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 US 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.