Following the success of Starcraft, Blizzard Entertainment began production on StarCraft: Ghost, a spin-off which would have followed a third-person stealth-shooter approach in the vein of the then-popular Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell franchises, starring a ghost operative named Nova. However, the game saw numerous delays until Nihilistic Software, who had been brought in specifically for work on Ghost, discontinued working on the project in 2004. Following Nihilistic's departure from the project, development was handed to Swingin' Ape Studios, who would be bought by Blizzard a year later. Following Swingin' Ape's acquisition, Ghost's GameCube port was cancelled.
In 2006, Blizzard stated that StarCraft: Ghost was officially "on hold". This led the game to become one of the longest-running vapourware titles in gaming history, with many considering the game to be cancelled. Interestingly, following the announcement, Blizzard released "Starcraft: Ghost - Nova", a novel following Ghost's intended protagonist. Many at the time drew comparisons to the cancellation of Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans, due to Blizzard announcing the game's cancellation but releasing its storyline as "Warcraft: Lord of the Clans", a standalone novel. Nova and Horace Warfield, two characters intended to star in Ghost would later make appearances in Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty.
In 2014, Michael Morhaime (CEO of Blizzard at the time) officially announced the game's cancellation during a Polygon interview about Titan, another cancelled Blizzard title. In the interview, Morhaime stated that Ghost was cancelled to maintain Blizzard's standard of quality.
In early 2020, in-development builds of Ghost's Xbox version leaked online, showcasing the game's development around 2003-2004.