It's rare today that a major motion picture or even music album suddenly stops production and shuts down for good. Yet in the world of video games, we've become all too accustomed to seeing some intriguing and highly anticipated titles fall of the map during their development stage. In some cases, a game will appear to be in the home stretch with beta testing and demo versions, only to collapse just short of the finish line.
In recent years, there have been a number of high-profile MMORPGs, for example, that have drowned mid-stream because of development issues, budget over-runs and adverse economic conditions. Even the worst movies are released (the ill-advised fourth instalment of "The Exorcist" was filmed twice by two different directors, and both were dreadful). Hey, even the Beach Boys' "Smile" eventually came out after 37 years, and Guns & Roses' "Chinese Democracy" may one day see the light of day.
Yet, some of the more promising sounding PC and video games are never finished and are collecting dust somewhere in a server closet. Sometimes, bits and pieces of early versions or beta copies will trickle out over time, but frankly, it's just not the same. Perhaps as the video game business reduces its reliance on retail sales, we'll see fewer cancelled titles that were oh-so-close to being published. Hollywood, for example, would probably scuttle a lot more movies if studios had nothing to rely on other than box office receipts. But movies enjoy secondary markets such as rentals, DVD sales and cable television. Will the move toward digital distribution help save future titles from the chopping block? We'll see. But in the meantime, here's a look at a few notable titles over the years that were cancelled or sentenced to development hell.