Timesplitters 4 devs explain why publishers turned it down

Tuesday, 27 November 2012 09:20 GMT By Dave Cook

Timesplitters 4 could happen one day, but Crytek’s Cevat Yerli isn’t yet convinced that you want it badly enough. Meanwhile two ex-Free Radical employees have discussed why the game was turned down by publishers before the studio’s collapse.

Nintendo Everything has published excerpts of gamesTM interview with TimeSplitters co-creator Steve Ellis and Crytek UK’s managing director Karl Hilton, in which they explain publisher’s reluctance to sign the game.

Ellis explained that while a working demo prototype for Timesplitters 4 was created after work on PS3 mega-flop Haze wrapped, it didn’t garner the interest of any publishers who saw it.

“TimeSplitters 4 was in the very early stages of development when Free Radical went into administration. A small playable demo was shown to several publishers, but it didn’t attract any publishing deals.”

Hilton added that the poor critical reaction of Haze made publishers uneasy about the studio’s ability to deliver, and that companies had no idea how to market the time-hopping adventure.

“We pitched it to a lot of publishers,” he added. “And from each of them we got the same two responses. Firstly, they would ask what happened with Haze. We were the company that made a series of high-rated shooters and then we had released Haze, which wasn’t as well received. This worried them.

“Secondly, their marketing person would say something alone the lines of, ‘I don’t know how to sell this.’ The unanimous opinion among all publishers that we pitched TimeSplitters 4 to is that you can’t market a game that is based around a diverse set of characters and environments – you need a clear and easily communicated marketing message, and TimeSplitters doesn’t have one.

“Perhaps they are all right. Perhaps this is why the previous games in the series achieved much more critical success than commercial success. For these reasons, one by one they all declined to sign the project.”

Meanwhile, Crytek head Cevat Yerli has expressed doubt over the profitability of the Timesplitters series. Reacting to a recent petition, he stated, “I would love to see the game out there, as a newborn HD version or what not. I definitely would love to see it. But the case of turning this into a business decision is still difficult. Unfortunately the petition doesn’t look that convincing. If the petition picks up it will be an even better argument for us.

“There’s a very hardcore market that is very verbal about it. I would love to see this, and if the fan base approves a further petition. They’re trying to call 300,000 voices, I think it’s at two or three thousand right now. If they could get the petition together I would be very happy to put in front of decision makers in the company, the key stakeholders, and say ‘Look here. This is how it is, let’s make it now.’”

What about you dear reader? Do you still want more Timesplitters? Let us know below.

Thanks Eurogamer.