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Sniper Elite developer buys Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries

Rebellion to send out physical rewards to Kickstarter backers.

UK video game company Rebellion has bought the Woolfe intellectual property.

Rebellion, maker of the Sniper Elite games, picked up the Woolfe IP at an auction after its creator, Belgian studio Grin, went bust.

2378 backers pledged $72,139 towards the Kickstarter for Woolfe, described as a "cinematic fairy tale platformer" for PC starring a "vengeful" Red Riding Hood. It launched on Steam priced £6.99 back in March to mixed reviews, and failed to sell well enough to keep Grin going.

In August, Grin's founder Wim Wouters wrote an impassioned statement about the closure of the studio and the end of Woolfe as they knew it. We covered the story at the time.

"There are components of the game that are excellent, and there are components of the game that are actually not very good at all," Rebellion chief Jason Kingsley told Eurogamer.

"You can't condemn it entirely. The art was good. I liked the ambience it created. I found certain aspects of the gameplay quite frustrating, or quite bad. Let's be frank. Let's call it what it is: quite bad.

"But not every game has to be perfect. That's part of the craft and art of the game industry. You can see good things and bad things in the same package. I thought it was ambitious and maybe we should take a look at it in general."

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Before getting in touch with the liquidators who were handling the sale of Grin's assets, Kingsley phoned Wouters to see how he felt about the prospect of another company buying Woolfe.

"He was a really decent bloke," Kingsley remembers. "He came across as very enthusiastic and, by his own admission, a little naive about how difficult it is to make a game. He's still enthusiastic about things, and he was really supportive of the idea of us getting the IP and considering doing more with it.

"His attitude was an important component of us moving forward and putting in a bid. If he'd said no, don't touch my baby with a barge pole, I probably would have backed off."

Kingsley declined to reveal how much, exactly, Rebellion paid for Woolfe: "It wasn't huge, but it was a meaningful amount of money... not an enormous amount of money, but there were quite a few people competing for it. We paid a little more than we were perhaps expecting to."

After sealing the deal, Rebellion popped a couple of people on a train to Belgium to pick up a hard-drive containing the Woolfe source code, as well as physical rewards that had been promised to Kickstarter backers but weren't sent out because Grin ran out of money. The Rebellion staff drove back to the UK in a van packed with two pallets-worth of Woolfe-related items.

Rebellion is sifting through the pallets now, but has already promised to do its best to send all the physical rewards out to those who are owed them. (There's a list of items Rebellion has promised to send out to backers over on the Woolfe Kickstarter page.)

Grin went bust after Woolfe failed to sell well enough to keep the studio going. Now, it's found a new home in the UK.

Kingsley would also like to dig into the Woolfe source code to see if Rebellion can improve the game Grin built, but whether this will happen remains up in the air.

"It's on Unreal 3, which is an engine we're familiar with, but haven't released anything on," he said.

"We use our own tech [the Asura engine]. We're pretty busy at the moment in terms of the projects we're working on, but we've got a couple of people looking into what's possible, what's practical and what's impossible. That will take us a good few weeks. Picking up other peoples' source code varies between being a complete nightmare and an utter nightmare. That's the scale of complexity."

Of course, Rebellion didn't buy the Woolfe IP just to honour Kickstarter rewards. It'll make money from the sale of the game on Steam, but the masterplan is to assess the IP to see if it's worth making new games based on it. (Part of the purchase includes assets from a second episode of Woolfe that was in development, but the new game was far from being finished.)

"Personally, I would like to see more games of this type: the dark fairytale, adventure platformer type of game," Kingsley continued.

"It's something I like. Whether we do Woolfe 2 or whether there will be more adventures of the same kind of type set in a similar kind of world, I just don't know. It's too early to tell. But I do really like the atmosphere and feel of it. It deserves more oxygen."