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Why Capcom Never Released Deep Down

With a hybrid setting that mixes the modern and the archaic, high-intensity combat, and a fluent but ever-so-slightly corny English voiceover, "Deep Down" had all the trademarks of a great Capcom game in the making — which makes it all the more a shame that it hasn't left development hell in the past nine years since it was first announced. While it hasn't yet beaten the 15-year record of "Beyond Good & Evil 2," "Deep Down" is certainly getting up there in the list of high-profile games that have yet to receive a release date despite being revealed in 2013. With a free-to-play monetization model, next-gen graphics, procedurally-generated content, and promises of being an online PlayStation 4 exclusive (per Game Informer), this once-ambitious project received tons of hype and seemed well on track to become something akin to a spiritual sequel to "Dragon's Dogma" — until, of course, it mysteriously vanished from Capcom's updates sometime around 2015.

As Yoshinori Ono — who headed the development team for "Deep Down" — left the company in 2020 (via Twitter), it seems almost certain that "Deep Down" will never leave development limbo. And yet, Capcom stubbornly holds onto the trademark, re-filing for it year after year without any actual development news and leaving fans wondering what exactly happened to "Deep Down" that it disappeared from the media circuit entirely, and why was it never released?

Its uniqueness ended up being its downfall

In a 2014 Famitsu interview (via PlayStation Lifestyle), Yoshinori Ono revealed that "Deep Down" was more of a self-motivated project that was largely inspired and directed by the development team's ambitions instead of Capcom, or even Ono himself. The team was asked what they "actually wanted to do" after completing "Resident Evil 5" and "6" and answered that they wanted to focus on something entirely new, made on the up-and-coming technology that was available at the turn of a console generation.

From the sounds of it, the game was largely a collaborative production with "lots of opinions" from the team members that, while creating a unique game, lead to "its share of trouble." Ono later revealed in a 2015 interview with 4Gamer (via Gematsu) that the team had almost entirely scrapped what they had so far and was building from the ground-up nearly two years after initially announcing the game. This would also become one of the last optimistic updates on development progress before the game went silent.

Though there has never been an official statement on why "Deep Down" was shelved, putting all the pieces together paints an understandable picture. With difficulties adapting to a next-gen console that was rapidly establishing itself as well as accounting for long-term online service (per Gematsu), it seems that the robust creative energy that had been the driving force of the project ultimately caused a lack of clear direction and momentum as time went on.

Will Deep Down ever resurface?

A video essay by Max Lvl explains another aspect of why the project might have lost momentum: The early 2010's saw a huge push towards online co-op, while the single-player RPG seemed to be in decline. Being intended for online free-to-play, it seems as though "Deep Down"'s team might have been experimenting with the latest trends in the industry as well as the hardware, only to be stuck in development until the video game scene started shifting back to single-player with the successes of games like "Final Fantasy 15." To make things worse, gamers were soured on procedurally-generated online experiences due to the high-profile bait-and-switch of "No Man's Sky" in 2016 — in many ways, "Deep Down" was a product of its time, and missed its chance as the times changed before it could see the light of day.

That said, remaining fans are holding out hope that "Deep Down" will return in some form or another. For one, Capcom continues to re-file for a trademark renewal back-to-back with the expiry of the previous request, with three filings to date: the original in 2013, another in 2017, and another in 2020. As of October 2022, Capcom's current filing for "Deep Down" has been approved for its fourth extension (out of the maximum of five) — whether it will make a comeback as a great game that survived development hell or remain on the list of overhyped games that were never released, only time will tell.