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.

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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.
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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pakhair

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Edited By pakhair

It's true at times, nothing but Bulletstorm comes to mind, great concepts but very few people played it

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BlackLense

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Edited By BlackLense

Because most fps games nowadays are to short, around 5~6 hours of gameplay...Next time focus on main single player campaign than multiplayer...

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wowwow27

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Edited By wowwow27

@BlackLense what games were that short?

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dlCHIEF58

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Edited By dlCHIEF58

@wowwow27 @BlackLense

Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops both are about that short on the single player side. Modern Warfare 3 is not much (if any) longer.

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Raxyman

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Edited By Raxyman

Crytek is really losing my respect. Y'know why FPS games don't sell well? It isn't fault of the BFs and the CoDs. It's YOUR own **** fault and every company who tries to copy the formula of those two for profits.

Look at 2K and Valve. Every shooter they've made have their own personality. Is Bioshock or Borderlands a waste of money? Is Left 4 Dead or Team Fortress 2 making Valve lose money? Stupid idiots, how people like THEM got into CEO and i'm having a hard time finding a job?

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pakhair

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Edited By pakhair

@Raxyman You are somewhat right and somewhat wrong except for Bioshock, all of these are massive MP games and their core selling point was MP, not outstanding design

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Orgil220

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Edited By Orgil220

@Raxyman Couldn't agree more

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Michformer

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Edited By Michformer

What happened to the days where creativity was the main focus and not profit? I can't believe what I'm reading! TimeSplitters is the greatest game I've ever played in my life! And because of those greedy bastards (Activision, EA...), Crytek UK is being fed lies. Profit is a dishonest goal: creativity is the future of gaming! If you're with me, do yourself a favor and click on the following link: http://www.change.org/petitions/crytek-uk-continue-developing-timesplitters-4

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chikahiro94

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Edited By chikahiro94

@Michformer I think this is really the ugly side of this generation: costs to produce a visually competent game have gotten so high that its stifling creativity. No company in their right minds are going to spend tens of millions of dollars to make and promote a game that they think will lose money. And, certainly, over the years I've seen gamers vote with their wallets for more and more sequels, passing up on excellent, original titles they weren't familiar with or, more unforgivingly, weren't quite perfect.

Creativity is a goal, but profit (or at least breaking even) has to accompany it to get big-budget investment. If gamers would settle for significantly lesser graphics, they could likely do a Time Splitters 4. But then you'd have to kiss the retail console market good-bye, because it would likely flop there.

Honestly, your petition is well intentioned, but won't do a thing. Try asking CryTek/Free Radical if they would try a Kickstarter? That'd be something else. I bet they could make a really great Timesplitters for "only" $10 million (same estimated price as Metal Gear Solid 2). You can hit that if 16,667 people pledge $60 each. Sure, it would likely have last-gen graphics, would likely have to be on PSN, XBLA, and PC (Steam), but you'd get your game.

TL;DR? Ask them for at least the chance to put your money where your mouth is.

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RAHBRT

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Edited By RAHBRT

I don't understand how these Developers, mad that their game doesn't sell, think they're going to take on the Mobile market like its any easier. If it isnt Angry Birds or a PopCap game, it isn't going to sell on there either. Obviously no one else who is stil lat Crytek thinks what he thinks since they're making Crisis 3. Maybe they should take notes from DICE, since Bad Company 1 and 2 didn't sell anywhere near BF3 has. Timesplitters 4 could of been the next COD or BF3. Way to sell yourself short.

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badiie05

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Edited By badiie05

Very true, no fps will sell these days if it doesn't have call of duty on it.

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aletepes

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Edited By aletepes

@badiie05 I didn't buy any Call of Duty games, played some on PS3, but they aren't worth buying. lol

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rbur16

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Edited By rbur16

I really think the FPS genre went downhill when the focus went solely to online multiplayer. look at half life and timesplitters. they are solid single player experiences. now, the focus is on doing a 5 hour half hearted single player campaign and leave the rest to multiplayer. this is probably profitable on xbox where people pay to play online....but how is this profitable on ps3 where its free? everything nowadays is based on online multiplayer, which I do enjoy sometimes. however, i do miss the old days of a great FPS single player campaign. But I grew up playing FPS's like medal of honor on PSX....and even doom on the pc; so my opinion is skewed.

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FireWolfRage

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Edited By FireWolfRage

I'll add one more comment. This whole situation just mystifies me. The 1st Homefront wasn't that good. I hear they are making a sequel. Red Faction 1 and 2 were awesome, but when they switched to 3rd person I hated it. I have some high hopes for Aliens Colonial Marines. Halo 4 will probably be epic, and every year we get a new COD. Take a look at some of the games from the past and bring them forward like Timesplitters. All that I'm saying is there is more than just your COD's and Battlefields every year... Far Cry 3 probably won't be intresting either.

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GOGOGOGURT

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Edited By GOGOGOGURT

This is terrible though, it makes me even more angry at Call of Duty. Why don't people think for themselves?

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aletepes

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Edited By aletepes

@GOGOGOGURT Hate the player(s) not the game, old school term reversed.

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hadlee73

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Edited By hadlee73

He missed a key component of his pitch. Steve Ellis: "Ummm... There'll be zombies in it..." Publisher: "Okay, we're in!"

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fightingfish18

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Edited By fightingfish18

Alright that's it. I'm done. I'm gonna go play some serious Sam, doom, quake, timesplitters 2 and 3, and unreal tournament. Classic shooters. Something not pseudo military.

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GOGOGOGURT

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Edited By GOGOGOGURT

HALO is very profitable.

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NightFox313

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Edited By NightFox313

Quite a shame how the only FPS titles that are making !! This saddens me.

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gamerx100

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Edited By gamerx100

i found this to be preplexing, if cyrsis 1, 2 lost a large sum of money,then how in the world were crytek afford to buy out his studio? if that's correct then, only Activison and EA should still be in business. however, that's clearly not the case. these dev are not telling us the whole truth.

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chikahiro94

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Edited By chikahiro94

@gamerx100 Crytek licenses out their graphics engine. Like id's pre-Bethesda games as well as Epic's titles, one can argue that their games are there to serve as a tech-demo that also is a game. Certainly, Unreal Engine has made a ton of money for Epic, and the various Doom and Quake engines made a lot of money for id.

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tachsniper

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Edited By tachsniper

the whole "play it safe" mentality is great for profits but chokes off innovation and evolution. Best thing to do if you want to stagnate is play it safe.

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Tsuchikage

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Edited By Tsuchikage

Halo still makes money. As far as getting a new FPS to be profitable, though, it's all about setting a reasonable budget for the project. TimeSplitters 4 isn't going to sell like Call of Duty, Halo, and Battlefield, sure, but it also shouldn't have a $100 million budget with a gigantic marketing push like those games have.

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FireWolfRage

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Edited By FireWolfRage

The death of another franchise cause of being overshadowed by Cod and Battlefield. This is just ridiculous. Timesplitters wasn't some watered down shooter, it had substance to it. If Timesplitters, Cod and Battlefield all released games this fall I would buy Timesplitters 1st. I hope I'm not the only one that thinks this way?

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Rangaboi124

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Edited By Rangaboi124

@FireWolfRage if they were all to come out, i most likly wouldn't buy CoD at all, that franchise has been going down hill since MW2...

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rbur16

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Edited By rbur16

In Timesplitters 2 you were in a snowy fortress, the old west, an airplane hangar, a space station, a church, the 1940's tons of variety! in every FPS now its just some bland variation of a middle eastern country....boring! but for some reason it still sells. i just dont get it.

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Rangaboi124

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Edited By Rangaboi124

@rbur16 'cos 'maricans gets to shoot dem terrorist's!!!

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Texasguy

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Edited By Texasguy

I get what he is saying about publishers not wanting to take risks but to say only Battlefield and Call of Duty make money is ridiculous. No one makes Call of Duty money accept for certain Nintendo IP's. That is the way it is. Saying 5 million in sales didn't make money because they weren't 20 million in sales is dismissing the success you did have. I'm pretty sure Halo, Crysis, Killzone, Fear, Medal of Honor, Resistance, Gears of War etc have made some level of profit for them to keep putting them out.

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danwesoly

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Edited By danwesoly

Just made a twitter account to bring together Timesplitters fans alike! follow me @Timesplitting Maybe we can show publishers that Timesplitters is a big thing!

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im2cool123

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Edited By im2cool123

wanna sell like cod? make all your shooters simple, less unique and be very accessible to every 8 year old with an xbox

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Strydarr

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Edited By Strydarr

Risk = different. Exactly what we need. Take a break with Crysis. Revive Timesplitters.

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weisguy119

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Edited By weisguy119

@brucecambell - I was actually referring to the publishers but this guy is full of it. There's no way "pretty much every FPS loses money". If they did, the whole genre would die out like rhythm games did.

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rbur16

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Edited By rbur16

Its unfortunate that gaming companies only care about profit margins now. Obviously, all game companies want to make some money, we all do. I just feel bad for the new generation of gamers who won't get to enjoy the niche games, or amazing games from smaller developers simply because its not "profitable" to develop and release them. until the herd stops buying the same call of duty year after year, no one is going to take any chances and put out something new. I mean, if everyone keeps shelling out 60 bucks for a call of duty every year, and people buy it, what incentive do companies have to innovate and take risks.

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Duke_51

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Edited By Duke_51

@soxsfan4life34 How 'bout Doom? Or Wolfenstein? It certainly has come a long way since then... whether that's a good thing or not, I'm not sure.

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ArabrockermanX

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Edited By ArabrockermanX

He's right... Although I don't see how this has became a "lol hes a crappy developer". When developers like Free Radical(now part of Crytek) try and do something different they can't get funding because every publisher wants the next CoD not the next new game. Unfortunately publishers are unknowingly killing off a genre because the reality is there's only 1 CoD it makes it off name recognition in order for new shooters to be successful they have to bring something new to the table.

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AyatollaofRnR

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Edited By AyatollaofRnR

He's right that there isn't much room in the AAA high budget market when COD takes a majority and Battlefield and Halo take up the rest. I think COD will run its course soon enough, perhaps opening the door for different experiences.

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meluvulongtime8

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Edited By meluvulongtime8

Have to wonder what his definition of success is if Battlefield did just okay?? Highly doubt they made sequels to Resistance, Killzone, FEAR, Halo, Bioshock, and Borderlands if they lost money on each development cycle

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soxsfan4life34

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Edited By soxsfan4life34

@thewastedyouth. Halo wasn't the first fps so it didn't start this fps thing if anything did it was golden eye

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Viliny

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Edited By Viliny

@soxsfan4life34 Yeah, Nintendo 64's Goldeneye surely was the groundwork for first person shooters. I mean come on! Just because someone happens to be born in 2001, doesn't mean family guy was the origin of all modern animations.

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phatsanta

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Edited By phatsanta

@thewastedyouth um what?

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rbur16

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Edited By rbur16

maybe im just showing my age, but Timesplitters 2 was my favorite FPS of all time. Call of Duty doesnt come close to it. Its a shame that the series hasn't continued. for me at least.

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juggernaut5

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Edited By juggernaut5

@doug123 future perfect !! all of em

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DontEatCream

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Edited By DontEatCream

There's a couple of things I want to say: 1. Crysis 2 sold over 3 million copies. That's not a failure at all. 2. A lot of people saw Crysis 2 as CoD-with-a-nanosuit, and that worked against the game. In other words, if they didn't streamline the game and actually made it more different, they could have garnered more interest and sold more copies. That's just my opinion though.

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aletepes

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Edited By aletepes

@DontEatCream I actually seen it as more of a Halo wannabe, with it's "Super-suit", played the first once, that was enough for me to say no to it, while the mechanics were fresh at the time, I seen better games without the insane requirements it wanted at the time.

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aletepes

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Edited By aletepes

@DontEatCream So the pitch for their engine, made me say "Meh"

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kiramasaki

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Edited By kiramasaki

@darn I get your point, but you must understand, thats how the world of public opinion works - some nobody at Nike was laughing at the fact D Rose got hurt wearing Addidas, made the whole company look bad; fact is this guy said this and nobody else at the company said anything to counter it, if it was such an unpopular opinion at Crytek someone would have said, listen here brother thats not cool; Im honestly probably gonna play Crysis 2 at some point anyway, but someone at Crytek needs to tell this people to stop putting foot in mouth

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ColdfireTrilogy

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Edited By ColdfireTrilogy

He uses crysis 2 as an example? Yes lets chose a watery console port as an example of a fine top tier game that failed ...

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WarGameJunkie

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Edited By WarGameJunkie

The fact is that many FPS are simply bad games. I wanted to love Homefront, I purchased it on day one because I was extremely excited about the story. Unfortunately the game was four or five hours long and left me saying "That's it?" and feeling ripped off. Battlefield was a very good game and it sold well. Homefront wasn't and it bombed after a day or two. I also wanted to like the Operation Flashpoint games but they're so unforgiving I give up in frustration and most gamers probably don't even try them. Again, develop a better game and it'll sell more. Additionally, maybe developers who aren't putting out a AAA FPS should try to increase overall sales by pricing their game at $40 and release at a dead time in the calendar. If they did that they might be able to break even...if their game is good.

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Setho10

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Edited By Setho10

@shadow580 - In almost all cases companies spend more marketing the game than actually making it. The budget for Call of Duty for example is around $50 million at most, or half of its marketing budget. Imagine if they spent that money on the game itself. But then it wouldn't sell and in the end it is all about sales.