Tuesday, 23 April 2013

THQ's Remaining Catalogue Sold, But to Whom?

Get ready to be mildly confused.

I have to admit that I didn't expect to be posting a follow-up to yesterday's story about teamPixel failing to acquire the rights to the Homeworld series quite this fast. And yet, less than a day later here we are. I thought that the results of the auctioning of the rest of THQ's assets might be kept secret for a little longer, but they have not, and although some might be relieved at who they see bought the rights (or perhaps it would be more accurate to say at who didn't buy the rights); I can't help but feel that most people, myself included, are more confused by one purchase in particular:

The new owner of the Homeworld franchise ... is Gearbox Software?

Okay. Can't say that I expected that. Nor can I really say whether it's good news or bad news. I mean, sure, the studio hasn't exactly won people over with the recent disaster that was Aliens: Colonial Marines, but at the same time people like Borderlands and the Brothers in Arms series. Here's the thing though, with very few exceptions, Gearbox makes first person shooter games. So why would these guys be interested in Homeworld, of all things?

I really hope that they aren't planning to do an FPS like the one that was attempted with XCOM until, by some miracle, it was actually given a true successor in XCOM: Enemy Unknown (a side note, that shooter is still floating around, but may actually be retooled into it's own thing, a separate being from whence it came). To buy Homeworld just for that would be a little bit more than ridiculous. Especially since they appear to have paid nearly $1.5 million dollars for it. Still, if Gearbox is attempting to branch out, then they've arguably picked contentious ground to do so on, because there's going to be a lot of people holding whatever comes next to extremely high standards, regardless of who puts it out.

Other acquisitions include 505 Games getting rights to the Drawn to Life franchise, which may be a good fit considering that they've made games like Terraria and Graffiti Kingdom. Perhaps most surprising though, is the fact that Nordic Games got, well, literally everything else.

The list is quite large, as featured in the link above. As was noted,

"The Debtors accepted Nordic's offer of $4.9 million for substantially all the IP except two titles, Homeworld and Drawn to Life," a court document reads. "The bids for individual lots for the assets, excluding the Homeworld lot, did not exceed $4.9 million, and Nordic paid a premium over such individual bids to acquire the aggregate lots."

Now, perhaps the thing that's on many people's minds right now is "Nordic? Who are they?" It's a somewhat valid question, but they aren't without pedigree. They've been behind games like Alan Wake, the Painkiller series, and even the first Torchlight. They've expanded their library by a staggering amount with this acquisition though, and it's fairly shocking that they actually managed to scoop up everything else.

What this might mean in particular for the Red Faction and Darksiders series is unknown at this point, although if the Painkiller franchise is any indication than at least the former is probably in good hands. It's interesting that neither Platinum studios or Crytek USA stepped up to grab Darksiders, given that interest had been expressed by both parties on that front. Perhaps they simply didn't have the money to spend.

With this it seems the legacy of THQ is finally over. It's been a long ride, but hopefully the people that picked up the pieces will do a decent job with them. One can only hope.

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