In a feature story published today in Sweden, the founders of GRIN lay their studio's precipitous demise at Square Enix's feet, saying the publisher reneged on payments during the development of a Final Fantasy game and saddled them with ridiculous requirements as the project went sour.
This is according a story (translated via Google) published today by Aftonbladet, an often provocative tabloid but, with 1.2 million readers, a newspaper of record for Sweden. In direct quotes, co-founders Ulf and Bo Andersson allege that Square Enix didn't pay a cent on a roughly $20 million (USD) contract for "Fortress," (concept art pictured) the code name for a Final Fantasy spinoff that diverged from the series' JRPG roots. The Anderssons say they met all project milestones up to the company's August 2009 bankruptcy.
As the relationship deteriorated, the Anderssons say Square Enix sent them a strange demand: Fax us the game's code, including the project's music files. "It is as silly as it sounds," Bo Andersson said (Google translation.) "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."
Square Enix then said GRIN had not been sending its milestone work to the right department, that it should have been filed with the publisher's legal division, an unusual requirement. Square Enix also started complaining that they didn't like the game's Nordic style, even though they'd asked for that at the outset, and is presumably why they went to GRIN in the first place.
Feeling like they'd been set up to fail, GRIN sent Square Enix an image taken from Final Fantasy XII saying it was a production shot from "Fortress." The Anderssons say Square Enix replied "It does not look like Final Fantasy."
"Then we realized that whatever we do ... they have decided," Bo Andersson said. (Google translation).
The remainder of the story chart's GRIN's rise and fall and the Anderssons' resulting debts and disappointment, especially in light of successful Swedish developers such as DICE (Battlefield) and Markus Persson, the creator of the indie hit Minecraft. Again, it's a Google translation, but the piece is reasonably straightforward and readable.
"We wanted to come in and revolutionize Final Fantasy, which is exactly what they need," said Andersson. "The latest version sucks of course."
Strangled by Gaming Giant [Aftonbladet, thanks Hampus and Isac]