Having been lucky enough to see United Front Games’ True Crime: Hong Kong in person, January’s announcement from Activision that the franchise reboot had been axed was an especially disappointing situation for me. Probably much more so than if I had been relying on online assets for impressions, like so many gamers eager to play it.
After a long window of radio silence, the publisher’s move was “based on the desire to focus on the greatest opportunities that the company currently has to create the world’s best interactive entertainment experiences,” including Call of Duty, Bungie’s upcoming decade-long franchise, and Blizzard titles. It was further added that TC: HK “just wasn’t going to be good enough” , compared to its competition in the open-world genre. Developer United Front went on to lay-off 100 employees shortly after the news, saying they were sorry to not get the chance to bring the all-but completed project to market, but they “understood why”.
Speaking with GI.biz, Activision’s VP of developer relations and acquisitions Dan Winters offered up a bit more insight into the situation, and provides a tiny glimmer of hope.
“The challenges in the market place right now, when you’re talking about open-world games that are going to compete with titles like Red Dead Redemption, expectations for the consumer are really high,” Winters explained.
“So that left the True Crime title being a mid-tier opportunity which we felt was an opportunity cost against other things. But we have a lot of confidence in the quality of the studio and the quality of the title, just not in the scale of the opportunity.“
Winters goes on to say, “That would have been, and still might end up being, a very successful mid-tier opportunity for someone. But, as I said, we changed our business model to where we were going to focus disproportionately on three big, huge monsters. Those three monsters are the Bungie, Call of Duty and [Skylander's: Spyro's Adventure] titles.“
Curious. That makes it sound as though Activision might be up for letting someone else bring the title to market. How that would work, since Activision owns the True Crime IP, might be somewhat of an issue. Perhaps it could be overhauled and released under a different name?
There’s been scuttlebutt in the months since its cancelation that other publishers — some notable ones, too — have been in discussions about acquiring the game, but nothing’s been officially confirmed. Still, it’s unfortunate to know that regardless of what happens, True Crime: Hong Kong won’t be seeing the light of day anytime soon, if it ever does at all.