As an industry, gaming is unavoidably fraught with unexpected delays, cancellations and general unexplained stop-gaps in anticipated titles' development. At one time or another, anxious gamers have followed the development of either a single game, or a series, that may have had its share of issues. Sometimes the problems are obvious, or at least easily explainable, with budget restraints usually being the ultimate cause. Such examples however, are merely pedestrian cases.
The real cause for alarm are the franchises that have all but disappeared, but still have an eager and dedicated fanbase at the ready to support it. There are entire videogame series that fit into this category, but one that immediately comes to mind is TimeSplitters: an FPS that reached acclaim with its second installment, but only lasted long enough to pump out TimeSplitters: Future Perfect in 2005. Since then, TimeSplitters has virtually disappeared from mainstream gaming culture. That does not mean however that the property is dead.
Crytek – you know, of Crysis fame – now owns the IP, and has for several years. If that’s news to you, it’s not surprising, as the developer done nothing concrete with it except tease fans with, “Hey, it could happen.” TimeSplitters 2, with its clever use of time-travel and quirky attitude, currently holds a remarkable score of 90/100 on Metacritic, an aggregate which is by no means easily achieved. Single-player shenanigans aside, the game's multiplayer component was immensely popular, coming at a time shortly before the true advent of Xbox LIVE. At this point, it would appear that it’s all about building expectations. Believe me, for fans of the series, they are already sky high.
Several Facebook fan pages exist for the series, but the most intriguing one at the moment is 100,000 Strong for TimeSplitters 4. The effort started last May and is attempting to get 100K Likes to prove to Crytek that a clamoring fan community does indeed exist. The movement currently resides at 43,208 Likes as of this writing and continues to grow on a consistent basis. In an interview conducted with CVG last June, Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli reiterated that, although they are interested, they just aren't working on it. In addition to the Facebook community efforts there is also a petition to release an HD collection of the series which currently has over 72,000 signatures. The demand exists; there is no denying that. But it simply doesn't look like its currently as feverish enough enough to get the developer's attention.
From a business standpoint, Crytek's hesitation to gamble on the franchise and its fan is perfectly understandable. In Novemeber, Yerli participated in an interview with Game Informer, and mentioned the HD petition. At that point, the petition only had a few thousand signatures. But at its current 72,000 plus, that is too much of a significant increase in a short amount of time to ignore. In other words, the fan base is there, they’re ready, and they’re worth taking a gamble on.
To their credit, Crytek has been more generous with the TimeSplitters IP than other companies have been about their own aging properties. Earlier this year, that aforementioned Facebook group mentioned that they had received the okay that Crytek would support a mod to outfit the original TimeSplitters with the CryEngine. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t take much effort to twist that around to mean that while they have no intention of working on a full-blown sequel, they’d be happy to give fans this scrap as something of a concession prize. Cynical, yes, but not unrealistic; merely the sort of thing that begs to be proven wrong.
TimeSplitters is remains in a long list of series with a starved fanbase just waiting to supper their favorite games; Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver and Killer Instinct can also be added to the list. These are not franchises that sold poorly or were simply critical darlings; they were once worthy gaming experiences. Expectations can be fickle and patience wears thin, so the longer Crytek waits, the more it risks losing the fans that have held on for this long. While it’s true that TimeSplitters has a strong and dedicated following, the FPS gone without an entry for an entire console generation.
If fans want TimeSplitters 4, it's going to rely on the fans to make it happen. So join the effort; demand a sequel to be made on Crytek's FB page. Sign and spread the HD petition. Help revive one of the most critically acclaimed gaming franchises. By your command.
Written by Associate Staff Writer Reuben Levine. Questions for the author? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.