Great Video Games That Were Almost Cancelled

Games are incredibly tough to make, which means, a lot of the time, many of them don’t even get finished. Whether it’s because of technical errors that set back development or developers disagreeing before the game can really find any real identity, many titles are cancelled.

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However, even with some of the toughest times in development, some games manage to just barely scrape by and get made. Whether these are games that publishers didn’t believe in, had their data lost forever, or just had a genuinely tough time making a new game, these are games that almost went to the chopping block but just managed to survive and made it to launch day.

10 No Man’s Sky

An astronaut imposed over a colourful alien planet

During the development of No Man’s Sky, the offices of the developers, Hello Games, flooded on Christmas Eve of all days. Everything in the office, including work laptops, computers, and hard drives, was completely lost due to the flooding from severe storms, and it meant that they had lost practically everything when working on the game.

Although this almost meant the game was sure to be cancelled, Hello Games was as tenacious as ever and managed to build the game up entirely from scratch, making the great No Man’s Sky that is widely popular and played today.

9 Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft Auto logo imposed on a 2D map of a city

It’s hard to believe that a game like Grand Theft Auto, which kickstarted one of the most successful videogame series ever, was almost never made. But it’s true, back when Rockstar Games was DMA Design, the developers couldn’t agree on what the game would be about. Some people wanted to play as the police, others wanted to be the criminals running away.

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It eventually led to weekly conference calls where the game was almost cancelled, but the developers argued for it to continue. Eventually, Grand Theft Auto was born with a focus on criminal rampage and an immersive open world.

8 GoldenEye 007

A figure holding two pistols shooting down a hallway

GoldenEye 007 is another surprising member of the almost-cancelled club. It was basically being developed by a skeleton crew and there were all sorts of different challenges in development that weren’t getting attention.

On top of that, Nintendo wasn’t too happy with the amount of violence in the game. However, instead of getting the axe, GoldenEye 007 would be finished and would be one of the most successful games on the Nintendo 64.

7 Tomb Raider (2013)

Lara Croft looking wounded and dirty, staring as a shipwreck is behind her

When it comes to Tomb Raider’s second reboot, it was originally something different. Instead of a reboot, the project was known as Tomb Raider: Ascension and would be a prequel to explain Lara Croft’s first adventures on a deserted island. It would also take from Resident Evil and be more horror-inspired.

The game was reworked a lot and Tomb Raider: Ascension was cancelled. However, instead of the project being dropped altogether, it was remade into what would be the fan favourite Tomb Raider (2013).

6 Battlefield 1

A figure holding a Luger pistol and illuminated by orange light and sparks

Oddly enough, there aren’t that many games that center on World War One and EA thought that was for a good reason. It disliked the idea of Battlefield 1 and pushed back at the idea of a shooter that was set during the First World War, as a lot of other shooters were set in the future at the time.

However, the developers managed to show that this was the right direction for the game to go in. This basically saved the project from never leaving the ground and thus the very successful Battlefield 1 was finished and launched.

5 The Witcher 2: Assassin Of Kings

Geralt standing in front of a figure holding a banner in front of a castle

The Witcher games have a lot of depth to them, which is impressive when you play, and even more impressive from a developer standpoint. But did you know that the sequel, The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings was almost cancelled?

There were a variety of reasons that contributed to a tough development cycle which saw CD Projekt Red at its riskiest in terms of finances. Although it would have been wise to cancel the second Witcher game to cut back on financial burdens, the developers powered through and so the game was completed.

4 Pokemon Red & Blue

Two box arts side by side showing Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue

Another wildly successful series whose first game was almost never launched is Pokemon. The first two games, Pokemon Red & Blue, had been getting shut down by Nintendo repeatedly for years to the point that it seemed the games would never get off the ground before they could even get started.

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Things only got worse when computers trying to process the game kept breaking down and overheating. Eventually, though, the machines were fixed and the first Pokemon games ever launched.

3 Fallout 3

A figure clad in power armour holding a gun in the intro of Fallout 3

Originally, Fallout 3 had a different title, known as Fallout: Van Buren, which was the codename for the project given to it by developers at Black Isle Studios. However, things went awry when Black Isle Studios shut down and Fallout 3 was ultimately cancelled, leaving fans wondering if a new iteration of the series would ever come.

Bethesda later purchased the rights to Fallout and remade Fallout 3 from the ground up. It used a new engine and was the first game in the series to be in 3D, which revitalised the IP.

2 Doom (2016)

A first person perspective of holding a gun whilst facing some monsters

Doom almost never launched as it endured a very lengthy development of eight years. The game originally channeled Call of Duty and tried to forgo tons of action with some more cinematic moments. The game continued to struggle throughout development and was eventually scrapped and restarted from the ground up.

It seemed that, during its tough development cycle, it was going to be canned; however, it managed to just scrape on by and after eight years, Doom (2016) came out to massive critical and commercial acclaim.

1 Half-Life 2

Gordon Freeman posing whilst with Alyx Vance in the Half Life 2 cover art

Half-Life 2 has one of the oddest stories when it comes to almost being scrapped. This isn’t just a case of Valve’s perfectionism getting in the way, but the fact a hacker managed to get his hands on the source code of the game.

Eventually, it leaked online and, as a result, Valve decided to delay Half-Life 2, citing the hacking as the main reason as it reworked the game. Although this could have ended up with the game being cancelled, Valve worked on the game some more and, years later, Half-Life 2 would eventually be released.

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