The story of the Ghostbusters videogame that never was

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In 2007, a company called Zootfly attempted to make a Ghostbusters video game – but when it released demos, things went wrong quickly.

Ghostbusters hit cinema screens in 1984 and was, of course, a huge hit for Columbia Pictures. What’s more, this was also the burgeoning age of home computers and video game consoles. To try and cash in on the success of the film, licensed video games were created for a whole range of systems. Those of us of a certain vintage might remember trying to time getting past the Marshmallow Man to try and sneak into Zuul at the end of the ZX Spectrum tie-in game.

Still, if we focus on the Ghostbusters and Real Ghostbusters franchise, there were several games across the many varied computers and consoles all the way through to the mid-1990s. Then things fell silent. So it came with a great surprise when several videos were uploaded to YouTube in January 2007, all claiming to be from a brand-new in development Ghostbusters video game running on Microsoft Xbox 360 hardware. With no sign of a new film at that stage, this was something of a bolt out of nowhere.

Two of the videos caught the most attention. One was a Ghostbuster running around a city block trying to catch a ghost and causing damage to city buildings with their proton pack…

The other was an impressive 3D model (for the time) of Peter Venkman (as played by Bill Murray) as he recites a line from the movie Ghostbusters II, with added crowd noise for effect.

Other videos included a very different Ghostbusters car skidding through the city streets. Whilst the make and model were very different from the film’s original, the look of the car with its gadgets and yellow and black striping were very reminiscent of ECTO1A from Ghostbusters II. Also, you’ll notice the Ghostbusters logo being used looks more akin to something that you might see scrawled on a wall by a graffiti artist, but it still has the classic lines. For Ghostbusters fans, this author included, it was an exciting time.

A Slovenian software developer known as Zootfly revealed to the gaming press that it was they who had created this Ghostbusters proof of concept technology demo.  In an email to, Zootfly CEO Bostjan Troja said, “What you’ve seen is indeed in-game footage of early prototypes on the Xbox 360, running on ZootFly’s proprietary engine.

Zootfly updated its website to reveal that, spurred on by the huge interest the videos had created, it hoped, going forward, to create a brand-new Ghostbusters video game. There was just one little problem. It didn’t have the licence or permission to do so, even though it claimed it was working hard to get that sorted.

This was clearly to be seen as the videos soon disappeared from YouTube after a week or so with a copyright claim from Sony Pictures. It sounds like the whole endeavour was as much a surprise to Sony as it was to those of us who caught the videos on YouTube out of the blue.

In the meantime, the development team was working on a brand-new original game called TimeO. In the same email to, Troja continued, “[We’re] currently working on an original game called TimeO, which is closely related to Ghostbusters. The game follows the adventures of two die-hard New Yorkers. They get trapped deep in the shadow world of a parallel New York. The city itself is a war machine threatening to wipe out our world and they have three days to stop it.

Troja followed up this answer by explaining that once Zootfly got the Ghostbusters licence it would continue work on that, adding “we were primarily interested in seeing the response from the fans and hoping to get some valuable feedback. I must say that we’re very happy with the overwhelmingly positive response to the prototype footage!”

However, unbeknownst to Zootfly (and the rest of the world) the software developer Terminal Reality had already been working on an official Ghostbusters game for some time. It just hadn’t been announced. As Terminal Reality’s co-founder Mark Randal revealed in an interview with the Official Xbox Magazine in June of 2008, “at the time of the release of the video we were already seven months into development on the Ghostbusters game. Because we had been sworn to secrecy, no one knew that we were working on the game or even that any game was being worked on.”

Randal revealed that Zootfly’s unofficial prototype game actually did the Terminal Reality team a huge favour. He continued, “what Zootfly did for us, inadvertently, is help sell the concept. When their footage came out, we were close to our green-light meeting, and when the executives saw the reaction from the fans, they immediately knew ‘hey, Ghostbusters is going to be a big hit—we need to put this game into production.'”

And that’s precisely what happened. There were production problems along the way, but Ghostbusters: The Video Game was released on Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony Playstation 3 in June 2009. Slightly different versions were also released for the Nintendo Wii, DS and Sony PSP.

The game was a huge deal to fans of the franchise, as not only did the original four Ghostbusters actors record the dialogue to add an extra level of authenticity, but Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis also helped write the storyline. This allowed Aykroyd and Ramis to explore ideas from previous films and to also use content from an abandoned Ghostbusters III script that never went into production.

Ghostbusters The Video Game official logo

Ghostbusters: The Video Game went on to sell over 3 million copies. To celebrate its tenth anniversary and the original Ghostbusters 35th anniversary, the game was remastered and re-released for the current video game consoles in 2019.

But what of Zootfly? As it never got the permission, it continued with the aforementioned announced game TimeO. It even got as far as releasing several teaser videos for the game.

TimeO was due to be published by Brash Entertainment, but it went out of business in November 2008. The official TimeO website updated with new pictures and information around 2010 but without a publisher, it was assumed to be stuck in development hell. Ultimately, it never saw the light of day.

There was some speculation that there never really was a Ghostbusters game and that Zootfly was trying to generate media interest in TimeO. But if those intentions were true, it just had no idea how its stunt would turn out…

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