Game industry discussion: Trouble at Crytek

There was an article published on Kotaku explaining that there is trouble at Crytek, with some employees going unpaid.

I wanted to discuss this with all of you and see your reactions to this. It concerns me that this is happening, as I wish to see all companies within the game industry thrive. And when even large companies such as Crytek are having this kind of trouble, it concerns me even more for smaller studios, which may face this type of thing in the future.

It seems the AAA games are getting so expensive that a single flop can threaten even big software companies.

This is a good article touching on the topic:

I actually read that article a few weeks ago, very interesting. It seems like the expense of the games stifles some of the creativity as more games are catered to a wider audience. But this is where indie games come in, as they are free for artistic expression and can be as out there as they please.

Crytek have two fundamental problems and I suspect a lot of people have known they’ve been in trouble for a while as the writing has really been on the wall.

Firstly, they have been badly mismanaged and have expanded way too aggressively following the initial success of Crysis, without having a clear direction for their studios or their products. After Crysis shipped, Crytek opened studios in Ukraine (2006), Hungary (2007), Korea (2010), Turkey (2012) and China (2012). They also acquired Black Sea in 2008, Free Radical in 2009, and acquired the staff of Vigil (2013). How Crytek expected to run nine offices without each having any clear direction is anyone’s guess.

Secondly, they haven’t been shipping successful products. With nine offices housing at least five capable development teams, they should be capable of pushing a lot of product, and with their tools, those products should have been fairly high quality. What have we seen since Crysis though? Two Crysis sequels that abandoned what made their predecessor successful in order to pander to the console market, Warface which failed to cater to the free-to-play Russian market and never made it into the west, Ryse as a rushed launch exclusive that lacked gameplay for a console that noone wanted to buy into early, and Fibble as a mobile game that most of us have never heard of. The final nail in the coffin, was that they haven’t been able to license their engine to anyone.

Looking at those two aspects of Crytek’s recent history and it should be no surprise to anyone - they’ve expanded well beyond their means to support themselves and are collapsing under their own weight. They’ve been too busy chasing whatever market is apparently trendy at the time instead of focusing on what made the studio successful to begin with. If they hadn’t been drooling over potential console market share in 2008-2011 and drooling over potential mobile and free-to-play market share in 2011 onwards, they might have been able to focus on their niche.

Crytek could have been the studio that caters to the top-end PC market crowd (with Valve and Blizzard occupying the other end of the spectrum), a vacuum now left behind by struggling iD Software and not looking to be filled any time soon. Crysis and Warhead have shipped about 5 million units between them just on one platform- but Crysis 2+3 have only just made that combined on all platforms.

Instead they’re trailing behind everyone else and chasing other potential markets already filled by throwing out a Left 4 Dead clone and trying to make space in the stupidly crowded MOBA market far too late.

TL;DR version: Expanded stupidly, wasted money chasing markets outside of that which made them successful, released lack-luster titles.

ambershee is right about it.

Just don’t post it on Crydev forums, you will get instant ban.

They have newst AAA games they released are Crysis 3, which actually wasn’t that bad. But it could be better if they cater to they core market, which are high-end pc gamers, that have the money to throw at everything, and Ryse which was… I don’t even know. If I had to buy based on promo materials I wouldn’t even touch with stick.

Here are games using CryEngine. About how many of the did you heard ?

Hopefully when/if that thing blow up, their staff will find jobs in companies that they can make use of their talents actually. Whatever to say, their engine R&D department is top notch in entire industry, and quite a few of modern rendering technique were first adopoted and developed by Crytek.

And it was this, pushing graphics rendering to the limits, was what made Crytek successful in the first place. They should have just stick to it, and focus on graphics R&D and sell their expertise on subject to other companies.

Ryse didn’t do so hot either apparently, which was to be their new bread and butter.

Great points of discussion ambershee, a lot of that I didn’t know. There has actually been another update to this situation posted on Kotaku:

The financial statements of Crytek seemed rather bad for the last 3 years. I checked them regularly for the last years. They are public as it should be for a GmbH in germany. here

As a perspective the game development industry is very much like the construction industry. Money going out with very little coming in with hard dead lines that needs to be completed where third party and uninterested financial backers are only concerned about release dates and when they can expect a return on their investments.

The days of the deadline being “When it’s done” are gone as far as triple A titles goes as the big studios becomes more like assembly lines trying to push out “product” in an effort to keep the machine going and at the same time buying up smaller studios for the quick influx of cash that usually follows such purchases.

If you think about it almost sounds like a Ponzi scheme where monies is not put aside for a rainy day or future development and a small developer spending a large amount of cash in an effort to become a big developer by brute force does not sound like a good business plan to me if their only plan is to become big.

If anything though it is all becoming predictable when thinking of a game as the selling of art backed by financial investments from third party interests looking for a return on their investment and as the saying goes you go to bed with dogs you get up with fleas.

And so it goes on

Very interesting thread, just confirms that I will stay in finance, and continue to do games and music as a hobby, lol. I like getting paid on time.

I think S2Games is an interesting company, the main reason why they did not go under even after two financially unsuccessful titles is because the person who build up S2Games had other business interests and the company never outgrew itself to the point of becoming un-manageable.

Zygna would be an example of how not to do it. Too many people and you end up with nothing a but a bunch of “politicians”…

In the case of CryTek, that’s what you get for making an exclusive title for a new console, by the time people have adopted the console, people will see it as an old game and expect to pay less.

I think there’s a general cultural problem now where too many people make games to make money rather than make games because they’re excited by the ideas.

Most of the small studios are churning out “quick win” games with shallow gameplay, in-app purchases and pay-to-win features and trying to get them on every platform possible.
Bigger studios are still trying to make “premium” games with big upfront price tags and awesome graphics and animation, but still driven mainly by dollar signs and just rehashing “safe bet” franchises with most of the budget going into better eye candy and lacking any real innovation.

I think UE4 is a really welcome culture shift in that regard because it’s actually enabling smaller independent teams to make games that are actually based on fun ideas rather than corporate objectives and yet still being able to take advantage of the decade or so headstart the big guys have in engine technology.

CryTek were very close to offering something on a level with UE4, but their more restrictive non-perpetual licensing terms and lack of that open and sharing community feel that Epic has managed to create means they’ve missed out on most of us. Just as they missed out on most of us when they decided to shift focus to consoles and water down their gameplay for a market that didn’t really exist.
That said, it would be absolutely catastrophic for PC gaming if CryTek went under as they’ve made some of the best titles the world has ever seen, and until recently they had a contender for the best game engine the world had ever seen. There are so many good games still in planning and development that rely on their technology. I really hope they can settle their differences with Microsoft and get the cash injection they need from Ryse.

I have to say though, if you’re one of the CryTek developers going unpaid that’s reading this… you do at least have the option to turn your talents to UE4 now and make some awesome plugins for the new marketplace - plenty of people make a full time living doing that for Unity after all and UE4 has so many “bits missing” that we could use. A built in “mixamo” type autorig/animate tool is one key one I have in mind :wink:

Mixamo was mentioned on the Twitch stream today. It sounds like this might already be in the works.

MotionBuilder style retargeting would be nice, if a Mixamo style autorig solution is in the works. May be sort of a pain to have to set up a skeleton definition and that jazz than the current somewhat simpler system, but it’d also allow for retargeting to different skeletons which is a very common case (especially with how janky rigging and skeleton naming convention, export and import schemes are in general). And regardless, it’d be better than having to use MotionBuilder to do it :stuck_out_tongue:

Edit: And the current system could stay in place for same-skeleton retargeting.

I’d actually hope for the opposite… that it can apply a standard skeleton to any bipedal mesh and autoskin something like mixamo does. If we all start using a standard bipedal skeleton then we can hopefully start a culture shift away from the “janky rigging and skeleton naming convention, export and import schemes”. Content creators would hopefully not need much persuading to move away from that mess either. People can always add extra bones if they need to add stuff like wings etc. anyway.

Oops…anyway… so Crytek, trouble etc…

If we all would agree on single base humanoid skeleton structure/naming, it would benefit everyone in long term.
In future marketplace we could just buy any animation set, and just be sure it will work with standard skeleton, and if we need more bones (for example for clothing), there is nothing that prevent adding them on top of existing skeleton and adding relevant animation for it.

Yeah a lot of truth there. In the early 2000’s I don’t think there was to many games released where you did not know the names behind the games that played a large part as to the success of a title. These days we depended on reviews to tell us what is good and what is bad with out benefit of knowing the talent behind the title of an entertainment media equal to or bigger then the movie industry.

This of course is not a good idea for a development company as to having to pay for the talent that results in top box office numbers but there was no doubt that there was a lot of excitement going on when you found out one of your favorite artist was working on such and such project or game title.

Now a days it’s more like “I’ll have a Big Mac, large fries, and the latest release of Assassin’s Creed.”

On a personal note I do believe that we are heading for another crash similar as to what occurred in the late 80’s that was caused by the influx of “grab for the cash” titles the flooded the marketplace and only recovered based more on the personalities behind the game.