Rumour has it that Canadian studio United Front Games have closed down with a great suddenness. They’re best known for open-world crime simulator Sleeping Dogs, and most recently took multiplayer futurecrime brawler Smash+Grab to Steam Early Access. United Front haven’t formally announced anything yet, but scattered tweets and whispers suggest they’re done for. Smash+Grab has been pulled from sale too. Heck, this is mighty sudden – S+G held a free trial only last weekend. Hurling a brick as a Hail Mary pass.
The main evidence for all this is tweets across the datanet. To share just two, here’s former Smash+Grab producer Jen Timms:
Currently mourning the best job I've ever had, and the most wonderful team I've ever worked with.
The end of a great era.
— SCAREless Jen (@Scarlettjen) October 18, 2016
And designer Kyle Jensen:
7.5 years at UFG have come to an end. Wish everyone well – best people I've worked with hands down.
— Kyle Jensen (@zipperweasel) October 18, 2016
Plenty of folks from other Vancouver studios are a-tweety-twootin’ about it, and gabbing about vacancies they know of, so a shutdown looks fairly likely. At the very least, the Smash+Grab team seem done for – and United Front have not publicly announced any other upcoming games.
Smash+Grab is no longer on sale on Steam, though those who own it can still play. It had been in early access for less than a month, and United Front were gabbing about future update plans only last week. Buying early access games is always risky and I have enjoyed my time with Smash+Grab but yeah, for £13 I’d probably expect more than three weeks of support. Seems United Front didn’t expect this.
If I were given to blithe speculation, I might say something along the lines of: this looks like one of those situations where a dev has been in trouble for a while and hopes one game will carry them while they pitch other games, but none of those pitches landed. That’d be me wildly guessing, mind. Maybe they poured everything into Smash+Grab and thought it’d be a huge hit. Triad Wars, the free-to-play Sleeping Dogs spin-off United Front made for Square Enix, shut down this year without even leaving beta. And Smash+Grab was self-published, putting all the burden on United Front.
Maybe we’ll learn more when/if United Front actually make an announcement.