Former Free Radical employees have revealed in the latest issue of GamesTM (via NintendoEverything) why publishers weren't interested in the development of TimeSplitters 4, suggesting the poor sales performance of Haze and issues marketing the title were at fault.
According to Steve Ellis, a former employee of the studio, TimeSplitters 4 was in "the very early stages of development" at the time of Free Radical's entry into administration. A "small playable demo" was shown to numerous publishers but failed to attract any publishing deal, says Ellis.
Former employee and current Crytek U.K. managing director Karl Hilton states publishers were skeptical of the game due to the poor reception of Haze in 2008, both critically and commercially.
"We pitched it to a lot of publishers, and from each of them we got the same two responses," said Hilton. "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."
Hilton goes on to say publishers expressed concerns over the marketability of the game series that featured time travelling and stylized parodies of pop cultural stereotypes.
"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."
Following its slip into administration, Free Radical was purchased by German games developer Crytek who re-dubbed the studio Crytek U.K. In August, Crytek chief executive Cevat Yerli stated fan interest in the next installment in the TimeSplitters series was simply "not high enough yet" for the studio to consider making it.
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