Crytek bought series developer Free Radical in 2008, following the studio's closure. At the time, TimeSplitters 4 couldn't find a publisher because its story was too complex, series co-creator Steve Ellis and Karl Hilton, a former Free Radical staffer now at Crytek UK, tell GamesTM.
"TimeSplitters 4 was in the very early stages of development when Free Radical went into administration," Ellis says. "A small playable demo was shown to several publishers, but it didn't attract any publishing deals."
Hilton says Free Radical's FPS flop, Haze, contributed to publisher hesitancy. Marketing people would play the demo, and then ask what happened with Haze, stressing a lack of trust in the studio.
"Secondly, their marketing person would say something alone the lines of, 'I don't know how to sell this,'" Hilton says. "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."
Earlier this year Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli said that public interest in TimeSplitters 4 was high, but "not high enough yet."