever since then has trudged through a lengthy (and rather stressful) production.
    • YandereDev had always wanted to garner a fanbase from something of his creation. He ended up getting his wish, and it far exceeded his expectations; on a daily basis, he was literally flooded with emails and comments, all of which he tried reading (which consequently gave himself less time to develop the game). YandereDev quickly became loathe to reply to fan emails and comments. Furthermore, he issued constant reminders to discourage his fanbase's misguided efforts to assist (including unhelpful bug reports, offers of help without a proper resume, and suggestions that were impossible, already considered, or outright stupid)note . The fact that YandereDev was forced to do so on the game's two-year anniversary and created an Audience Surrogate character based upon those who annoy him speaks volumes.
    • As of January 2016, Twitch has banned the game and threatened to immediately suspend anyone caught streaming it. YandereDev stated in a video that he was provided no explanation for this, arguing that the violent and questionable content in Yandere Simulator can be seen in other games allowed by Twitch. An official response finally came in February 2017, stating that things in early builds like the naked Titans and violence against minorsnote  had violated guidelines. While later versions have rectified most of the complaints, Twitch has nonetheless refused to re-review the game until it is closer to completion.
    • Numerous schedule slippages — all of which documented on the game's Trivia page — plagued development with delays. Among the reasons include YandereDev's hard drive dying on January 10, 2016 (which fortunately didn't delete progress) and a trip to Anime Expo later in July 2016. YandereDev projected that the game would be released in 2015 with a Kickstarter project for higher production values and to get it on Steam. Given the sluggish pace from a one-man-band programmer like himself, however, Yandere Simulator has been pushed back as far as 2019.
    • Money troubles were apparent, as the $5,000 a month from Patreon that YandereDev received wasn't enough to hire volunteer animators or riggers who were competent (at least, not while also paying voice actors and 3D modelers). This in turn made implementing Rival-chan excessively difficult, who was incompatible with the animation rigs YandereDev currently had.
    • Despite his best efforts, YandereDev continued falling behind on updates, and on February 2017 finally had a Creator Breakdown. A video revealed that, for the past two years, YandereDev had sacrificed most of his personal life and health to work on the game 24/7—all while operating under fears of under-delivering fan expectations and the game dying from a subsequent loss of interest. Additionally, he called into question his own programming skills, expressing interest on hiring a more experienced programmer to help refurbish the game engine. Thus, YandereDev ended up partnering with tinyBuild for further development on the game.
  • The Yogscast video game Yogsventures! met an untimely end because of this.
    • It all began when the developer, Winterkewl Games, started a Kickstarter campaign to get support from fans, which resulted in $500,000 dollars in funds raised. The first problem came up when the game's artist left the team to work with LucasArts, who didn't give him any accessibility in his contract to spend time on working on the game. This was a huge setback for Winterkewl, as they already had a contract that guaranteed each of the main artists a $35,000 lump sum payment and they made no clear clause as to how and why someone could legally stop working on the project. This basically equated to the artist working on the project for about 2 weeks with pay, and then suddenly abandoning it later, much to the surprise of Winterkewl.
    • Upon hearing about Winterkewl's troubles, Yogscast co-founder Lewis Brindley immediately expressed his confusion and disdain over what happened, and became hesitant to trust Winterkewl leader Kristafer Vale. The development team ending up giving $150,000 to Yogscast for them to create and ship the Kickstarter campaign's physical rewards to fans who had already pledged for the game, along with aiding in hiring a main programmer for Winterkewl (which they still didn't have at this point in development). Meanwhile, with currently no actual programmer in his team's roster, Vale found himself taking on that role, and worked tirelessly for 18 months on the game.
    • Various design changes and Vale's inexperience as a project lead and developer ultimately marked the end of the line for Winterkewl, who, by this point, had paid so much money for licensing fees and finding a programmer that they had little left to continue the project. Winterkewl ended up going bankrupt and announced the cancellation of the game. Yogscast also officially announced this bit of news as well, calling the whole thing a failure that was "a deep regret". Out of sympathy for the tens of thousands of people who had funded the game and had no chance of getting any money back, Yogscasters gave out free copies of Landmark, a massively multiplayer online RPG (which would itself shut down in January 2017). At the end of it all, Yogsventures! has since been regarded as one of the biggest failures in Kickstarter video game projects.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/TroubledProduction/Videogames