Yesterday I wrote a post about the closing down of United Front Games. I want to address something that I left out in that post. Over the years, I know that UFG received a lot of criticism for not making a sequel to their most successful and well-known game, Sleeping Dogs. People called for a sequel for years on end. The people at UFG were not idiots, they heard the fans loud and clear. UFG themselves would have loved to make a sequel.
To understand why that never happened, we need to go back and examine the sequence of events that went from Activision canceling True Crime: Hong Kong to Square Enix picking up the development costs to help finish what eventually became Sleeping Dogs. When Activision bailed on the game, it left UFG in a bad situation. There were mass layoffs and while Activision left UFG the rights to most of the code and the assets, they still had to find a publisher and someone who could fund the rest of the development. The game was shopped around to various publishers and eventually Square Enix stepped in and a deal was brokered. I’m obviously not privy to all the details but it’s clear to me that Square Enix got some very favourable terms as UFG was not in a great bargaining positions. One of the concessions they had to make was the Sleeping Dogs intellectual property would belong to Square Enix. In return, UFG received the money they needed to finish the game.
The important thing to note here is that UFG did not control the IP. They couldn’t make anything Sleeping Dogs related without the consent of Square Enix. As the publisher, Square Enix also controlled the money too. So UFG could have wanted to make a sequel more than anything in the world but if Square Enix decided they didn’t want to spend the money, then UFG was stuck with no where to go.
This is the reason the public got the ill-fated Triad Wars, the free-to-play game that was set in the Sleeping Dogs universe but wasn’t really the game that the gaming public even asked for. Square Enix was willing to give just a tiny bit of money to develop a free-to-play game instead of the full-fledged, open-world sequel that everyone wanted.
If the gaming public at large wants to rightfully blame someone for not letting them have Sleeping Dogs 2, they should blame Square Enix. They still hold the rights to that IP and I feel confident they will never ever make another game in universe again.