In May, Midway received an 11th-hour savior in the form of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, who put in a $33 million offer for the bulk of the bankrupt publisher's assets. Not all of Midway's holdings were party to the offer, however, with WBIE opting not to include the publisher's Newcastle (Wheelman) and San Diego (TNA Impact) studios as part to the deal.
With Midway's court-supervised adjudication process concluding by the end of this month, Newcastle is actively courting a buyer that will keep the studio's doors open. To aid it in this endeavor, Newcastle today announced Necessary Force, an original intellectual property that tells a noir-style crime drama built on the backbone of Newcastle's Wheelman engine, which is based on Epic Games' Unreal Engine III technology.
Speaking to British magazine Develop, Newcastle studio head Craig Duncan said Necessary Force is the studio's attempt to distinguish itself as a unique development house. "I think that, because we were an internal studio within Midway, a lot of people don't really know what we're about," he said. "We're not really a driving studio, although it's in our heritage; we've got this great backbone of technology that enables us to make flexible open-world content relatively quickly."
Of Necessary Force specifically, Duncan said that its fundamental goal is to better explore the noir genre through the gaming medium. "The idea of a detective who sets his own rules is the sort of story that's been around in movies for a while, but we don't think anyone's managed to capture the essence of those choices and consequences in games," he said. "That unprecedented level of open-world influence and troubled morality is something we're really keen to explore."
With the world economy in turmoil, Newcastle's bid to stave off closure isn't an uncommon predicament, and the possibility of a last-minute buyer isn't unheard of. In late 2008, fellow British developer Free Radical Design, of TimeSplitters fame and Haze infamy, filed for bankruptcy after a number of its upcoming develop contracts fell through. Rather than going under, however, Free Radical was picked up by Crysis creators Crytek, who bought the studio along with its remaining assets in February.