Former Free Radical developers Steve Ellis and Karl Hilton have offered further insight as to why publishers were so apprehensive about backing TimeSplitters 4 before the studio went under.
Chatting to GamesTM (via NintendoEverything), TimeSplitters co-creator Ellis said that companies didn’t show sufficient interest in a demo of the fourth game in the time-hopping shooter franchise, which was churned out after Haze came out.
“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," said Ellis.
Elsewhere, Hilton, who now serves as marketing director at Crytek UK, added that Haze’s critical mauling didn’t help matters either, as publishers became unsure of Free Radical’s ability to deliver the goods.
“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.”
TimeSplitters was a launch title for PlayStation 2, and went on to spawn two successful sequels: TimeSplitters 2 (2002) and TimeSplitters: Future Perfect (2005). The fourth game was confirmed as in development in 2007, though we all know how that turned out.
Stay tuned to PSU.com for more details.