"We Had Released Haze"
We want Timesplitters 4. So do you. But back in 2009, no publisher would touch it.
TimeSplitters co-creator Steve Ellis and Crytek UK’s Karl Hilton reckons that it would have been difficult to market... and that you're only as good as your last game. Which, in this case, was Haze.
“TimeSplitters 4 was in the very early stages of development when Free Radical went into administration," Ellis told gamesTM Magazine [via Nintendo Everything]. "A small playable demo was shown to several publishers, but it didn’t attract any publishing deals.”
Hilton explained that publishers had two main concerns, the first of which was the critical and commercial reception of much-hyped but ultimately lacklustre PS3 shooter Haze.
“We pitched it to a lot of publishers,” he said. “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."
The difficulty in marketing a game set in numerous time periods and featuring many graphical/gameplay styles was also perceived as an issue. Apparently the original Timesplitters and its sequel made much less money than expected despite us critics going mad for it.
“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 CEO Cervat Yerli recently proposed that that they might consider creating a Timesplitters HD Collection if an online petition reaches 300,000 signatures.