All signs are pointing to Sony announcing the next PlayStation at its PlayStation Meeting 2013 event in New York today, and with the unveiling comes the last days for the seventh generation of video game consoles. Yet some of the PlayStation 3's most promising exclusives have yet to see the light of day, and while Sony has a track record of supporting its older consoles (see God of War 2 for the PlayStation 2), it seems unlikely that these titles will see the light of day on the PS3, if they ever see the light of day at all.
Some cancelled PlayStation 3 exclusives, like The Agency, Eight Days, and The Getaway 3, were clearly never meant to be. But what about these titles?
The Last Guardian
After knocking it out of the park with both Ico and Shadow of the Colossus--two of the PlayStation 2's most celebrated exclusives--Sony's first-party developer, Team ICO, showed a trailer for The Last Guardian to some feverish excitement during E3 2009. The Last Guardian looked like some vintage Team ICO material: players took the role of a young boy and had to befriend a giant griffin named Trico in order to escape the confines of a bleak, gargantuan castle.
But The Last Guardian missed its original release date of 2011, and a rather large spanner was thrown into the works when director Fumito Ueda quit working at Sony to focus on his own projects later in the year. His departure was followed a week later with the exit of the game's executive producer, Yoshifusa Hayama. Sony announced Ueda would still be working on The Last Guardian in a freelance capacity, and Western developer Sony Santa Monica was drafted in to help finish the game's protracted development.
In February 2012 Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida said that development had been "tough" for the game and that it was still in development despite its "slow progress."
The last we heard from Sony was that The Last Guardian would be released when it was ready, but a couple of weeks ago, Ueda released a public statement saying to "keep an eye out" for the game. Will it be shown as a PlayStation 4 title today?
Final Fantasy Versus XIII
Easily the most elusive PlayStation 3 exclusive since the machine was unveiled in 2005, Final Fantasy Versus XIII was announced in 2006, along with Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Agito XIII, as part of a trio of games set in Square Enix's new Fabula Nova Crystallis universe.
Despite being set in the same universe as Final Fantasy XIII, there was to be no correlation between Lightning's tale and that of Versus XIII--the game was to feature its own world, characters, story, mechanics, and battle system. Final Fantasy Versus XIII would be a seamless experience, according to director Tetsuya Nomura, and would feature one constant flow of battles, maps, and event scenes. It was also going to feature the most realistic world ever seen in a Final Fantasy game.
After a few screenshots for the game were released in 2008 and 2009, Final Fantasy Versus XIII was never seen again. The first signs of trouble came in June 2008, when Japanese gaming mag Famitsu reported that development on Final Fantasy Versus XIII had stalled so that Square Enix could focus solely on the then-upcoming Final Fantasy XIII, though Square Enix fiercely denied this. Another report surfaced again in July 2012 claiming the game had been unceremoniously dumped, but Square Enix president Yoichi Wada took to Twitter to say that development of Final Fantasy Versus XIII had not been abandoned.
Final Fantasy Versus XIII has now been in development for over seven years, making it the lengthiest development process of any Final Fantasy game in the series' history. Work on the second direct sequel to Final Fantasy XIII--Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII--is still under way, with the game currently expected to ship in Q3 2013.
After the massive success of releasing Grand Theft Auto 3, Vice City, and San Andreas as timed exclusives on the PlayStation 2, a new PlayStation 3-exclusive title--later to be known as Agent--developed by GTA makers Rockstar North, would be announced by Sony in 2007.
"As part of our long-standing relationship with Rockstar, and the incredible success for both companies with the cultural icon that is Grand Theft Auto we've agreed to the PlayStation exclusive rights of the next great franchise from the Rockstar studios," wrote Sony way back in 2007. This was to be the game that would be unveiled as Agent two years later, when Rockstar promised an action game revolving around espionage and political assassinations at the height of the Cold War in the 1970s. Two years after that--we're up to 2011 now--an environment artist at Rockstar released a portfolio showing some of his work on the game.
And that's it. There has been nothing else. The game has been left mysteriously absent from Rockstar publisher Take-Two's earnings forecasts, and the last we heard of Agent was in August 2012 when Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said, "We haven't announced anything about [Agent] yet." Other than the title, that is.
And that it would be a PlayStation 3 exclusive, of course. One that has been in development for over five years.
Warrior's Lair, originally titled Ruin, was introduced in a big way at E3 2011. The game took a front seat as part of Sony's attempts to push the PS Vita and managed to see more stage time than many other titles. Ruin was intended to be a Diablo-like action RPG which boasted interoperability between the Vita and the PlayStation 3, allowing players the chance to easily sync their progress across both platforms.
And then, well, Ruin just sort of disappeared. It was renamed to Warrior's Lair at the start of 2012, and then Sony announced at the start of April it was taking developer Idol Minds--who most famously developed Pain for PlayStation Network--off the project. The game was then left entirely absent from Sony's E3 2012 and Gamescom 2012 presentations, and nothing has been heard about it since.
What are the chances of The Last Guardian, Agent, or Final Fantasy Versus XIII taking to the stage tonight as part of Sony's presumed PlayStation 4 unveiling? And do you think the time is right for these games to finally come out, or has their moment passed? And do you think there's much hope for any of them in an industry where games that have been in development for years and years tend to end up a little disappointing?
Sony's PlayStation Meeting will take place in New York on February 20 at 18:00 EST/15:00 PST/23:00 GMT. GameSpot will be in attendance and broadcasting the event live.