When Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries raised $US72,139 on Kickstarter, its creators hoped to kick off an episodic, sinister take on Red Riding Hood. But when the game was released, it bombed, and the developers filed for bankruptcy and cancelled some of the backer rewards. Then, out of nowhere, came a saviour.
"It's done, there is no way back. We tried, we failed," read a Kickstarter update from GRIN founder Wim Wouters.
(This is not the same GRIN that created the most recent Bionic Commando games, by the way. Different GRIN.)
In the update, Wouters admitted failure on multiple fronts. Though GRIN had managed to ship Woolfe in March, the game hadn't sold well. It'd be one thing if Woofle had underperformed and GRIN was forced to change the scope of the next game, but it was worse than that. Instead, GRIN was going out of business, development was halting, and Wouters was losing control of the company.
"At first we could not believe that our 'baby' was not more successful, in our emotions we started looking for explanations not related to the game," said Woutesr. "Maybe gamers are just spoilt brats, bashing on everything, maybe there is an oversaturation of indie market, maybe all the free-to-play games by big studios are giving players a false sense of value. How could less than $US10 be to expensive for a beautiful game like Woolfe? How could this be our fault? Of course none of the emotional excuses above are the reason of our mixed steam rating. We can only blame ourselves…"
It couldn't fulfil all the backer rewards people had asked for. Much of it was ready to be shipped, but the company didn't even have the money for postage.
That seemed like the end of the story for GRIN, Wouters, and Woolfe, but a surprise update on the game's Kickstarer page today changed everything.
Rebellion, the developer behind the Sniper Elite series and the early Alien vs. Predator games, decided to buy the rights to Woofle when GRIN went under.
GRIN is still dead, but Woolfe -- in some forms, anyway -- isn't.
In addition to being a game developer, Rebellion is also involved in comic books, producing films, and other nerdy stuff. They were quickly attracted to Woolfe.
"Our book imprints have published quite a few dark and twisted retellings of classic tales," said the studio, "and so Woolfe's gorgeous, twisted take on Red Riding Hood immediately caught our interest when we heard it was up for sale."
In the short term, as a gesture of goodwill, Rebellion is looking into fulfilling backer rewards that didn't ship when GRIN folded. The company is still looking into the logistics of everything, but it's committed to making fans happy, and will even create some of the backer rewards themselves, if they have to.
"Our aim is to deliver all these rewards to backers by the end of the year," the company said. "Some items might take longer than others, and some may have to be changed from their original specification depending on the assets inherited from GRIN, but we'll keep as close to original designs as practically possible."
How cool is that?
It's unclear what'll happen to Woolfe as a game, however. Rebellion has gained access to GRIN's assets, but it hasn't made any decisions on whether to pick up where GRIN left off, do something new, or abandon Woolfe as a games property. GRIN had plans to bring Woolfe to consoles, and while Rebellion isn't saying that won't happen, nothing's is in the cards yet.
We've seen a bunch of big Kickstarters run into problems in the past year or so. Though GRIN is gone, it's nice to see this one get a (mostly) happy ending.