Haze and marketing blocked Timesplitters 4
Former Free Radical staff reveal why cult sequel was never made
Steve Ellis and Karl Hilton, both formerly of Free Radical, have revealed how attempts to get Timesplitters 4 published were hindered, both by the studio's final project and marketing teams.
"TimeSplitters 4 was in the very early stages of development when Free Radical went into administration," Ellis told GamesTM.
"A small playable demo was shown to several publishers, but it didn't attract any publishing deals."
Free Radical went into administration in December 2008, after publishing the lacklustre shooter Haze, and was acquired by Crytek in February 2009. Hilton is now Crytek UK's managing director.
"We pitched [Timesplitters] to a lot of publishers, 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," he said.
"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."
Crytek has been facing questions about Timesplitters 4 since its acquisition of Free Radical. Earlier this year CEO Cevat Yerli suggested that while the idea of a free-to-play version of Timesplitters could have potential, a new title would never be released as a boxed product.
"The concept behind TimeSplitters was pitched around before we took over and Free Radical had no luck. We think even on CryEngine and with Crytek behind it there would be fundamental issues with the concept," he said.