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What is Vaporware in Gaming? Vaporware Meaning, Explained

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A guide explaining the meaning behind vaporware in gaming.

Imagine this: a gaming studio just announced a project they’re working on. The mechanics are interesting, the concept art is beautiful, and the studio may even have an alpha version of the gaming up and running. Best of all: they’ve set a release date sometime in the following year. Many games following that trajectory do make it to store shelves. But if not, you might hear the gaming community throw around the term “vaporware.” What is vaporware in gaming? Let’s take a dive into its meaning.

Vaporware Meaning in Gaming Explained

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Image Source: Cloud Imperium Games Corporation

Long story short: vaporware in gaming is a title that has been announced, but will likely never see the light of day. If a game you’re looking for gets delayed, then delayed again, and again, with no end in sight—that’s vaporware. If you see a trailer for a game, get hyped, but it never comes out—that’s vaporware. Even canned videogame projects can be vaporware.

There are a variety of reasons as to why these titles get stuck in limbo. Perhaps a studio’s vision grew to a size too large for them to handle, so the project is canceled or stored away for later. It could be for financial reasons. Even the lack of good management can turn a potentially great game into vaporware.

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Image Source: Valve Corporation

And if you were thinking that vaporware is rare among popular studios, you’d be wrong. Many of the most well-known franchises have a skeleton in their closet. Half-Life 2: Episode 2 was clearly meant to expand into a third chapter, but it never did. “Half-Life 3 confirmed” became one of the longest running jokes in the gaming community because of its unknown nature (No, you won’t find clues here, either).

Another infamous example is Star Citizen. Having a demo or an alpha version of the game doesn’t exclude it from vaporware status; Star Citizen has been sitting comfortably in its early stages since 2012. You can play Star Citizen right now, but just understand that it doesn’t have a whiff of an official release date—if it ever will.

Now you should have a thorough understanding of what vaporware is in gaming and its meaning. For more gaming goodness, find out what the 10 best underrated games to play in the summer or if Xbox Game Pass is worth picking up.

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