News Article

Talking Point: When Will Be the Right Time to Reintroduce The Last Guardian?

Posted by Sammy Barker

Birds of delay

Four years. It’s been four years since The Last Guardian was officially announced for the PlayStation 3. A leaked video had revealed the project a few weeks earlier, but it wasn’t acknowledged by Sony until the platform holder’s press conference at E3 2009. That early glimpse – a four-and-a-half minute trailer – remains the most that we’ve seen of Team ICO’s mysterious opus, with the feathery favourite slipping into obscurity over the past couple of years. Creative director Fumito Ueda actually announced his departure from SCE in late 2011, but stated that he would remain committed to the game. That, according to Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida, very much remains the case at the time of writing – but will the hotly anticipated adventure ever see the light of day?

In his most recent note on the matter, Ueda-san pointed out that the title is not a priority at first-party developer Japan Studio. “It's under earnest development,” he ambiguously explained. “However, [the team] also has titles like Puppeteer and Knack, and those are taking priority right now.” With the former already out of the door, though, and Mark Cerny’s divisive Crash-meets-Kratos action platformer due out in less than two months, the hope is that the first-party workshop will be turning its attention to the Shadow of the Colossus creator’s heartrending catbird next.

We don’t believe that the game has been cancelled. After all, there have been too many hopeful statements from high-ranking Sony executives to indicate that the project’s been dropped. The platform holder knows that it will gain nothing from stringing fans along, so it’s telling that it fails to rule the release out. At the Tokyo Game Show last week – and at E3 way back in June – Shuhei Yoshida said that the company’s waiting for the right moment to “reintroduce” the title. But when will that actually be?

It all depends on what the project’s core team has been up to for the past 50 or so months, we suppose. There were rumours back in late 2012 that Team ICO was having trouble squeezing its vision onto the PS3, and that it had even employed the help of Sony’s technical teams from around the globe in an effort to solve the problems that it was facing. Reading between-the-lines, it’s possible that the group’s concept was simply too ambitious for the current generation hardware – and Ueda-san has proven over time that he refuses to adapt his design in order to account for the limitations of a specific machine. Way back in 1997, for example, he started work on a three-dimensional platformer for the PSone. That went on to become ICO, which didn’t release until 2001 on the PlayStation 2.

As a consequence, it’s probably safe to assume that the title is a PlayStation 4 game now, and that will make it an important cog in the company’s next generation strategy. While the past four years have rightfully taught us to be cynical when it comes to The Last Guardian, it’s worth noting that the platform holder’s being incredibly coy about its entire first-party lineup for the impending machine. It’s abundantly evident that the firm’s now adopting a different approach when it comes to announcing upcoming games.

And for as farfetched as it may seem, that could theoretically mean that the game is further along than we think, and that the Japanese giant’s merely biding its time before letting the title free. After all, re-revealing the release for the PS4 would certainly prompt a spike in enthusiasm surrounding the device. And with the system likely to suffer from a shortage of software following the launch of inFAMOUS: Second Son early next year, we fully expect the company to restock with new projects from Sony Santa Monica, Media Molecule, and Naughty Dog in 2014. Could the oft-overlooked Japan Studio join in on the fun?

It’s impossible to say without an insight into the title’s current completion status, but clearly the company needs to be careful when it eventually does reintroduce the game. Given the throng of delays that have plagued the adventure’s production over the past few years, the organisation needs to be absolutely certain that the title is almost ready for release. We suspect that few people would trust a trailer without a timeframe attached to it – but similarly, a delay would cut deeper than Agro’s eventual fate. The game simply must be on time if it's to see the light of day again.

Outside of these important considerations, though, we don’t necessarily believe that there’s an optimal occasion to re-announce the release. While it would no doubt make a splash during a major press conference – or televised event such as the VGAs, perhaps – the reality is that The Last Guardian will get plenty of coverage whenever it’s re-revealed. As such, the real impetus remains with Ueda-san and his team to actually finish the game. We’ve started to see some serious improvements in Japan Studio’s output since Sony Santa Monica founder Allan Becker was put in charge. Let’s hope that his presence provides the kick on the cage that Team ICO so clearly need.

When do you think would be the right time for Sony to reintroduce The Last Guardian? Do you even think that the game still exists? Squawk your thoughts in the comments section and poll below.

When should Sony reintroduce The Last Guardian? (34 votes)

I’m tired of waiting, just tell me about the game now


I don’t mind when it’s re-announced, as long as it comes out


I’m happy to wait until next year for more information


I personally don’t think that the game exists anymore


Please login to vote in this poll.

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User Comments (12)



Batman said:

Great article, Sammy! From the poll it seems that nobody's really fussed by it anymore :/



get2sammyb said:

@Confused_Dude They are crazy people, as I'm still really excited for it. I really believe that Sony would have said it's cancelled if it truly was. It's clearly going to be a big announcement for PS4 at some point. My concern is whether it's almost finished — or still years away...



Squiggle55 said:

I still want this to come out, but I'm not in any hurry. I hope it's a PS4 game, and I really hope it's here by next holiday season, but as long as it comes out eventually I don't care.



Batman said:

@get2sammyb Any excitement I had for it is all but gone, although I'm sure any new footage would get me back in the mood.



DVS said:

I really feel in my waters that it will be re-announced in 2014, PS4 exclusive, to be released mid 2015.

I'll go in to meltdown if it comes around at the same time as MGS V.



Epic said:

Sony is just saving that Joker Card for the right moment.
When there's an inminent drought or Microsoft counteratacks they will give the Last Guardian a Green Light.



Ginkgo said:

Honestly Sammy you won't like my response.

I think that it is very rare for games that take this long to develop (7+ years) to live up to expectation when they come out. Some recent examples are Aliens:Colonial Marines, Duke Nukem. But yes, there are also ones that rise above.

I lot changes in that time, hardware, graphics, game mechanics. It is an enormous challenge to pull off, that is all I am saying.

Unfortunately, I think for most people, interest has dropped to a slow simmer. Some work would need to be done to spark it again before release.



Jaz007 said:

I think that the game is along the way to a good extent, and that Sony is just waiting for the opportune moment to announce and release it. It's really not a bad idea, it's already a game with some hype and reputation, and by now it doesn't really matter if Sony tests out patient a little, or a lot more with it. It's already been tested to the point where it doesn't matter how much it gets tested as long as it doesn't come out on PS5 instead of PS4.



charlesnarles said:

They're just trying to be true to their artistic vision, which is a big deal to maintain faithfulness to in any medium, especially 21c tech. Nowadays it's a real task to make something 1)financially viable, 2)novel experience-wise, and 3)personally aesthetically satisfactory to the creators. 1 is only easy by itself, 2 is always risky, and 3 gets crushed by limitations. Some rotten old day that the world needs a pick-me-up they'll remind us all of why it's good to be patient.



Visiblemode said:

The game is definitely still in development. This has been confirmed recently. The question becomes "when will it be announced?"

I think it's probably likely to be announced at next E3...or the one after...

Yeah we don't have much to go on, except that announcing it too early likely taught them a lesson last time, so I expect the next time we hear about it to be within a few months of it's release.

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