Publishing executives say complimentary stuff about their upcoming games all of the time. So what. But there's an unusual history with Sleeping Dogs, which Square Enix will release Aug. 14—it was formerly known as True Crime: Hong Kong until Activision washed its hands of the franchise in the Feb. 2011 bloodbath that killed off Guitar Hero.
"We really felt like we had found a diamond in the rough," Mike Fischer, the boss of Square Enix's U.S. division, told VentureBeat. "Obviously the game was originally True Crime: Hong Kong from Activision. I can't speak to why they let that go. I'm not going to speculate on their behalf. All I know is, they've gotta be crazy. Because this game is just fantastic."
Maybe it is. There's no question that True Crime was a troubled title. Its lone success—a moderate one at that—published in 2003. Two years later, it dropped a bug-filled stinkbomb. Activision canceled a planned True Crime 3 and then hooked up with United Front Games, still the developer of Sleeping Dogs, to put the True Crime label on the open-world game they were cooking up in 2008. Even though it was a completely different studio, the development costs and delays surrounding the project, and Activision's belief that whatever would come out of it couldn't meet expectations in the demanding open-world genre, led Activision to walk away.
So, yeah, maybe they are "crazy," especially if this does turn out to be a good game. Who knows. Maybe this is a win for everyone though. Activision isn't sinking money into a title whose name is mud with gamers; United Front's finishing up an original open-world game and Square Enix has what it thinks is a contender. Maybe unshackling this from the True Crime name is really all it needed.