The Story Behind the Cancellation of GoldenEye 007

There will always be a few games that leave a very strong and lasting impression on us, and even shaped the entire gaming community in the years after its release. One such game is GoldenEye 007


If you’re wondering if this is a game has direct ties to the James Bond movie then you’d be correct, but it is a lot more than just a video game tie-in to a massively popular movie franchise.

And while things were looking bright for this game, there’s bound to be controversy. Find out what happened to the cancellation of GoldenEye 007 in the article below.

  • A Classic First-Person Shooter
  • Gameplay and Features
  • Licensing Issues
  • Different Challenges and the Red Flag
  • Adding More to the Controversy
The Story Behind the Cancellation of GoldenEye 007
Image Source: Mental Floss

A Classic First-Person Shooter

GoldenEye 007 was a first-person shooter game (FPS) developed by Rare in 1997. 

The Story Behind the Cancellation of GoldenEye 007
Image Source: Game Informer

The game was published by Nintendo and follows the story of Secret Service agent James Bond through a series of challenges that aim to prevent a criminal syndicate from using a satellite to cause chaos in London and, later on, spark conflict and a financial disaster. 

Led by Martin Hollis, the game was developed much like Sega’s Virtua Cop but later on it decided to give the player full control of where he wanted to explore. The game was released right after the James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies was released in theaters. 

And while many thought that the game would somehow just float around and eventually later fade into obscurity, something happened that caused a worldwide phenomenon that birthed an entirely new genre of gaming.

The Impact of GoldenEye 007

At first, I thought GoldenEye 007 was just one of those games that companies made to piggy-back on the movie’s hype. I thought the video game would crash and burn, however, things changed when the critics released their insights on what would eventually have a huge cultural impact in video games. 

During this time, there had been many FPS games released for the PC platform but GoldenEye 007 was the first-ever game to release on the console platform. It also featured more realistic graphics and gameplay from what we were used to at the time from games like Doom. 

The game also offered many unique features like stealth elements, single-player missions, and deathmatch mode. You might think that this would be a common thing nowadays but back then, this was highly innovative and influenced many game developers from here on out.

Gameplay and Features

It would be a shame if we talked about the impact of GoldenEye 007 and did not touch on the gameplay and features of this shooter game

The Story Behind the Cancellation of GoldenEye 007
Image Source: Engadget

While the game does have the usual objective-filled missions like retrieving a certain item, rescue hostages, or defeating a certain enemy, GoldenEye 007 prides itself on features such as stealth mechanics which was some of the best in the genre at the time. 

The game required players to often use stealth to navigate missions and eliminate enemies without making a sound. GoldenEye 007 also features three different difficulty settings and allows players to replay the same level within a certain time to unlock more options, making the game even more enjoyable. 

With the game’s difficulty settings, players were bound to harness their skills especially when it came to managing their health, sharpening reaction times, increasing accuracy, and more. Now we get to see all of these elements in modern games but it was this game that truly started it all.

All Praise for James Bond

No one knew at the time that GoldenEye 007 would be a success let alone a cultural titan when it was released. People soon caught on to the fantastic gameplay and a year after its release it sold over 2.1 million copies, surpassing popular games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. 

In its total run, the game sold more than 8 million units all over the world and became the third best-selling Nintendo game of all time. The game also won numerous awards and was heavily praised by critics and gaming experts alike. 

This was the time when GoldenEye 007 became the standard of FPS and the company would soon become a contender for these types of games.

Licensing Issues

The impact of GoldenEye 007 and its popularity soon captured the eyes of many developers. 1997 was a great year for Rare but it would soon become the center of controversy.

The Story Behind the Cancellation of GoldenEye 007
Image Source: GamesRadar

 In 2007, ten years after the original game was released, the team decided to develop a remake of the game to suit the times. 

This proved to be quite the challenge for the team as there would be licensing issues with the company that the game is based on among other companies. However, the movie company never had any issues with the licensing of the game as it would only prove to be detrimental for them to oppose it.

Imagine the positive press it would generate to remake a classic, beloved game from their IP. However, this was where everything went downhill which could have been the main reason why the remake will never see the light of day.

A Nintendo Game on a Microsoft Console

Fans of the game waited for an updated version of the game but this time, there were agreements made to have it ported to other gaming consoles such as the Xbox. This plan hit a road bump when Nintendo suddenly decided that it would discontinue the project

There were numerous speculations that the late Hiroshi Yamauchi, the leader of Nintendo, was behind the decision but this was debunked. An unnamed corporate head was revealed to have been the one that ordered the project to be discontinued when it neared completion. 

I eventually learned that the main reason was there was no way a Nintendo game would be released to a Microsoft console. This suggested that Nintendo was not keen on collaborating even though everyone felt like this was a great match-up for the game and the software company.

Different Challenges and a Red Flag

The team had already begun working on the game even though there was no signed deal. Out of passion and love for the game, the developers decided it would be best to start making the game right away even if the contract was still up in the air. 

The Story Behind the Cancellation of GoldenEye 007
Image Source: Screen Rant

I would too if I was in their position knowing how popular and critically acclaimed the original game was. It would be a disaster if anyone would not allow this to happen. 

However, things became very difficult as the team faced numerous challenges along the way. 

The longer the development process went on, the team felt like something was not right with the deal as they had not received any confirmation about the project months after starting their work. 

A Misunderstanding of Sorts

As many would have already guessed by now, Nintendo didn’t want to share the spotlight with any other companies, especially for a game as iconic as GoldenEye 007. Everyone on the development team was in agreement to make the game and release it together with their partners. 

It was a good opportunity for everyone to have this game remade and offered to fans as there was nothing but benefits. As I’ve read in one statement that everyone wanted the game to be made. 

Alas, Nintendo finally stepped in and decided to cancel the project as well as the efforts of the people that poured their heart and soul into bringing the game to the screen once more.

Adding More to the Controversy

The controversy regarding the sequel would soon die down and eventually be forgotten. However, a few years later, Activision surprised many of us with the release of a new GoldenEye 007 game in 2010 for the Nintendo DS

The Story Behind the Cancellation of GoldenEye 007
Image Source: Screen Rant

This new version of the game was a reimagining of the original movie and a remake of the classic game. The release of this new version added salt to what was supposedly a closed wound for many fans out there. 

While the game was not as critically acclaimed as the original, it still garnered a lot of positive reviews and was still commercially successful.

The Game that Could Have Been

The release of the reimagined GoldenEye 007 could have been treated better if only Nintendo decided to push through with it in the first place. 

This could have been the game that everyone was waiting for and everyone would have loved. 

I know it’s hard to predict what could have been the original remake’s reception back in 2007 but I know for sure that fans of the game would have come out in droves to support such an amazing game.


Rarely do you see a game as impactful as GoldenEye 007 embroiled in such controversy. The potential of the original game alongside the expectations of the remake would have been colossal for Nintendo.