List of vaporware

Vaporware is a product which is announced and/or being developed, but never released, nor ever cancelled. This list documents products which have been labelled as "vaporware".

Hardware and software

  • Phantom was a console gaming system developed by Infinium Labs. A supposed prototype was demonstrated in 2004, but its release was continually delayed and was quietly put on hold in 2006 due to a lack of funds and eventually cancelled. The company was accused of a pump and dump scam. It received the first place in "Vaporwares 2004" in Wired News.
  • Ovation was a highly promoted office suite. After demonstrations that were well received, it was later revealed that the product never existed. It is "widely considered the mother of all vaporware," according to Laurie Flynn of The New York Times.
  • Xenix is a discontinued version of the Unix operating system for various microcomputer platforms, licensed by Microsoft from AT&T Corporation in the late 1970s. The Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) later acquired exclusive rights to the software, and eventually superseded it with SCO UNIX (now known as SCO OpenServer). After the breakup of the Bell System, AT&T started selling Unix. Microsoft, believing that it could not compete with Unix's developer, decided to abandon Xenix. The decision was not immediately transparent, and so Xenix gave birth to the term vaporware. An agreement was signed with IBM to develop OS/2, and the Xenix team (together with the best MS DOS developers) was assigned to that project. In 1987 Microsoft transferred ownership of Xenix to SCO in an agreement that left Microsoft owning 25% of SCO. When Microsoft eventually lost interest in OS/2 as well, it based its further high-end strategy on Windows NT.

Video games

  • Half-Life 2: Episode Three – The trilogy of episodes following Half-Life 2 was intended to be concluded by the end of 2007. Although the first two episodes were released in a relatively timely fashion, the final installment never surfaced. Despite sporadic assurances from developer Valve that the sequel is in development, there has been no information about the game or when it may see a release, and many rumors regarding it state that it won't be an episodic sequel but rather a full-on sequel. As of 2021, there has been no official announcement - the game is currently the most infamous case of gaming vaporware. Despite continued fan demands for information on development, Gabe Newell, Valve's director, has not commented on the game.
  • Commander Keen: The Universe Is Toast! was intended to be a continuation of the Commander Keen series, with the story picking up after the events at the end of the sixth episode, but it never progressed beyond the early stages of development, due to id Software moving on to Wolfenstein 3D and then Doom. However, Tom Hall, the series' creator, has stated that he can continue it if he ever regains its intellectual property.
  • A Star Fox arcade game was originally announced to accompany the release of Star Fox: Assault. However, while Assault was released in 2005, its tie-in arcade game was never mentioned again in public beyond its initial announcement.
  • Stars! Supernova Genesis was feature complete in August 2000, but the developers were unable to find a publisher.
  • The Grinder, a first-person shooter that was to be released on the Wii and ported to Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in the fall of 2011, was announced by High Voltage Software around the time it released The Conduit and Conduit 2, two graphically advanced first-person shooters for the Wii. However, The Grinder failed to meet this scheduled due date, and High Voltage Software has remained relatively silent about what had happened to it. Years later, it was discovered that the game had been quietly abandoned, though not officially cancelled, after the developers had trouble trying to make the game appealing enough as a new intellectual property.
  • Six Days in Fallujah, a tactical shooter and video game adaptation of the Second Battle of Fallujah in November 2004, was developed by Atomic Games and was ready to be released around 2010 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. However, the game's intended publisher, Konami, refused to release the game due to the controversy surrounding it. Since then, no publisher has come forward to pick up the game, and aside from multiple assurances from Atomic Games' president that the game was not canceled, no significant word was heard about whether or when Fallujah would ever be released at all for many years until Highwire Games announced that it will finally release the game sometime in 2021 on PC and the two subsequent successors of each of its original target console platforms (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S).
  • Ghostwire: Link to the Paranormal, an augmented reality horror video game, was being developed by A Different Game and was due to be released in late 2010 by Majesco for the Nintendo DSi and intended to leverage its camera system. However, Majesco inexplicably backed out from the game, which was then put on indefinite hold. No further information has been given about the game's fate.
  • Beyond Good and Evil 2 – Following the release of the critically acclaimed, yet commercially unsuccessful game Beyond Good and Evil, Ubisoft announced a sequel to the game in 2008 that would also be a narrative prequel to it. Rumors of the release actually happening were fed by a few trailers and concept art as well as statements made by Michel Ancel and Ubisoft. In 2016 the magazine Wired presented the game with their vaporware award.
  • Star Citizen – initially announced and funded via Kickstarter in 2012, neither the game nor its spinoff Squadron 42 have been released outside an alpha state as of January 2021. It is the largest crowdfunded project to date, having raised almost $300 million in backer money.

Surfaced vaporware

Products which once were considered to be vaporware which eventually surfaced after a prolonged time:

  • 3G – Widely considered vaporware in the early 2000s. However, by 2007 it overtook predecessors in market share.
  • Bluetooth – Initially conceived in 1994, but only gained widespread adoption in the early 2000s. As late as 2000, it made Wired magazine's yearly vaporware rankings.
  • Windows Vista – Suffered several development delays under its initial code name "Longhorn", finally releasing in 2006 without many of the initial features promised.
  • Mac OS X – Apple's replacement to Classic Mac OS that finally shipped in 2001, replacing multiple abandoned operating system attempts, including Copland and Taligent.
  • Lockitron – A device to allow a door deadbolt to be remotely controlled via Bluetooth or over the Internet. After a successful crowdfunding effort that raised over $1.5 million worth of pre-orders, Apigy experienced significant delays delivering a product in substantial numbers. Apigy eventually delivered thousands of the devices before ceasing production and introducing a new model of Lockitron.

Video games

  • Duke Nukem Forever - Initial game development was announced in April 1997 with a scheduled launch of 1998, with a trailer of the game shown at E3 1998. It was delayed however, and another promotional trailer was released with new graphics with a release date set for November 2001. However, more delays forced the game to be pushed back to unknown date. The game was not heard of again until it was officially announced in late 2010, and was finally released on June 10, 2011, 15 years after initial development. However, the game was met with mixed to negative reviews and was regarded as a failure. See also Development of Duke Nukem Forever.
  • Daikatana – Daikatana was first announced at E3 1997, and it was shown with promotional images and software, and was planned to be released on that year, with the game already being finished. However, the controversial tagline of the game: "John Romero's about to make you his bitch!", generated a lot of controversy, and John Romero's incredulous behavior and lavish lifestyle caused much of the original Ion Storm's team to jump ship and form Gathering of Developers. Further unrest was when the game was delayed again to switch from the original Quake engine to Quake II engine in November 1997, and the game was rescheduled for release in March 1998. However, it took over a year for the game to be fully switched in a new engine, and the release date was pushed back to February 1999, a deadline that was missed again. A demo was released in March 1999, which was considered to be of poor quality. The game was again shown at E3 1999, but the now outdated Quake II engine and the inability to show more than 12 frames a second (at a time when 30 frames were industry standard) caused a disaster for Ion Storm development team. Eidos, Ion Storm's parent company, which already invested $44 million in the development of Daikatana, had enough and took majority ownership of the company. The game was finally released in 2000. Today, it is considered to be one of the worst games of the 2000s in general, and one of the worst cases of vaporware due to the hype generated by Romero.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl – Originally announced in 2001, the game experienced numerous delays. Beta builds of the final product have been distributed to numerous game review sites. On March 3, 2007, THQ announced that the game had gone gold and was released on March 20, 2007, though it was leaked three days earlier.
  • Team Fortress 2 was announced in 1999 and took 8 years to be released. With a complete change in gameplay and art direction, the North American release took place on October 9, 2007.
  • Black Mesa was announced as a full remake of Half-Life in 2004. The first release date given by the developers was 2009, but development continued until 2012, when the first fourteen chapters were released on modding website Mod DB. It was greenlit for distribution on Steam on September 11 of the same year, before being released as an early access product on May 5, 2015, with numerous features from the mod improved upon in the Steam release, and with the blessing of Valve, owners of the Half-Life franchise, to sell the product; something quite unique among fan-made remakes. The final chapters of the game were released in 2019, meaning that the project only fully exited its vaporware state a full 15 years after its initial announcement. This remake was designed so as to become a better alternative for Half-Life: Source since Source lacked new features beyond newer, revamped Source Engine. Due to its long development time (eleven years), the modification became notable for its delays, and dwindling updates on the status of its completion. The delays led to Wired awarding Black Mesa high spots on their "Vaporware Of The Year" lists in 2009 and 2010.
  • Rodea the Sky Soldier was planned to be released on the Wii and Nintendo 3DS, with the Wii version ready to be released in 2011. However, the game remained unreleased for a few years with no significant word on its official status. Finally, in 2014, Kadokawa Games, a candidate publisher for the game, confirmed that NIS America will release the game the following year, although it would only be available on Nintendo's eighth-generation systems, the Wii U and the 3DS, as the Wii was partially discontinued and already falling into disuse around that time. Consequently, the original Wii version would not be available for individual purchase and was instead included with early shipments of the Wii U version. The game was released in Japan on April 2, 2015, then became available to the rest of the world on November 10.
  • Bethesda Softworks' reboot of Doom originally began development as a sequel to Doom 3 in May 2008, but was completely restarted in 2011 and later considered vaporware. It was finally showcased at E3 2015 as a reboot, and was released on May 13, 2016.
  • The Last Guardian began development in 2007, and was formally announced at E3 2009. Very little information was released after this until it was reintroduced at E3 2015; it was then released on December 6, 2016.
  • Grimoire: Heralds of the Winged Exemplar was a game developed by Cleve Blakemore, a former Wizardry 7 developer, starting in the early 1990s. A 2010 Indiegogo campaign asked for $250,000, claiming a release date of May 2013, but only raised $10,598. In 2017, the game received a Steam page with a projected July 7 release date; it was eventually released on August 5 that year, after over 20 years of development.
  • Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn, a new-and-improved sequel to the infamous 1994 game Shaq Fu, was announced in 2014, the game's 20th anniversary, and was intended to be released on the PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The game was crowdfunded on Indiegogo, with backers raising over $450,000 to have the game produced by Saber Interactive. Aside from an announcement that development was nearly completed in late 2016, there was no further word about the game's developmental status or release timetable for roughly four years since its announcement and funding. In 2018, the developers confirmed that they had been busy revising A Legend Reborn to resolve unexpected licensing issues and had planned to release it in the coming months, but only on the PS4, Xbox One, PC and the new Nintendo Switch, due to the Wii U and last-generation systems becoming obsolete at this time. Eventually, they confirmed that the game would finally be released on June 5, 2018.

See also

This page was last updated at 2021-11-05 01:39 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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