The video game industry is constantly providing new beginnings. The folks at Volition found a new home under the guise of Deep Silver, but not before some scuffling. Worryingly, there wasn’t much faith in Volition from publishers.
After THQ met its untimely fate last week, I think it’s fair to say everyone would make a dash for the former publisher’s hottest properties. In that was Relic, a highly reputable studio, which Sega surprisingly purchased for $26.6 million, the highest listed bid for any asset. Another was Vigil that, after falling through the initial bids, were picked up by Crytek to form its American branch.
But the one startling admission was the lack of interest in Volition, famous for Saint’s Row and Red Faction. Koch Media outbid Ubisoft to win the studio, however those were the only two companies involved. Even though six companies visited Volition’s Champaign, Illinois-based headquarters preceding the sale, according to general manager Dan Cermak.
The News-Gazette article reads: “Warner Bros., Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Koch Media, and a group from the Chicago area each visited Volition in the two weeks or so preceding the auction to size up the studio, Dan Cermak said.”
The industry is desperate to compete with the likes of Grand Theft Auto, a series that spawned a devout, cult-like audience who analyze even a screenshot for all it’s worth. Saint’s Row is nowhere near that level of popularity, but it’s the closest of the sandbox genre lot to have a chance of competing with Take-Two’s powerhouse franchise.
For an industry where video game sales are supposedly on the decline, this is a missed or unrealised opportunity. According to previous THQ president Brian Farrell, Saint’s Row: The Third shipped close to four million copies in two months, and the company expected to ship “between five and six million units lifetime on this title.” Unless there is some glaring reason, that screams dollar signs. So why didn’t more publishers throw a bid in?
The excessively over-the-top style of Saint’s Row is strangely refreshing from Grand Theft Auto‘s serious nature, but only when beaten to death by a purple dildo-wielding man. Volition deals in the kooky, and to think that more publishers don’t respect their audacity is shocking. Even criminal.
As for other series, Koch Media ultimately decided not to pick up Red Faction. Perhaps a smart move considering how underwhelming sales for Guerrilla and Armageddon forced THQ to abandon the series. However, Saint’s Row is a proven winner with a fourth iteration expected this year. And for Deep Silver, it adds another notable name to its resume, alongside Dead Island (with its sequel Riptide coming in 2013).
Development of another Saint’s Row should progress unhindered for a late-2013 release. Deep Silver has a lot invested in Volition now, though should they tamper with the formula it would hurt every party involved. Dead Island: Riptide is set for an April release date, meaning the two games won’t conflict. Which means, possibly, all of Deep Silver could work on Saint’s Row 4 to push it faster. Having 500+ people is more effective than 185.
I’m really interested to see how this plays out.
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