They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Well, what about Sleeping Dogs?
Regardless, lessons have been learned. Vancouver’s own United Front Games is responsible for a lot of great things. ModNation Racers, which didn’t take off, was an awesome package of fun and chaos.
As was their GTA-like game Sleeping Dogs—originally a successor to True Crime set in Hong Kong—which UFG acquired the rights for post-cancellation, and released it to critical acclaim. It was a fantastic triumph in preservation by a small developer without much clout. They’re also responsible for the amazing Tomb Raider Definitive Edition, and the Little Big Planet Karting game.
Since the success of Sleeping Dogs, UFG has been on high-burn developing an MMO-type game set in the same universe. Triad Wars, which has been in closed beta for most of 2015, has officially had its plug pulled. Just like the golden-haired darling of the silver screen, it will be no longer.
In a statement released via the game’s forums in December, John_UFG stated: “Since the start of the Triad Wars Closed Beta this year, diligent Enforcers have run rampant through the streets of Hong Kong, killing rivals and building Empires. During this time we have gathered immense amounts of feedback, information, and data on the game.”
Immense amount of feedback, and data gathering? That’s not a good opener.
“We’ve loved seeing how you’ve played Triad Wars but we know it wasn’t right for many of you so we’re letting you know today that we are going to close the beta and service on 20th January 2016,” he continued.
Exact date and time. With that much notice. Interesting. Also, the “wasn’t right for many of you” is most likely in retrospect to the outcry from Sleeping Dogs fans when UFG announced Triad Wars instead of a Sleeping Dogs sequel.
“That’s four weeks from today and over this time we’re going to leave the game up and running for you to continue to enjoy but we will not be accepting any more purchases,” he added.
Turning off purchases? That leads me away from the money speculation. A lot of larger companies have attempted the LastMinuteMoneyGouge hail-mary in their final days. So many the choice is purely feedback/performance based.
“To help you enjoy these final four weeks we’re going to make Gold available free of charge and we’ll shortly be posting news on the forums about how to deal with refunds of unused Gold. Thank you very much for all the testing, feedback and support!”
Now they’re even offering refunds at the end for unused currency? Nobody does that.
Anyway, it’s obvious to me that the decision to take Triad Wars out back wasn’t one based on a loss of money. Although I’m sure it played a part. When Sleeping Dogs 2 wasn’t announced, it was at a time where MMO burnout was serious. Elders Scrolls, Final Fantasy, and countless other franchises were leaning towards making their beloved worlds filled with spawn-queues and nagging hordes of players. On top of that, dozens of new, unknown franchises were being born as MMORPGs. It was insane.
The ferocity from Sleeping Dogs fans was warranted. Shifting the game from the original type skewed the vision, and story-telling nature that was the beautifully crafted package.
On any other day, it would seem that the major franchise of a small studio getting shut down would spell a finish for the group, but in the words of Syrio Forel; not today.
I expect United Front Games to survive this blip. Why? Because it’s obvious people want more Sleeping Dogs. GTAV sold enormously well. Rockstar can’t tell me “No” about a Red Dead Redemption sequel fast enough. And people actually played Triad Wars.
So maybe the studio takes a little while to breathe, collect their thoughts, and then starts fullspeed development on an actual Sleeping Dogs 2.