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GRIN founders say Square Enix turned their smiles upside down

Despite shipping three poorly received titles back-to-back – those would be Wanted: Weapons of Fate, Terminator: Salvation, and Capcom's reboot of Bionic Commando – it was still quite a surprise when developer GRIN suddenly closed its doors in August of 2009. Shortly after the shuttering, we learned that the Swedish developer had been working on a new Final Fantasy game titled 'Fortress' for Square Enix and now, nearly two years later, co-founders Ulf and Bo Andersson are finally pointing fingers. And they're both pointing right at Square Enix.

"We wanted to come in and revolutionize Final Fantasy, which is exactly what they need," the brothers told Sweden's Aftonbladet in a far-reaching article on the demise of the once-mighty studio. "The latest version sucks of course." After working on Fortress for Square Enix for six months without receiving any payment, the studio simply couldn't afford to stay open.

Square Enix, for its part, introduced seemingly impossible restrictions on the delivery of milestones. At one point, GRIN was directed to deliver its code to Japan via fax. Bo Andersson told Aftonbladet, "It is as silly as it sounds. 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." To make matters worse, Andersson claims that Square Enix then said the milestones were not being sent to the right person and instead should have been sent to the legal department.

The Andersson brothers suggest that Square Enix had already made up its mind that Fortress wasn't a project it wanted anymore. "Nothing seemed good enough. Square did not believe anymore that the Nordic style suited Final Fantasy," the Anderssons said. To test their hypothesis, they sent over concept art from Square Enix's own Final Fantasy XII, to which Japan responded, "It does not look like Final Fantasy."

While many former GRIN staffers landed at studios like Fatshark, others formed their own outfits, like Might&Delight, Outbreak Studios, and Whiteout. The Anderssons, however, have been hard at work on a new studio, one with a notable change: It won't be dependent on big publishers. They'll be at E3 next week showing off their new project, so expect to learn more about it – and more about the demise of GRIN – then.

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