There has been a rumor circulating around that has made it’s way to many news articles across the web lately. The rumor is that supposedly L.A. Noire will be making it’s way to the Nintendo Switch, if the rumor is to be believed. Many of you remember the neo-noir detective action-adventure video game developed by Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games. It was initially released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms on May 17th, 2011; a Microsoft Windows port was later released on November 8th, 2011 (which was handled by Rockstar Leeds).
Before addressing the rumor head on, I would like to discuss the development history of L.A. Noire as that is a very important factor to discuss when talking about this rumor. The development of L.A. Noire began back in 2003 by Team Bondi whom was the developer while Rockstar Games was the publisher. Though Team Bondi oversaw development, the work was shared between the core team and multiple Rockstar studios around the world. L.A. Noire was delayed numerous times through its seven-year development, which included a change of publisher and platforms. The working hours and managerial style of the studio during development was met with public complaints from many staff members. Team Bondi eventually ended up closing down back in October 2011.
Now let’s break it down:
1.) Announcements & Delays:
The six-person studio, Team Bondi, immediately announced their first project, for “a next-generation Sony platform” back in 2003 when they were founded. In 2004, McNamara, who founded the studio, said that the project was completely funded by Sony Computer Entertainment America. The game’s title, L.A. Noire, and platform was revealed back in 2005 as a PlayStation 3 exclusive. Team Bondi only described the game as a “detective thriller”.
Later in September 2006, it was announced that Rockstar Games would be handling the publishing of the game; Rockstar only referred to it as a “next-generation crime thriller”, with no platforms specified.
In June 2007, Rockstar’s parent company Take-Two Interactive re-confirmed the release of the PlayStation 3 version by listing the game among its “announced to date” titles for “fiscal year 2008”. A spokesperson for Take-Two then later implied that the game was likely to also be released on the Xbox 360.
In September 2007, Take-Two announced that the game had been delayed until their 2009 fiscal year. The March 2010 issue of Game Informer confirmed that the game would be released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in September 2010; L.A. Noire missed this release date, when Take-Two delayed the game until the first half of 2011, confident that the delay would help the game’s success. This was later narrowed down to March 2011, before a final delay until May 17th, 2011. Rockstar Leed over the next six months, successfully ported it over to the PC on November 8th, 2011.
2.) Staff Complaints:
Shortly after the launch of the game, a group of former Team Bondi employees launched a website called lanoirecredits.com, containing over 100 names which had been excluded or incorrectly listed in the official game credits. This was later followed by a series of claims and counter-claims about working hours and company managerial style during the game’s development. Anonymous members of the development team publicly discussed the managerial style of the studio, the studio’s staff turnover rates and the working hours and conditions associated with L.A. Noire.
In July 2011, a series of confidential emails were leaked along with further comments from staff members. They claimed the emails highlight the contentious relationship between Team Bondi and Rockstar, and indicate that the two companies are unlikely to work together again. An anonymous source from the development team claimed that “it has been quite clear that [Rockstar] will not publish Team Bondi’s next game”, and that “the relationship with Rockstar has been badly damaged”. The source claimed:
“Part of the conflict between Team Bondi and Rockstar was due to Rockstar’s frustration with Team Bondi’s direction, and eventually Team Bondi’s management in turn resented Rockstar for taking lots of creative control. It’s also worth pointing out that Rockstar used to be very keen on making Team Bondi something like ‘Rockstar Sydney’ – the more they worked with Team Bondi management, the more they came to understand that this was a terrible idea.”
3.) Team Bondi Closed Down:
Team Bondi was placed into administration in August 2011, and was wound up in October 2011. The company’s assets were all bought by Kennedy Miller Mitchell, including McNamara’s next game, titled Whore of the Orient. Rockstar retained the L.A. Noire intellectual property. Some Team Bondi former employees went on to work for different Rockstar studios, while some went to Kennedy Miller Mitchell. Despite the allegedly difficult relationship during development, McNamara maintains an optimistic attitude towards Rockstar. “I’ve no hard feelings about Rockstar and hopefully it doesn’t have any hard feelings about us,” he said.
Now that I’ve walked you through the development hell of L.A. Noire, let’s discuss this rumor.
Let’s discuss some possible things relating to this rumor:
Back in August 2011, speaking during an investor call, CEO Strauss Zelnick announced that L.A. Noire was Take-Two’s (Take-Two is the parent company of Rockstar) “most successful new release” in the past fiscal year and has become a key property in its portfolio. “This groundbreaking title from Rockstar has set a new standard for video games with cinematic art and has become an important franchise for the company.“
CEO Zelnick also recently said just this month in an earnings call that, “With regard to Switch, we’re excited about Switch. We’re supporting Switch with NBA 2K18. We’ve said we’re supporting the platform. I’ve said over and over again that when Nintendo comes to market you never want to count them out. So, we’re excited about it. The only thing we’ve announced so far is the basketball title.“
The President of Take-Two, Karl Slatoff, also mentioned in the earnings call this past month that, “NBA 2K18 will be our first offering for the Switch and we’re pleased to support Nintendo’s new platform and to expand the audience for our industry-leading brands. Looking ahead, we have a robust long-term development pipeline and our creative teams across both of our labels will continue to explore new and innovative ways to drive engagement with our titles and growth in recurrent consumer spending.“
As you can see, both the CEO and President of Take-Two which is the parent company of Rockstar is both very excited about the Nintendo Switch and are looking for ways to support it.
The rumor of a port for L.A. Noire on the Nintendo Switch would only make sense in one scenario being Team Bondi is no longer in existence and Rockstar owns the IP. The one scenario it would be possible in is if Rockstar Leeds handles the port of L.A. Noire to the Nintendo Switch. Rockstar Leeds handled the PC port back in November 2011 and Rockstar Leeds also primarily focuses on handheld development or portation of games. Rockstar Leeds also in the past worked on Nintendo Handheld games with the most recent being Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars for Nintendo DS. You can see below the history of their work:
For reference, here are all the other different studios within Rockstar with a few notes on what they have done:
L.A. Noire would be the perfect title for Rockstar to get their feet wet with for the Nintendo Switch, similar to how Bethesda is doing with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, being Rockstar Leeds is already familiar with the porting of L.A. Noire and also having a development history of making games for a Nintendo console.
Polygon recently spoke with Tyrone Rodriguez, the president of Nicalis, whose company has three Switch games planned, including one launch title, The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+. Rodriguez went on to say “The Switch is, by far the easiest and most programmer friendly so far,” he said. “I know this sounds like lip service to Nintendo, but it’s actually not. If this wasn’t true, we wouldn’t be able to get these games up and running as quickly as we have, and we wouldn’t be able to have a launch title. It’s light years ahead of what we were doing with Wii U.”
Being able to port Afterbirth+ to a console so quickly after it just launched on PC is almost unheard of in the indie space. This just gives an idea that if an indie developer can port their game over so quickly to the Nintendo Switch, then Rockstar could easily handle porting over one of their smaller games like L.A. Noire over to the Nintendo Switch if they wanted.
If Rockstar really wanted to start supporting the Nintendo Switch then this would be the best way to start supporting them instead of trying to port over a larger game like Grand Theft Auto V or Red Dead Redemption 2. As always, take a rumor with a grain of salt until actual REAL evidence is revealed. If you have any more information to provide as whether this rumor is real or fake then you can leave us a comment below, tweet us @GameTreeHouse or email us.
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