Before it entered into administration and was subsequently bought by Crytek, Free Radical was offered the chance to make a second Goldeneye game with Activision, studio co-founder Steve Ellis has said.
When it was founded in 1999, the studio consisted most of the development team who had worked on Goldeneye N64 at Rare.
“As you can imagine that was something that was very well-received by a lot of the staff, it was going to be a great project to work on,” said Ellis in a GamesIndustry International feature on the developer.
“But as we jumped at the opportunity it suddenly disappeared. We never got a real explanation about why it disappeared. I suspect it was to do with rights about which platforms a GoldenEye sequel could be released on.”
He continued: “[Activision] probably wanted it on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and then realised they’d been a bit premature with that and they could actually release it on those platforms. Things like that caused us to hold on a bit longer and perhaps not pursue other opportunities as aggressively because it really sounded like that was a possibility.”
The Activision offer came after the collapse in development on Star Wars Battlefront 3. While the name Battlefront 3 hadn’t been mentioned in the interview, Ellis said development was going so well that Lucasarts had offered it development duties on a sequel before the first game was released thanks to a relationship with then-LucasArts president Jim Ward and VP of product development Peter Hirschman that he described as the “best” the studio had seen.
“That was a big deal for us because it meant putting all our eggs in one basket. It was a critical decision – do we want to bet on LucasArts? And we chose to because things were going as well as they ever had.
“It was a project that looked like it would probably be the most successful thing we had ever done and they were asking us to make the sequel to it too. It seemed like a no-brainer.”
Ward and Hirschman left LA in 2008 after a dramatic shift from the company, which resulted in the dynamics of its relationship changing with Free Rad and subsequently the cancelation of both Battlefront 3 and an early in development sequel. Ellis said Battlefront 3 had actually been pretty much done bar QA.
“It was pretty much done, it was in final QA. It had been in final QA for half of 2008 it was just being fixed for release.”
Early development footage of Battlefront 3 has appeared on YouTube since its cancellation.
Free Radical entered administration in 2008 before being bought out by Crytek in early 2009. Its now been rebranded as Crytek UK, and is currently working on Homefront 2 for THQ. A TimeSplitters sequel is also thought to be in the works.