Gamasutra has learned that a Dundee, Scotland-based developer called Ruffian Games has been founded by key Crackdown-related employees, including lead designer Billy Thomson, with unconfirmed reports of a Crackdown sequel in development there.
A recent Flickr picture set shows a trio of Ruffian employees, including Xen Group veteran Gaz Liddon, surveying offices in the Dundee area.
In 2006 and 2007, Xen Group provided "core technology" for rendering and physics, artwork, design and managerial resources to the original Crackdown, which was developed by David Jones' Dundee-based Realtime Worlds.
In addition, Crackdown lead designer Billy Thomson, associated with Xen Group following his stint on the game, also appears to be a member of the new Ruffian team, which was in the process of moving into new permanent offices in October.
As for hints on a sequel to Realtime Worlds' 'sleeper' futuristic action title for Xbox 360, which has sold over 1.5 million copies, a recent issue of Game Informer magazine claims of the Crackdown franchise: "The first title was developed by Realtime Worlds, but the company is currently working on APB and not Crackdown 2. The sequel is in production with a different development team."
Judging from legal filings and comments in early 2008 from Microsoft's Shane Kim, it appears that Microsoft wholly owns the intellectual property for the franchise, and can assign it to a developer of their choice.
More intrigue on the subject of a sequel has come via a recent Larry 'Major Nelson' Hryb podcast, as reported on by Kotaku, which had Microsoft Game Studios boss Phil Spencer commenting enigmatically on sequel possibilities: "Yes, Crackdown's one of my favorites. I'll leave it at that."
However, if Dundee-based Ruffian is indeed working on a follow-up to the now cult Xbox 360 franchise, as unconfirmed sources have claimed to Gamasutra, it's likely to be very early in development.
Gamasutra will update as it receives more details on the company and its plans.