A few ex-Free Radical developers have discussed why the fabled TimeSplitters 4 was unable to find a publisher, which resulted in it being one of the most-demanded unreleased games in recent history.
Series co-creator Steve Ellis told GamesTM that a playable demo of the game had been created and was shown to several publishers, sadly the interest just wasn’t there. “TimeSplitters 4 was in the very early stages of development when Free Radical went into administration,” he said. “A small playable demo was shown to several publishers, but it didn’t attract any publishing deals.”
Former Free Radical man, and now Crytek U.K. managing director, Karl Hilton added that the multi-character plot and poor reception of Haze left many publishers skeptical of the studios ability to deliver. “We pitched it 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 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.”
TimeSplitters 4 will probably never see the light of day, but hopefully we can get a HD remake of the three released games in the franchise at some point.
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