Plenty of reboots, sequels, HD remakes and new IPs are keeping us tied over with our fancy new PlayStation 4s, Vitas and even our faithful ol’ PlayStation 3s… but what has happened to some of the promising games we have seen since the launch of our seventh generation console 8 years ago. It’s true the entertainment ‘biz’ and in particular the video game industry can be a harsh mistress, and not even the big guns can keep their heads above the water. God bless all your designy, codey souls you (on the most part) magnificent game makers.
We’re going to take a jaunty… jaunt through some of the companies and games which are no longer with us, or didn’t even make it to their first Birthday in the PS3’s reign, and even into it’s successor… but for one reason or another… usually it’s the monetary reason some houses of digital beauty came crashing down.**This is not a definitive list of all video games and their publishers/developers that went out of business /stopped production during the 2006-2014 years
We might as well start with one of the biggest crowns that fell at the end of the period, before they sold off the majority of their IPs to continue the legacy on the 8th generation systems. THQ.
Maybe not everyone’s favourite publisher/developer but certainly held a better standing than that of Ubisoft and EA in the giants of the third party. Initially founded way back in 1989 as Toy HeadQuarters, officially releasing their debut game Peter Pan and The Pirates before throwing away the shackles of a parent company by that of Trinity Acquisition Corporation (they even sound like an evil post apocalyptic company) in 1993 becoming known as the THQ of today… or rather a couple of years ago. During their prolific and long run up until January 2013 when they were officially liquidized down the plughole after a successful PC Humble Bundle effort they had released around 200 games, with popular franchises like Games Workshops’ Warhammer 40,000 series, WWE/WWF, Nickelodeon cartoons and plenty of Pixar games too. But they also published a plethora of their own titles, recently and most memorable are titles like Metro, Red Faction, Destroy All Humans, Company Of Heroes and personal favourite MX vs ATV.
Inside these burning embers lives the hearts and minds of companies who bled for THQ like Volition (Summoner, Saints Row, Red Faction), Relic Entertainment (Homeworld, Company of Heroes, Warhammer 40,000), Big Huge Games (Rise of Nations, Kingdoms Of Amalur), Vigil Games (Darksiders), Blue Tongue Entertainment (De Blob, Nicktoons), Kaos Studios (Homefront, Frontlines), Heavy Iron Studios (Disney Pixar Games), Mass Media Inc. (Jak & Daxter ports, The Midway for PlayStation Home) and Rainbow Studios (MX vs ATV) amongst others.
They were one of the top third party guns in publishing AAA titles to the PlayStation brand since the PS2, and it’s a shame that such a large company with a hit and miss back catalogue succumbed to the pressure, but thankfully the majority of their assets were sold to for now dependable companies like Deep Silver, Nordic Games, SEGA, Take-Two, Gearbox and Ubisoft. (Including Grim Dawn, Crate Entertainments spiritual successor to Titan Quest, my favourite THQ Game, like, ever ever, for never ever). Whether or not a main factor to their premature demise was cheer-leading balance board games, or the major commercial flop, the uDraw tablet, which may have fared better if it was produced for more than 4 months and incorporated the Move Controller their hardcore base of games and long lasting exclusive licenses brought many button mashing fun times to a generation.
There is still a handful of games that were cut off during this last generation though, let’s have a jolly nice look at them and shed a tear… unless you’re a big manly man from Manstown, Manville, USMan.
Revolution was a game set for the PS3 as one of the first open world shooters that we have come to know and love over the past few years, developed by the short lived Concrete Games, it started production in 2005, and officially halted in 2008, not all was lost though, as a few assets were sent over to Saints Row 2, below you’ll find a video someone recorded of game footage through a shower curtain and some concept art of what could have been the next State Of Emergency (Totally a great game by the way)
It wasn’t just new IPs from internal studios that suffered last generation…
Whilst THQ as a whole was drawing it’s final few breaths THQs Studio Oz was ramping up their years work to release the Avengers video game to be released along with the movie. Now I’m no Avengers fan, but this wasn’t your typical “movie tie-in” game, it was it’s own thing, with Marvel fully behind it, up and until THQ handed over the Marvel license rights to Ubisoft. A first brawler with super heroes, that would have at least had the decency to be better than the MK/DC crossover. Below is a dodgy tech demo showing off some PlayStation Move like controls.
Looks like they’ll need a hero to save this now…
Stormbirds was a game in production by the horrid fate ridden Juice Games, after multiple transitions from Rage Games and Digital Image to THQ Warrington and the eventual merge with Raindbow Studios to form THQ Digital Studios. Before the foretold closure in 2011 after releasing Red Faction: Battlegrounds they were also working on Stormbirds, as guessed a flight combat sim, with the exception of a few concept art pieces, a FMV was released by Real Time UK to build the fruitless hype.
Insane was probably the IP with the most potential, in development with Volition and Guillermo del Toro, but as of now, del Toro is apparently working on it with a unknown developer. Guillermo has also found no success with his previous game Sundown, which in a bizarre twist of fate was to be developed by Terminal Reality… a company now defunct since December 2013… famed for their Bloodrayne games… lately became the butt of many jokes with The Walking Dead Survival Instinct. … two for the price of one there…
Insane looked set for a trilogy, with acclaimed artist Guy Davis (Hellboy and so on) taking a leading role. A trailer first released at the 2010 Spike video game awards, and everyone was pumped to making a cool game (Something I’m sure the Terminal Reality guys wish they had done in their final few years)… alas, it was not to be. They had a 30 second trailer showcasing their use of photoshop, and del Toro’s love for all things dark and spooky, but nothing game-related.
Finishing with some little known titles. First of all by People Can Fly before they were bought out by Epic was Come Midnight a survival horror game based around… … some stairs? It’s pretty much all we have to go off.
And good ol’ Paradigm Entertainment, famed for plenty of cancelled games and underwhelming sellers like Juiced 2 and Stuntman: Ignition, before eventually being shut down and splitting staff between Gearbox and other THQ studios in 2008, I know where I would have preferred to go with hindsight. They were currently in the process of an unnamed FPS which got to the stage of a playable demo but ultimately it was futile.
Branching away from THQ, but in keeping with the larger third party publishers, Ubisoft have been at the forefront of having “Projects” going forward last generation, before cancelling them… sometimes they shine through as the base for a later game, but as always months of planning, design and concept art out the window. There are the big names like Beyond Good & Evil which has been hushed for quite some time since it’s announcement.
We are assured it’s so far into development it is not cancelled and is pushed for release on the 8th generation.
But of course there is Brothers In Arms: Furious 4 … Or some combination of those, no one is sure what the title of this currently is, after one of my favourite previews at an E3 event ever, production has been all over the place and has currently been placed as an entirely new IP, let’s just hope Gearbox don’t end up taking their sweet time to deliver it… we all know what happened last time they did that…
Guess it would make me ‘furious’
So maybe we can expect something concrete on these soon, the transition period from 7th to 8th generation is closing quickly, but there is neither solid evidence they are both still in development, or are shelved.
They have also had this unreleased game footage of a supposedly cancelled game way back at the PS3s infancy, looks like Watch Dogs at a very early age. Or rather, if MindJack was set in London, which is possibly the only way to make MindJack any worse of a game.
They also had the Prince Of Persia reboot, before the cel-shaded pile of hunkydunk Prince Of Persia reboot was released, in turn before the reboot movie, and reboot game of the reboot movie, and now PoP is on hold whilst Ubisoft think of more ways to make the same game over and over with different hooded characters leading the so called ‘story’. (Which is strongly hinted at the cancellation of “Prince Of Persia Zero” was that it looked too similar to Assassins Creed)
Or maybe they were for “Project Osiris” an Egyptian themed… … Assassins Creed-a-thon I guess? We don’t know much about the game, apart from it has ACTING! … although that doesn’t explain the interestingly mo-cap child stance going on here…
There was also Project 1666, interestingly in development by THQ to be published by Ubisoft… before the lead on the project (and former Assassins Creed lead Patrice Desilets) confirmed the mysterious joint effort project failed. Ubisoft also have a long standing tradition for turning TV shows into poor games, and Heroes was another one set to release last generation, but thankfully was cancelled early in development.
They also have a tradition for mysterious games out of nowhere becoming sleeper hits… none more mysterious than that of Killing Day. Originally revealed during the SONY E3 conference way back in 2005, hinted at being the first “big next gen shooter title” However, the trademark for the name has been renewed, most recently in January 2014… but no other news around it, just the original demo.
Ubisoft Toronto sweet thang Jade Raymond has also announced multiple unannounced projects are in development…wait what? … Even though they are already working on the next Tom Clancy game AND Assassins Creed game… oooh, you tease us Jade… maybe it’s the previously announced, but dead since then Vijay Singh Golf game? … (No, I don’t know either).
From golf to war… of some description. Concept art for what is dubbed as “Codename World War 2” from Ubisoft Montpellier, who should be currently working on Beyond Good or Evil 2 were released midway through the PS3’s life. They show what could have been some sort of… world war … 2 game, ok they don’t actually show anything, but it could have been cool.
The popular World In Conflict games were to see a release on consoles in 2009 when Ubisoft came knocking on Sierra Entertainments door and bought Massive Entertainment, who then went on to make the excellent FarCry 3. … but who knows what else Ubisoft have been hiding away. … At least Watch Dogs finally looks as though it’s coming out now… if anyone still cares.
To Electronic Arts themselves, who are officially no longer the worst company to work for… try telling that to their studios they have closed down. *shakey fist movement*
We might as well jump straight in, and say some prayers for the unfortunates at Victory Games, whilst not directly related to anything PlayStation, they were from the Danger Close team… started making a game, then EA pulled the plug before anything was shown of it… nice. Who by the way, Danger Close… / EA Los Angeles who we may remember for the excellent, exquisite, eat your heart out Battlefield and Call of Duty, Medal Of Honour games… up to and including Airborne are also no longer anymore since EAs brilliantly stupid idea in co-developing shoddy, yet fun Medal Of Honour games with Dice Interactive. (It’s ok, they are now the DICE Los Angeles team.. still co-developing completely separate parts of games, like the still horrid experience in Battlefield 4).
There was also the sad closure of Pandemic Studios, a personal favourite of mine, and I’m sure many others for their work on the Star Wars Battlefront games 2 generations ago. But recently contributing to the criminally underplayed The Sabotuer, the rightfully underplayed Lord Of The Rings Conquest and the criminally overplayed Mercenaries 2. In their closure came the halt of Mercenaries 3, and The Dark Knight game, both were hotly anticipated (and you can probably tell why)
There were multiple other smaller studio, and non-PlayStation studio closures for EA in the past few years… and, yes. I’m still butthurt over BullFrog Productions, and the fact games like Fuse were still made… oh Fuse… you remember, the game by Insomniac Studios that was forgotten about when… … I’m sorry, what were we talking about?
Black 2… can we talk about that instead? What soon went onto be the underwhelming Bodycount was originally going to be Criterion Games follow up to the exceedingly excellent Black released at the end of the PS2’s life. We knew as much about Black 2 as we did with “LMNO” EAs mysterious Steven Spielberg project (As in, not the Boom Blox games…?!?!?) Hinted at being a contemporary sci-fi emotional journey through female interactions. … I guess Mass Effect took that away from Spielberg.
From Spielberg to the Jason Bourne movies… or rather, the untitled Jason Bourne project to be developed by Starbreeze Studios (Chronicles of Riddick games…dudes) was too cancelled very early in development. … And from there we go to Marvel Chaos, to be developed by EA Chicago another unfortunate team who had previously served as handymen and women in the Fifa Football and NBA Live series looked set to have their own game before dissolution in 2007.
From super heroes, to super villains in the form of The Ripper, to be produced by the Melbourne studio of Visceral Games (The Dead Space geniuses) before their closure in 2011, and now all focus in the studio towards their Star Wars project. The Ripper is strangely one of the only games known to be … in an unknown state by EA over the last generation that we knew anything about, pitting you as the infamous Jack The Ripper… but instead of doing the diddlyjohns you battled monsters… The Order 1866 looks like it’ll have us covered there, there is some possible concept art around though.
Talking about EA Redwood Shores… I mean Visceral Games. The Lord Of The Rings White Council was to be a sequel-esque game to the greatest LotR game ever made, The Third Age… but instead it was cancelled late in development in 2007 and used their license to fund the aforementioned Conquest…. that went well for them didn’t it … …. Obligatory #RIP.
Heading back over to Los Angeles, uch I mean Westwood, I mean Pacific, I mean Dreamworks Interactive, I mean Danger Close… phew. One of the many cancelled Command & Conquer games was to be Tiberium. A tactical squad based shooter based around the C&C universe but was taken down almost 3 years through development due to it not “meeting the high quality standards of the EA Games Label” … Which is rather funny when I look at my collection of EA’s back catalogue.
There have also been some of the… stranger game which never fully made it into fruition… games like Gunhead.
It was apparently in development at the Vancouver studios of EA Canada, but except for a few pieces of concept art leaked, we can’t tell much except it was about a guy who had a gun for a head, and a anonymous developer talking about how long the game had been in some form of development in 2009 as an internal pitch, and never really caught on. Shame, it could have been fun… … could.
Onto something again I held dear to my heart and personally saddened nothing came of it, Road Rash.
A favourite of mine back in the PS1 era was finally getting a reboot, in good ol’ Blightly at the EA Warrington division, however when they restructured to centralize the UK studios to one large force, Road Rash was scrapped at the beginning of the PS3’s life. Below is a promising, albeit pre-rendered video showcasing some of Road Rashes new qualities on what was then a next-gen system… here’s to the PS4’s incarnation!
And what list would be complete without mentioning Wildlife: Forest Survival. Headgate Studios ditched the Tiger Woods games, and the name for EA Salt Lake and focused on this beast. … There were preview copies being sent around, and the hype was reaching boiling point to have Tokyo Jungle in a combat arena and with graphics not drawn on the side of a ice cream cone through smudged glasses… but unfortunately for reasons unbeknown to the world all trace of it has vanished… The Spring of 2011 was never the same without it.
…Oh and the NBA Live 13 game of course… and NBA Elite 11… oh well, you win some, you lose some.
More parts will follow covering more lost gems from the likes of Capcom, Konami, Codemasters, Squeenix, Activision, SONY themselves and the poor folks at Midway who had quite a few on the way.