Shooters don’t make money, says Timesplitters dev

TS4Japanese developers are convinced that there’s no space on the market for anything other than shooters – because those are the only games that sell well (forgetting for a moment how phenomenally Skyrim performed at retail). Steve Ellis, co-founder of Free Radical – the company behind Haze and Timesplitters – says that’s true.

But only if your shooter is called Call of Duty or Battlefield.


“Nobody really buys any FPSes unless they’re called Call Of Duty,” he said to Edge.“I guess Battlefield did okay, but aside from that pretty much every FPS loses money.”

He cites Crysis 2 – a game unfortunately saddled with the unwanted accolade of being the most pirated game ever – as an example.

” I mean, Crysis 2: great game,” he said “ but there’s no way it came anywhere close to recouping its dev costs.”

According to Torrentfreak and EA, more copies of Crysis 2 were illegally downloaded than purchased – the PC version of the game alone was downloaded nearly 4 million times, while the game had only sold 3 million copies on all platforms. that’s a problem – but if your game sells 3 million copies and fails to make any money, then there’s something quite seriously wrong with the game industry’s business model.

The gist of Ellis’ statement is that we won’t be seeing any pistol-whipping monkeys in Timesplitters 4 any time soon.

“I spent the whole of 2008 going round talking to publishers trying to sign up Timesplitters 4,” he 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.”

While it may be true that publishers only seem to want to back modern combat shooters that guarantee profits, maybe nobody wanted to back Timesplitters 4 as punishment for releasing Haze. Free Radical has since been bought by Crysis developer Crytek, with Ellis forming his own mobile gaming company, Crash Lab.

For reference, here are the top selling games for 2011 in the US, according to the NPD.

1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (360, PS3, Wii, PC)
2. Just Dance 3 (Wii, 360, PS3)
3. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (360, PS3, PC)
4. Battlefield 3 (360, PS3, PC)
5. Madden NFL 12 (360, PS3, Wii, PSP, PS2)
6. Call of Duty: Black Ops (360, PS3, Wii, NDS, PC)
7. Batman: Arkham City (360, PS3, PC)
8. Gears of War 3 (360)
9. Just Dance 2 (Wii)
10. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (360, PS3, PC)

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Author:Geoffrey Tim

I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.


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