We've detailed Crytek's problems in several previous posts, and it's now clear that it wasn't just the company's UK studios that were affected. Crytek
announced today that it has officially moved development of its F2P shooter "Hunt: Horrors of the Guilded Age" to Germany -- ignoring the fact that the majority of the US team had apparently already quit the company.
The problem? Just as in the UK, the US employees weren't getting paid
. In a separate announcement, Crytek also declared that development of the Homefront series had passed entirely to developer Deep Silver. The company has stated, "On completion of the proposed acquisition, the Homefront team from Crytek's Nottingham studio would transfer their talents to Koch Media in compliance with English law and continue their hard work on upcoming shooter, "Homefront: The Revolution". Both parties hope to finalize and implement a deal soon."
Is Crytek finished?
It's hard to see this as good news for Crytek. The company can make all the noise it wants about moving from a development studio to a publisher model, but Crytek as a company was always known for two things -- the CryEngine itself, adapted for a handful of titles and the Crysis series. Without those factors, what's left?
That's not clear. It would be one thing if the company was moving in a new direction with the kind of warchest that comes from monstrously popular previous titles, but companies that can't make payroll typically can't reinvent themselves in new fields, either -- at least not without slashing headcount 70-80% and completely overhauling the company. I'm not suggesting that Crytek's engine is itself on the chopping block, but companies that can't make payroll can't keep the lights on.
It's not clear what's going to happen to games like Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age
It's clear, in retrospect, that Crytek made two major mistakes. The company bet on F2P gaming as a major revenue source when there was zero indication that the concept would sustain the growth of AAA development budgets and it opted to overspend on Ryse, then refused to sell that IP to Microsoft in return for development cash on Ryse 2. The cash crunch problem is very common for game studios -- it's why so many of them lay off staff after major titles are finished -- and Crytek is caught in the teeth of a regular problem. That's little comfort to the staff and developers -- just because the company found a new funding source in the past few months doesn't mean its out of the woods yet.
It's also not clear what this means for either AMD's Mantle support
or the Linux support
that was supposed to be baked into future versions of the engine. Again, these are the kinds of capabilities that put feathers in developer caps, but if Crytek is trying to cut costs and maximize revenue, baking in support for alternate APIs and operating systems may not be a high priority.