The tragic demise of THQ has long been a story but I didn’t want to write about it until something concrete happened. It doesn’t get any more concrete than an auction of assets, and sure enough the big names came out to play. After the jump is where assets went and the potential for these newly acquired licenses.
It’s actually depressing to see the fall of THQ, a mid-sized publisher with many potentially lucrative assets. But a mess of financial uncertainty and mismanagement led to the company’s implosion and it’s been interesting to follow the fallout. Where studios and franchises go, who ponied up the money for these assets and the reasons why, and if those assets left standing have a definitive future.
Amid the speculation, suffice it to say, everyone expected big names to push for the popular licenses: Darksiders, WWE, Homefront, Saint’s Row, and Relic, developer of Company of Heroes and Warhammer. Initial reports confirm most of the hot ticket items were sold except for Vigil, developer of Darksiders, and the WWE series though IGN is reporting Take-Two is in formal talks.
Relic: Sega won what appeared to be a tight auction with a bid of $26.6 million, with ZeniMax Media (parent company of Bethesda) trailing that by just $300,000. After Sega’s urgent restructuring which led to a stream of studio closings and canceled games, among them speculated to be Bayonetta 2, the now-publisher pledged to streamline its businesses and focus on making less, higher quality titles. With Company of Heroes 2 shipping this year, development is likely close to finishing, meaning Sega only needs to foot a small percentage of the bill for what should be a well-received title. The deal works favourably for Sega who needs a reputable name under its belt, and Relic fits perfectly.
Volition: The one surprise is Koch Media’s $22.3 million purchase of Volition, a conglomerate which owns Deep Silver who most recently published Dead Island. Saint’s Row is a viable contender to Grand Theft Auto so Take-Two was never an option. The likeliest candidate was EA, a company reeling for an incredibly popular open world sandbox. Ubisoft has Assassin’s Creed. And Activision is a one-trick pony, not making any moves. One nice fit would have been Valve, who also had no interest in THQ’s offerings. As well, Koch Media acquired publishing rights to Metro, a smaller-known series known for its beautiful visuals.
Homefront: With Kaos Studios defunct, the only real candidate was Crytek. Every other major publisher has a shooter franchise, and Homefront sold modestly at best. The franchise became THQ’s most pre-ordered title but enthusiasm quickly faded after a short campaign and mediocre review scores. There is life, though, for a potential sequel now that the series has substantial backing.
Turtle Rock: The studio itself wasn’t up for action, but its next game codenamed Evolve was ripe for the choosing. Confirmed to be a CryEngine 3-powered shooter, the 2K brand could always use a partner-in-crime to Borderlands. It was originally reported that Take-Two had also acquired Vigil, but those reports have since been retracted.
South Park: The Stick of Truth: THQ’s hotly anticipated South Park-set RPG is now under the guise of Ubisoft, a comfortable fit. Ubisoft also nabbed THQ Montreal; logical given the Canadian city is Ubisoft’s headquarters. And it just so happens Assassin’s Creed creator Patrice Desilets is hard at work on his project codenamed 1666 there, as well.
Vigil: The Darksiders license is of mixed concern for every publisher out there, and as of this writing, the studio remains part of THQ’s chapter 11 bankruptcy. Publishers gauged the risk of adding Vigil to their portfolio but in the end Darksiders, a license expected to be quickly bought, might not continue.
Of course, Holygrenade wishes everyone affected luck in finding new work.
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