The last few days have been an emotional roller coaster for anyone who's looking forward to The Last Guardian. Thankfully, Sony put the speculation to rest by confirming that Fumito Ueda's upcoming opus is still in development.
Though, no one knows when it will actually hit the market.
On Monday, an eagle-eyed NeoGAF reader noticed that Sony Computer Entertainment allowed The Last Guardian trademark to lapse, even after the company received a notice from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The news quickly circulated around the Internet, but Sony eventually contacted several media outlets and quashed the cancelation rumors. The company even filed a renewal petition.
To be fair, trademark statuses aren't the best way to determine if a game's been abandoned. Some publishers like to sit on trademarks for years without any development plans, and fraudulent claims aren't uncommon. In fact, Sony abandoned a previous The Last Guardian trademark back in 2012.
No one would have been surprised if the trademark had been abandoned. When it was announced in 2009, The Last Guardian was billed as a PlayStation 3 exclusive with a 2011 release date. But the game suffered a series of setbacks, including the retirement of creative director Fumito Ueda. Though, Ueda has repeatedly confirmed his involvement with the project as a freelancer:
Moving forward, it is my intent to continue my involvement with THE LAST GUARDIAN project, as well as pursue new creative projects with a fresh perspective. As I rekindle my passions as a creator, I look forward to seeing where it will take me, and I deeply appreciate your support during this transition.
The fact that The Last Guardian is still in development after more than six years in purgatory is actually impressive. It has survived Ueda's retirement, a new dev team, and a new console generation. So, this trademark problem seems like a minor issue.
Team Ico, the developer behind Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, is still helming the project, and very few development teams are as well respected. So, gamers will probably be happy to wait around until The Last Guardian emerges as a PlayStation 4 exclusive.
Cross your fingers.