Thursday, 24 January 2013

THQ No More - Multiple Acquisitions Lead to Dissolving

This is the end, and the beginning. Whether that's good or bad news is anyone's guess.

Yesterday I made mention that THQ's assets were being auctioned off in the very near future. Well, it happened, and although the sales are final yet, it all seems to be over but for the final dotting of the i's and crossing of the t's. Anyone hoping that THQ in would stay in an approximation of its current form is in for some very disheartening news if these sales are indeed made final.

You can see the blow-by-blow on the DDInvesting Twitter account, but the basic summation is as follows.

THQ auction results: 26M for Relic (Sega), 2.5M for Montreal (Ubisoft), 11M for Evolve (Take-Two), 22.3M for Volition (Koch Media)... 500k Homeland (Crytek), 5.8M for Metro (Koch Media), South Park for 3.2M (Ubisoft)

Sega has acquired the rights to Relic, which is responsible for the Warhammer 40,000 and Company of Heroes franchises. This is perhaps not surprising given that late last year Sega had announced a partnership with The Creative Assembly to the ends of making Warhammer fantasy titles. Adding the 40K license to the mix pretty much guarantees that the only official Warhammer stuff of any kind is going to be coming from them for the next little while unless Games Workshop says otherwise.

Both the in-development South Park: The Stick of Truth and THQ's Montreal studio went to Ubisoft, who surprisingly spend more on the former by roughly a million dollars. It's likely that Ubisoft will consolidate it's acquisitions with it's own Montreal based studios. With the acquisition of Montreal also comes two IPs: 1666 and Underdog, both of which are currently unknown projects. What these will develop into, if they do so at all, remains to be seen.

Take-Two acquired the license for another unknown franchise, codenamed Evolve. Details are again sparse regarding the nature of the game, but an online shooter seems to be what's going around in the rumour mill.

Another acquisition that likely surprised no one was that Crytek bought the rights to the Homefront series. It only makes sense given that they were the developer for the sequel, so now they're the publisher as well.

Deep Silver, a name that actually appeared earlier this week on this very blog due to the Dead Island Riptide poor taste outcry has itself taken a piece of the THQ pie. Volition was the part of THQ behind Saint's Row, and Red Faction. Whether the latter franchise will see a rebirth after it was rather unceremoniously shelved by THQ remains to be seen, but now the futures of these franchises are in Deep Silver's hands.

Those paying attention may have noticed a conspicuous absence from the list of acquisitions. The auction saw Vigil Games, maker of the Darksiders series, not get a single bid. In this rather heartrending post on the NeoGAF forums,  lead combat designer Ben Cureton laments: "... so maybe you can imagine what it feels like when you read the list of who bought what only to discover your name is not on the list. Why? Did we do something wrong? Were we not good enough? Were we not worth 'anything?' Imagine that." It seems clear that without fairly immediate intervention that Vigil and any other unassigned THQ properties are going to fall through the cracks and become dead franchises. Well, expect of course for the WWE license, which will go to someone, we just don't know who at the moment.

All hope is not lost for Darksiders at least, because someone at least is expressing interest, if the price is right. Platinum Studios, the names behind Bayonetta, may be the light at the end of the tunnel. Whether or not they will is up to the whims of those involved with the handling of the various assets of the company and of course just how much is enough of a deal for the studio.

So, assuming that these deals go through, THQ is gone. What remains and whether or not the fans are satisfied is not a question that can be answered today. For better or worse though, it's one that's about to be asked.

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