5 Games with Exceptionally Long Development Times


While most of us have come to expect the annual releases of our favorite franchises this is not always the case. Below is a list of 5 popular games that have had an exceptionally long development time, for better or worse. This list is ranked in increasing order of development time.

Kingdom Hearts 3 (5+ years)


Image source: Square Enix

It is rather difficult to put a development cycle on this game for a few reasons. It was not announced until E3 2013 with the publisher later claiming this was “Too early”. While others have reported that assets, story and concepts have been in the works since the days of Kingdom Hearts 2. Either way this 5(+) year development cycle has led to a lot of hype and speculation surrounding this game. For those unfamiliar with the series, Kingdom Hearts is an action, adventure RPG and revolves around Disney themed worlds (maps) to explore. Currently the following worlds have been confirmed for the game:

  •  Kingdom of Corona (Tangled)
  •  Big Hero 6
  •  Mount Olympus
  •  Twilight Town
  •  Monster’s Inc
  •  Mysterious Tower
  •  Tangled
  •  Toy Story

This is a fairly large list of worlds considering how large these usually are in the actual game. Based on this list I think players can expect to get a lot of playtime out of this game. Whether you are a series veteran or a newcomer, this game should definitely be on your radar. Kingdom Hearts 3 has a release date slated for 2018.

Starcraft 2 (7 years)


Image source: Mashable.com

When development began on StarCraft 2 in 2003 blizzard had some fairly big expectations to meet. The original StarCraft was the genesis for real-time strategy and while StarCraft 2 might not have re-captured all of the magic of the first, it was still a very well-received game (92% cumulative score) with a fairly large and loyal competitive following.

Since it’s initial release date, the player base has dropped rather significantly forcing blizzard to take the game on the free-to-play route. While this has certainly injected some life into the game, it does not look like it will ever match the long term following or influence that its predecessor had. Perhaps the long development time had plagued this game from the start. A lot of games demand a lot of time these days and competing for every minute of player time is becoming more and more difficult.

StarCraft 2 was released in July of 2010, seven years after the development began.

Final Fantasy 15 (10 Years)


Source Image: flickr – bagogames

Final Fantasy 15 has had a rather remarkable development path. It was announced in 2006 under the Final Fantasy Versus 13, it was later (much later) officially announced under the current name in 2013. The game finally arrived a decade after its initial pulse from 2006. Let’s take a closer look at the development of this game.

For the first six years of its life, it was under the direction of Tetsuya Nomura. The direction of the game then shifted completely by 2012 where it changed hands to the current director Hajime Tabata. A focus on next generation consoles, graphics and gameplay was then emphasized. In addition, to help drive hype, Square Enix launched the idea of the Final Fantasy XV Universe. The universe paved the way for the anime, feature film and the DLC. After a complete 180 degree change in 2012 the game was finally released in 2016.

This game may have taken a decade to create (and re-create) but it was well worth the wait. While this is not the most critically acclaimed Final Fantasy, it was certainly enjoyable, offered a LOT of content for your money and had flashes of absolute brilliance. This game will likely serve as an opening act for Square Enix to enter the new generation of games and development. Not perfect, but still an incredible experience.

Diablo 3 (11 Years)


Much like the cycle of Kingdom Hearts 3, Diablo 3 rumors began circulating as early as 2000. These were fueled by some vague answers and hints from blizzard at the time, but nothing definitive came until an official statement confirming the games development in 2008. Knowing blizzard and their development strategies, this game was likely in the slow cooker for a LONG time. Diablo 3 is a dungeon crawling, hack and slashing, action RPG… and the sequel to one of the best ever made was finally released in 2012.

The game was release to mostly critical success but was not without problems. The game launched with highly controversial auction house where players could sell in game items for REAL money. This was quickly canned for obvious reasons. Other less popular mechanics was horrendously slow and grind filled crafting system. The idea of the grind was hugely popular in Diablo 2, but as stated before, people just don’t have that kind of time anymore to dedicate to one game. To their credit, Blizzard did overhaul the system to much praise. Additionally, the decision to remove skill trees in favor of an on the fly skill swap system was often seen as a ‘dumbing’ down or over-simplification of the game. However, this was likely done to remove the grind that would ensue for anyone wanting to use multiple builds for the same character. The long development cycle was certainly beneficial to the game as they were able to adapt the game to the major changes in the industry. The game was not perfect, but has since been massively improved with updates and continues to have a successful and loyal following.

This game was released in May,2012.

For a full review of Diablo 3, feel free to here.

Duke Nukem Forever (literally, … 15 Years+)


Image Source: duke.a-13

The game was initially announced way back in 1997 (no that is not a typo) and went through what could only be described as development hell. The final product was… well… not very good at all. After multiple developer changes, engine changes, complete re-re-re-creations it is no wonder this game was a mess. It tried far too hard and would have worked if it was not so far past its prime.

A game that aimed for the stars was barely able to get off the ground. It took the raunchy humor a bit too far and a bit too often. The story (while never the strong point of the series) could not find a balance between serious and satirical. The main antagonist had some of the worst dialogue I have ever seen. The graphics were fair at best and the gameplay was not mechanically sound. For a game that took this long, the least we should expect is some polished mechanics and gameplay. What we got was average and that’s being nice.

The game was FINALLY released in 2011 and was doomed from the start. It is impossible for a game to live up to a 15 year hype. Consumers and avid fans will have undoubtedly (and rightfully so) created insurmountable expectation. This game fell so short, and just like it’s name it took forever!

About the Author

Chris Mumpton
AButton Games Administrator

2 Comments on "5 Games with Exceptionally Long Development Times"

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      Thanks for the comment. This is Chris writing this comment but Cody is the artistic genius behind this article. On behalf of both of us, thanks for your words of encouragement. The theme we are using is MH Newsdesk by MH Themes. It’s a free theme that we use with wordpress augmented with a couple of great addons and a little bit of code tweaking. Please make sure to visit us again and check out more great gaming articles!


      –Chris Mumpton,
      AButtonGames Admin

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