Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet revealed the details about how developer GRIN was left behind by Japanese giant Square Enix. It's an extensive text about the company's successes and failure. I thought it was such a good story that I wanted to translate bits of it to you, so even you can get a hold of this awesome scoop! I've translated the most vital parts of the text, so not everything might be covered. If you find something you find peculiar, please let me know and I'll answer you with the answers I can find in the article or confirm anything in the text. So, let's start.
It all begins...After expanding and being one of the country's biggest studios, with Starbreeze and DICE being two of the other ones, GRIN got a hold of Yoichi Wada. Wada, being one of the giants in gaming industry with yearly salary of 17 million SEK, entered the studio with his cortege in 2009. The reason? One of the owners, Ulf Andersson's, computer contained a big project. A whole new game concept under the concept name of "Fortress". The idea had been pitched to all kinds of distributors and when Square Enix got a hold of it, they acted quickly. "Fortress" was to be a fantastic new Final Fantasy-game. Other than that, they liked the visual style that GRIN had suggested.
Square Enix kept visiting GRIN many times. They researched the studio and found a company that seemed promising with good economy and talented people. When Wada got the chance to see a boss fight in the game Bionic Commando, that was currently being completed by the studio for Capcom, he decided. Now, Wada didn't have to see anything more. Square Enix was to let GRIN develop the next FInal Fantasy.
Then, what happened?A month passed. Two months passed. Square Enix didn't pay a penny to the Swedish company. No problems, reasoned Bo Andersson, the other owner. The distributors often didn't. But after three, four, five months? No money from the Japanese. Grin bled: the studio costed about 12 million SEK each month. The brothers, Ulf and Bosse, kept holding on. They were about to get to do a renewal of a well known classic game series.
"We wanted to revolutionize Final Fantasy, which is exactly what that series needs. The latest version sucks", Bosse Andersson said.
But Square Enix didn't pay up. Half a year passed. GRIN did everything that they had to do to keep the company developing the game. The closed all the offices in Sweden. But it wasn't enough. Square Enix starved the the studio to death. Square Enix had been hit hard by the financial crisis and gambled with GRIN as a stake. When spring game, GRIN's Terminator Salvation got awful reviews and Bionic Commando sold way less then expected. The Japanese got defensive.
When the bankruptcy papers came in they revealed that Square Enix was meant to pay GRIN 16,5 million dollors. The payments was supposed to come in waves in accordance with the goals set up with the studio. According to the documents, Sqaure Enix had the opinion that these goals "hadn't been met in a satisfactory way".
"That was one big hoax from their part. We never had a problem during the development and we had delivered an amount of goals to Square Enix and confirmation from a producer via mail", Bo says.
The relation had been a success for along time. Until one day when Square Enix told GRIN to fax them everything. Even the music files from the project. "It's as stupid as it sounds. You can't send ascii- or binary code via fax. That's stupid as hell. Really. It's almost a criminal behavior". One day, GRIN had enough. So they sent Square Enix a screenshot from their own game Final Fantasy XII to test them. The response they got was "that doesn't look like a game in Final Fantasy's style." That's when they knew that whatever they did, Square Enix wouldn't back them up on this.
GRIN were out of money. The company was over.
Today, both the owners Bosse and Ulf are still in debt. And they still work with games. They've started a new studio, but this time, they won't set their trust in big distributors. They're enthustiastic about taking the new game and showing it to the press next week on E3. There, they will make their comeback.
EDIT: Should be noted that the text above is a purely translated version (although shortened) of the article in the newspaper. It's not me who has written the article, but a Swedish game journalist. I'm neutral in this whole thing and haven't gotten any more information than what I've read.