Although Disney has a wide range of properties within their stable, even more so thanks to the acquisition of Marvel and LucasFilm, the studio’s game properties boil down to a few biggies. With that in mind, most headed into Disney Interactive’s D23 presentation with three major titles on their mind: Star Wars: Battlefront, Disney Infinity 3.0, and Kingdom Hearts 3.
For both Star Wars: Battlefront and Disney Infinity 3.0, the expectation was that we would see some more snippets of gameplay, but nothing too revelatory. After all, the games are set to release in a few short months – or in the case of Disney Infinity, weeks – so presumably most of the big reveals have been made. But for Kingdom Hearts 3, we had no idea what to expect.
So, when Shinji Hashimoto took the stage at D23, fans were chomping at the bit to discover what new surprises the team at Square Enix had in store for Sora’s next adventure. And, as it turns out, that adventure will now include a Big Hero 6 world, wherein Sora teams up with Baymax to fight a darkness-fueled version of the all-white super hero.
However, while the Big Hero 6 reveal was seemingly Square Enix’s big ticket item for D23, the producers did drop one piece of off-hand info that had us thinking. During the presentation, another producer mentioned that Kingdom Hearts 3 has been in development for “about two years now,” which, to our knowledge, is the first we’ve truly heard about a timeline for the game.
Obviously, Square Enix is a developer that likes to take their time, but two years is potentially further along, or conversely not as far along, than we thought. And with the average game taking between 2-4 years to develop, it’s entirely likely we won’t see Kingdom Hearts 3 on store shelves until 2017 at the earliest. Clearly, the Kingdom Hearts 3 reveal from two years ago was made at the very early stages of the game’s development.
Of course, even a presumed 2017 release for Kingdom Hearts 3 is a conservative estimate. Much like Blizzard or Bethesda, when it comes to their most beloved properties, Square Enix likes to take their time. Not to mention, the studio already has Final Fantasy 15 and the recently announced Final Fantasy 7 Remake to focus on, both of which are being directed by JPRG legend Tetsuya Nomura. However, Nomura’s work on FF 15 is apparently done, and his focus is now on Kingdom Hearts.
What’s most curious about Kingdom Hearts 3’s timeline is that we’ve barely seen any gameplay. There was the tech demo shown at E3 2013 and some new footage released this year, but we haven’t really seen the game in action. Most of the bigger reveals, like the Big Hero 6 and Tangled worlds, have been live action interviews accompanied by concept art. That’s not the sign of a game that is very far in development, although we could be wrong.
So, while other developers are waiting to announce games until they are nearly done, Square Enix is going a different route. Unfortunately, since many of their titles are among the most highly anticipated, it makes the uncertainty of release that much harder to stomach. We know that Kingdom Hearts 3 has been in development for two years, and its “basic systems are complete,” but the game may not be as far along as that timeline implies.
How far into development do you think Kingdom Hearts 3 is? Will the game release before or after fall 2017?