In an interview with NME, a developer who worked on 50 Cent: Blood On The Sand revealed that originally the game was going to be a Tom Clancy title. But because the publisher didn’t actually own the rights to Clancy’s name, this plan was scrapped.
50 Cent: Blood On The Sand was released for Xbox 360 and PS3 back in 2009. It’s a fairly standard third-person cover shooter, elevated greatly by the fact that it stars 50 Cent and his G-Unit cohorts. After performing a concert in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, 50 and his crew are paid via a diamond-encrusted skull. (Really.) But before the gang can leave and… I don’t know, stare at their sweet new bony reward, it’s stolen and 50 Cent has to fight to get it back. This involves a lot of desert levels, shooting, swearing, and hiding behind waist-high cover.
As part of a larger feature on cancelled games, Blood On The Sand developer Darren Yeomans told NME that when development started on the shooter, it didn’t feature the famous rapper at all. Instead, for “over a year” the folks at Swordfish Studios, the company behind the game, worked on what they thought was going to end up being a Tom Clancy game.
Yeomans explained that the studio had completed several levels and had really figured out the gameplay when the publisher, Vivendi, threw the team a “massive curve-ball” and asked them to rework the game around a famous celeb that it already held the rights to. The person? 50 Cent. Vivendi had previously published 2005’s 50 Cent: Bulletproof and according to another dev featured in the NME story, that game made the publisher a lot of money.
However, the weird story behind this odd game’s development doesn’t end there. According to a dev who worked on the game at a later date, after the Clancy stuff, the game was briefly based on the Covert-One books based on the Bourne series created by Robert Ludlum after he died. However, a planned TV show based on the books was cancelled and never made, so the game was shelved and then reworked into the classic(?) that is 50 Cent: Blood On The Sand.
Even after the game had fully transformed into a 50 Cent title, development was still rocky. At one point — very late in development — 50 Cent’s kid played a build of the game and suggested to the devs that they add helicopters. A dev who was presenting the build at the time explained that the game was a third-person shooter and didn’t have helis. But after the kid persisted, 50 Cent chimed in and told the devs “You heard him. Make a level with helicopters in!”
When the game shipped, it included a helicopter section as well as boss fights against them.
After all this, 50 Cent: Blood On The Sand still ended up reviewing better than you might expect. Despite decent reviews, it didn’t sell well and the studio behind the game, Swordfish, was shuttered the following year. But based on the anecdotes across the years about its development, working on this game sounds like a small nightmare. Having it flop like that probably hurt more than I can imagine. Hopefully, the devs were able to find better work elsewhere, free from 50 Cent’s demands.