“We have been undergoing a transformation, just like the whole game industry.” says Cevat Yerli, CEO and founder of Crytek speaking to Eurogamer in the first direct press coverage since their recent financial troubles.
That transformation appears to be involving a “shift from retail products towards a game service” for the company, as well as a move towards free-to-play games. Naturally, moving towards this service “required additional investment, which led to temporarily diminished capital resources” for Crytek, leading them to restructuring many of their studios and selling off the Homefront IP as well as their Homefront: The Revolution team to Koch Media.
Homefront and Ryse were to act as transitions out of the traditional release schedule towards this game service and offering of free-to-play games. While it’s not clear what exactly the service entails, it is evident that they pumped a lot of money into it. Perhaps too much. And here’s what Yerli has to say on the Homefront sale:
“Homefront’s timeline, as well as the focus as a studio we would have needed to put behind that, would have been detrimental to the transition to us. That was the comparison: are we delaying the transition further, or are we going to do it earlier than later?
“We believe in Homefront. It’s a great game and we still believe in it. But we made a deal with Koch we felt comfortable with as a strategic sale of the asset, which everybody comes out of in a win/win position.”
Next, Yerli discusses the downsizing of studios, with the recently opened Austin studio being refocused towards a more “viable” and cost-effective business. But that doesn’t explain the unpaid wages. On that subject, Yerli discusses how they were stuck between a rock and a hard place:
“You have two choices, right? Either you delay payments – again delay… it’s not that they didn’t get paid, they got delayed – delay payments and salvage the company. Or, you push your cash flow directly to the studios and you file for insolvency. Both options are really bad. So you have to make the better of the two bad decisions.”
“Now, everybody got paid plus inconvenience payments additionally to that, like we promised everybody” continued Yerli, suggesting everything is once again in order. Their priority, after all, “was to not downsize the company”, and it seems as though this came at a cost for individual people who had been carefully managing their finances – people who needed their wages to live. Naturally, this led to complaints about communication, which Yerli defends saying that the “only upset we received has been from a few people” in the UK.
On accusations of arrogance, and that he may have told those in the UK they were “lucky to get paid”, Yerli states: “I have never ever used these words before. This is complete bullshit. I would never ever say to somebody, hey guys, you’re lucky you got paid. What we have communicated to the team is, we have two choices: either we let people go immediately and pay the remainder, or we can’t pay you right now and we stick together.”
“We didn’t get paid, too.” states Yerli, giving some true insight into how big the issue was. There’s still 700 people at the company, reduced from around 900, and the payment delay – as well as the Homefront deal – seems to have allowed them to avoid certain death. But there’s more.
Yerli talks of a deal they have made, which he cannot talk about right now but describes as “purely revenue”. I’m not sure if this is Ryse coming to PC – or perhaps a different platform – but that would be where my speculation would be focused. So, does this deal mean that Crytek is safe? “Absolutely. I can say that.” responds the CEO.
He then goes into detail about the development of Ryse, saying that despite the platform changes it was not a troubled development. As for Ryse 2? That could go anywhere – quite literally, even to PlayStation. “We can do whatever we want with it with whoever we want.” states Yerli. They’re currently considering it, but you might remember that they didn’t take Microsoft up on their offer of buying the IP.
“We are not 100 per cent happy with Xbox One sales right now.” says the CEO, and that they’re still waiting for the current generation to “catch up”.
TimeSplitters. Here’s something that will be discussed for as long as the IP remains with Crytek, which is currently does. Here’s their plans for the game, though they don’t have anything solid quite yet:
At this point we don’t have any plans with that because we are focused on our development and operation of our current projects that are announced. I still personally love Timesplitters and there might be a good chance of something in the future. We have some creative ideas. In fact the UK operation at one point planned to resurrect Timesplitters. But that has now changed. So we will figure out something definitely for Timesplitters, but the time has not come yet.
Bear in mind, if we do see a new TimeSplitters from the team, it could likely be free-to-play as that’s where the CEO sees the company going in the future. “My goal always was, and still is, to make games that are free to come in and are more like a hobby to gamers. It’s like going for a run. You can walk, run, start jogging and it’s all free. But if you really want to get better in your hobby, if you turn it into a hobby, you start spending based on your own pacing.”
The greatest thing to take from all of this is that Yerli and the others in charge of Crytek perhaps should have taken their own advice; instead of trying to transform the company fast, they should’ve started walking, running and jogging, eventually getting better in their “hobby” and spending based on their own pacing, rather than trying to catch up with the current market at an alarming rate.
Full interview source: Eurogamer