Ellis, who also co-directed N64 classic Goldeneye 007, will “help plot the future course” for the TimeSplitters franchise, THQ Nordic announced on Wednesday.
Following the announcement, Ellis told VGC he feels the time is right for the series to return and the chance to revive it was “hard to ignore”.
“Personally I always saw TimeSplitters as ‘unfinished business’,” he said. “It was a series that was ahead of its time, from the days when shooters were all brown and games weren’t online.
“It feels like it’s time has now come, so the opportunity to work on it was hard to ignore.”
He also confirmed his mobile games firm, Crash Lab, will be ceasing development for the time being. “Crash Lab continues to exist, but for now we won’t be doing any more development,” he said.
Series composer Graeme Norgate told VGC in a separate comment: “I’m really happy it’s finally got off the ground, 14 years since the last release. Let’s hope Steve decides to get the old band back together!”
Ellis was one of the three founding members of Free Radical, the studio formed by former Goldeneye 007 creatives.
Ellis’s move to THQ Nordic will mark the second time he’s had a run at TimeSplitters 4, having previously pitched a new instalment to publishers before Free Radical’s demise.
He told Edge magazine in 2012: “I spent the whole of 2008 going round talking to publishers trying to sign up TimeSplitters 4.
“There just isn’t the interest there in doing anything that tries to step away from the rules of the genre – no one wants to do something that’s quirky and different, because it’s too much of a risk. And a large part of that is the cost of doing it.”
“I spent the whole of 2008 going round talking to publishers trying to sign up Timesplitters 4. There just isn’t the interest there in doing anything that tries to step away from the rules of the genre.”
In another interview with GamesTM, fellow Free Radical co-founder Karl Hilton added that the proposed game’s multi-character plot and the weak reception to the developer’s final FPS game, Haze, had left publishers sceptical.
THQ Nordic purchased the TimeSplitters property in August 2018, along with another Free Radical developed title, Second Sight.
“We are hugely excited to have acquired TimeSplitters,” Koch Media CEO Klemens Kundratitz said at the time.
“The original games gave fans a massive content offer and provided a pure and genuinely fun arcade shooter experience. We have many fans of the TimeSplitters series among our own staff who are passionate about creating a product that will thrill today’s gaming audience.”