When a company doesn't give a release date, and as such the development time for the product could be finished between now and the end of time with very little specifics. The reason for this is usually so that the developer has no time constraints, so they can take as much time as necessary to deliver a good product.
Similar to Vapor Ware, except in this case there is no doubt that the product is actually going to be finished. It's just that the majority of the fanbase realizes that it will take an absurdly long time. Comparable to a continued delaying of the product so that the developer can properly make the game. In most cases, the quality of the finished product turns out to be very high, so the company's actions can be somewhat justified.
Creators who actually want to invoke this use a few standard stock phrases. "Soon" means "we're foolish enough to hope it will actually be soon." "Real Soon Now," possibly with appended, means they really don't know themselves, and it'll probably be a while. "When It's Done" means don't hold your breath.
Compare Schedule Slip.
- The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.
Dr. Lizardo: Where are we going?Red Lectroids: Planet Ten!Dr. Lizardo: When?Red Lectroids: Real Soon!
- The Protomen's third album has a release date of "sometime before you die".
- 30 Seconds to Mars is notorious with this to the point where the word "soon" has becoming a groan-inducing Running Joke among the fans. Apply "soon" to the release of the music video for This is War, their documentary, Artifact...
- Peter Tosh's "Soon Come", recorded both with The Wailers and solo. This is about a woman who is wasting his time by constantly promising to do something by a certain time but making excuses when it hasn't been done by then. The phrase 'Soon Come' is commonly used in Jamaica and is typical of their laidback 'no rush' attitude.
- You'll see this with tabletop game supplements as well. The updated version of "Golden Age Champions" was supposed to be published for Fifth Edition, and the fans are hoping we'll see it for Sixth. It'll be printed sometime, it's the pet project of Hero Games' president ... but as company president he has a lot of stuff to do that eat into writing time.
- Blizzard Entertainment is of course the king of this trope, having done this with very many of its games. For instance, after Diablo III was announced in 2008, it was almost 4 years before a release date was announced.
- Other (infamous) examples include Starcraft II (eventually released... kinda) and Starcraft: Ghost (Vapor Ware).
- They also usually respond this way in World of Warcraft blogs. When are rogues going to be balanced? Soon. When are Shadow Priests and frost mages getting buffed? Soon. When are new battlegrounds being released? Soon.
- Blizzard officially defines the term "Soon", as both A, a Blizzard Trademark, and B, any time between now and the end of time. Very Soon officially being closer to now than the end of time, and Soonish leaning further towards the end of time.
- Valve Software alternates between this and Valve time, which is just plain lies.
- Back in the day, Apogee/3D Realms was notorious for this. Duke Nukem Forever languished for many of its twelve years as Vapor Ware, with the company saying that it would be released "When it's done". Interestingly, the company had claimed several solid release dates, before going for the Orwellian Retcon and claiming that it had always been "When it's done".
- Billy vs. SNAKEMAN has a half dozen announced game areas stuck in this state, including two (Reaper's Game, and Pirates) that further the running plot of the game. Hero's Quest has been finished now so we'll see how long it takes for the rest to be finished.
- Nintendo does this on a regular basis with its AAA games. "When's the game coming?" "When it's done".
- EverQuest forums are famous for having the developers state that something will be done "Soon(tm)".
- The Fallout: New Vegas DLC, Honest Hearts, had been "real soon now" from February to May 2011. It was finally announced for May 17th on May 3rd, 2011.
- Arena Net has been saying that Guild Wars 2 will come out "When it's ready" since 2008. They often say the same thing when asked when any specific piece of information will be revealed. Fortunately, it did finally come out in 2012...and to wide critical praise.
- The developers of Katawa Shoujo "promised" to release it in 2011. Eventually they announced it for and released it on January 4, 2012.
- The ten Game Boy Advance games promised to day-one owners of Nintendo 3DS handhelds were said by Nintendo to be coming before the end of 2011—they came out about two weeks before the end.
- X Rebirth was initially announced for a fall 2011 release. Then Egosoft realized, "oops, it's not ready" and had only given vague estimates ("Q3 2012"), until it was finally announced that the release date was set in stone as November 15th 2013. Since it's going to be Steam-exclusive, the occasional joke has popped up that Egosoft is running on Valve time (see above). Egosoft actually own the domain Soon.TM.
- During the development of Them's Fightin' Herds, the Mane 6 team was fond of using exactly this phrase in developmental updates when the team encountered setbacks, a favorite being "X will be done Soon".
- Fairly common for non-commercial software with no set schedule. For example, each new version of Debian GNU/Linux distribution is said to be released "when it's ready", which means once in 2-3 years (most others release several times a year). As a result Debian has a reputation as reliable, but somewhat stale in terms of new features.
- Jamaicans (and other Caribbean peoples) have the saying "soon come", which is said when they agree to do something, but don't plan to do it that second. Many simply don't feel the need to hurry to do something unless it is really urgent. Of course, this attitude inevitably leads people to forget what they had to do, and then when reminded, simply say 'soon come' again. This can be frustrating enough to locals but is especially so to those unfamiliar with the culture. Immortalized in song by Peter Tosh.
- Jerry Pournelle is "credited with coining "Real Soon Now" to describe the delivery schedule of vapourware." The phrase "Real Soon Now" was used in the 1984 issue of Byte Magazine. The article was Computing At Chaos Manor NCC Reflections.