Bankrupted Studio Says Square Enix Demanded Code by Fax, Didn't Recognize FFXII Screenshots

Illustration for article titled Bankrupted Studio Says Square Enix Demanded Code by Fax, Didn't Recognize FFXII Screenshots

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."

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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.

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"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]

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DISCUSSION

This sounds like total bullshit. Is there anyone out there that actually believes that someone can blow $12 million a month on a game without even having a contract for it? It doesn't even make sense when you think about it.

I think that more than likely, GRIN's shitty work was becoming more clear when nearly all their games were critically panned, and SQEX started to re-evaluate what was going on. There is no way in hell that GRIN would have made anything that would be up to the Final Fantasy label, and I have no idea why they ever thought it would be.

I seriously doubt that they would have revolutionized anything about Final Fantasy. And the bit about FFXIII sucking is rich. GRIN has never created a game that is even 1/10th as good.

I think the most telling part of this story though is how Kotaku ignores every single one of the incredibly numerous updates about Type-0 that are coming out in Japan in every large video game magazine, and every large game site for weeks now. Instead, they're scouring obscure Swedish tabloids, and using Google translate to search for any little nugget to feed the trolls; with or without evidence. Pretty sure no one tried to contact SQEX before going to print with this. It's really pathetic. Fair and balanced guys. And most of the commenters here are clearly drinking the Fox News kool-aid. You guys really disgust me.