TimeSplitters 4 failed due to complex plot, post-Haze scepticism

Former series devs discuss the game's inability to attract a publisher

TimeSplitters 4 is one of this generation's most talked-about unreleased games, and developers have once again come out to discuss its unfortunate failure.


Series co-creator Steve Ellis told GamesTM that the game was playable when showed to publishers which ultimately turned it down.

"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 staffer - currently Crytek UK managing director - Karl Hilton, told the magazine that the game's multi-character plot and the weak reception for the developer's last FPS game, Haze, left publishers sceptical.

"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," revealed Hilton.

"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 told CVG earlier this year that it's evaluating whether there could still be scope to develop a new TimeSplitters game.

"We don't want to design this as a packaged goods game that launches on a console, and even if we wanted to I don't think publishers would like the idea. That is the truth, and that was the truth even before we bought Free Radical," said studio boss Cevat Yerli.