True Crime: Hong Kong picked up by Square Enix

By Andrew Yoon, Aug 01, 2011 1:50pm PDT

Square Enix may not be willing to ever resurrect Aeris, but they are using a Phoenix Down on True Crime: Hong Kong. Developer United Front Games' open world action game was dropped by publisher Activision earlier this year, saying that it would be "a very good game," but one that wouldn't fit in with the rest of Activision's portfolio: "to focus disproportionately on three big, huge monsters. Those three monsters are the Bungie, Call of Duty and Spyro titles."

The project is being resurrected by Square Enix, describing the game "as a fantastic opportunity to create a new and unique franchise which gamers will come to know and love for years to come."

"We have a lot of confidence in the quality of the studio and the quality of the title, just not in the scale of the opportunity," Activision's Dan Winters said, dispelling any concerns that the game was canceled due to its quality. "That would have been, and still might end up being, a very successful mid-tier opportunity for someone."

That somebody was Square Enix, apparently. "When we met the team at United Front Games," Square Enix London Studios general manager Lee Singleton told Gamasutra, "it was a done deal in our eyes -- we instantly recognized the huge potential in the game and the team." Before working on True Crime: Hong Kong, the team shipped ModNation Racers for Sony.

While Square Enix has picked up the publishing rights for United Front's game, the publisher is not picking up the True Crime IP, meaning the game will have to be re-titled eventually. "It's too early to say what the name will be." The Real Criminals of Hong Kong, perhaps?

After its cancellation, development on the title had slowed. It's unlikely that the resurrected game will meet its original November release, a point strengthened by Square Enix's statement. "We're not talking about release timings or formats at this time." Previously, the game was targeting PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. Given Square Enix's multi-platform approach, it's unlikely that will change.

Activision seems quite pleased with its outsourcing of the game. Eric Hirshberg told Gamasutra that "our team has worked very hard to find a solution where everybody wins. Square Enix gets the benefit of the tremendous investment we've made in the game thus far. UFG gets to stay together and complete their vision. And gamers get to play a great game. We couldn't be more thrilled."

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