The Last Guardian almost has as much development time as Duke Nukem Forever had. Sony was kind enough, however, to explain why there’s been such a long delay since the initial announcement of The Last Guardian in 2009.
Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida opened up to Gamespot about why they’ve had such a long development time, citing a switch in platforms as being the principal reason.
Since 2007 The Last Guardian had been under development for the PS3, expected to be released at least before the announcement of the PS4. Due to the enormity of the project, that didn’t quite happen as planned. As a result, in 2012 the decision was made to move the development over to the PS4, and so much of the game had to be rebuilt completely to accommodate the new platform.
"The project went on so many technical changes. We decided to move the project to PS4 in 2012, but because the PS3 code was so optimised for SPUs on that console lots of code had to be thrown away and rebuilt. It was a tough decision to move from PS3 to PS4 because it was running on PS3. But not at the performance [level] we needed … We knew [we had to decide] whether to continue the game on PS3 with a compromised vision, or move to PS4."
- Shuhei Yoshida
Thankfully the narrative and general direction was still ongoing and wasn’t as affected by the change in platforms. They could continue to develop the story, lore and other creative aspects without having the programmatic base available, which apparently has helped keep the project on track.
Yoshida also said that even though they faced increasing challenges they never wanted to actually abandon the project completely at all. Press, fans of the series and project as well as the core team doing the development work all wanted to make it a reality, so they drove on despite the increasing confrontation.
The decision to re-announce the project was one done with complete confidence in the direction they’re headed and with the amount of work completed thus far. They wanted to make sure that it was at least running correctly on the PS4 with few issues in house.
"My thing was, when we re-announced The Last Guardian, we had to have it totally running on PS4 at the right performance and be confident about the release window that we announced. In our mind, we have the tech, vision, and design down. Lots of levels have already been made, so we are confident about 2016, so we [announced] it."
- Shuhei Yoshida
The Last Guardian was announced again at E3 2015 at Sony’s press conference and is slated for a 2016 release date solely on the PS4. It’ll remain exclusive for the lifetime of the game.