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Video Game Development: 7 Video Games That Took Forever to Develop

Video game development is a complex process, but some games take an unusually long time. Learn more about video games that took forever to develop. 

While it’s no secret that making video games isn’t exactly an easy process, some of these games have ended up taking so much longer to create than what is considered to be acceptable and reasonable. Just how long did some games stay in development? Find out more about several games that took forever to develop.

Star Citizen

Star Citizen by Robert Space Industries
Image courtesy of Robert Space Industries.

Star Citizen, a crowd-funded multiplayer game with a sci-fi theme, began way back 2011. Developer Cloud Imperium Games originally anticipated a release date of 2014, but numerous delays have occurred since then. Behind-the-scenes problems with co-founder Chris Roberts and a chaotic work environment have been the main reasons given for the continued delays.

The crowdfunding efforts for its development have so far reached $200 million from over 200 million backers as of November 2018. The following month, the developers announced that they were able raise an additional $46 million from private funding.  Star Citizen remains to be in development to this day—in Alpha stage, at that—with no official release date in sight any time soon.

Duke Nukem Forever

Duke Nukem Forever by 3D Realms
Image courtesy of Attack of the Fanboy.

Duke Nukem Forever might just be the completed video game that spent the longest amount of time in production. This first-person shooter started out in development with 3D Realms in 1996 and was officially announced a year later. Footage from the game wasn’t available until eight years later in 2004. Duke Nukem Forever then switched developers from 3D Realms to 2K Games and was finally released in 2011.

Diablo III

Diablo III by Blizzard Entertainment
Image courtesy of Bleeding Cool.

Diablo III spent 11 years in game development before its release in 2012. Developer Blizzard Entertainment, also known for making World of Warcraft and Starcraft, started working on this dungeon-themed action role-playing video game way back in 2001. This wasn’t long after the previous game, Diablo II, was out. However, Blizzard didn’t make any official announcements about the sequel until 2008. After this announcement, it took four years for the game to be released.

Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2 by Valve
Image courtesy of Polygon.

Team Fortress 2 ended up taking nine years to make from start to finish. Developer Valve worked on the game as a follow-up to the Team Fortress mod for Quake. This multiplayer first-person shooter went through a few game design changes over the years, which was one of the main reasons for the delay. Team Fortress 2 started out with a military design and eventually changed to a more colorful and cartoon-like style.

L.A. Noire

LA Noire by Team Bondi and Rockstar North
Image courtesy of VG247

L.A. Noire took a total of seven years to make. Developers, including Team Bondi and Rockstar North, worked on this action-adventure detective-themed video game from 2004 through 2011. Why did this end up being among the games that took a long to make? It wasn’t production issues that slowed down its development. Rather it was the creation of complex animation and the use of facial motion capture technology—largely considered to be an expensive, high-tech investment at that time—that caused the slowdown. This is also why the game ranks among the most expensive video games made during those years.


Spore by Will Wright
Image courtesy of Electronic Arts.

Spore spent eight years in production overall. Development on this real-time strategy game started in 2000 and wasn’t finished until 2008. Creator Will Wright, also known for making SimCity, was focused on making an alien/space version of the popular Sims game. Wright didn’t announce Spore officially until 2005, and the game wasn’t released until three years later.


Prey by Asypry and Human Head Studios
Image courtesy of Steam.

Prey took over a decade to develop, making it among the games that took a long time to make. Work on this survival horror first-person shooter game started in 1995, but it wasn’t officially released until 2006. The game’s developers, including Aspyr and Human Head Studios, made many changes to it throughout the years. In fact, they started over completely with a reboot in 2001 before finally releasing the game five years later.

 If you’ve been thinking about making video games for a living, apply now at Academy of Art University’s School of Game Development. You may also contact our admissions representatives to learn more about our offered programs, financial aid, housing, and more. They won’t take forever to get back to you, unlike these games, for sure.