GRIN Alleges Square Enix Forced It Out of Business

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GRIN Alleges Square Enix Forced It Out of Business

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A studio that worked on an official Final Fantasy spin-off claims Square Enix made it impossible to succeed.

In a feature written in Swedish publication Aftonbladet, bankrupt videogame developer GRIN blames its demise on the irrational business practices of Square Enix. GRIN was once developing a Final Fantasy spin-off called Fortress, which wasn't given the chance to succeed according to former GRIN employees.

Ulf and Bo Andersson of GRIN say (through Google Translate) that Square Enix didn't pay any of the $20 million contract it had with the studio to develop Fortress, even though the duo claim they met every required milestone until going bankrupt in August 2009. As if this wasn't bad enough, GRIN became extremely suspicious of Square Enix when odd demands started to pour in.

For example, Square Enix started complaining about Fortress's Nordic style, though it was what Square Enix had asked for. Square Enix also told GRIN it should have been filing its milestone work with its legal department instead of the arm it was filed to, said to be an unusual request.

Further, Square Enix demanded that GRIN fax over Fortress's code, including music files. Bo Andersson said: "It is an impossible requirement, you can not send ASCII or binary codes on the fax. It is backward. Really retarded. It was almost a criminal activity."

GRIN's suspicions were confirmed when Square Enix failed one of the studio's tests. It sent Square Enix an image taken from Final Fantasy XII, saying it was from Fortress, to see what the company would do. Square Enix replied: "It does not look like Final Fantasy."

GRIN then knew it had no chance of succeeding no matter what it did. "We wanted to come in and revolutionize Final Fantasy, which is exactly what they need," Andersson added. "The latest version sucks of course."

If true, the story is an odd one. Square Enix recently admitted that it became "weaker than expected," and perhaps dealing with development partners in this manner is the reason why (again, assuming that this story is 100% true). Square Enix hasn't yet responded to GRIN's accusations.

Source: Aftonbladet, via Kotaku

Permalink

Not that much of a stretch to believe really. SE really have problems listening to others when told things.

One of the weirdest development story I have heard in recent time.
Faxing programing code??
Unreliable source couple with the claims make really hard to believe.

Just leave them alone until Deus Ex is out please.

SquareEnix has also had lots of problems lately with their games too,
they have all sucked, last good game was they made was FFX.

Interesting.. Although, what could SE possibly have to gain by being so stupid i wonder?

What have GRIN produced in the past? because I seem to recall rather liking them.

I think SE has the right to have control over the products they do outsource, because it is going to affect their brand if it does poorly (or well for that matter). But I think saying they were trying to revolutionize FF is a bit over the top. Its not exactly their place to recreate an existing franchise

Damn, I was pretty excited for Fortress, too.

Generic Gamer:
What have GRIN produced in the past? because I seem to recall rather liking them.

Ballistics (PC)
Bandits: Pheonix Rising (PC)
Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter
Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2
Bionic Commando
Bionic Commando Rearmed
Wanted

I believe that's all they have worked on.

On topic: That is a really really odd allegation and I was laughing over the fact FF XII didn't look like Final Fantasy to Sqaure.

Reallink:
I think SE has the right to have control over the products they do outsource, because it is going to affect their brand if it does poorly (or well for that matter). But I think saying they were trying to revolutionize FF is a bit over the top. Its not exactly their place to recreate an existing franchise

You mean "unless they were asked to do it," and it sounds like that's what S-E said they wanted.

Google translate strikes again!

RvLeshrac:

Reallink:
I think SE has the right to have control over the products they do outsource, because it is going to affect their brand if it does poorly (or well for that matter). But I think saying they were trying to revolutionize FF is a bit over the top. Its not exactly their place to recreate an existing franchise

You mean "unless they were asked to do it," and it sounds like that's what S-E said they wanted.

I think we will need to hear both sides to have this discussion. SE have outsourced some great games, E.G KH:CoM, but if they didn't like it, I think they have the right to pull the plug

To be honest any company that can think FF XIII and FF IV are games that should ever see the light of day is a bat-shit insane one.

Ilikemilkshake:
Interesting.. Although, what could SE possibly have to gain by being so stupid i wonder?

That's my thoughts as well. I doubt we'll ever hear the other side of the story, and when we do we'll probbaly find (if ever) that the truth is somewhere in the middle.

I have mixed thoughts here.

My first thought is that Grin might have been trying to dupe Squeenix. See, once you pay a developer a bunch of money it becomes pretty much impossible to get back, as they pretty much pay their workers and live off of it while the game is being made. This is why so much money got pimped into "Duke Nukem" and was never returned, it had all been spent. Due to situations like that a hired developer is usually expected to produce part of a product to give a guarantee that something like what is being contracted is actually going to be made.

Taking the claims with a grain of salt, the bottom line seems to be that Grin was being asked for proof of the work being done, and not receiving it. Comments about the proof being sent to the legal department, isn't unreasonable if you put thing in context of an ongoing dispute on the point of what was actually created. After all if Square Enix is unhappy with the deal, but there is a contract in place, then their legal team looking at the material to see if Grin met it's end of the deal as agreed to becomes an issue. Also having the lawyers involved makes sense if Grin is claiming to constantly been sending all this information, but amazingly Square Enix never seems to actually ever get any of it.

What makes me suspicious of this entire thing is them saying that they were asked for artwork and then send a piece of art from another game published by the company to them. That's.... not a professional move, and that right there could get a contract axed.

As far as the bit about the game being designed around a Nordic theme, well again the deal seems to be that Squeenix was only going to invest that 20 million if they saw a product they liked once they began development, that becomes subjective. Given that to the Japanese "Nordic" means things like oh say "Valkyrie Profile", it's quite probable that the works of a developer from that part of the world didn't quite match the vision of a Japanese company who wants everything viewed through a specific lens of oddness.

As I said, we'd have to hear both sides, I'm merely playing devil's advocate, and making a guess as to what the other side might be, based on what I'm reading here. The guess being based on other industry disputes I've heard about over the years, and the fights developers tend to get into. In the end we probably saw a situation where Grin wanted 20 million dollars to afford being able to do any real work, and thus turned out some very basic promotional materials, Squeenix didn't want to pay until they saw some real work done, and then Grin kept trying to make claims of real work to get the money, which lead to a lot of back and forth until everything just finally collapsed.

I laughed about the FFXII test. That's great.

Tom Goldman:
GRIN's suspicions were confirmed when Square Enix failed one of the studio's tests. It sent Square Enix an image taken from Final Fantasy XII, saying it was from Fortress, to see what the company would do. Square Enix replied: "It does not look like Final Fantasy."

Hahahahahahaha! I mean, I feel bad that GRIN got fucked over so badly, but still. That is some delightfully hilarious owange. I just hope they can use it to sue the fuck out of Square Enix. I mean really, I didn't think I could feel any less respect for Square Enix, but this news has proven otherwise. Fax some music over... Christ. No wonder everything they've done in recent history is a failure.

They should have caused a shit-storm when they realised something was wrong. GRIN could still be in business.

I question the truthfulness of these allegations. If it was true, and you had prove like that test, why would you not take them to court? There are laws in place to prevent that kind of thing happening.

It's hard to say who it is, but one of these companies is eating glue. Those are some absurd demands; whether GRIN made them up or Square-Enix actually demanded it... just wow.

mjc0961:

Tom Goldman:
GRIN's suspicions were confirmed when Square Enix failed one of the studio's tests. It sent Square Enix an image taken from Final Fantasy XII, saying it was from Fortress, to see what the company would do. Square Enix replied: "It does not look like Final Fantasy."

Hahahahahahaha! I mean, I feel bad that GRIN got fucked over so badly, but still. That is some delightfully hilarious owange. I just hope they can use it to sue the fuck out of Square Enix. I mean really, I didn't think I could feel any less respect for Square Enix, but this news has proven otherwise. Fax some music over... Christ. No wonder everything they've done in recent history is a failure.

Like what exactly?

Strixvaliano:

Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2

Ah yeah, that's the one. Brilliant game and no hand holding!

My guess is that they didn't buy that article you guys wrote on how to make good movie tie ins.

Reallink:

RvLeshrac:

Reallink:
I think SE has the right to have control over the products they do outsource, because it is going to affect their brand if it does poorly (or well for that matter). But I think saying they were trying to revolutionize FF is a bit over the top. Its not exactly their place to recreate an existing franchise

You mean "unless they were asked to do it," and it sounds like that's what S-E said they wanted.

I think we will need to hear both sides to have this discussion. SE have outsourced some great games, E.G KH:CoM, but if they didn't like it, I think they have the right to pull the plug

SE are just full of BS.

When they claim that FF XII doesn't look like Final Fantasy they are just trying to screw over a studio they contracted things to.

I really hope that GRIN sues SE into the ground.

Revolutionise FF..?

And that whole thing with showing them their own game.. I mean even if that is true, it's not like S-E don't have multiple divisions. 'Test'? Pulling something like that you'd think the studio was trying to screw itself...

This... this just sounds bizarre. I really don't..

Sorry, I kinda cant swallow this one >.> I can't believe there are people in here accepting it as wrote.

Blitzwing:

mjc0961:

Tom Goldman:
GRIN's suspicions were confirmed when Square Enix failed one of the studio's tests. It sent Square Enix an image taken from Final Fantasy XII, saying it was from Fortress, to see what the company would do. Square Enix replied: "It does not look like Final Fantasy."

Hahahahahahaha! I mean, I feel bad that GRIN got fucked over so badly, but still. That is some delightfully hilarious owange. I just hope they can use it to sue the fuck out of Square Enix. I mean really, I didn't think I could feel any less respect for Square Enix, but this news has proven otherwise. Fax some music over... Christ. No wonder everything they've done in recent history is a failure.

Like what exactly?

FF14, I'd call that a rousing failure in every sense of the word. They shoved an unfinished game out the door long before it was ever ready. What initial sales they may have made off of the game itself they have surely lost in having to not charge anyone a monthly fee because it's so broken. FF13 may have sucked but I understand it still sold well. Fourteen, unfortunately suffers from both suckage and losing money every day they go without their subscription fees in place.

could this be a case of the drowning man, drowning someone else in an attempt to save himself? except the 1st drowning man has been dead for a fair while.

Seems like more and more stories of companies screwing over or sabotaging themselves (presumably) on accident. The industry really needs to take a step back and identify the factors causing them to fuck up so bad if there's going to be any future for gaming.

Well that just bites!

FelixG:

Reallink:

RvLeshrac:

You mean "unless they were asked to do it," and it sounds like that's what S-E said they wanted.

I think we will need to hear both sides to have this discussion. SE have outsourced some great games, E.G KH:CoM, but if they didn't like it, I think they have the right to pull the plug

SE are just full of BS.

When they claim that FF XII doesn't look like Final Fantasy they are just trying to screw over a studio they contracted things to.

I really hope that GRIN sues SE into the ground.

Assuming that happened. Would you do that to the company who would be funding a project? I doubt it. It seems dreadfully unprofessional

KeyMaster45:

Blitzwing:

mjc0961:
No wonder everything they've done in recent history is a failure.

Like what exactly?

FF14, I'd call that a rousing failure in every sense of the word. They shoved an unfinished game out the door long before it was ever ready. What initial sales they may have made off of the game itself they have surely lost in having to not charge anyone a monthly fee because it's so broken. FF13 may have sucked but I understand it still sold well. Fourteen, unfortunately suffers from both suckage and losing money every day they go without their subscription fees in place.

FF14 is possibly the first MMO I've seen to go from subscription to free in under a month. It's amazingly pathetic and all due to Square Enix being unable and unwilling to take fair criticism of idiotic design decisions or to listen to opinions and ideas outside their own corporate environment. Consider how they treated GRIN. And while FF13 sold fairly well, you have to understand that it was in development hell for the better part of a decade, being in development while FFXII was almost simultaneously. It's extremely unlikely that they recouped their development costs for 13. Furthermore, they've even gone so far as to separate FF13 Agito from the "Fabula Nova" FF13 sub-brand so as not to hurt its sales by association. Only time will tell if FF13 Versus will get a rebranding or if they're hoping it'll redeem the FF13 sub-brand.

Now, they probably killed GRIN's project because they 1) didn't want to leave a major property in an overseas developmer's hands and 2) didn't want to hurt FF13's chances by having it compete with a Westerner-made FFXII spin-off. Much good that did them. Now, they've learned the hard way that they just can't compete. Look at another Japanese major publisher who's relied on Western development studios to work on their projects and see how they're doing: Capcom. They're now the only major Japanese publisher to regularly claim a profit in no small part because they trusted their overseas development partners. I'm of course talking about Dead Rising 2.

Woodsey:
Just leave them alone until Deus Ex is out please.

Hopefully, Square Enix has seen the writing on the wall and won't abuse their Eidos acquisitions the same way they abused GRIN or their own internal development teams. Remember the rumors surrounding FFXII and Yasumi Matsuno's troubles with SE management on that project.

So, Square Enix is being run by monkeys now?

Reallink:

FelixG:

Reallink:

I think we will need to hear both sides to have this discussion. SE have outsourced some great games, E.G KH:CoM, but if they didn't like it, I think they have the right to pull the plug

SE are just full of BS.

When they claim that FF XII doesn't look like Final Fantasy they are just trying to screw over a studio they contracted things to.

I really hope that GRIN sues SE into the ground.

Assuming that happened. Would you do that to the company who would be funding a project? I doubt it. It seems dreadfully unprofessional

It is important to note that they were not being funded, SE were being douches and not giving them the money they needed, so if I was being jerked around by another company with idiotic tests (fax game code and music files?) sure, I would test them right back to see WTF is going on.

Wow, that's criminal and just downright horrid.

Grin was probably doing it better than them so they decided to sabotage them. What a bunch of pricks. I hope they sue SE and sue them hard, and win.

FelixG:
SE are just full of BS.

When they claim that FF XII doesn't look like Final Fantasy they are just trying to screw over a studio they contracted things to.

I really hope that GRIN sues SE into the ground.

GRIN hasn't existed for quite a while now. They chose not to go to court because they were already in debt, and couldn't afford the risk of losing even more.

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