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Feature Article

Missing In Action: The Biggest Games To Have Never Been Released

Still alive?

Some of the games below haven't been officially announced, yet circumstantial evidence has pointed to their definite existence in years past. Others have been confirmed, but have little concrete details known about them apart from official logos or trademark renewals. And some have even moved a significant way down the development track, with playable versions demonstrated in previous events. But one thing each of the games below have in common is that we've heard very little about them in recent times. Are these games still coming? Are they stuck in development hell? Will we ever get to play them, or have they gone away completely? Our GameSpot editors have joined together to look back at what we know about The Last Guardian, Blizzard's Titan, Starcraft: Ghost, Rockstar's Agent, Rainbow Six Patriots, Brothers In Arms: Furious 4, Beyond Good and Evil 2, and of course, the ever mysterious Half-Life 3.

Let's hope this gorgeous creature from The Last Guardian hasn't been put to sleep.
Let's hope this gorgeous creature from The Last Guardian hasn't been put to sleep.

The Last Guardian -- Peter Brown

The Last Guardian is a game that chronicles the relationship between a boy and a large, mysterious creature known as Trico, which is complex both in its physiology and personality. It's widely regarded as the follow-up to Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, both PlayStation 2 masterpieces from Fumito Ueda's Team ICO and Sony's Japan Studio.

When did we first hear about it?

Rumors of the game began to spread in 2007 after a member on the PlayStation Universe forum revealed a discussion with a product manager from PlayStation Germany, detailing Team ICO's involvement in two projects, one of which closely resembled its two previous games. Two years later, footage of a game titled Project Trico leaked online, much to Sony's dismay, confirming the product manager's statement. Finally, at the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Sony publicly acknowledged Project Trico, changing its name to The Last Guardian, revealing official, updated footage from the game, and giving it a 2011 release date.

And then what happened?

Sony followed up the E3 announcement with another trailer at the Tokyo Game Show that same year. It was then expected that there would be more information revealed at E3 2010, but nothing new came until three months later at the Tokyo Game Show. There, Sony reaffirmed the game's late-2011 release date while also announcing HD remastered versions of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. Following a practical demo shown to members of the press in 2011, information on The Last Guardian ground to a halt. As the release date approached, it was clear that the game wasn't ready for market, and Fumito Ueda subsequently announced his transition from full-time Sony employee to contractor. The game's executive producer, Yoshifusa Hayama, resigned from Sony at the same time.

E3 2012 and 2013 came and went without any new information from Sony, but Ueda confirmed that the game was still in development with himself in the role of creative director. While he remained a part of The Last Guardian's development team, progress had slowed to a trickle as Sony's Japan Studio diverted resources from the game to both Knack and Puppeteer.

The last time Ueda or anyone involved with The Last Guardian mentioned the game was during an interview with Edge in November 2013. "The details of when, where, and how [The Last Guardian] will be completed are beyond my control," he said.

The official word

There hasn't been any official word recently from Sony about The Last Guardian. But the game did appear for the pre-roll announcement for the PlayStation 4, lending credence to the possibility that it may show up at this year's E3.

No Caption Provided

Titan -- Martin Gaston

Titan is the codename for what is believed to be World of Warcraft developer Blizzard's next massively multiplayer online game.

When did we first hear about it?

Titan has never been officially unveiled in a traditional sense--you know, with an official title, information about the game, and a video or some screenshots--but numerous job postings for the game have appeared since 2011, and Blizzard's top executives have referenced the project during numerous financial reports.

And then what happened?

The world changed. Blizzard is a company that is exceedingly proud of its philosophies, and anyone walking to the main entrance of Blizzard's headquarters in Irving, California is greeted by a 12-foot bronze statue of Orc warchief Thrall, its base adorned with the company's values. But just how is Blizzard going to apply those values to an MMO, when the entire genre has shifted and contorted massively over the past decade? And just how can you recreate, or better, the staggering success of World of Warcraft?

Blizzard has said that, at one stage, Titan was being played internally in its offices. But, again, this is one of the most secretive projects in development right now. This is a title being propped up by the pedigree of Blizzard, the company responsible for some of the PC's biggest hits of all time. I think it's safe to say that the public appetite for the MMO has fallen since WoW's peak of 12 million paying subscribers in 2010, and in the meantime entirely new online games have popped up to seemingly conquer the world--games like League of Legends, Minecraft, and Clash of Clans.

I dabbled with World of Warcraft for a spell, back in the Burning Crusade (2007) era. I had to quit, because I simply found it too addictive. But you have to ask yourself: would you pay for anything like World of Warcraft in 2014? That's something that Blizzard must have been thinking about, too. Last year, Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime revealed that Titan, whatever it is, is unlikely to be a subscription-based MMO. Blizzard also said it's looking at a new direction for the project, and that it won't see release until 2016 at the very earliest. In the meantime it's shifted some of the game's 100+ staff onto its other titles, such as the upcoming strategy brawler Heroes of the Storm.

Whatever Titan is, has been, or turns out to be, who out there wouldn't champ at the bit to check out the next MMO from the World of Warcraft developer?

The official word

Blizzard says that there is no official word on Titan at this point.

Rainbow 6: Patriots had Heavy Rain-like onscreen prompts.
Rainbow 6: Patriots had Heavy Rain-like onscreen prompts.

Rainbow 6: Patriots -- Carolyn Petit

Rainbow 6: Patriots is something of a departure from the Rainbow 6 games of old, with more of a focus on ethical dilemmas. A concept trailer with no actual gameplay footage depicted a Times Square shootout sequence in which the player sometimes had to respond to onscreen prompts reminiscent of those in the games of David Cage, leading some to refer to the game as Heavy Rainbow 6.

When did we first hear about it?

Fearing that it would be leaked, Ubisoft chose to reveal the aforementioned target gameplay footage on November 4, 2011.

And then what happened?

Ubisoft released a story trailer for Patriots that shed light on the True Patriots, a domestic terrorist organization seemingly motivated by rage at those rich and powerful members of society who have made their fortunes by exploiting those who are less fortunate. Ubisoft also discussed Patriots publicly, describing a game in which you might constantly face situations in which you need to take actions that seem unethical on the surface but that serve the greater good. For instance, you might need to push a civilian with a bomb strapped to himself off of a bridge to save the lives that would be taken in the bomb blast. Ubisoft also said that Patriots would humanize its enemies by letting you play as members of the True Patriots in situations where members of the group might feel uncertain about their actions.

Things got shaken up in March of 2012, however, when top members of Patriots' development team were removed from the project, and a new creative director was appointed. In November of 2012, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot confirmed that the game remained in development, but by May of 2013, the lack of any announcements on the game from Ubisoft led GameStop to cancel preorders and pull the game from its database. In June of last year, Ubisoft marketing executive Tony Key confirmed that the game had been shifted to next-gen consoles after originally being announced for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

The official word

In August of last year, Ubisoft executive director Alain Corre said that the game is "still cooking." "It's an important franchise for Ubisoft. We want to make sure, on this one, like all the other games we're working on, that we bring it when we feel it's perfect," he said. "When we're happy with what we see, when we think we can bring something new to gamers, then we say, 'OK, this is a good time to release it.'"

No Caption Provided

Agent -- Mark Walton

Agent is a first-person stealth action game set during the cold war. Developer Rockstar, creators of the excellent Grand Theft Auto series, promised "a paranoid journey into the world of counter-intelligence, espionage, and political assassinations."

When did we first hear about it?

Sony first dropped hints about Agent back in 2007, but it wasn't until the company's 2009 E3 press conference that the name of the game and its premise were revealed. Ben Feder, then president of Rockstar parent Take-Two Interactive, even believed the game could potentially be as big as the venerable Grand Theft Auto series, saying, "We think this has the potential to be yet another great Rockstar North franchise title. ... It's the Houser Brothers and Rockstar North. It's the A team working on an AAA title. I think the subject matter, the characters, the story, the environment, the background--all the elements are there. It's such a rich environment to play in."

And then what happened?

Silence. So little had been heard about Agent since 2009 that the assumption was it had been cancelled. Then, during an earnings report in 2011, publisher Take-Two confirmed that the game was in fact still in development. 2011 proved to be the most active in Agent's history, with some actual, honest-to-god screenshots from the game appearing thanks to an ex-Rockstar North employee's online portfolio.

A year later, when Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick was asked about the status of game, he simply said, "we haven't announced anything about that title". It would be another two years before anything on the game materialised, and even then, all we saw was a simple trademark renewal from Take-Two.

Quite what's happening to the title now is anyone's guess, but given the recent launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, it's unlikely to still be a PS3 exclusive. Just after the announcement of the PS4 last year we spoke with Sony's president of Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida, and asked him about the status of Agent. It was not the answer we wanted: "You are asking the wrong person. I have some knowledge, but I'm not in a position to talk about it."

The official word

We reached out to Rockstar but have received no comment. Even if the game is still in active development, it's not like Rockstar's "A team" could have been working on it solidly since its announcement, with the studio having released the critically acclaimed GTAV last year.

Starcraft: Ghost in action.
Starcraft: Ghost in action.

Starcraft: Ghost -- Justin Haywald

Starcraft: Ghost was going to be a third-person, stealth action game set in the Starcraft universe.

When did we first hear about it?

Blizzard announced the shooter spin-off of their popular strategy franchise back in 2002. Partnering with Nihilistic software, the game was slated for release in 2003 on PS2, GameCube, and the original Xbox.

And then what happened?

The game was delayed many, many times. Nihilistic was replaced by Swingin' Ape Studios, which Blizzard subsequently bought. The game faced more delays, and the Gamecube version was cancelled due to a lack of online support for the console. But players were still able to try out 16-player tournaments staged in Ghost at Blizzcon 2005. The multiplayer experience was even received positively by GameSpot's editors at the time. But despite all that, the game was postponed indefinitely in 2006 so Blizzard could look into the potential of the Xbox 360 and PS3. And that was pretty much the end of any new information on Ghost. A novel charting the backstory of the game's heroine was released that same year, and she's made recent cameos in Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm.

The official word

Starcraft: Ghost is on "indefinite hold." A representative for the company said, "We still love the idea of the game, but no one is working on Ghost right now." Given Blizzard's focus on smaller, more agile teams to make games like Hearthstone (plus the resources put into the studio's flagship Warcraft, Diablo, and Starcraft franchises), it seems unlikely anything similar to the version of Ghost showed off nine years ago is going to come out any time soon.

Furious 4 -- Eddie Makuch

Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 was a four-player World War II-set action game that follows a band of soldiers hunting down infamous Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

When did we first hear about it?

Furious 4 was announced during Ubisoft's E3 2011 media briefing.

No Caption Provided

And then what happened?

We saw the game at E3 2011 (read our impressions here), but it has never been playable to the public or to press. Its debut trailer had a vibe similar to Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, and we found that the game did not have much in common with past Brothers in Arms titles. Furious 4 was expected to launch in 2012, but publisher Ubisoft delayed the game in July of that year (with no explanation as to why) to a release sometime in 2013, a release window the game would also subsequently miss.

The most surprising announcement surrounding Furious 4 came during PAX Prime in September 2012. It was here that Gearbox confirmed that the game was no longer a Brothers in Arms game, but would in fact be reimagined into a new IP. Gearbox Software president Randy Pitchford said at the time that the original idea for Furious 4 evolved away from the core of the Brothers in Arms franchise and so it needed to be "unshackled" from the brand.

No new release date for what has become of Furious 4 has been announced. The last official update on the game came in February 2013, when Pitchford provided tantalizingly vague details on the project and, importantly, revealed that Ubisoft would not publish the title.

The official word

We've reached out to Gearbox for comment, but have not heard back.

Half-Life 3 -- Kevin VanOrd

Half-Life 3 is the supposed third full installment in a series that boasts two of the best first-person shooters ever created.

When did we first hear about it?

Officially, Half-Life 3 doesn’t even exist. However, it’s widely assumed that the previously announced Half-Life 2: Episode Three has expanded into a full-blown sequel. Valve confirmed the existence of Episode Three in May of 2006 when announcing that Episode One had gone gold, indicating a release sometime during the 2007 holiday season.

And then what happened?

In the year following the initial announcement of Episode Three, Valve announced that Gordon Freeman would return as the main protagonist, released concept art, and even confirmed the existence of Episode Four, which was under development by a third party. Valve’s Mark Laidlaw would later confirm that Dishonored developer Arkane Studios had been at work on another episode, titled Return to Ravenholm, but the project was since canceled.

In lieu of Half-Life 3 screens, here's a picture of Gabe Newell.
In lieu of Half-Life 3 screens, here's a picture of Gabe Newell.

And then the silence came. In 2008, Valve superfans spawned a new tradition: look for clues of Episode Three’s existence in the files of other Source Engine games. First, it was a folder in the Source SDK software that contained apparent Episode Three assets. Years later, snoopers found possible Episode Three-related choreography files in Portal 2’s archive cache. Looking for signs of Half-Life 3 has become a fascinating intellectual sport, with t-shirt logos, vague pronouncements from voice actors, and internal project trackers at Valve all used as evidence that the developer is working on… something… maybe… hopefully.

Valve itself remains frustratingly mum, though its lips haven’t been sealed completely shut. In 2010, studio boss Gabe Newell told UK publication Edge that the series had “gotten away from genuinely scaring the player” more than he'd like, and in a 2012 interview with the podcast Seven Day Cooldown, Newell stated, “The problem is, we think that the twists and turns that we're going through would probably drive people more crazy than just being silent about it, until we can be very crisp about what's happening next.” Ostensibly, Newell was referring to Ricochet 2 in his Seven Day Cooldown interview, but it’s almost universally presumed that he was speaking about Half-Life 3.

The official word

Valve neither confirms nor denies the existence of Half-Life 3 in spite of the mounting circumstantial evidence for its existence. What’s certain is that Half-Life 2: Episode Three was in development but has since vanished into the ether. What’s less certain is whether that work has been funneled into a full-blown sequel--and whether Half-Life enthusiasts have the resolve to keep on waiting.

Beyond Good & Evil 2 -- Justin Haywald

The follow-up to the critical hit (and commercial failure) Beyond Good & Evil. Very few confirmed details exist, but a trailer for the game showed the return of central protagonist Jade and her porcine companion Pey'j. The original game had a strong focus on stealth, action, and puzzle solving.

When did we first hear about it?

The original BG&E came out in 2003, but rumors of a sequel started circulating almost immediately despite the game's poor sales. We didn't get official word (and a trailer) of BG&E2 until a Ubisoft event in 2008. There were no gameplay details, no title, and not even confirmation that the game was an actual sequel.

And then what happened?

During an investor conference following that trailer reveal, Ubisoft talked about upcoming (and unnamed sequels) that were expected by March of the following year. Naturally, fans assumed BG&E2 was one of those games. But the sequel never appeared. Rumors circulated of the game being cancelled or put on-hold, but the game's creator Michel Ancel assured fans that development was still underway. An official announcement seemed imminent with the release of an HD version of the original game in 2011, but still no further word of a sequel.

Ancel has said on record that he wants to "try again" on PS4 and Xbox One.

Part of the game's slow progress has been blamed on the director's involvement in other projects like Rayman, and it looks like the project has shifted development to next-gen hardware in the meantime. Ancel has said on record that he wants to "try again" on PS4 and Xbox One (implying that his previous work on the project had fallen through), but it remains to be seen whether this will result in a surprise rebirth, or whether BG&E will be silently ignored by Ubisoft for yet another year.

The official word

No comment. But given that Ancel is exploring the possibility of bringing the game to next-gen, chances are very, very good that we'll finally hear more about BG&E2 directly from Ubisoft around E3 2014.

Were you looking forward to these unreleased games? Have we missed any other major missing titles? Let us know in the comments below!

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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