Free Radical's co-founder blames Ubisoft and others for past financial problems

Posted on April 27, 2012 - 7:00pm by King Meatball I

TLDR;

Eidos was a perfect match for Free Radical, while Ubisoft played a huge part in the company's financial struggles.

Haze wasn't meant to be a PS3 exlcusive according to original plans.

Lucas Arts is full of morons.

The remake of GoldenEye almost had the chance to be developed by Free Radical.

Steve Ellis who helped co-found Free Radical with former members from Rare reveals in an interview with Gamesindustry.biz how the studio's relationship with publishers after Eidos damaged the company a lot more than it helped.

The studio's first publisher, Eidos, was described as more hands-off with the development Timesplitters 1 and 2 while not tying funds with milestones.  Instead Eidos paid the studio every month as a way to ensure the projects would have sufficient funds and would only get involved at the testing phase of the project. Ellis said this provided the studio with a lot of creative freedom to work on projects while also having the publisher get involved only when it really mattered the most.

In comparison to Ubisoft who became their next publisher, Ellis has nothing but bad feelings towards them.  Ubisoft was very hands-on with the development of Haze to the point of hurting the game's development while being too strict with the milestones. Ubisoft would only pay the studio when strict milestones based on certain formulas were met, instead of paying as progress was reached. As a result, the project had a few times where there was barely enough funds left to finish a certain milestone.

"They had this central group of people which are their game experts and decide how games should work, they almost try to turn it into a science, they devise formulas and try to apply it to various things throughout the level to scientifically work out a difficulty curve... That might work for them, but trying to impose that on an external studio is a difficult thing when you're used to working in a completely different way. Trying to impose it on a team that doesn't all agree with it and buy into it is a recipe for disaster."

Ellis also revealed how Haze was originally meant to be a PC and Xbox 360 game but a secret deal never discussed to Free Radical between Sony and Ubisoft forced their entire plans to be scrapped in order to rush work on a PS3 version only.

Their next publisher Lucas Arts wasn't as bad as Ubisoft but because of the constant firing and hiring of new people during the development of Star Wars Battlefront III, it ended up dooming that project. Ellis reveals the game was at the QA (Quality Assurance) stage before it was canned for non-development reasons on Lucas Arts side of the deal.

After Lucas Arts, it was Activision's turn and there was plans for the studio to develop the remake of GoldenEye but was dropped at the last moment in favor of Eurocom.  Activision also ended up cutting all ties with Free Radical for any future projects.

Ellis does feel the company's future and fortunes will improve with Crytek due to Crytek being very receptive towards the studio and having a friendlier environment to work with than their previous publishers.

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