Free Radical Design's co-founder Steve Ellis previously claimed that Star Wars: Battlefront III was actually 99% finished when it was ultimately canceled. Now, a former LucasArts developer has come forward to dispute these claims, even going as far as referring to the 99% as "bullsh*t" while claiming that the game was not shelved purely due to financial reasons.
"This 99 percent complete stuff is just bullsh*t. A generous estimate would be 75 percent of a mediocre game."
He's also wisely asked to be kept anonymous.
Speaking to GameSpot, the ex-LucasArts employee believes Battlefront III fell through for three major reasons. First, he believes that Free Radical's previous shooter, Haze, sucked a lot of much-needed resources from Battlefront's development. Secondly, he thinks Free Radical (now known as Crytek UK) "underestimated" or "misrepresented" their ability to meet deadlines, which leads to the third point, being the studio's inability to meet newly assigned dates.
Production for Battlefront III began back in 2006, set for delivery by October 2008. Unfortunately, this simply never panned out. The source notes:
In December 2007, Free Radical still did not have simple AI working in levels. For much of 2007, Xbox 360 builds simply did not work. Initially, Free Radical claimed it was a US/UK kit difference, but when we asked to FedEx one of their working machines to the US for a build review, they declined."
On top of that, Free Radical failed to implement a number of game modes, and maps "generally tested poorly with no focus for action."
The source states that he started suspecting in 2007 that the studio was funneling payment for Battlefield III to Haze instead. Around the same time, Haze was named a PS3 exclusive, and publisher LucasArts realized then that the studio's engine was no compatible with the Xbox 360 at the time.
"At this point, I felt that Free Radical was akin to a Ponzi scheme where time and budget from the next game was being used to finish the previous, late, title."
According to the source, Steve Ellis himself came forward in January 2008 to tell LucasArts that the studio would not be able to meet 2008 development milestones. As such, the publisher agreed to push the street date to April 2009, and wound up covering costs of the extra seven months.
Confidence in Free Radical continued to plummet when Haze finally released May 2008, and wound up receiving poor reviews despite the developer's claims that all the delays had been to ensure "a gem with 85+ review."
From there, Free Radical continued missing key development dates, and by September 2008, the studio had lost "key staff." Continued failures eventually drove LucasArts to cancel the entire project.
"The failure of Battlefront III was tragic for everyone involved, not least the fans. There's a lot of blame to go around and many different perspectives. I won't though let Steve Ellis whitewash the part that he and Free Radical played. I'd suggest that everyone keep this as something tragic to muse over with a beer rather than throwing stones in public."
Neither Ellis nor Crytek UK has provided a response yet.