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When a company doesn't give a release date, and as such the development time for the product could be finished between now and the end of time with very little specifics. The reason for this is usually so that the developer has no time constraints, so they can take as much time as necessary to deliver a good product.
Similar to Vaporware, except in this case there is no doubt that the product is actually going to be finished. It's just that the majority of the fanbase realizes that it will take an absurdly long time. Comparable to a continued delaying of the product so that the developer can properly make the game. In most cases, the quality of the finished product turns out to be very high, so the company's actions can be somewhat justified.
Creators who actually want to invoke this use a few standard stock phrases. "Soon" means "we're foolish enough to hope it will actually be soon." "Real Soon Now," possibly with ™ appended, means they really don't know themselves, and it'll probably be a while. "When It's Done" means don't hold your breath.
Compare Schedule Slip.
- Blizzard Entertainment is of course the king of this trope, having done this with very many of its games. For instance, after Diablo III was announced in 2008, it was almost 4 years before a release date was announced.
- Valve Software alternates between this and Valve time, which is just plain lies.
- Back in the day, Apogee/3D Realms was notorious for this, especially in regards to Duke Nukem Forever. Didn't really turn out so well.
- Billy vs. SNAKEMAN has a half dozen announced game areas stuck in this state, including three (Hero's Quest, Reaper's Game, and Pirates) that further the running plot of the game.
- Until recently (when a specific release date has been promised), the release of the next installment of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy novels was in this category.
- Nintendo does this on a regular basis with its AAA games. "When's the game coming?" "When it's done".
- You'll see this with tabletop game supplements as well. The updated version of "Golden Age Champions" was supposed to be published for Fifth Edition, and the fans are hoping we'll see it for Sixth. It'll be printed sometime, it's the pet project of Hero Games' president ... but as company president he has a lot of stuff to do that eat into writing time.
- Ever Quest forums are famous for having the developers state that something will be done "Soon(tm)".
- The Fallout: New Vegas DLC, Honest Hearts, had been "real soon now" from February to May 2011. It was finally announced for May 17th on May 3rd, 2011.
- Arena Net has been saying that Guild Wars 2 will come out "When it's ready" since 2008. They often say the same thing when asked when any specific piece of information will be revealed.
- The developers of Katawa Shoujo "promised" to release it in 2011. Eventually they announced it for and released it on January 4, 2012.
- The ten Game Boy Advance promised to day-one owners of Nintendo 3DS handhelds were said by Nintendo to be coming before the end of 2011- they came out about two weeks before the end.
- The Protomen's third album has a release date of "sometime before you die".