Well, we saw this coming from a mile away. The last couple of years for THQ had been a little financially unstable and touch-and-go, but last week it seems that long-time game publisher THQ has finally gone out of business. This is especially sad as I, myself, had been a fan of the company’s games over the years, including Darksiders, Saint’s Row, the WWE games, and the upcoming South Park game. Even after entering Chapter 11 bankruptcy and trying to keep the company together via getting bought by a single bidder, the company instead saw its game development studios and intellectual properties sold off to various game companies (like Ubisoft, SEGA, Crytek, etc.) at auction last week to bidders.
Currently, all the proposed sales are still awaiting approval in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, but a letter from THQ CEO Brian Farrell on the company’s website to their employees in the tone that the auction results were final. THQ had laid off all remaining employees whose divisions were not sold to a bidder, while maintaining a small-enough staff to guide the company’s remnants during the remaining process of the Chapter 11 proceedings.
THQ was founded in 1989 as “Toy Headquarters”, and they produced toys and videogames, while having a reputation in their earlier years (a well-deserved one, in fact) for releasing a majority of mediocre licensed games and shovelware. While the WWF/WWE licensed games were very good (along with few other licensed and original properties), most of the rest of their IP were less-than-impressive and only sold well based on the name of the license alone. However in recent years, THQ entered a renaissance of creating, obtaining and releasing games based on strong and original properties, obtaining critical and consumer acclaim for the Saints Row, Darksiders and Metro series. THQ even opened a Montreal development studio, hired Patrice Desilets (a creative director of Assassin’s Creed fame) from Ubisoft to run it, published several Double Fine games and signed Tomonobu Itagaki (creator of the Dead of Alive series and the revival of the Ninja Gaiden series) and Guillermo Del Toro to create ad develop high-profile game projects. Unfortunately, all of that is over, but the good part is that a majority of THQ’s games and properties won’t disappear.
Should the sales and proceedings go according to plan, here’s where everything’s going:
Ubisoft picked up South Park: The Stick of Truth game, the Montreal development studio headed by Patrice Desilets, and two games under development at the studio: Underdog and 1666.
Sega acquires the developer Relic (of the Warhammer 40,000 strategy games series), which is a pretty good fit considering that Sega also owns Creative Assembly, developer of the Total War strategy games, who were actually recently announced a deal to develop new Warhammer games.
Koch Media, who publishes games as Deep Silver, acquired the development studio Volition (of Saint’s Row), as well as the Metro franchise.
Crytek, the developer of Far Cry, Crysis and Homefront 2), acquired the Homefront game license.
Take 2 Interactive will be getting Evolve, a new game in development from Turtle Rock Studios (of Left 4 Dead fame) and the license to the WWE gaming franchise.
However, any other remaining assets — which unfortunately includes Vigil Games (the developer of Darksiders) is staying under the THQ umbrella during their Chapter 11 proceedings, as the company continues to attempt to find buyers if possible (and hopefully, someone scoops them up soon).
Thanks for the memories, THQ!