Mega Man Legends 3 is still a sore topic for some 3DS owners, as it aimed to involve the Mega Man community through its Devroom forum and promised a prototype version on the 3DS eShop to gauge its potential success. Unfortunately, the prototype and the main game were canned, leading to legions of disgruntled fans and some that were angered at the failure to even release the smaller downloadable part of the project.
There's been a fair amount of dialogue since, though most of the noise has been from fans trying to resuscitate the project. It's remained resolutely dead, however, as has the franchise in general, aside from plenty of commemorative memorabilia and the occasional dressed-up PC fan game.
Capcom employee and Capcom Unity representative GregaMan has taken to a recent thread on the topic of Legends 3 to summarise, as he sees it, the company's stance on the affair. It's an honest round-up of what was innovative about the idea, and also what went wrong.
As some have already pointed out, it's not at all uncommon for games to be canceled mid-production, even (or especially) for major publishers, for major brands. The difference in Legends 3's case is that it was announced publicly from its earliest planning stages, while most games that meet this fate are nixed long before ever being revealed outside office walls. This of course was the whole point — an experiment in transparency for what was clearly a passion project in need of an "angle" — and frankly a pretty odd one, when you think about it. Remember that Legends 3 was essentially a 10-year-late sequel to a sequel to a spin-off, that had middling success even back when it was one of the only games of its kind — before 3D Action-Adventure was an established genre, if you can even remember that far back. And consider its place within the greater Mega Man brand. If you thought DmC was a deviation from the Devil May Cry brand, remember that MML (MmL?) changed virtually everything you could possibly change about Mega Man. Even I remember scoffing at the sight of it until I got my hands on it and realized it stood on its own merits. Then consider that the game was destined for a platform that didn't even exist yet in the wild. All that isn't to say MML3 was a "bad" project — it was just weird. But MML has always been a passion project, not a cash cow. Hence the Devroom angle.
I guess you could say, then, that the cancellation of the project wasn't actually anything out of the ordinary. What was out of the ordinary is that ever[y]body knew about it. The Devroom and the MML3 project's utter transparency were nigh-unprecedented experiments with high risks. They were risks that, sadly, delivered the full brunt of their severity. Look at us. Two years later and we're still here talking about it. I want to know, guys, and please take this question in earnest: Knowing how the project turned out, would you rather have not known about its existence to begin with?
That final point seems to grasp the crux of the matter, with fans disappointed at missing what they thought was a sure thing, rather than being none-the-wiser as is often the case. Gregaman also tackled the widely cited comments of a Capcom Europe employee that was seen to "blame" fans at the time, while ending with an explanation that perhaps explains the level of secrecy we often see from game developers.
If nothing else... hopefully this project has shown you why companies are rarely ever this transparent. As soon as you let the public in on something, you may as well have made a promise. And god forbid it be a premature one.
That said, I believe that the project was itself inherently good. Fan involvement and transparency are still ideals held high by my team and me, and we try to have our games and activities reflect this as much as possible. Believe it or not, we've come a long way since Legends 3, and continue to progress down a promising path. I do hope that you'll stick with us in the future, even if our successes don't take the form you'd originally desired.
It's a good effort to explain the flaws of the project and its eventual failure, even if fans will ultimately question why the — apparently — near complete Prototype version never saw the light of day. In the list of controversial game sagas to affect the 3DS, this one is undoubtedly near the top of the list.