To say that the PlayStation 4 exclusive The Last Guardian has been a long time coming is an understatement.

The game has been in development for eight years at this point, and for a while it looked like the next title from the developers of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus would never see the light of day.

Sony has assured gamers that isn't the case, saying in the first week of the new year that The Last Guardian was on track for 2016, listing it among other exclusive titles coming to the platform.

Forgive us if we're a little cynical. It's not that we don't believe The Last Guardian will finally see the light of day, but we've heard all of this before. Time and time again the game's release date has been moved.

For a while, it wasn't even clear if the game was still in production, as it went missing for years without Sony uttering a word on its status.

But this might be the year fans have been waiting for. To celebrate the (possible) 2016 release of The Last Guardian, we're taking a look back at the game's troubled history, starting with its announcement in 2009.

Announcement - 2009
 

After months of rumors, The Last Guardian is formally announced at E3 2009 as a PlayStation 3 exclusive. Since the game was revealed to be coming from the creators of the almost universally loved Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, gamers were more than a little excited. Over the next several months more images and details about the game emerge online. The game is absent from E3 in 2010, but does appear later that year at Tokyo Game Show, where a release date is formally announced: holiday 2011. It's revealed the game has been in development since 2007.

Release Date Looms Near - March 2011
 

Mere months after the possibility of including a demo for The Last Guardian with the upcoming Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection on PS3, it's announced the game won't be making the 2011 release date.

Ueda Leaves Sony - November 2011
 

Ico and Shadow of the Colossus creator Fumito Ueda departs from Sony, instantly throwing the state of The Last Guardian into question. While Ueda continues working on the project as a freelancer, it's not long before one of the game's executive producers, Yoshifusa Hayama, also leaves the project, along with various other team members.

The Jump To PS4 - Early 2012
 

It's in the early months of 2012 that it became painfully clear — The Last Guardian wasn't ready, and it wasn't going to be ready anytime soon. The decision is made (mostly by Sony) to move the game to the PlayStation 4, though the public wouldn't know about that until much later. Other development teams, such as Sony's Santa Monica Studios and PS4 lead architect Mark Cerny, are brought on board to transfer the game from PS3 to PS4.

Missing in Action - 2012-2014
 

Another E3 in 2012 came and went without mention of The Last Guardian. Numerous people involved in the project, from Sony executives to developers themselves, consistently reassured fans the game was still in development, but no other details were offered. A number of cancellation scares (GameStop canceling preorders for the game, Sony's trademark on the name expiring) only served to reinforce the idea that The Last Guardian wasn't coming out anytime soon, or possibly ever. Multiple E3's came and went without a mention of the title, until the game's MIA status became a bit of a running joke.

The Return - E3 2015
 

After years of wondering and waiting, The Last Guardian made a triumphant return at E3 in the summer of 2015, when it was revealed that the game was coming to the PS4. It is at this time that Sony announces the game will be coming in 2016. Much of the footage shown at the show wasn't new, but rather improved versions of footage seen previously for the PS3. The game's engine is said to have been fully transferred to the PS4 at this point, with the developers now able to finish the game.

Release? - 2016
 

Sony hasn't given a definitive time window for the game's release beyond sometime in 2016, but it certainly seems like there is a solid chance for the game to finally arrive. Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, told Polygon last year that the new release date is putting pressure on the team to get it done.

"Some people say that the game won't come out in 2016 — point-blank in my face — and I'm like, 'We'll try.' And actually, we have a really good feeling about the progress of the title."

Expect a firm release date and more details for The Last Guardian to be shared at this year's E3. If they aren't, well, it's not like gamers haven't been in this situation before.

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