Most FPS games lose money, says TimeSplitters dev

Free Radical founder says Call of Duty and Battlefield are only profitable shooters on market, publishers afraid to pursue projects that don't follow established formula.

Call of Duty and Battlefield are the only first-person shooter franchises making money, TimeSplitters developer and Free Radical founder Steve Ellis recently told Edge. As a result, the longtime developer believes publishers are wary to green-light projects that buck established trends.

Publishers won't pursue a unique FPS, according to Ellis.

"I spent the whole of 2008 going round talking to publishers trying to sign up TimeSplitters 4," Ellis 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."

Crytek UK (the name Free Radical took on when Crytek purchased the outfit) recently confirmed that TimeSplitters 4 was not in development despite the game having been announced in 2007.

"Nobody really buys any FPSes unless they're called Call of Duty," he elaborated. "I guess Battlefield did OK, 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."

Ellis left Crytek UK in February 2009 to open a mobile game studio called Crash Lab. He explained that the FPS genre today has morphed considerably from what it once was.

"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 said. "It's not really what we signed up for at the start."

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Eddie Makuch

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.
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355 comments
MasterBrief
MasterBrief

I agree with this in part. The FPS genre has changed a great deal but I dont believe that a Timesplitters game wouldn't sell well, I don't know how well but look at Borderlands 2. That has a quirky, humorous side to it and I think it has sold considerably well. I think if they got a good story mode with lots of funny and awesome moments, tweaked the multiplayer with some new modes, have a good selection of maps and coop features and a good ad campaign I think that Timesplitters would sell well. I haven't bought a COD game for a long time and have bought a couple FPS games MOH, BF3, Borderlands, Dead Island, Killzone. So I think they definitely need to plan their release right but I think it would sell well and it also has a huge fan base.

aletepes
aletepes

 @offspring94 It's not an FPS but it's 3rd person and FP RPG, called Skyrim, old graphics and many people like it despite its horrible environment and lack of newer age graphics. It's using 2004-05 graphics, they just put a lot of crap in it in, the game had no direction for me and I couldn't stand it, but many people love it.

offspring94
offspring94

I wonder what would happen if a great game were released to mass markets with a 2004 graphics and a low budget.  Not a niche "indie" game, but a full-featured game in every way except for graphics.Honestly, that's what I would prefer.  I still play Soulcalibur 2 with my roommates; there's nothing obsolete about the gameplay in that 10-year-old game.  I would much rather have a marketplace full of creative, risky, games with bad graphics than a handful of COD clones with cutting edge technology.  At least, it is my understanding that the cost of developing games up to current-gen graphics standards is what eats most of the development budgets.

Vortec33
Vortec33

I really never understood the hate with Crysis 2. 

buddybuk
buddybuk

FPS fatigue everywhere.  I am very simply tired of the same formulaic COD every year.  People buy a copy/pasted game simply for its name these days.

onewithtoenail7
onewithtoenail7

call of duty is a giant self-sustaining pile of money. given this generation's utter lack of concern or interest in anything that doesnt allow them to communicate impersonally with people they barely know, and who prizes convenience over quality to such ludicrous extremes not seen since the invention of home television, i can see the problem. CoD barely has to do anything to make horrendous amounts of money because it perfectly reflects a modern society of people who barely do anything and expect to be rewarded just as disproportionately. the mere effort of having to do more in a game to entertain yourself than pointing and shooting is a huge obstacle to overcome, not to mention the lack of seventy-gajillion dollars to spend on development, or working within a development cycle that was designed for a game series that has bottomless funds and needs very little time to make.

 

its definitely tough going, but we need games like fallout and deus ex to reverse this trend and get people to realize that stuff  you have to work at tends to have a much greater payoff than the stuff that does nothing but kill time between texts and facebook.

Briantb_2008
Briantb_2008

If you made a great FPS with a Great story and heres the main kicker a Campaign that takes longer then 5-10hrs to beat I have a feeling you would make whatever money you put into the project back. Look at Fallout 3 its not just a FPS its a RPG mind you its buggy as hell on the PS3 after 20hrs of play and even more so with the dlc. But it was a great game. And it made out well enough for Bethesda to release Fallout New Vegas which was even more buggy then Fallout 3 and they did well on that as well to release an possible Online fallout which if it comes to the PS3 I plan to stay the hell away from it.

 

Rage was a great game but by the end of it I felt like I only played half a game and I did everything in about 25hrs. No replay value ethier. 

dark_rage864
dark_rage864

Crytek stop being a bunch of wimps and make the game. TimeSplitters beats COD any day! >:(

Serpentes420
Serpentes420

Yup except for the Bioshock series, Resistance series, HALO series, Killzone games, Rage..etc.. Not to mention hybrid RPG/FPS like Fallout and Borderlands.  No FPS games are successful except Call of Duty and Battlefield 3.(sarcasm)

 

I don't like the modern FPS nonsense that the kids these days seem to love so much either.  But I am getting sick of so many in the gaming industry always blaming everything but themselves for their lack of success. 

 

I've never played a Timesplitters games before (that I can recall) so I can't say if it is good or not.  But there are still plenty of non CoD or Battlefield FPS games being produced (thank goodness). So quit whining and up your own game, don't complain about what other developers are doing.

BabylonBadness
BabylonBadness

Timesplitters will always be the number one multiplayer FPS in my opinion, it's just so much fun. It's a shame that so many "gamers" buy CoD just because their friends are buying it. I haven't brought a CoD game since the pile of crap that was Black Ops, and they will never see any money off me again. RIP Timesplitters. I'll just have to dig out my PS2 for some monkey splattering goodness.

BabylonBadness
BabylonBadness

Timesplitters will always be the number one multiplayer FPS in my opinion, it's just so much fun. It's a shame that so many "gamers" buy CoD just because their friends are buying it. I haven't brought a CoD game since the pile of crap that was Black Ops, and they will never see any money off me again. RIP Timesplitters. I'll just have to dig out my PS2 for some monkey splattering goodness.

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

Crysis 2 was subpar as a game and made only to help sell Cryengine. Crytek's main source of income is selling it's engine to non-game projects.

vx24
vx24

I think the FPS genre has a limited range for innovations due to the simple setup: 1st person, gun, storyline. So I understand that the setting of the story (like Fallout's world or Borderland's comic surroundings) makes out most of the difference. Now, as ghosts, zombies, aliens, ghouls, soldiers, beasts, mobsters, nazis and what- or whoever have been targetted in the games, people simply don't buy this genre anymore and, consequently, publishers fear the investment.

To my mind, the coop-mode for 3-4 players like in Borderlands has been the last real improvement, but, to my mind, now a major change in the FP or storytelling is needed.

 

An MMORG with instances and the FPS-approach for combat would be cool... something like the Lord of the Rings Online engine, which switches to FPS when it comes to fights. All the other aspects of the game like visual changes (horror), crafting and selling (e.g. weapons) or (slowly) skilling the charakter should be in place. That must not be a fantasy-world, though.

 

This approach should give a rich world for a story and a slower pace for longer lasting fun. I wouldn't mind a learning curve of 6 months.

pedodleche
pedodleche

He does have a point....No FPS today compares to the greatness Half Life or Duke Nuke or Quake had....Those where games where the player who was better was better because his reflexes and skilled improved, rather than having perks which, to some, is unfair. The problem is, consumers have shifted to FPS lacking some sort of storyline or anything that is actually interesting. Call of Duty's popularity relies much on the fact that people play with others via online. FPS with good storylines continue to be published, they just don't see as much commercial success as Call of Duty or Battlefield. That does not mean, they are commercially unsuccessful.  Crysis 2 was actually quite successful, hence the development of the 3rd. Problem is, less budget is provided to the development of this and other games alike because their rent-ability per dollar is much lower than that of Call of Duty (not to mention the fact that Call of Duty games are all very similar)

 

Ghetto_ninja
Ghetto_ninja

Let's even back up further to the source of Call of Duty's console success. Ironically it happens to be a game that used the Source engine, Counter-Strike. It successfully transferred the feel of  the most popular online FPS into an experience tailored for a console. Then they took it one step further and added perks and custom classes, which are features the industry has embraced from Battlefield to Uncharted. As for Battlefield well they just took what was already successful on PC and brought it to consoles. You know for a guy(Steve Ellis) who makes video games for a living he sure doesn't quite understand anything about the market. Well maybe that's why his company failed and he had to resort to making mobile games. 

Ghetto_ninja
Ghetto_ninja

Um and missing the big picture here how is Timesplitters 4 quirky and different? It's a sequel to a franchise that hasn't seen a sequel in almost 7 years. Timesplitters doesn't have the longevity of Duke Nukem and look how well that sold even with the critical smearing. Speaking of Gearbox games, did this guy forget that Borderlands existed? Doesn't get anymore quirky and different than that. It was also a smashing critical and commercial success.  Then you have Deus Ex, Portal and Bioshock. So yeah just a big whiner trying to publish a game that at best has niche fanbase and would never be able to compete in a market with the like of aforementioned franchises. It would be another Syndicate. 

Ghetto_ninja
Ghetto_ninja

Jesus is this guy DigitalPixelBit in disguise? Crysis 2 had to have made a profit. I'm pretty sure EA wouldn't go ahead with Crysis 3 if it hadn't. I mean I don't see them publishing Bulletstorm 2 or Shadows of the Damneder anytime soon. 

Psycold
Psycold

Crysis 2 was pretty good, but was not as good as the previous games which they made with a much lower budget, and it is still worth a debate as to which game looks better with mods, etc. However to say that Crysis 3 did not sell well or recoup it's dev losses, I highly HIGHLY doubt that. The game sold over 3 million copies and was widely boasted as a big seller. 

Drealgrin7
Drealgrin7

Crysis 2 was fantastic. But thanks to your average imbecilic game consumer who spent their mothers hard earned cash on cod black ops we have crysis 3 being developed into basically a carbon copy of crysis 2. Stupid consumers encourage stagnation when we could be getting technological marvels

Rigges
Rigges

Well, it is true that COD is getting most of its sales on previous success.  There was a period where the old Infinity Ward wanted to remove COD from COD:MW2 to set up a new franchise called Modern Warfare, but Activision refused as by their statistical analyses, removing COD would result in fewer sales.

 

For a game to break into this market now, it has to be very good and very different.  This results in a catch 22, because during times of economic recession, publishers are less likely to invest in something new and different and more likely to invest in a tried and tested formula that will guarantee success.

 

Another example in the history of Call of Duty, based on the original Infinity Ward having wanted to do Modern Warfare since Call of Duty 1, and not being allowed to because World War 2 was working.  It didn’t mean a modern warfare game wouldn’t work, as clearly it did eventually, it just meant at that time the publisher wasn’t willing to take risks.

 

The interesting thing is that this climate does leave room for indie developers, as the best chance of finding something really original is from a small budget operation that may or may not require a publisher.

RE2LeonS
RE2LeonS

Good, somebody give me some new survival/horror then

Alpr1010
Alpr1010

That's because other FPS's try to mimic CoD and they fail miserably, and they make bad games. I don't like CoD anymore, but it is still a great game even though they only change the setting in each game.

stomponyahead
stomponyahead

I blame the new generation of gamers and their conservative gaming ways. If it dont play like "This" game mentality is whats messing up the FPS market. Example: Perfect Dark Zero. because it didnt play like halo, nobody liked it. People these days cant adapt to change. :(

TrueGB
TrueGB

Did they ever consider the possibility that they were refused because the Timesplitters franchise, aside from the second game, didn't really sell that well in the first place?

dlCHIEF58
dlCHIEF58

Sounds like all the old Free Radical guys are doing nothing but whining lately. Between this guy and the other trashing Lucas Arts for supposedly sabotaging Battlefront 3, I am not sure what to think of them. Sounds like they are just mouthing off for attention, blaming others for their own shortcomings. 

Atheno
Atheno

I'm no expert but, working at a Gamestore my self, Crysis 2 was sold quite a bit. I'm pretty sure it made a profit. Big or small, well that is the real question. Sadly not everyone bought Haze though.......

chingchow48
chingchow48

Also, Halo is very profitable, as long with Medal Of Honor sold over 5 million units, this guy is just whinny that h isn't getting the go ahead from the publishers to make his project, if it was good enough, they couldn't say no man, I THINK BRINK WAS EVEN PROFITABLE! so his comments hold no merit!

chingchow48
chingchow48

Im pretty sure Crysis 2 made a profit, if it didnt they wouldnt be pushing out Crysis 3 so quickly, I mean Crysis 2 sold atleast 3 million units, probably closer to 4 actually... so I think this is a developer just whinning that no one wants to do his project and wont give it up

Skrewdriven
Skrewdriven

well can they blame us for not buying every single FPS that comes out, and there are TONS of them, they all tend to be the same, Crysis 2 was a pretty good game, but it was not as good as the first. 

sortajan
sortajan

was he telling the truth when he said crysis 2 lost money, or was he just making shit up? and what does he mean battlefield did "okay?"

MagicLango
MagicLango

I don't know whether it made a profit or not, but it would have sold more if EA let it go on Steam. I might have bought it in that case.

wyan_
wyan_

Is he exaggerating a bit? Did Crysis 2 really not make any profit?

GodOfSyn
GodOfSyn

I love Crysis 2.  Such a beautfiul game on PC in DX11 mode.

jayjay444
jayjay444

how about a game with the choice of play style, for example 1st and 3rd person views with the click of a button then u will get 3rd person gamer's and 1st person gamer's buying your game. I know i would like a game that changes views when i click a button not played one like that since battlefront 2 on the pc. just a though peeps probs isnt doable. 

VisualPendulum
VisualPendulum

I don't understand what these articles are suggesting. Does that mean that developers need to make games similar to Call of Duty to be successful? 

 

Considering I no longer enjoy playing Call of Duty, I would hate for developers to move on to CoD knock-offs. It's bad enough that the majority of comments I see for other shooters are berating them for being similar.

tsunami2311
tsunami2311

FPS genre is pretty much dead to me. COD/Halo/MW and all those killed it imo...

Norrie91
Norrie91

Its a sad day when more and more developers are admiting story based games don't sell well :(

 

I really hate most developers now. Forced Multiplayer, removing content for Day 1 DLC, half assed storys with no character development at all, no atmosphere.

 

Not all of us want a new COD every F***ing Day! And every game doesn't need MP to make it good!

Uchiha_Sasuke1
Uchiha_Sasuke1

Some of us gamers are suffering because of games being changed by unknown force. I think theres less organized gaming business going on and  are more none cooperation based on all the years of study that videogame developers  and law makers made.

santinegrete
santinegrete

If everyone in the industry thinks like this I'm guessing I'll see less adventure or story driven shooters like Singularity, Darkness and Metro and more militarized ones where you only shoot other gunmen. At least I'll be saving money because I just had enough of that. My wallet will vote that way and I hope disappointed fans of TS do so.

Thunderstarter
Thunderstarter

I miss Timesplitters; no other game allowed for such a customizable shooter experience. With the plethora of game modes, quirky characters, creative guns and stages, and even the ability to create your own stage from scratch gave the game extremely high replay value. It's a shame that the current market won't support it, but I definitely agree with Ellis on this one, and I personally would hate it if TS4 fell back on the shooter formula...it would ruin what Timesplitters stands for.

 

jordanlynn321
jordanlynn321

Timesplitters was never that great. I owned 1 and 2. There are still shooters that make money. Battlefield, call of duty, halo, crysis 2, far cry 2, portal 2, half life 2, left 4 dead 1 and 2,  Rainbow Six Vegas, Deus Ex, F.E.A.R. 1 2 and 3, Bioshock 1,2 and 3, and Metroid. All successfull. I think there are TOO MANY SHOOTERS NOW!!!

Jedilink109
Jedilink109

I think a lot of the problem is the ridiculous product models these big publishers keep doing.  Activision and their insane Call Of Duty Elite nonsense.  Pay an extra 50 for a game you already paid 60 for.  Ugh.  And on top of that I think that systems became much more powerful and developers weren't ready for such higher costs of development that more powerful systems require.  Hopefully this longer life of the current systems will allow dev costs to be able to catch up and not be so much higher than potential profits, although I do think new systems will be coming out somewhat soon anyway so that won't happen.  I think the technology is just more powerful than what allows for simple, cost effective development.  That's why we keep seeing the same games and sequelitis.  We keep seeing the same kinds of games and other games that pretty much rip off more popular ones in order to make more money.  New and entirely innovative games and game ideas are often shot down unless they can be made on an "independent game" kind of smaller scale.

 

This is hurting the industry and is one of the reasons we keep seeing the same things year after year lately.

jmc88888
jmc88888

They can also outlast everybody with their free debt funding, so there again is an unfair advantage that helps sets the market and standards, that only a few can achieve.

 

Wall Street picks winners and losers.  The winners are EA/Ubi/Activision, the rest, well you get the idea.

 

The whole gaming industry has gotten off track due to this free debt funding monopoly, which is only a microcosm of the entirety of monetary economics.  (no monetarism doesn't denote money, it's a specific ideology, thus don't think I'm saying free games)

 

Yep and there was quite a bit more lost due to the idiotic comment system. 

 

Wouldn't it of been better to have one nice post instead of all these ones that are still inferior to one bigger post?  Well that's the unintended consequences of a piss poor commenting system, whose limits were decided upon wrongly.

 

jmc88888
jmc88888

Here is the inferior 2nd part of the post not allowed by the bloatware facebook/twitter waste of space that didn't allow me to copy and paste, causing me to lose the rest of it, thus had to be remade, in an inferior manner.  Fix this crap.

 

So you have a case of family farm vs. big corporate agro farm.  They cannot compete.

 

Sure indie devs can make nice games, but let's face it, they are games that are in genres mostly 10 years or older, which are cheaper to make, and when glitzed up, doesn't cost nearly as much.

 

Now you have people like EA trying to gobble up that innovation with their free debt funding (remember the 1st post) because they have deep pockets, and can assimilate the slow trickle of innovation that can in any way threaten their Wall street corporate debt.

 

Glass-Steagall

American Credit System (note: not monetary system Keynesian or Austrian)

 

America was not founded as an Austrian monetarism, nor the Keynesian retarded version of monetarism, it wasn't monetary system AT ALL.  It was a CREDIT SYSTEM.

 

Otherwise you will continue to get such misallocations which manifest itself into society everywhere, including the gaming industry.

 

I had this 2nd part so much better, but again, the idiot constraints of this site prevented a much better overall, clearer, post.  How about a infinite character limit, so I don't even have to copy and paste into 2-3-4 or more posts, and wait a minute, risking losing everything due to more rules that only hinder discussion and solutions.

 

So as bad as EA is, don't forget the broad spectrum of idiocy extends far beyond just EA.

jmc88888
jmc88888

BTW get rid of this idiot comment limited by characters and stupid twitter facebook crap.

 

It just lost the 2nd half of the post that rounded it all out.  I'll try to remake it, but so many times crap gets lost because of this bloatware and copy and paste crap.

 

If you want answers, then ALLOW answers to be posted.  Your comment setup, doesn't allow it.

 

 

jmc88888
jmc88888

It's all economics.  Free debt isn't free.  What you are watching are the consequences.  Listen up or continue to not understand the obvious.

 

You see some companies can get debt funding like it's water, others can't.  Anyone guess which ones these are?  Hint: the ones that sell their soul to Wall Street and other economic 'hub' centers.

 

They push the envelopes and create a standard in some ways others can't match...but they become the same game over and over again.

 

The ones that want to take things in new directions, can't, because they can't be AAA like the others can (think all the ancillary things like explosions in action films), can't advertise on every channel for months, and thus the average person working like a slave doesn't have the time to spend to figure the difference.) They go by 'perception', like idiots, like how they've been ill-trained as sensory perception idiots, and like lemmings follow the path to their own detriment.

 

While the people here can obviously tell at least somewhat, most people don't care or don't have time to care and gain the knowledge necessary to judge these matters.

 

So in short, monetarism, just like everything else (monetarism is an ideology BTW) is crushing the game industry.   Big, fat, lazy corporations with free debt money rule the scene at the expense of smaller devs who simply cannot compete with the standard set.  The free debt money devs purposefully use this money PURPOSEFULLY to bloat their staffs and games with nice little side candy that does not really add to a game, but catches the eye of time constrained and idiot consumers who see on the surface that these games appear to be better, and thus those games are bought.  After all it's their competitive advantage.  A very unfair one, and one that does nothing but lead to misallocation.  Again they use the free debt funding they sold their souls to wall street via the screwed up rules of monetarism to set the standard bar artificially high to differentiate their games and make themselves virtually untouchable against competitors. It doesn't have to be perfect, because if anything falls through the cracks, a little more free debt funding is created out of thin air to gobble up the company or copy the idea.  In other words whatever threatens them can be neutered because they assimilate this into the fold because it is possible to do this since the pace of innovation that threatens them is but a trickle.

 



jayjay444
jayjay444

if it was only cod and battlefield making money on the fps market then why has halo made more money than the harry potter movies? some thing tells me your wrong........

minivirus2
minivirus2

He's more or less right, but I wouldn't say publishers aren't willing to take any chances. Borderlands did fantastic and part 2 will probably do even better. While it doesn't completely stray from the current mass-FPS mold, it's the most unique shooter I've played in recent memory. TS4 will have it's day... I hope.

Apastron
Apastron

This is gamers' fault in the end for not buying the likes of Vanquish and other FPS games that take a risk and dare to be different.  We're our own worst enemy.