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Feature

10 Broken Promises Of E3

by Joe Juba on Jun 09, 2016 at 01:27 PM

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Enthusiasm runs high among gamers during the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo. Publishers and developers always make some cool and surprising announcements to get fans excited about the future. Unfortunately, some of these announcements fail to materialize, despite the potential swirling around them. From games that get canceled to hardware features that get cut, this list runs through the most notable broken promises to emerge from the E3 show floor.

Rockstar’s Agent, exclusively for PS3
Sony had already announced that it was working with Grand Theft Auto developer Rockstar Games on a new title, but we didn’t learn what it was until Sony’s 2009 E3 press conference. The game was a PS3 exclusive called Agent, and every year since, people have speculated that it will have a grand E3 reappearance – but it hasn’t happened yet. Take Two has continued renewing the Agent trademark, so the game isn’t officially dead, but you can be sure that no PS3-exclusive version will ever see the light of day.

Phantom Dust
Since the Phantom Dust reboot was only revealed at E3 2014, you might think it’s too early to declare this promise broken. However, Microsoft ended its relationship with developer Darkside. That doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t see a rebooted Phantom Dust at some point in the future. The publisher said that development on the title would continue, but it’s likely that the original vision for Phantom Dust (as we saw it at E3 2014) dissolved along with Microsoft’s partnership with Darkside.

BioShock Vita
Irrational Games’ Ken Levine took the stage at Sony’s press conference in 2011 to talk about BioShock Infinite, but then announced that his studio was working on a new BioShock experience for PlayStation Vita. The handheld had not released yet, and this reveal helped build some early enthusiasm for the system. However, the project failed to move forward, though Levine eventually discussed his vision for what BioShock Vita could have been.

Project HAMMER
Nintendo was drumming up excitement for its upcoming Wii console at E3 2006, trying to convince people that the system had both mainstream and hardcore appeal. One of the games aimed at the hardcore crowd was a third-person action title called Project HAMMER, which was unveiled at the show. Though it didn’t have many other high-profile public appearances, the game’s beleaguered development continued behind-the-scenes for several years before it was ultimately canceled in 2009.

Microsoft’s Virtual Marketplace
Before the launch of the Xbox 360, Microsoft used E3 2005 to paint a picture of some of the system’s potential users. One of these hypothetical personalities wasn’t a gamer at all; her name was “Velocity Girl,” and she could engage with the Xbox 360 by using the Xbox Live Marketplace to sell her virtual creations. That meant selling user-made in-game items like clothing and stickers. This never came to pass as pitched. Instead, the feature was essentially co-opted by DLC, controlled by the publishers and developers rather than by a community that could share its creations and support itself.

Brother in Arms: Furious 4
Gearbox’s normally straight-faced Brothers in Arms series got a Tarantino-esque overhaul at E3 2011 with Furious 4. The reveal trailer showed a more irreverent and cruder new take on the series, with a goofy squad of soldiers fighting the Nazis in World War II. Though it was supposed to release in 2012, that year instead brought news of the game’s delay and change in direction, and eventually the reveal that it had become a different game entirely.

Wii Vitality Sensor
The Wii succeeded at bringing more gamers into the fold, but Nintendo’s announcement at E3 2009 of the Vitality Sensor accessory seemed to toss aside the notion of gaming entirely. Instead, the device would supposedly read the user’s pulse, and that data would also convey other information about the user’s body. How would that work? Apparently, it didn’t. Nintendo canceled development on the product when it couldn’t make the device work with a sufficient percentage of users.

Fabula Nova Crystallis
In 2006, Square Enix seemed confident that its plans for Final Fantasy – whatever they may be – would be well-received by fans. The company revealed not one but three new installments at E3: Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy Versus XIII, and Final Fantasy Agito XIII – all to be united by one mythology under a single banner called Fabula Nova Crystallis. These ambitions never amounted to anything substantial. Final Fantasy XIII (and two sequels) came out, but Agito XIII was transmuted into Final Fantasy Type-0, and Final Fantasy Versus XIII became Final Fantasy XV (with all ties to the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythos severed).

Star Wars 1313
Before developers were confirming that their games were in development for Xbox One and PS4, Star Wars 1313 was one of the few titles at E3 2012 that practically guaranteed to be on the new hardware. This distinction put the impressive-looking game right in the spotlight – which it made it all the more disappointing when developer LucasArts was closed after the Disney acquisition, basically dooming the project. The final nail in the coffin came when Disney did not renew the Star Wars 1313 trademark. Today, fans can only dream about what could have been.

PS3’s Original Specs
Developing a new console obviously involves shifting priorities and design changes, but the final version of the PlayStation 3 looked vastly different from what Sony unveiled at E3 2005. The original version shown to attendees had two HDMI ports, four front-facing USB ports, multiple Ethernet ports, and other bells and whistles that made A/V fans drool. These perks were eventually trimmed down to a bare minimum in the finished unit, though their absence only affected a relatively small percentage of the system’s potential users.

What do you think are the most disappointing E3 announcements that never became reality? Share your thoughts in the comments below!