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Woolfe, the Kickstarted game that sank one developer, picked up by another

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

The saga of Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries, the fantasy-themed 3D platformer whose commercial failure pushed its developer out of business in August, isn't over. GRIN has given the title up to Rebellion, the UK-based studio behind Zombie Army Trilogy, Rogue Trooper and the Aliens vs. Predator series — as well as the publishers of 2000 AD and Judge Dredd comics and multiple science fiction imprints.

In a press release sent to Polygon yesterday, Rebellion explains the strange turn of events that brought Little Red Riding Hood to their doorstep.

"Aside from developing our own IP," the press release states, "Rebellion occasionally acquires unique and exciting projects from other developers, and we like to think we have one of the most diverse games portfolios out there.

"No [Kickstarter backer] money has passed to Rebellion with the purchase, only Woolfe’s IP and all assets (including some of the backer rewards) related to the game. Of course these were all at least partially funded by your pledges, so that’s why we want to make sure as many backers as possible who are missing rewards still get them!"

Kickstarter rewards for the original campaign, which ended in September of 2014 after earning a total of $72,139, included (among other things) physical art books, physical copies of Woolfe including deluxe boxed versions of the game, ringtones and posters. Rebellion says that "it looks very likely we’ll be able to provide all outstanding physical add-on rewards at no further cost to backers."

This isn't the first time a Kickstarted game has been rescued by another developer. In 2013, The Doom that Came to Atlantic City, a board game that earned nearly $123,000 on Kickstarter, was picked up by Cryptozoic Entertainment and successfully delivered to backers. Of course, that was after its project manager used most of that money on "unrelated personal expenses," a breach of trust that eventually brought the ire of the United States Federal Trade Commission.

Wim Wouters, founder and CEO of now-defunct GRIN blamed feature creep as the reason for Woolfe's lackluster performance.

"The optimist in me led me to believe we could actually pull off making a 'bigger' indie game," he wrote in August. "I really wanted to prove an indie game did not have to be rendered in pixels or stylized as a solution to cut development costs. I wanted to believe that a team of 6 to 10 people could make a game that looked and felt AAA. Boy was I wrong!

"Once the sales numbers began rolling in the consequences of our beautiful adventure started to become painfully clear."

Rebellion says it does not intend to expand the game, which was cited by players as being woefully short. They also have no plans for a console version, or a second full episode, at this time.

"It has been a difficult time for those involved with Woolfe and for you, the backers," Rebellion says, "but today we’re writing to tell you that Woolfe is still alive, and now in the hands of a new owner.

"We’re delighted to add Woolfe’s gorgeous, twisted universe to our burgeoning list of indie games and we hope you’ll join us for the ride."