Despite inadvertently throwing fans into a hysteria, many video games experience development processes that are outrageously drawn out. This conundrum is routinely experienced by everything from new releases to epic sequels. Thanks to ever-changing requirements, the development for video games becomes noticeably more complicated each year. From VR support to catering to multiple platforms, there’s no shortage of obligations new releases must meet. On top of all the internal regulations, outside interference continues to wreck havoc on video game development teams. This constantly immerses players in suspense, since there’s no telling what could go wrong on the next release.
Fortunately, a growing development process hasn’t derailed the releases of our favorite video games. While some releases stagnated for over a decade in development, they still managed to make their way onto shelves. Even though whether they were worth the wait is debatable, it sheds light on the nuances of the industry. It’s a tedious job that’s only getting more complicated as games get more modernized.
To truly understand the magnitude of the work that goes into video games, it’s essential to examine the most drawn-out releases. For this reason, we compiled a list of video games with the biggest development periods. The amount of time that these games were worked on is absolutely staggering. Hundreds of people spent years working on these games, so prepared to be shocked by these highly anticipated releases!
Video Games with the Longest Development Times
Video Game #3: Prey, 1995-2006 (11 years) – Ever since it was envisioned by 3D Realms, this game was plagued with problems. Its first issue was creating the portals for the Native American main character to battle aliens with. The technology to create the portals wasn’t available in the 90’s, but that wasn’t the only obstacle. After outlining the game’s direction, project lead Tom Hall left the company to found Ion Storm with John Romero. This abandonment forced 3D Realms to scrap Hall’s original ideas and assemble a new development team. From there the game endured multiple iterations before being rebooted in 2001.
After undergoing a complete overhaul, the modernized version of Prey was adjusted for five years before being released in 2006. Against all odds, it sold enough copies to be a financial success. This inspired Bethesda Softworks to purchase the rights to the franchise and work on a sequel. Unfortunately, production for Prey 2 was cancelled shortly after it was announced. A new reboot of the franchise named Prey was adopted and eventually released on May 5th, 2017.
Video Game #2: Diablo III, 2001-2012 (11 years) – Even though the development for Diablo III started in 2001, Blizzard didn’t reveal the game until 2008. After numerous years of beta testing, Diablo III finally made its debut on PC’s around the world. Unfortunately, the anticipation had built up such a cult following that Blizzard’s Battle.net servers couldn’t support the wave of players. This caused the entire system to crash, which rendered the game unplayable even in single player mode. Fortunately, Blizzard eventually got the game back online and turned it into a hit. On top of receiving critical acclaim, Diablo III sold 30 million copies on multiple platforms. It’s one of the most successful video games of all-time, so in the end it was well worth the wait.
Video Game #1: Duke Nukem Forever, 1996-2011 (15 years) – This game’s outrageously long development process and poor final product made 3D Realms the laughing stock of the industry. Attempting to follow up the wildly successful Duke Nukem 3D, 3D Realms experienced a series of unfortunate events. Eight years after being announced, 3D Realms finally released video footage of the game. Unfortunately, the company was downsized two years later and the entire game’s team was fired.
Not satisfied with this failure, Take-Two Interactive filed a lawsuit since they owned the publishing rights to the game. This led to 2K Games wrestling control of Duke Nukem Forever. They chose to team up with Borderlands developer Gearbox Software, and the game was finally released in 2011. It received mediocre reviews, which was wildly disappointing considering how long fans were forced to wait.