United Front Games lands on its feet with triple-A publisher deal

Square Enix swoop to save axed True Crime

Canadian studio United Front Games has returned from the brink with the backing of new partner Square Enix, with the Tokyo publisher revealing it will bring the True Crime project to market.

United Front spent some three years building True Crime: Hong Kong, but in February Activision rocked the studio by unexpectedly cancelling its near-finished project.

Because Activision still owns the True Crime IP, United Front’s game will return under a new name, Square Enix said.

“It’s too early to say what the game’s name will be," said Square Enix London Studios chief Lee Singleton in an interview with Gamasutra.

"I can honestly say I think [removing the True Crime brand] is going to be pretty straightforward," he added.

"When we first saw and got our hands on the game we fell in love with it. It’s one of those games where you don’t want to put the controller down. It’s what we call ‘sticky’."

The project will now be managed via Square Enix London Studios, which has in the past aided development on games such as Rocksteady’s first Batman and Just Cause 2 by Avalanche Studios.

United Front was the subject of growing speculation that the Vancouver studio would close in the fallout of Activision’s decision to axe True Crime.

Days after the project cancellation, an anonymous United Front source told Develop that the studio would hold firm, yet Singleton said many staff were taken off the project after Activision axed it.

"During this time, the game has continued to be developed by a core team on a slower burn, but now that we’ve signed, we’re ready to turn up the heat and get the team up to capacity," he said.

"We see this as a fantastic opportunity to create a new and unique franchise which gamers will come to know and love for years to come."

True Crime Hong Kong was originally in development for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and was due for release in November.

Square Enix has not revealed when the unnamed game will be published.

In February Activision publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg said True Crime: Hong Kong was cancelled because, “to be blunt, it just wasn’t going to be good enough."

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