Timesplitters developer says shooters don’t make money

Thursday, 3rd May 2012 04:58 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Free Radical co-founder Steve Ellis feels there’s no room in the shooter market for anything but Battlefield and Call of Duty.

Ellis, who was an integral part of Goldeneye 64′s development before going on to help found the Timesplitters developer, said other shooters just can’t compete.

“Nobody really buys any FPSes unless they’re called Call Of Duty,” he told Edge.

“I guess Battlefield did okay, but aside from that pretty much every FPS loses money.”

Ellis said Crysis 2, for example, came nowhere near recovering its development costs, and as such, publishers aren’t interested in backing shooters.

“I spent the whole of 2008 going round talking to publishers trying to sign up Timesplitters 4,” he said.

“There just isn’t the interest there in doing anything that tries to step away from the rules of the genre – no one wants to do something that’s quirky and different, because it’s too much of a risk. And a large part of that is the cost of doing it.”

When Timesplitters 4 failed to secure a publisher, a floundering Free Radical was purchased by Crytek. Ellis has since left the company to form mobile studio Crash Lab.



  1. JB

    “Nobody really buys any FPSes unless they’re called Call Of Duty,” he continues. “I guess Battlefield did okay, but aside from that pretty much every FPS loses money. I mean, [look at] Crysis 2: great game, but there’s no way it came anywhere close to recouping its dev costs.”

    “By last July, the game had sold three million copies on all platforms worldwide.”

    If your game sells 3 million copies but is nowhere near recouping its development cost, their business model is simply wrong.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Ali Hayas

    List of FPS games that are being made/considered /rumored :
    1- BioShock 3
    2-Metro last light
    3- Conemned 3 Rumors have it there is a 3rd game.
    4- Dead Island 2
    5- Call of Juarez 4
    6- Dishonered
    7- new resistance
    8- Insomniac new game …
    9-Crysis 3

    So I think I’ll read it as , no publishers wanted to risk with TimeSplitters 4 after the crappy HAZE.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. minxamo


    @2 Don’t forget Halo 4.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Christopher Jack

    @3, There’s many he didn’t mention, such as Far Cry 3, doesn’t matter though, we all know he’s not right. People want quality games, doesn’t matter which genre.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Ali Hayas

    Yeah I forgot a lot of the high quality games. My brother is a big fan of Far Cry/Halo, so they somehow got dropped, but yeah, games don have to sell as much as CoD to make a profit. I mean BO2 has around 300 working on it, and most the games mentioned are being made by much smaller teams.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. Maximum Payne

    Nobody really buys any FPSes unless are good maybe ?
    Sad thing is, even mediocrity like Medal of Honor and Homefront find some sales…

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Freek

    Crysis 2 made no money because it was boring, it is the end game of the no risk policy: dull game nobody wants. Make a really cool Timesplitters game and you can have my money.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. OlderGamer

    “There just isn’t the interest there in doing anything that tries to step away from the rules of the genre – no one wants to do something that’s quirky and different, because it’s too much of a risk. And a large part of that is the cost of doing it.”

    He did hit a nerve with this one tho.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. DrDamn

    True, but isn’t that what CoD did to get where it is today. Prior to CoD4 the series was another shooter. What they did with CoD4 took the series to where it is today and at the time was different and a risk.

    I think Timesplitters 4 would be a great franchise for Sony or Nintendo to pick up exclusivity rights on for PS4/WiiU. Sony probably feeling stung by Haze though.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. OlderGamer

    I agree TS4 would be a hella WiiU exclusive, if done correctly.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. Gadzooks!

    God I hope Sony never get thier claws on the Timesplitters IP.

    1) I’m never touching another Sony product so would never get to play it.

    2) Sony straight out suck at shooters. Every last one from a Sony first party studio has been unmitigated ass.

    It needs to stay multiplatform.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. freedoms_stain

    If Crysis 3 sold >3 million and made no money I can only assume that they’re including the dev cost of CryEngine 3 in there – which isn’t fair.

    CryEngine 3 will potentially pay for itself (and more) in 3rd party licensing, also future Crytek development will be that much cheaper because the engine is there. Also, Crysis 3 will probably cost them a fraction the dev cost due to having their engine done and from the looks of the trailer, a high degree of common assets.

    As for people buying shooters that aren’t called Call of Duty… I think people are not buying games that are contract crap built only to cash in on the perceived success of shooters right now.

    Pub with money: “ooooo, Call Of Duty is breaking all these sales records and making all this money, we gotta get us some of that *grabs nearest dev studio available regardless of suitability/previous FPS experience* here’s not enough money and not enough time to make an FPS game, put it out too early and unfinished even though we didn’t give you enough time or money then we will fire you all because the game didn’t do well enough even though it’s all our fault for insisting you make a CoD clone without providing the funds or time necessary to do so, even though you’re not even an FPS studio”

    #12 3 years ago
  13. YoungZer0

    @7: Yeah, because Timesplitters always sold so well in the past.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. Freek

    Well enough to justify not one but two sequels.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. DrDamn

    NB: The only reason I excluded MS from the list was that it already has Halo in the stable. Whilst I think it would sell on Xbox it isn’t as “needed”. Both Sony and Nintendo arguably need a FPS which provides a different experience to the third party shooters out there. Halo already fulfils this for MS.

    The nature of the game would probably suit WiiU a little better I think, but I would see Sony as more likely to pick it up.

    #15 3 years ago
  16. YoungZer0

    @14: No. Otherwise we’d already have two sequels.

    #16 3 years ago
  17. DrDamn

    Eh? Timesplitters 2 and Timesplitters Future Perfect. Why do you think the article is talking about TS4?

    #17 3 years ago
  18. sh4dow

    Sounds like a bunch of bullshit to me. Once again somebody whose idea of a “loss” is merely making millions instead of tens of millions.
    Something is lost alright… the brains of many people that head companies.

    #18 3 years ago
  19. sh4dow

    To test my own theory, I’ve just done a very, very rough estimate on what the “loss” on another “project that wasn’t worth it” looked like.
    – Mirror’s Edge.

    I looked at the credits here, counted the people who were probably permanent staff exclusively on this project and added a couple for the average of additional people. I’m guessing they were probably around 40. And I’ve assumed they worked on that for three years (considering the quality of the game, I think that’s probably quite the overestimation). At an average salary of 60K/year, that would mean costs of 7.2M. Factoring in hardware/software and whatnot, let’s say 10M.

    Mirror’s Edge sold 2M times. Since it went to the bargain bins pretty quickly, let’s say only the first 300K sold at full price. Minus manufacturing and middlemen that take a cut, let’s say they only get $35 of the $50. That’s 15M right there. The rest earning let’s say an average of $7 – another 12M. => 27M.

    Yes, it is very rough and I may be off in some areas. But even if you slide around the figures somewhat and take advertising into consideration, it takes some pretty radical tweaking of those estimates to get to a point where it actually resulted in a LOSS.
    Of course… EA was careful to say that it wasn’t a loss but merely “not profitable enough”.

    And then I’m looking at games like Hard Reset and see that they obviously sold well enough to be able to release a retail version – and see that Syndicate shooter and Capcom arguing that Resident Evil should be more like Call of Duty and so on and on…
    Between that and my calculations, all that “it’s not profitable” or even “it results in losses” is at best very, very suspicious.

    #19 3 years ago

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