Ex-Free Radical Design developers have revealed why publishers turned down TimeSplitters 4, pointing the finger at the poor reception to Haze and difficulty marketing the brand.
After the release of Haze for publisher Ubisoft Free Radical Design tried to find a publisher for TimeSplitters 4, showing off a working demo in pitch meetings.
But publishers refused to sign it. Free Radical slipped into administration before being saved by Crysis maker Crytek, which bought the studio and set it up in Nottingham as Crytek UK.
Crytek UK managing director Karl Hilton and TimeSplitters co-creator Steve Ellis told GamesTM (via NintendoEverything) of the struggle Free Radical had during that time.
“TimeSplitters 4 was in the very early stages of development when Free Radical went into administration,” Ellis said. “A small playable demo was shown to several publishers, but it didn't attract any publishing deals.”
“We pitched it to a lot of publishers, and from each of them we got the same two responses,” Hilton explained.
“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 along 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.”
The chances of a new TimeSplitters game look slim. Despite there being an online petition to convince Crytek to revive the series, company boss Cevat Yerli remains unconvinced.
"Unfortunately the petition doesn't look that convincing," Yerli told Game Informer. "If the petition picks up it will be an even better argument for us."