10 Rare Video Games That Survived Development Hell

The development hell video games that somehow released.

Dead Island 2
Dambuster Studios

There are few phrases in the gaming industry more likely to inspire anguish than "development hell". Reserved for those titles that were announced long ago but have suffered repeated delays, it usually turns out to be a death-knell - the final phase before a title is outright cancelled.

If a game's launch has been interrupted and rescheduled over and over, that's a massive indicator things have gone horribly wrong behind the scenes. Sometimes, the development has gone so badly, there's no chance it'll recover.

Now, that's not suggesting a heavily delayed game is guaranteed to be a disaster. But as Daikatana, Aliens: Colonial Marines, and (shudder) i'kem Forever proved, a drawn out and chaotic production is rarely a good sign. And as Silent Hills, Rainbow 6: Patriots, and Star Wars 1313 highlighted, a property can be scrapped entirely if development setbacks keep piling up or an outside impact curtails things unexpectedly.

Still, a few games have managed to overcome these odds, and release after years of protracted development.

But not only did some titles survive development hell, they turned out better than we could've ever imagined. It may have taken an eternity for these games to see the light of day, but there's no question they were 100% worth the wait.

10. Team Fortress 2 - 9 Years

Dead Island 2

After Team Fortress became a global phenomenon, Valve hired the creators of the Quake mod to work on a sequel. Since Team Fortress 2 was announced at E3 one month later in 1998, it looked like it would be out in no time.

When Valve decided the military shooter would work better if it adopted the new Source game engine, fans expected TF2 would be delayed.

That's when something very strange happened... or didn't happen, depending on how you look at it. For the next six years, updates on Team Fortress 2 were non-existent. No photos. No trailers. Nothing. Every time this coveted FPS didn't make an appearance at E3, it fuelled rumours the project had been shelved indefinitely.

But in 2006, Team Fortress 2 was re-revealed at EA's Summer Showcase. Due to its cartoony aesthetic, viewers could barely recognise the footage was cut from the same cloth as its predecessor.

Interestingly, the game's new look is what delayed development in the first place. Desperate to give the long-awaited sequel a distinct appearance, the developers built "three to four different games," each with unique designs. Only after the team agreed on the cartoony presentation was Team Fortress 2 reintroduced to the public.


James Egan has written 80 books including 1000 Facts about Superheroes Vol. 1-3 1000 Facts about Horror Movies Vol. 1-3 1000 Facts about The Greatest Films Ever Made Vol. 1-3 1000 Facts about Video Games Vol. 1-3 1000 Facts about TV Shows Vol. 1-3 Twitter - @jameswzegan85