Where did it all go wrong for Crytek?
Crytek’s recent troubles have hit a certain note inside me. The Frankfurt, Germany based studio was once a developer revered for pushing the envelope when it comes to graphics while still delivering incredibly satisfying gameplay. Without Crytek, there would be no Far Cry or Crysis. We wouldn’t have made jokes about how they develop games that no market PC is capable of running at 100%. My, oh my how times have changed in a decade. The studio once known for bleeding edge technology is now in danger of becoming obsolete.
So what the hell happened to them?
Arguably, you could start to point fingers after the release of Crysis. In 2007, Crytek began expansion. They upgraded their Ukraine studio, bought Black Sea Studios in 2008, and purchased Free Radical in 2009. Due to the company’s early success, they were able to quickly expand from just the one operation based in Frankfurt, but it wasn’t always money well spent. While Crytek UK were able to release Crysis 2 and Crysis 3, both of which never really held much of a candle due to the original, Crytek Black Sea has officially announced one game: Arena of Fate, a MOBA announced back in May of this year.
That’s right. Crytek Black Sea’s first game was announced six years after Crytek purchased the studio, and it’s a MOBA. On the surface, that doesn’t exactly sound like money well spent.
What was the Frankfurt outfit doing during this time? They were working on Ryse: Son of Rome, including all of its reworks and changes of direction. That, too, doesn’t sound like money well spent, but we have to keep in mind that Microsoft was publishing the title. Still, you have to wonder what if Crytek Frankfurt was developing the Crysis sequels instead of Crytek UK. You’d also have to wonder what if Crytek continued their work on the Far Cry franchise. On the one hand, their selling of the rights to Ubisoft allowed them to develop Crysis. On the other, it’s clear that Crytek had intentions of expanding. We could have lived in a world where Crytek was developing both Far Cry and Crysis using CryEngine 3. That’s a world I would have liked to live in.
Granted, that might be a world where we never see Far Cry 3, but I’d like to think that Ubisoft was capable of making a similar experience in a new IP.
Speaking of CryEngine 3…
It’s clear that Crytek wanted it to become their version of Unreal Engine 3, the graphics engine that was used in most of your favorite video games last generation. I remember visiting Crytek at E3 a few years ago when they were talking about features for CryEngine 3. One thing was made abundantly clear during the presentation: they wanted this to be the next big thing in video games. They wanted their engine to be the one used by developers. Of course, that’s not how things went and you could also argue that it, alongside some of their past developer acquisitions, was also money not well spent.
It sounds like that the case of Crytek is a simple story of a developer enjoying early success and expanding further than they could realistically sustain. You know what? That’s probably exactly the case. Cyrtek’s company page lists a grand total of nine branches, including Crytek Austin, who were recently stripped of development for Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age. Do you know how many games Crytek has released as a whole? Nine.
Far Cry, Crysis, Crysis Warhead, Crysis 2, Fibble – Flick ‘n’ Roll, Crysis 3, Warface, Ryse: Son of Rome, and The Collectables. They also currently have both Hunt and Arena of Fate in development.
That’s eleven known games in ten years from a company with nine branches across the world. For comparison’s sake, Ubisoft, which seemingly has more development studios than they know what to do with, is publishing ten games in 2014 alone. Ten if you include the still unannounced Xbox 360 and PS3 Assassin’s Creed game we’re all expecting.
That’s a lot of games, most of which are going to be viewed as a success. You can’t really say the same regarding Cyrtek’s decade of games. Because of that, it’s suddenly not hard to understand where things started to go sour for the once successful PC-exclusive developer.