Console Crysis was 'inevitable'

Q&A: Crytek CEO says developer spent nearly three years of R&D to ensure that Xbox 360 and PS3 editions of first-person shooter series would live up to company's standards.

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Console gamers have been waiting years for Crytek's Crysis series to make its long-awaited living room debut. At last week's Electronic Entertainment Expo, Electronic Arts announced that the German developer's signature series would arrive in stores for the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 as part of the EA Partners program. Crytek CEO and president Cevat Yerli and EA Partners GM David DeMartini spoke with GameSpot after the announcement, with Yerli explaining the reasons behind the developer's multiplatform move.

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"It's a question of more than economics," Yerli explained. "At the end of the day we're paying salaries and we all have to live, but that's one side of this job. But most importantly and a bit more tangible to us are the families, the nephews, and sons who ask, 'Why aren't you going to consoles?' It's kind of like bothering people. We've been asked a lot in the last three or four years now, 'When consoles? When consoles? When consoles?' It was literally inevitable that we would bring it."

Despite that inevitability, Yerli insists the company wouldn't commit to a console Crysis 2 unless it could live up to the reputation established with benchmark-setting efforts like Crysis and Far Cry. It showed that it could at the 2009 Game Developers Conference, when it showed off impressive tech demos of the CryEngine 3 running on both the PS3 and Xbox 360. (Video of demo below.)

"There was 2 to 3 years of technical research and development into consoles before development on Crysis 2 started," Yerli said. "We had to make a technological breakthrough before we could commit to those quality bars. ... We had to make a technical base before we could get into great gameplay, story, settings, etc."

DeMartini lauded Yerli for the discipline needed to balk at cranking out substandard editions of Crysis or Crysis: Warhead for console crowds, empathizing with what he is sure was a difficult choice.

"It would be almost like a filmmaker making a film, but it doesn't get to show on 2,000 screens," DeMartini said. "You only get to show it on 600 screens, and Europe doesn't get to see it. This is game making, and we're trying to make money, but their creative souls is what they put into these products and to have other groups of the audience that can't enjoy what they spent so long to create is frustrating."

That frustration may soon be a thing of the past, but Crytek still faces a number of challenges before Crysis 2 launches, not the least of which will be taking full advantage of the hardware and features on three different platforms. While Yerli wouldn't discuss specific differences between the PC and console versions of the game, he left the door open for significant differences to exist.

"One thing you can be sure of is that we need to compete within each platform," Yerli said. "If we want to be successful, our game has to be the best game that can exist on Xbox 360 and PS3. They're not competing versus each other; they're competing within PS3, within 360, within PC. That means we will try to maximize whatever PC gives us, whatever 360 gives us, whatever PS3 gives us. The achievement systems, trophies, etc. are all slightly different, but we'll try to get the maximum service for the gamer at the end of the day."

The "end of the day" may still be a ways off. Just announced last week, Crysis 2 doesn't even have an announced release window yet.

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