XIII, based on the first five volumes of the European comic book series, ends with a Cliffhanger. Poor sales, however, erased hopes of a game continuation of the story. A TV miniseries based on the comic and the game was later produced staring Val Kilmer and Stephen Dorff, which suffered a similar fate as the game it was based on. It was resurrected a second time as XIII: The Series in 2011 by a Canadian company. The TV series is a direct continuation of the miniseries's plot, though none of the miniseries actors (especially Kilmer and Dorff) reprise their roles. It burned X-Play, which had done a single preview episode devoted to the game based on that show's editorial staff and Adam Sessler's excitement over the game's cel-shaded graphics and underlying story. When it turned out to be a run-of-the-mill "3... out of 5" shooter featuring bored voice acting by David Duchovny, the show wouldn't do a single game preview episode for another five years. It wasn't until much later that Gameloft released a sequel (XIII-2) for mobile phones.
Haven: Call of the King for the PlayStation 2 was supposed to be the first installment in a revolutionary video game trilogy that would defy all genres. What was actually released was mediocre: while it did mix together a lot of genres (action, platforming, RPG, driving) as promised, it didn't do any of them particularly well. The lackluster sales killed the planned trilogy at the first game, whose planned Xbox and Nintendo GameCube ports were also canceled.
Advent Rising was intended to be a trilogy on consoles with a spin-off for the PSP. The poor reception of the original game put a stop to any further prospects, as well as the million-dollar contest promoting it.
Shadow Complex, on which Empire was based, was released on Xbox Live Arcade to glowing reviews. Of course, in order to sell it to people without having a massive backlash strike out, the developers had to entirely ignore the novel Card had written to promote it.
Kya: Dark Lineage flopped, partially due to a dumb marketing campaign ("She's a whole lotta hurt in a belly shirt"), and the sequel hinted at in the ending never materialized.
Anachronox is an interesting case, because the Sequel Hook at the end, which will probably never be followed-up on, wasn't originally planned to be one. It was supposed to be the halfway point of the game, but due to a whole slew of problems, they ended up having to end the game there.
Freedom Wars was Sony's last attempt to publish a killer app (and Monster Hunter replacement) for the Play Station Vita with a lot of advertising, a Japan-only visual guide explaining its mythos and setting and having a inconclusive ending that sets up major events to come in a sequel. However, while the game sold slightly more than 700.000 copies worldwide (which is decent for a handheld game) and the developers were interested in making the sequel, Sony decided not to produce it as they expected the game to become a big hit (at least as big as God Eater, a franchise by the same developers) in Japan.
Action 52 had a $199 price tag (in 1991 for a NES game), nearly unplayable games, weak concept, and was horribly and seriously bug-infested, yet for some impossible-to-fathom reason, Active Enterprises believed that its featured title Cheetahmen (which shared many flaws with the other games on the cartridge, including not having an ending) was going to be a huge breakout hit. Plans were made for a CheetahmenSaturday morning cartoon, action figures, and of course a sequel. Their hopes turned out to be waaay premature; the sequel never emerged except as an unfinished, unplayable beta, while the very short-lived franchise became one of the most infamous pieces of "entertainment" ever created.
The Bard's Tale: In 2004, Designer Eric Flannum had discussed the possibility of further adventures for the main character in a sequel.
The commercial failure of action RPG Too Human not only killed Silicon Knights' hopes of a trilogy, but also any hopes of an Eternal Darkness followup. This played a big part in the demise of Silicon Knights, but former studio head Denis Dyack is still trying to greenlight Shadow of the Eternals, a Spiritual Successor to Eternal Darkness, despite its ill-fated Kickstarter campaign.
Electronic Arts' Auto Destruct ends with the Big Bad escaping in an emergency submarine after you shoot down his helicopter. While not bad by any means, the game was rather obscure and didn't sell well, so no sequel was made.
P.N.03 sold barely 20,000 copies, so Capcom aborted the franchise.
Brute Force was a original Xbox exclusive which was hyped as doing to third-person shooters what Halo: Combat Evolved did to console first-person shooters, and just like Halo, was promoted with a prequel novel that expended on the backstory (in fact prior to the console's release Microsoft marketing expected Brute Force to be the big Killer App franchise for the Xbox, but launch-title Halo vastly surpassed their expectations.) However, the final version didn't quite live up to the hype and thus Brute Force never became the multimedia juggernaut Halo is. There were rumors of a sequel for the Xbox 360, but Digital Anvil's death in 2006 ensures that it will never happen.
Mitsumete Knight is a sad case of this. After the surprise and spectacular success of Tokimeki Memorial: Forever With You, Konami wanted to keep the momentum and create another similar Dating SimCash Cow Franchise. Mitsumete Knight was thus planned as such, and lots of efforts were put in it: co-created by Konami and Red Entertainment (the other Dating Sim leader of the time, creator of Sakura Wars), a spectacular voice cast, deep storyline, solid gameplay, a line of goods, favourable critics, lots of built hype one year before the game's actual release in March 1998 via a Radio Drama and previews... Only to meet average-ish good sales, not the expected killer profit (partially due to the public's vaning interest in Dating Sims which started around that time). Realizing this, and with Tokimeki Memorial 2 around the corner, Konami canned the franchise one year later in 1999.
Donald in Maui Mallard had a sequel planned and was made to test the waters for this detective/ninja incarnation of Donald Duck, with even ideas for an animated series. Due to coming at the end of the 16-bit consoles' lifespan and some flawed marketing (Donald's name was dropped from any promotional material), the game bombed and all plans were scrapped.
Si N Episodes: Emergence debuted to weak sales and some critical acclaim (for a series that hadn't seen an installment in more than a decade). Plans were made to have several more episodes, and a teaser was released at the end of Emergence that teased plot points from upcoming installments. Then the game's production company, Ritual Entertainment, was sold to a casual game developer, and production was canned — meaning that you'll never get to see any of the last eight(!) installments.
Medal of Honor: Rising Sun was originally going to be the first of a series that would have followed a group of brothers through the Pacific War fighting a secret cabal of the Japanese high command. However, it flopped. It was somewhat resolved later on with somebody mentioning that one of the brothers had been planning POW rescues (one of them was in Japanese hands at the end of the game), but we never got to see those rescues.
Loom, a 1990 adventure game made by LucasArts. The game was well received, sold well and was part of a planned trilogy. However, the game's makers had other commitments and didn't want to work on the sequels.
Alpha Protocol was intended by publisher Sega to become part of a greater series. The poor sales killed that, but as Obsidian still maintains all the rights, it's possible if a particularly optimistic publisher comes along.
Nightshade Part 1: The Claws of Sutekh was not followed by a Part 2.
There were two attempts by Capcom at making a Captain Commando franchise (Section Z and, unsurprisingly, Captain Commando), but neither game took off quite as well as expected.
The Vin Diesel vehicle Wheelman was supposed to lead up to a film, with the game setting up the backstory and the characters. However, the game's tepid critical and commercial performance very likely scrapped those plans.
The instructions and advertising for the ZX Spectrum text adventure Merlock the Mede describe the two games on the tape as the first of a set of eight — and a player who solved all eight could win a digital watch. The first two received far from glowing reviews, and nothing was ever seen of the other six.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was designed as a prologue to a multimedia franchise centred upon a planned MMORPG with the Working TitleProject Copernicus. Unfortunately, catastrophic financial shenanigans ensued, revolving around an ill-advised government loan for $75 million (with wildly-unrealistic repayment terms) and incredible mismanagement on behalf of developer 38 Studios. The resulting monetary implosion meant the game needed to sell three million copies to break even, and despite selling over one million in a few weeks, the company went under. The rights then reverted to the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, who attempted to auction off the IP. While the game did sell well by normal, non-bankruptcy-involving standards, Rhode Island was unable to find a buyer until THQ Nordic acquired it in 2018. Time will tell what they do with it.
Siege of Avalon, whose developer Digital Tome disbanded and left the planned sequel unproduced.
In Darkstone, one of the highest level quests had the player rescue Santa Claus, who thanks them with a gift of Darkstone 2. It was intended to be a promise of a coming sequel, but the sequel was never made; the game's developer, Delphine Software, ceased operations in 2004.
The Facebook app The Agency: Covert Ops was made to help promote a spy-themed MMO that was ultimately canceled after four years of development.
World in Conflict ends with an obvious cliffhanger (the Soviets are pushed from the US mainland but the war in Europe is still raging and the Chinese fleet besieges the Pacific Coast) but it was never continued, despite the game receiving enthusiastic reviews, good sales, and even an Expansion Pack. The main reason was that the developers' previous owner Activision sold them to Ubisoft, who, in turn, shifted their priorities from the RTS genre to action games.
Journey: The Quest Begins, befitting its title, ended with a Sequel Hook. It was the very last game developed by Infocom, and no sequel was ever made.
Metal Arms: Glitch in the System by Swingin' Ape Studios received fairly decent reviews and had a clear Sequel Hook at the end, so it was no surprise that the developers had hoped for sequels. There was a lot of work done towards a Metal Arms 2, but Swingin' Ape Studios was purchased by Blizzard in 2005 and the neither the franchise nor the work done on it have been heard from since.
Pearl Harbor Trilogy — 1941: Red Sun Rising was meant to be released as the first of a trio of World War II-themed WiiWare flight sims (or more accurately, the PC game Attack on Pearl Harbor chopped up in three parts) but poor sales have prevented the rest of the series from seeing the light of day.
Illbleed has vague hints toward a sequel. Its developer closed down in 2002, and though the company's founder Shinya Nishigaki had hopes of resurrecting it, he died suddenly two years later.
The Starfire Soccer Challenge was intended to spin off a third series of Purple Moon games and was heavily promoted by girls' sports organizations, but had no sequel. What might have been had the company not gone under, the world may never know.
12Riven was originally intended to be the first in what would have been the Integral series (a spinoff of the Infinity series), but a variety of factors, including the company's bankruptcy, the main writer's departure, and less than stellar sales ensured that didn't happen.
In 1995, Konami introduced its "Ultra Sports" series of Arcade Games, which came in special cocktail cabinets with trackball controls for two players. The first two games, Five A Side Soccer and Ultra Hockey, were the only ones released; at least two more were planned.
Cocoron had a sequel, or possibly a remake, developed for the PC Engine called PC Cocoron, which was apparently finished but never released.
Ride to Hell originally started development in 2008, then was cancelled, then restarted and intended to be a series of three games - one on retail discs, one as a downloadable Xbox Live Arcade/Play Station Network game, and one on smartphones. Only the retail product, Ride to Hell: Retribution was released, receiving immense backlash from all corners. Unsurprisingly, neither Deep Silver nor Eutechnyx made a peep about the other two games, Beatdown and Route 666, suggesting that they were unceremoniously cancelled.
Wars and Warriors: Joan of Arc was a PC game released in 2004 to mixed reviews. There were plans on making a Xbox port as well as sequels, none of which ever left the drawing board.
Alone in the Dark (1992) was supposed to be the first game in the "Virtual Dreams" (as one can read on the original French boxart) series of standalone titles which shared the same engine. No more were made and the label was immediately discontinued while Alone In The Dark continued on as the sole franchise.
A title called Time Gate - Knight's Chase was supposed to be the "real" Alone in the Dark 4, and the beginning of a new trilogy of games under the "Time Gate" label based upon time traveling and ancient Egyptian mythology. Since the Alone in the Dark engine was already dated at that time, plans to keep the trilogy going were cancelled and "Knight's Chase" remained a standalone title.
As with its animated adaptations counterparts, games based on the The Lord of the Rings main books have suffered this fate:
Starting with the SNES game J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I by Interplay, a Vol 2 was planned but poor sales and critical panning killed those plans. Around the same time Interplay also made completely different video game adaptations for home computers which got to The Two Towers, but a third part never came to be.
Much later, when the Peter Jackson's film adaptations were coming out, Vivendi Universal was planning on making the full videogame trilogy adapted from the books (back then, Vivendi held the rights for Tolkien's novels while Electronic Arts held the films' rights), Vivendi managed to release The Fellowship of the Ring which although not a bad game, it was nothing special. Meanwhile, Electronic Arts released The Two Towers and The Return of the King which were based on the movies (The Two Towers actually also contained Fellowship material). But the planned novel-based adaptations of the remaining books were never released. Eventually, Vivendi lost the rights to EA too.
While Halo is still going strong, its spin-off Spartan Ops was not so lucky. The side-series was meant to serve as DLC content, giving new monthly missions while bridging the story between Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians. But a combination of polarizing fan reception, the high expenses of the project, and the story writing itself into a corner meant there hasn't been a new Spartan Ops season since the first. Its storyline was eventually wrapped up with a comic series, Halo: Escalation, with the Big Bad of Spartan Ops being disposed of in seconds during the first level of Halo 5: Guardians.
BioWare promised that Sonic Chronicles would become a full series after its first installment, but for several reasons (nothing's been said on the matter since then; the game wasn't well received; the Archie expies in the game brought writer Ken Penders down on the people involved), this never came to be.
Boogerman was planned to have a sequel and an Animated Adaptation in the 1990s, but neither came to be. The game's original creators launched a Kickstarter in 2013 to make the sequel, but it failed to reach its funding goal.
Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy was to be the start of collection of titles for Final Fantasy, with three separate games announced as tying into each other via a shared mythology, though not necessarily direct connections. Final Fantasy XIII launched the franchise in 2010 and had mixed fan reception, and saw the critical and fan reception to its twosequels grow weaker each time. The second title, the PSP game Final Fantasy Type-0, was released in 2012, but wouldn't be exported to the West until 2015 as a Polished Port for the PS4. It got a mixed-to-positive response and a Sequel Hook was added via a secret ending, but there's no official word on any sequel, just a browser game tie-in. The third title was Final Fantasy Versus XIII, but it languished in Development Hell for so long that it ended up being released as Final Fantasy XV in 2016, now completely divorced from the mythology of the other titles outside from thematic parallels, and XV has become its own sub-franchise with a mixed-to-positive reception. Whatever Square Enix planned for the Fabula Nova Crystallis, the dream of interconnected games has fallen through and the three titles that were supposed to comprise it ended up their own standalone games.note Interestingly, Dissidia: Final Fantasy came closer to realizing this vision, as its terminology, themes, and imagery have been reused for numerous spin-off titles.
Level-5 Studios' White Knight Chronicles was originally planned to be a PlayStation 3 launch title and the first installment of a new PlayStation-exclusive tentpole RPG franchise. However, production difficulties incurred from adding on an ill-advised quasi-MMORPG game mode led to the finished product being unfocused and decidedly mediocre. It failed to meet sales expectations, as did it's "sequel", White Knight Chronicles II, which was actually just a stealth release of the originally unfinished and shelved back half of the first game. Sony has since tried its best to ignore its existence, and even Level-5 seems to be sheepish and cringey whenever its specter is brought up.
The ZX Spectrum game Marsport was proudly advertised as "the first part of the Siege of Earth trilogy." The following two parts were to have been titled Fornax and Gath, but they never saw the light of day.
AnEarth Fantasy Stories, an open-world RPG originally developed for the PC Engine CD, was apparently intended as the first installment of a trilogy. Being the very last game Hudson Soft published in Japan for the fading system may have been one reason why it never caught on, but MediaWorks tried again and remade the game for the Sega Saturn, hopefully subtitling it The First Volume. This remake, and the novelization released at the same time, is the last that's been seen of the series.
Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma was planned to be an episodic series, but was soon pulled from the market after the failure of Volume One.
The mixed-to-negative reception that the 2008 TNA iMPACT! console game had received (as well as the eventual demise of its developer Midway Games) effectively nixed plans for a possible sequel. Then, when Southpeak Games got ahold of the TNA license, they planned another sequel, TNA iMPACT! 2011, which eventually got cancelled as well. And then in 2013, Activision was tapped to create another TNA game, but nothing had came of it. Since then, plans for another TNA console game were never heard of again.
The ZX Spectrum text adventure Metropolis 1 was supposed to be part one of a trilogy. However, the developers lost the will to continue after they lost the hand-drawn art prepared for the second game.
The ending of Leander says: "Look out for Leander Part 2: TIGRANDER (Tiger Man)." No sequel was ever produced.
Call of Duty: Ghosts doesn't resolve the central conflict and ends on a major Sequel Hook. It also ended up being the poorest performing modern Call of Duty title in terms of sales and critical reception. As a result, Infinity Ward ended up developing Call Of Duty Infinite Warfare instead of continuing the Ghosts storyline.
Mighty No. 9 was an extreme example of putting the cart before the horse, as during its Troubled Production it was planned to have a sequel, a spin-off, an animated series, a film (or even two), and more. When the game was finally released, it turned out to be a technical trainwreck and was met with scathing reviews, leaving little chance of the franchise getting off the ground, though this didn't stop its developer from wanting to do the sequel. Said developer was bought out by Level-5, and the company has expressed interest in making the sequel in the near future.
Torin's Passage was intended to be a full-fledged series along the lines of King's Quest and the like. Turmoil in Sierra's ranks resulted in the series stopping at one.
This trope happened plenty of times with video game compilations where a Compilation Re-release that ends its title with "Volume 1" never actually gets a "Volume 2". Some examples are Sega Ages Volume 1 for Sega Saturn, Midway's Greatest Arcade Hits Volume 1 for Nintendo 64, Sega Smash Pack Volume 1 for Sega Dreamcast, Yu Suzuki Game Works Vol. 1 for Sega Dreamcast, Jaleco Collection Vol. 1 for PlayStation, Toaplan Shooting Battle 1 for PlayStation, Capcom Coin-Op Collection Volume 1 for Microsoft Windows, and SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1 for PS2, PSP, and Wii (not counting PSP exclusive SNK Arcade Classics 0 which was only released in Japan).
The PS1 game Blasto was released after a long development rife with issues to a middling reception. However, the titular character, voiced by Phil Hartman, was very well-received even by reviewers critical of the game. The developers had already started planning a sequel, and an entire franchise was intended for Blasto, with Hartman described as "the soul" of Blasto. But when Phil Hartman was murdered, two months after the game's release, the creators of Blasto saw little point in continuing with the character and the franchise plans were quietly cancelled.
A Taiwanese developer named Erotes Studio released in 2015 a visual novel named MayJasmine Episode 01 - What is God? which was supposed to have two following games, Episodes 02 and 03. Since the devs seem to have gone silent the following year, it's very improbable that they'll ever see the light of the day.
Multiplayer Hero ShooterLawBreakers was hyped by Cliff Bleszinski as being the next "billion dollar franchise" on par with his previous material like Unreal Tournament and Gears of War. Unfortunately, LawBreakers completely and utterly bombed on a level rarely seen, only logging in 10 players around the world just two months after launch. The game ultimately killed Boss Key permanently and forced Cliff back into semi-retirement. It's safe to say this "billion dollar franchise" isn't going to see further installments.