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Developer: "Nobody Buys Any FPS Not Named Call Of Duty"

Think all developers need to do is make a shooter and rake in the cash? Think again.

Co-founder and former MD of TimeSplitters developer Free Radical Software (since absorbed to become part of Crytek UK) Steve Ellis told Edge that "pretty much every FPS loses money."

Ellis also handled the multiplayer aspect of the immensely popular N64 classic GoldenEye, so he's quite familiar with the genre. Now, though, he wants to move beyond FPSs because no publisher is willing to take a risk and break free of the standard military/Call of Duty mold. Said Ellis:

"I spent the whole of 2008 going round talking to publishers trying to sign up Timesplitters 4. 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.

Nobody really buys any FPSes unless they're called Call Of Duty. I guess Battlefield did okay, 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."

That's an interesting comment concerning Crysis 2, which was critically revered and sold pretty well, and Crysis 3 has been confirmed for 2013. So maybe it's not entirely true that every single shooter not entitled "Call of Duty" loses out. That being said, Ellis' statements are still bound to turn heads throughout the industry.

Tags: fps, first person shooters, gaming, game industry

5/2/2012 8:31:54 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (55 posts)

Zemus101
Wednesday, May 02, 2012 @ 8:49:57 PM
Reply

Sounds like the guy's just a little bit frustrated he can't get funding for the game. I would of been interested in a new Timesplitters, and I've never played a Call of Duty in my life :P But I'm just one person? Apparently.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, May 02, 2012 @ 10:47:50 PM

I bet he could get funding to make it a Wii game.

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Highlander
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 9:42:07 AM

Perhaps, but there is at least a grain of truth to what he's saying and it does chime in rather well with yesterday's piece about a game like CoD with it's hyper success distorting the industry and potentially harming diversity.

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Twistedfloyd
Wednesday, May 02, 2012 @ 9:03:40 PM
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I think that there is room for other FPS, but as a developer you must be wary of your competition. COD is a juggernaut, and some publishers aren't willing to bet on other FPS, but plenty of other FPS do very well. KZ3 (an exclusive) sold over 2 million copies. BF3 did well, Crysis 2 sold well, too.

Homefront sold decently, but the market is taken up by COD, and until that dies a bit, it'll be hard for any other FPS to take the crown. But that does not mean there isn't money to be made by other FPS developers.

Lest we forget Halo as well....

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Norrin Radd
Wednesday, May 02, 2012 @ 9:49:14 PM
Reply

Them grapes is sour.......

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Clamedeus
Wednesday, May 02, 2012 @ 10:39:08 PM

Mmm Grapes.

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kokoro
Wednesday, May 02, 2012 @ 10:10:59 PM
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To all the people stigmatizing COD critics: this is exactly the sort of damage that we have feared all along. Now one of the funnest FPS titles ever can't even get funded because it deviates too much from the standard COD formula.

Of course I completely admit, as a rampant raging COD basher, that I may take my criticisms too far. But speaking out is really the only thing you can do. It's either that or remain silent so as to not burden the conscience of the mainstream gaming public.

So to all the COD lovers out there who are sick of our complaining: Please let us scream. We are witnessing the destruction of many aspects of gaming which we hold very dear.

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Jed
Wednesday, May 02, 2012 @ 11:24:45 PM

I would like to multiply my thumbs up for this comment by a thousand, but I don't feel like creating a thousand e-mail addresses and registering them all to PSXEXTREME. That would take a lot of time.

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Highlander
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 9:55:32 AM

lol, I wish this comment system allowed custom titles for users, then you would be forever more "Rampant Raging COD Basher". Awesome title.

I agree 100% with you BTW. The shooter craze that started with games like the original Halo is hurting the industry. CoD is like the logical end point, a game so successful because of it's success (gotta love the herd mentality). Now other shooters cannot compete because the herd will not move and publishers are afraid to take the risk of investing in a game that attempts to overcome that inertia.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, May 02, 2012 @ 10:36:56 PM
Reply

There's your evidence folks, Cod does some good for the industry but when it comes to titles that don't conform to its brand of customer appeal, it cripples originality in the industry.

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Beamboom
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 1:26:14 AM

The way I see it it's quite the contrary: Make a COD clone and your chances are nill. It's the shooters that *differ* from the COD formula that gets noticed (Battlefield, Borderlands, Crysis to name but three) while the copy-cats never stand a snowballs chance in hell.

Let's hope the Japanese also realize this someday!


Last edited by Beamboom on 5/3/2012 1:33:03 AM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 2:58:10 AM

I'm applying it to the broader picture of gaming today as it has become abundantly clear that the action heavy Codstravaganza and its huge sales have gimped more than just other FPS's but games across all genres.

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Beamboom
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 5:41:23 AM

And I disagree there!
I don't see this gimping at all. Quite the contrary, what I see is better games than I've ever seen before. Not only are the shooters better, but all genres: Platformers, RPGs, puzzles, action adventures, sports games, not to mention all the exciting new cross-genre games.
Never has more amazing quality games been released as a higher rate than now. 2011 was like the best year in decades!

Last edited by Beamboom on 5/3/2012 5:42:49 AM

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Dustinwp
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 8:54:10 AM

I agree with World here. Ever since COD:Modern Warfare every game that should be single player has to now have some kind of multi-player component. And resources that should be spent on more single player is being wasted on half ass multi-player additions.
The fact this guy couldn't get funding for a cult classic series is just more proof. I'll believe someone who works in the industry over some nameless COD internet defenders.
Developers want to make original games, unfortunately it's the publishers who want every game to sell like COD. Publishers expecting COD sales with every game release is the negative impact COD has on the industry.

Last edited by Dustinwp on 5/3/2012 9:06:01 AM

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Beamboom
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 1:25:25 PM

Dude, multiplayer is a feature that goes *way* beyond just the cod style competitive mp style, and mp being integrated in games now has next to nothing to do with COD. If anything online play has much more to do with fighting used games sale and expand the games sales potential.

And the business will ALWAYS try to reach the sales of the top seller. Had there been no COD and Final Fantasy happened to be the worlds most sold franchise it would be the exact same, "everyone" would then reach for those sales numbers. Again, it has nothing to do with COD directly, it's just how the business works. Everyone wants a top seller. The name of the game on the #1 spot is completely irrelevant.


Last edited by Beamboom on 5/3/2012 1:28:25 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 2:03:47 PM

It's difficult to actually pin down which trends CoD forced onto the rest of the industry, but what we do have to go on are the constant mentions of Cod by other companies in their remarks (Square Enix being a major offender) who we can then "square" with failed changes in franchises that for some reason (for me, presumably the Cod influence) went totally off script and swapped in action in favor of traditional gameplay.

I agree that we have the best quality games ever but I don't attribute that to the competition of call of duty.

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Comic Shaman
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 2:19:03 PM

I very much agree with World on this one.

To me, COD is to the video game world as Twilight is to the fiction world... except even more so. Sure, Twilight has hordes of fans, tons of imitators, and has set a high bar for what a profitable fiction series is about. All to be expected.

BUT, if you had other major successful authors out there like Stephen King or John Grisham looking at Twilight and saying "I need to write more like Stephanie Meyer because her books made more money than mine," that would be a problem.

And that's kind of what we're seeing in the world of video games. COD has cast such a large shadow that it's skewing the mindset developers who have no business imitating the series.

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Dustinwp
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 2:19:55 PM

Dude, GTA 4 was a huge success and I don't remember every publisher and their moms referencing it in interviews or trying to copy GTA. It's only irrelevant in your opinion.

What you say is not fact nor do you have the credibility of someone who works in the industry. I constantly hear COD brought up by developers and publishers in interviews. And that's fact! The fact is COD is on their brains, which may or may not play a roll in the direction Devs/Pubs take their products. I would think since it's on the their minds it would have an influence on their product.

By the way, their has never been a game that's had the amount of success as COD. That's the difference between Final Fantasy's 6-7 million copies sold, compared to COD 20+ million copies sold.

I just wanted to give my thoughts on the matter and will end my comments here. I don't claim to know it all like SOME people on this site.

Last edited by Dustinwp on 5/3/2012 2:22:57 PM

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jimmyhandsome
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 2:23:02 PM

I think the whole "CoD and multiplayer" boom is alot like the chicken or the egg argument. High speed internet access becoming increasingly more accessible to the masses, along with a strong focus for online MP (mostly by MS, then by Sony) was bound to catch on eventually. If it wasn't CoD that exploited online gaming, it'd be another title. Developers adding online multiplayer to their franchises, I think, is a GOOD thing. But I do like online gaming. It adds another diminsion, and more importantly, a lot of replayability to the title.

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unapersson
Friday, May 04, 2012 @ 1:12:24 AM

I'm always surprised that developers are so keen on multiplayer, unless it allows them to sell lots of maps like COD then surely it's a big money drain. It also means that a successful multiplayer game grab lots of play time from other titles, less gaming hours for other games means less sales for other games.

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shadowscorpio
Wednesday, May 02, 2012 @ 11:00:51 PM
Reply

THe irony! lol! You know, maybe CoD will become so big that they leave the console gaming environment and take it to a massive virtual reality platform. Maybe then, balance will be restored.

I don't remember. Was CoD this big of a deal last console gen? And if not, what in the hell happened this gen?

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, May 02, 2012 @ 11:10:56 PM

Readily available online multiplayer happened. It was a popular game last gen but it wasn't an out of control populist movement.

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karneli lll
Wednesday, May 02, 2012 @ 11:19:56 PM

People dropped their standards

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Highlander
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 9:51:16 AM

People enjoy shooting friends and strangers in multiplayer shooters. I don't entirely understand it, personally I prefer co-op online play without PvP. But obviously I am a wuss, otherwise I would enjoy obliterating my friends avatar with an M60.

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Beamboom
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 1:27:09 PM

Nonesense, Highlander. Coop play IS the most fun online play there is, that is just a fact. Storyline coop mode FTW! :)

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Excelsior1
Wednesday, May 02, 2012 @ 11:17:03 PM
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Is this COD week or what? My God, the entire industry has to be evaluated through some sort of COD lens which is exactly why the series generates backlash from gamers. This sort of thing just isn't healthy whether it comes from developers or the gaming media in general.

BF3 sold over 10 million copies the last time I checked. Halo has sold even more. I guess they don't count.

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Underdog15
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 9:19:36 AM

Yes. It is CoD week. It's the only well known title to be announced this week. Obviously, with a new CoD title being announced in a time few other games are being announced, (certainly nothing major) it's going to eat up news feeds.

I'm not sure why you're surprised.

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UbiEaActisuck
Wednesday, May 02, 2012 @ 11:30:52 PM
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If he put TS 4 up on Kickstarter he might be surprised at the support. Just because major publisher are afraid to lose money doesn't mean the true fans will abandon them if he really wanted to pursue the project. Timesplitters had some of the best local co-op when it came out and lots of people still like to sit in the same room with friends to enjoy a game.

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Rogueagent01
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 6:24:28 AM

Unfortunately the majority of these developers don't seem to know of the existence of KickStarter. Its to bad too, since they could essentially cut ties with these bull***t publishers and make the games they want with the proper amount of time needed by just asking the fans for the funding. If the game was good then many fans would be willing to support them.

Well thought ideas are becoming very easy to fund nowadays and his comments just seem to be a way of shifting the blame.

And when I say BS publishers I mean the grueling time frames and speed at which these pubs want these devs to make a bugless/glitchless/top selling game. Not that they are all "evil" or anything like that.

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Ludicrous_Liam
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 10:35:22 AM

Thing is though, fans start to think that they are the publisher, and start making demands (a bit like the whole Mass Effect 3 fiasco).

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Rogueagent01
Friday, May 04, 2012 @ 1:04:24 AM

See I actually disagree there Liam. The fans are customers and have the right to basically make demands, however the developers have the choice whether to impliment them or not. In some cases the fans make good demands though in most cases they are ludicrous demands, see what I did there;)

What I am getting at is fans already do that anyway. And if the devs ignore them and yet make a good game they will still be able to ask for funding down the road. And if they make a bad game and didn't cater to the fans well then kickstarter won't be able to save them. To me it is still a great option for those in the industry that know they have a winning game on their hands. In the long run your fans funding will be determined by the products you released using their money so it should take care of itself, at least in my opinion.

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Ludicrous_Liam
Friday, May 04, 2012 @ 4:31:26 AM

Haha, I did see what you did thar xD (I'm little dissapointed though - I was gunna counteract that, but theres no potential puns in your name. :l)

I get what you're saying, but I imagine the developers would rather have a reliable source i.e. a well-known publisher to support their game.

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Rogueagent01
Friday, May 04, 2012 @ 7:58:09 PM

I guess you could have said something along the lines of the devs don't want to go rogue from their publishers just yet ;)

I see what you're saying and at this time it probably is the best thing to stick with the publishers. I know kickstarter is still relatively new and I don't expect these devs to jump ship for a couple more years. Once the kickstarter idea not site is full fledged though, they can do what they want as there will be security with the kickstarter idea, but right now it is still a little iffy.

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Beamboom
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 1:29:51 AM
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Ahh - finally someone within the business said this. Let's hope even the Japanese take notice now!

I've said often said that the riskiest thing you can do as a developer these days is to make a shooter, cause the competition is just too darn stiff. It's quite logical, really.

There is a much better chance of success if you make a product that is something else than a shooter, or at the very least a new twist to the old fps formula.


Last edited by Beamboom on 5/3/2012 1:31:36 AM

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Highlander
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 9:49:20 AM

Beamboom, I think the problem is that with CoD, you're not really competing against the game itself, you're competing with the herd mentality of the gamers that follow it so religiously. You could have a technically superior game, with better story and character, and great online. But your game isn't up against CoD in a straight comparison for which is the better game. Your game is up against the inertia of the (what is it now 20+ million copies?) absolutely massive CoD audience that plays that game and specifically that game because all the members of their herd....sorry, all their friends are already playing it. For another game to break into that it has to convince enough members of that audience to move to it that the rest of the herd will turn and follow. Otherwise your game is doomed to minor recognition and possible commercial failure.

Last edited by Highlander on 5/3/2012 9:49:45 AM

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Beamboom
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 1:35:13 PM

That is true, the amount of players is critical to these kind of games, and that's what makes COD such a giant and incredibly hard to beat. Only, I think that's all fine!

Cause that means that devs have to think DIFFERENT than just plain action multiplayer gameplay. Ergo: Hello creativity, I welcome thee. So, instead of multiple clones with each their own little crowd of players, essentially flooding the market with copycat gameplay and fighting each other, we now got the situation where we got TWO kings of mp gaming (I'd also like to add Battlefield here), so we get a lot of other shooters who are DIFFERENT instead, cause that's the way to get a market share, not as a direct competitor but as something that COD is *not*!

Let's use Borderlands as an example. As far as I recall that game was originally meant to be a more realistic fps with a more regular multiplayer component. Only, that didn't make the game DIFFERENT enough, so they decided to change the style and graphics. So because of the competition, instead we ended up getting the Borderlands we know and many of us love.

And how can that be bad?


Last edited by Beamboom on 5/3/2012 1:39:47 PM

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Ignitus
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 3:24:21 AM
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I feel sorry for that guy and has no credibility to me because he clearly has no idea of what he is talking about. There are several FPS coming this year and most are sequels.

We all know that if a game doesn't make money there will not be a sequel, yet we are getting Crysis 3, Halo 4, Bioshock Infinite, heck even Borderlands (love it) sold well enough to get a release this year, so he clearly has no idea.

Too bad Haze didn't sell well or at all but I heard it was crap.

He should take his frustation somewhere else and I hope his iOS games sell better but I don't know why we will be hearing again about him and his rants about the iOS market being saturated as a reason for his next frustation.

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Beamboom
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 5:37:05 AM

What's worth noticing is that both Crysis, Bioshock and Borderlands (I don't know Halo) are all very different from COD. It's the similar shooters that I think struggle against COD, especially similar multiplayer shooters.

So from this perspective it might look like a dominant COD ignites creativity, it does not hinder it.


Last edited by Beamboom on 5/3/2012 5:38:01 AM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 2:07:12 PM

No, games without profit do get sequels.

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___________
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 4:47:37 AM
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oh bull sh*t!
please bring on the video game crash!
please, now, we need it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
really getting sick of companies arrogance and greed these days!

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Highlander
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 9:45:00 AM

::blinks::

I'm still trying to work out how your post actually relates to the article and comments made in it.

However, by all means bring about a gaming crash. Yes, let's have our favorite pass-time dwindle to a trickle of inferior games and no new hardware for another 5 years. Oh yes, bring it soon...because we do so need the industry to go into hibernation. After all Mr Anonymous Cowherd said it was so desperately needed...

::rolls eyes::

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___________
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 11:07:07 AM

thats what its come down to sadly.
either we sit here and accept the same old sh*t day in day out for the rest of our lifes.
companies getting greedier and greedier.
or we stop, publishers loose a hell of allot of money and wake up and smell the cheese!
if that means we have to have no new games for 5 years then so be it!
as the saying goes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
in other words id happily sacrifice 5 years of gaming to improve the next 50.

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Highlander
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 11:26:34 AM

OK, I understand your point, but the previous video game crash wasn't much fun, and we didn't get 50 years of greatness to follow... :P

I just don't think that we need a scorched earth mentality to fix gaming.

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___________
Friday, May 04, 2012 @ 10:34:52 AM

sadly we do.
as the saying goes you dont realise what you have till you loose it!
only when companies almost go broke will they stop this greed crap and start appreciating what they have!
will stop seeing every game slapping on MP for the sake of sales, we will see more new IPs and original ideas.
if the industry keeps going the way its going, developers and publishers getting greedier and greedier things are only going to get worse!
yeah its extreme but i see no other way out.
how else are you going to make developers and publishers be great full for what they have and stop trying to nickel and dime everyone?

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Godslim
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 6:43:26 AM
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such a damn shame timesplitters was the best fps on ps2....such a fun game to play with your friends....yes it would need revamping to get with the times but plz make it happen! monkeys ftw!

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slugga_status
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 8:10:23 AM
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He's half right and half wrong. FPS' are successful if you make them different. It's when you give me one that tries to be like CoD is when I get turned off..TS4 would be appreciated by many..

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xenris
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 8:40:46 AM
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He should try kickstarter. I love the timesplitter series, and I'm sure he would get a large backing if he started a kickstarter.

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Highlander
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 9:56:09 AM

Yeah, because a kickstarter can fund a game with a budget likely to reach well past $10 million...

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JackDillinger89
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 10:27:55 AM
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I never played crysis 2 but ive heard nothing but good things bout crysis 2. Haze on the other hand i actually bought and i got rid of it the next day.

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jimmyhandsome
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 1:18:25 PM
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Competition is stiffer because of CoD, but I think this guy isn't 100% right. The success of CoD has led to alot of copy cats out there that have flopped big time (Homefront comes to mind). And because of these high budget failures, publishers are probably weary of going head-to-head with Activision (unless you're EA, they love to talk a big game as well).

Ultimately, there have been a few FPS franchises that have had mild to great success this gen, that aren't CoD clones (Killzone, Crysis, Halo-obviously, and even Bioshock). If you don't like CoD, you still have plenty of FPS to look forward to this year alone that look like they'll play NOTHING like a military FPS - the Borederlands sequel, Crysis 3, Bioshock Infinite, Dust 514, Resistance for the Vita, and a ton of others). I think that this is more of a myth than anything.

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Beamboom
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 1:50:55 PM

Exactly, Jimmy. I see it this way too. The smart move is NOT to go head-to-head, ergo we potentially get more variety instead - at the very least we don't get *less*. Cause the clones all fail!
And that list of yours of what awaits us ahead: Well that is one gorgeous list of shooters. Please allow me to add Far Cry 3 to that list too. So what is there to complain about? We should all say THANK YOU COD instead! :)

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jimmyhandsome
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 1:56:22 PM

Well said. If you dig deep enough you'll see that the list of announced shooters that are coming out over the next 2 years are actually quite diverse- and most of them sequels. This guy is right in saying that there is a big risk (because of high costs of development) in making a FPS, but saying that "no one buys FPS not named CoD" is a complete garbage statement. The sales numbers, and list of sequels coming out tells the complete opposite.

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Laguna
Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 3:01:30 PM
Reply

I really have no sympathy for someone behind HAZE.

Reviews are important because they usually indicate if a game is worth buying or not.

I didn't care about Deus EX Human Revolution. But the video reviews popped up and it looked AMAZING. I saw a gem and I grabbed it.

HAZE was crapped on by critics and buyers alike. It was just bad.

If you make good games, maybe the reviewers can give you some sales (Valkyria Chronicles, Demon Souls, Deus Ex HR)

Of course, this isn't always the case but you get my point

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ImaginaryTurtle
Sunday, May 06, 2012 @ 6:01:27 PM
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The thing is that playstation doesn't have any really good FPS games to compete with Call of Duty. When you take a look at the PC and the wide variety of games of course all the sales won't be going to CoD. Then on the xbox there is Halo an exlcusive which has basically become the face of the Xbox systems. Killzone is a good FPS but it isn't one to go up against CoD and the Resistance franchise in my opinion is an outdated FPS.

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SS4
Sunday, May 06, 2012 @ 11:16:34 PM
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Other Company should just stop making FPS for a while and ppl will see the FPS a whole different way and get bored of the CoD crap over and over and then one company will make a game that will be different and the market might return to normal....


Yeah, i know.... just wishful thinking but the gaming market is starting to suffer the same fate as movies with direct to DVD and blockbuster stamp on them before they are even made...

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