Free Radical co-founder Steve Ellis has urged development studios to steer clear of producing first-person shooters. Ellis, whose development company created the Timesplitters series, feels that publishers are no longer interested in shooters that aren’t called Call of Duty or Battlefield, and he revealed that almost everything else just loses money.
Before starting Free Radical, Ellis worked at Rare and developed the multiplayer element for the hugely successful Goldeneye 64 for the Nintendo 64. However, he turned his back on shooters and sold Free Radical to Crytek after trying for a whole year to get Timesplitters 4 published with little success.
“Nobody really buys any FPSes unless they’re called Call of Duty,” Ellis said during a recent interview with Edge. “I guess Battlefield did okay, but aside from that pretty much every FPS loses money.”
Ellis noted that Crysis 2 was a “great game,” but that it came nowhere near recouping its development costs. It’s the same story for many shooters, and so publishers just aren’t interested in backing them anymore.
“I spent the whole of 2008 going round talking to publishers trying to sign up Timesplitters 4,” Ellis revealed. “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.”
Ellis is now developing iOS games with his new studio, Crash Labs, and says he’ll leave FPS development to younger developers fresh out of university.
What do you think about Ellis’s comments? Are you interested in shooters that aren’t called Call of Duty or Battlefield?