TimeSplitters Dev: There's No Money in FPS Games

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TimeSplitters Dev: There's No Money in FPS Games

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Free Radical co-founder, Steve Ellis, reckons "pretty much every FPS loses money" unless it has "Call" or "Duty" in the title.

Since the dawn of consciousness, man has struggled to answer a series of existential questions. "Who am I?"; "Do I have a purpose?"; "Is there a God?"; and most compelling of all "where the hell is TimeSplitters 4?"

Fortunately, Steve Ellis, co-founder of TimeSplitters developer Free Radical Software, has seen fit to answer that last question, though the answer may be a little upsetting. Apparently, there's no TimeSplitters 4 because no one would buy it.

"Nobody really buys any FPSes unless they're called Call Of Duty," he told Edge. "I guess Battlefield did okay, but aside from that pretty much every FPS loses money. I mean, [look at] Crysis 2: great game, but there's no way it came anywhere close to recouping its dev costs."

The problem isn't that FPS don't make money - the genre sells incredibly well - but that the costs involved in producing and marketing a AAA FPS are astronomical, and only the biggest, most successful titles are making back their budgets.

"I spent the whole of 2008 going round talking to publishers trying to sign up TimeSplitters 4," he said. "There just isn't the interest there in doing anything that tries to step away from the rules of the genre - no one wants to do something that's quirky and different, because it's too much of a risk. And a large part of that is the cost of doing it.

That's the rationale behind Ellis' decision to leave Free Radical and core gaming behind in order to form Crash Lab, which thus far has announced two games iOS. Considering Ellis is intimately intertwined with the history of first person shooters - he coded N64 classic, GoldenEye's, now legendary multiplayer mode - that's a huge loss for the genre.

"We've been through more than a couple of console generations and seen things grow and grow to a stage where it's not really the business we got into," he continued. "It's not really what we signed up for at the start.

"There's plenty of people coming out of university who are dying to do that, so let them find out what it's like and we'll do something different!"

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Then why not spend less on development? Not every game has to cost crysis 2 amounts. TS wasn't famed for it's graphics and it still has plenty of fans.

Do a kickstarter now and watch the money roll in.

Apparently TimeSplitters 4 is in the same place as Steve Ellis' balls.

You don't have to make it a "AAA" (read, incredibly expensive to make) title. Hell Timesplitters was never about the graphics anyway. Just put in the humor and the signature character designs and gameplay.

Kickstarter it, genius.

That's all well and good, but it doesn't lead to a TimeSplitters 4. I'm not even sure what's in the article. My brain just stopped at "TimeSplitters 4".

I'm not sure I even remember what my name is anymore. Cortez? No...

1) Ellis doesn't want to make FPSes anymore. He's said he's split from Free Radical and that it looks like the end of that for him

SECONDLY, there's more to FR than Ellis, and most of them are at Crytek UK, as well as Crytek owning the rights to TS now.

If we're getting a TS4 (and I hope we do before too long passes) then it's unlikely to be kickstarted as you'd need enough money to license it in the first place.

I hate to break it to him but there isn't really any money in iOS games either unless you have "Angry" or "Birds" in your title.

I guess it's something of the human condition for humans to cluster around one or two things and ignore the rest. It's not because of the inherent quality but it's to do as the Jones' do or because "all my friends play it".

Matthew94:
Then why not spend less on development? Not every game has to cost crysis 2 amounts.

You're talking crazy, man!

...No, I kid, but there seems to be a mindset that everything has to compete with the blockbusters.

God to I have good memories playing the Timesplitter games both single player as well as the challenges and multiplayer. That unholy map maker ate many hours of my life alone.

Borderlands. Hard Wired. Fallout 3/New Vegas. Left 4 Dead. 2. Portal. 2. Half-Life 2. Etc.

Make something people like and we'll buy it.

Well that sucks... I woulda bought a new Timesplitters and I'm sure many more would.

Matthew94:
Then why not spend less on development? Not every game has to cost crysis 2 amounts. TS wasn't famed for it's graphics and it still has plenty of fans.

Do a kickstarter now and watch the money roll in.

Let me point something out to Free Radical...

Do a kickstarter now and watch the money roll in.

Thats is all I have to say...

Lame. I loved the Timesplitter games. I would definitely buy a new one.

WHERE IS TIMESPLITTERS 4? I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR IOS GAMES. I WANT TO SHOOT MONKEYS AND ROBOTS AS A GOTH TEENAGE GIRL WITH A HARPOON GUN.

That is all.

Do it cheap! Hell, they could just release Timesplitters 2 or 3 again on current-gen consoles with internet multiplayer support, I'd pay 40 for that. Actually, I'd probably pay a lot more than that, but it's best if they don't know that. No one ever fell in love with Timesplitters because of the realistic graphics or high-res textures, did they?

Oh come on don't give up yet!! We still want games that are witty, inventive, funny and above all fun!! We don't want ultra realism and with many shade of dirt colours!

VALVE would like to have a few words. They've made a ton of FPSs, and have been consistently profitable. Even Day of Defeat turned a profit.

P.S. Thanks

Me and my room mate were talking about TS4 the other day and how awesome it would be if it ever got made.
Now I have a sad.

Both Battlefield 3 and the Crysis games were essentially expensive tech demos for their respective engines. Any loss on those properties were pretty much made up by licencing for the engine to be used on other games.

More importantly, finding a quality regular FPS that isn't part of the major series can be difficult with 9/10 games being essentially two steps up from shovel-ware. You do get the occasional gem here and there, those are increasingly few and far between. And FPSs are the easiest genre to make in terms of time, planning, technology, and manpower. Deviate even slightly from the basic model and you start adding months to your development schedule.

TimeSplitters just needs a good set of writers that understand the material, art directors that are willing to go a little out there, and a half-decent graphics engine to build it around to get the project off the ground. Surely a few thousand of us are willing to put in the seed capital for something like that?

Okay. One more time:

Consumers. Have. A. Finite. Amount. Of. Money.

The only thing that everybody will buy is something that appeals to everybody at once and offends nobody in the target demographics. Also, making whatever that is will probably make you want to kill yourself. Just spend less on development and make good games, please.

If there's no money in FPS games, why do they keep getting made? Obviously quite a few must be doing pretty well, considering the massive amount of them out in the market.

I'd also suggest moving away from the $50 Million-a-pull slot machine business model that the industry is operating on. If you win you're the next Call of Duty. If you lose you lay off a development house, and take another pull. This is stupid and suicidal and it really needs to end.

Also, do an HD re-release of the previous Timesplitters games. If that makes shit-tons of money, it'll be a safe bet that people want more Timesplitters. If it doesn't, well then that's life I guess.

Just give me more Timesplitters. Please. Please for the love of god give me more Timeplitters.

Kickstarter man, I don't care if you won't make back your money. This game must happen! D:

Matthew94:
Then why not spend less on development? Not every game has to cost crysis 2 amounts. TS wasn't famed for it's graphics and it still has plenty of fans.

Sadly, in order for a publisher to pick it up, it would need to "be as good as Call of Duty or Battlefield" by which I mean the only thing publishers seem to value these days is what a game looks like, and that's the expensive bit.

Sad and short-sighted, but true.

That is a sad indictment of the current trends in the industry when long standing series with a sizable following cannot get a sequel green lit because it doesn't match up to whats currently in fashion. I loved Timesplitters and everyone I use to mention it to tried it out and ended up loving it too. I have no doubt it would have sold well.

It is a shame as I imagined Timesplitters 4 was the game the fps genre needed to shake off some of the modern realism that has become a bit too prevellant. Still just as Timesplitters succeed Goldeneye/Perfect Dark I hope another new IP can step up to continue Timesplitters legacy of frantic split screen multiplayer

People on this thread are throwing out examples of successful shooters that I thought were AAA titles but apparently aren't (Borderlands, most Valves properties). If that's the case and those are indeed not AAA games, then I don't see A new Timesplitters doing that badly on the market.

....what? You don't want my money?

Kickstarter. This is the one case I would give sizeable donations in full confidence of the fanbase. And even if they don't make money on it, they'll have wasted nobody's.

I'd even like a remake for the fact it would guarantee my favourite character design, the one I named this account after.
The one thing that gives me hope, still is they haven't said "No" outright.

Covarr:
VALVE would like to have a few words. They've made a ton of FPSs, and have been consistently profitable. Even Day of Defeat turned a profit.

P.S. Thanks

I wonder which we will see first... Half Life 3 or TimeSplitters 4? We should start betting money on this. I'm going to bet on TimeSplitters 4.

That's strange, I didn't realize the Timesplitters series was a triple-A series. The second may have been but Future Perfect and the first aren't as openly loved. Like others have said, there are ways of building up production money by either re-skinning and, re-selling an older title (like TS2: make it HD and sell it on steam, XBLA and, PSN) or Kickstarter if you don't want to sell last gens games on this gens consoles.

Of course if you read between the lines you may actually see a few hints about Timesplitters 4. Like three, the fourth may not be called Timesplitters 4 but maybe something like, Time Splitters: The Dutiful Call or, Timesplitters: Duty of the Call.

Matthew94:

Do a kickstarter now and watch the money roll in.

This, I would totally throw money at them for this.

Call Of Duty seems to have really crippled gaming, not just shooters.

DiamanteGeeza:

Matthew94:
Then why not spend less on development? Not every game has to cost crysis 2 amounts. TS wasn't famed for it's graphics and it still has plenty of fans.

Sadly, in order for a publisher to pick it up, it would need to "be as good as Call of Duty or Battlefield" by which I mean the only thing publishers seem to value these days is what a game looks like, and that's the expensive bit.

Sad and short-sighted, but true.

Pretty much this, really.

The only chance for a TS4 is for a publisher to see some merit in releasing TimeSplitters against CoD, Battlefield, and Halo (not likely), or to release it independently on the XBLA, which I guess IS possible, but given how much money you're expected from a venture like that, it'll be like playing a PS2 or a Xbox game all over again since getting anything of higher quality would be too expensive at this rate.

This might be news to some of you people, but Kickstarter doesn't have the funds needed to run Triple A games. If they wanted to release a TimeSplitters of the same quality as a Triple A game, they'd need some publisher money backing it up, otherwise they could probably do something of Xbox-esque quality and put it up on XBLA since that would be more cost-effective.

I seemed to have missed the part where Timesplitters was ever AAA. It's got a lot of fans sure but I wouldn't call it AAA. Kickstarter it and then we'll see just how much interest Timesplitters gets.

DON'T YOU DARE DO THIS TO ME YOU ASSHOLE!
Do you know how much, and for how long I've hoped and dreamed that Timesplitters 4 would be released? DO YOU?

The current FPS market is the worst it's ever been. Therefore, since we can all agree that CoD sucks, and we should stop copying it, what's the solution? To stop making FPS games apparently.

DVS BSTrD:
Apparently TimeSplitters 4 is in the same place as Steve Ellis' balls.

Irridium:
If there's no money in FPS games, why do they keep getting made? Obviously quite a few must be doing pretty well, considering the massive amount of them out in the market.

I'd also suggest moving away from the $50 Million-a-pull slot machine business model that the industry is operating on. If you win you're the next Call of Duty. If you lose you lay off a development house, and take another pull. This is stupid and suicidal and it really needs to end

I agree. Especially since they'll be brushing up on taking all the available money soon, adding more DLC to cover their ballooning dev costs isn't going to save the industry forever. They really need to stop now before the bubble bursts, but since the CEOs driving this trend can just jump ship before it sinks I don't see that happening.

Since the dawn of consciousness, man has struggled to answer a series of existential questions

...this is Grey, isn't it.

Yep, it is. I bet he'll follow that line with actual existential questions and end with a ridiculous one as punchline.

"Who am I?"; "Do I have a purpose?"; "Is there a God?"; and most compelling of all "where the hell is TimeSplitters 4?"

YEP.

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