A little more than four months following the launch of Robinson: The Journey, Executive Producer on the title, Elijah Freeman, has departed Crytek for Virtuos, a game and asset production studio. Meanwhile Crytek attempts to get company back on track.

As Executive Producer on the title, Elijah Freeman has worked closely on Crytek’s Robinson: The Journey since before the beginning, back when the company was showing off a VR prototype which would become the precursor to both Robinson and the company’s other VR title, The Climb (2016). Robinson launched back in November on PSVR, and came to the Rift in February.

Crytek's Elijah Freeman
Elijah Freeman holds a Rift Crescent Bay prototype

Freeman was excited at the opportunity to build Robinson, telling Road to VR back in 2015, “…this is the one IP that in my career is likely to show the most promise. It just opens my imagination as a designer and game developer. It makes me feel childlike…” he said.

But now, a little more than four months after the launch of the title, Freeman has left Crytek for Virtuos, a studio that provides outsourced art, assets, and other development work for game and digital productions. Freeman joins the company as Group Development Director at Virtuos’ Shanghai HQ. There’s no indication at this time that his hiring stemmed from an immediate need for VR talent, though as VR grows, Virtuos may have found that part of his resume appealing. In addition to Crytek, Freeman has also worked at EA and CCP Games during his game development career.

The_Climb_Screenshot_Canyon_3 (1)
‘The Climb’ Crytek’s other VR title, is also quite gorgeous.

Freeman’s departure doesn’t bode well for more near-term VR game development from Crytek—a true shame for the VR world, as Crytek has made some of VR’s best looking titles to date, including The Climb (2016).

Beyond Robinson’s lukewarm reception, Crytek’s business has recently faced major hurdles. In December the company outlined plans to close a number of studios, calling the action “essential steps we are taking to ensure Crytek is a healthy and sustainable business moving forward…”. In the few months following, four studios closed their doors and one was sold. In February Crytek further announced it would be laying off 15 employees at its Frankfurt HQ in an effort to scale down its publishing team.

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Although the company plans to “refocus on its core strengths of multi-platform game development,” the emphasis is on “premium IPs,” likely leaving the presently niche and more risky development of large scale VR titles for better times.

robinson-the-journey-psvr-2Freeman’s departure is also a blow to our hopes that Robinson: The Journey might one day see an update adding motion controller support, the lack of which was a frequent criticism of the game. Same too for a version of the game officially supporting the Vive, though at least Vive owners look to be able to play the game unofficially through the Revive hack.

Regarding the company’s impressive CryEngine, it will “remain a core pillar of Crytek’s overall strategy, with enterprise licensees and indie developers alike continuing to be served by regular engine updates.” Hopefully those updates will continue to improve the engine’s VR support for developers using or considering using the engine for VR development.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • MatBrady

    If Crytek want to get their company back on track, then start with some obvious consumer-friendly things, like: Releasing an update to Robinson where we can use the touch controllers; or release Robinson on ALL vr platforms.

    If they break away from the ugly exclusivity that’s strangling VR at the moment then they’ll get noticed for being good, but at the very least ensure your products use VR to its full potential (with touch controller support). Just sayin. :

  • Raphael

    Oh. What went wrong? People not liking a vr game built for one shitty locked-down hmd and with only eggbox controller support. Can’t imagine why people wouldn’t rush to buy a game like that. Perhaps Crytek should hire new talent to see if they can get to the bottom of it.

    • wowgivemeabreak

      Sounds like a butthurt Vive owner.

      • Raphael

        Sounds like an octopus user who thinks Robinson is the greatest vr game ever.

  • Raphael

    It seems that Crytek don’t ever look at gamer feedback. I suspect they never stop by roadtovr to gauge public opinion. They’re probably working on a new game for octopus with Xbox control support. Perhaps a sequel to Robinson.

    Here’s an idea… One relatively good IP.. Make a vr crysis with full locomotion option and vr controller support and with Steamvr support. Actually I’ve just realised no one has informed Crytek that Steamvr and Vive exists. I’ll get right on it now.

  • I think that VR is just to “slow” for triple-A companies to dive into. It not that profitable. Those companies developing high-quality title for platform that has very limited reach right now. They thought that those who have the headset will buy their premium game, but it’s isn’t the case. This is why other companies have waited, and were smart doing so. They should have just release a “killer” regular game title instead of investing in a triple-A VR game, thinking retrospectively. It’s a lot of trial and error, and those companies can afford to do that with a premium title.

  • Andre Brown

    I think Crytek should go back to their roots. They need to make a new Crysis or similar game – a system killer. A game so advanced in graphics and technology that the current video card technology can’t even handle it. A game that will be used to benchmark any new card that comes out for the next 7 years. This game won’t be made for consoles either, as they couldn’t even handle the title screen and Crytek wouldn’t hold back on anything when it comes to the graphics. This is a PC only game, going back to the roots, and it makes people want to get 3 or 4 of the new 1080ti’s just to be able to run it decently. Yeah it narrows the group of customers down based on hardware requirements, but if they made this game I bet it would still become the most popular game around.