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Rise From Your Grave, True Crime: Hong Kong

Square Enix resurrects the open world reboot Activision cancelled earlier this year.

True Crime: Hong Kong won't be called that when Square Enix ships it sometime in the future.
True Crime: Hong Kong won't be called that when Square Enix ships it sometime in the future.

I was genuinely surprised when word arrived that Activision was dropping True Crime: Hong Kong after spending years of development on the series reboot with United Front Games.

Activision tends to prefer big with its releases, but it's been known to back some less-sure bets like Prototype, Blur and Singularity. True Crime: Hong Kong was not to have such a fate, with Activision cutting its losses.

Surprisingly, Square Enix has come to the rescue.

Gamasutra reports the Japanese publisher has picked up the development rights to True Crime: Hong Kong--but not the franchise itself. Square Enix will be re-branding the game, a change not yet finalized.

United Front is still working on the game in collaboration with Square Enix London Studios.

"When we first saw and got our hands on the game we fell in love with it," said Square Enix London Studios general manager Lee Singleton in his interview with Gamasutra.

There are plenty of details on Activision's decision making process in regards to True Crime: Hong Kong from my story this past May, wherein I broke down an internal memo explaining the cancellation.

"As many of you on the team know, I have a lot of heart for this game," said Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg, in a memo distributed to employees in February. "And there are many great things about it. Stopping now is a hard pill to swallow, because a lot of blood, sweat and tears have gone into getting the game this far. However, after two pushed deadlines and a huge increase in the original production budget, we needed to take a clear-eyed look at the reality of this game’s potential."

In short, Hirshberg didn't foresee True Crime: Hong Kong becoming a blockbuster on the scale of a Grand Theft Auto, and without blockbuster potential, it didn't make sense to compete.

"Even our most optimistic internal projections showed that True Crime Hong Kong was not going to be at or near the top of the competitive open world genre," said Hirshberg. "In an industry where only the best games in each category are flourishing, and for a game with a budget of this size, to be blunt, it just wasn’t going to be good enough."

For Square Enix, however, it's apparently more than good enough.

Patrick Klepek on Google+