Bankrupted Studio Says Square Enix Demanded Code By Fax, Didn’t Recognize FFXII Screenshots

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 $US20 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 realised 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]


  • It’s sad to see events like this occur. Video game development is riddled with stress as it is, and this sort of behavior is very frustrating.

    However, we do have to keep in mind that there may have been communication problems, and certain European approaches to game development may not have translated well, and vice versa.

    Some games created under similar environments turn out extremely well. Shame that it’s unlikely we’ll ever see “Fortress” on store shelves.

  • Not surprised at all.

    “Too many gameplay! Male character looks like a man! Not Final Fantasy!”

    But yeah, all this stuff like faxing the game code makes Squeenix look hilariously out-of-date and makes sense, considering how gameplay-wise, they haven’t evolved since the mid-90s.

    The Deus Ex 3 development was also hampered by Squeenix’s ridiculous demands.

  • Japan is famous for snubbing the western world when it comes to game development. Not surprising when they claim they have shitty sales in the western market when they view it’s developers so poorly.

  • Surprised no one seems to have entertained the possibility this could just be sour grapes from a failed developer.

    I think it’s indicative of the negative feelings people seem to have towards Square Enix these days, mostly on account of FFXIII, apparently. That and delays for Versus XIII and Agito XIII.

    Then again, I enjoyed FFXIII, and have played (and also enjoyed) just about every title in the series. I seem to be a minority.

  • Lawsuit or it didn’t happen. They may be a small dev but if its worth $20 mil and SE pulled the carpet out from under them then they should at least be chasing them up for costs.

  • This is exactly the reason why i stopped playing any of SE games, after FF7, only kingdom heart worthed to be played

  • Funny, a nordic themed FF sounds interesting. I haven’t bought an FF game in ages, this from it being my favorite IP pre-X2.

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