Reasons why THQ is flopping hard?

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#1 Edited by themangalist (1870 posts) -

This is a great article from Kotaku detailing some of the important reasons why THQ isn't doing that great.

Blood Sports. THQ has a lot of money tied up in the licensing and development of games based on professional wrestling and UFC mixed martial arts. So much so that the licenses for both the WWE and UFC cost almost as much (with the UFC deal's dollar terms unknown, maybe more) than THQ is currently worth.The former games are...OK, the latter pretty damn good. But they've over-invested in a market that's always going to be a niche one, meaning the chances to make a ton of money, ala EA Sports, were always slim.

No Kids Allowed. THQ were once masters of the licensed kids games, thanks to their deal with Disney. And THQ used to make a lot of money from kids games. THQ doesn't make Disney games any more, though, and in fact doesn't make kids games at all, having closed down its last remaining family developers last year. It's a black hole in the company's finances it's been unable to fill.

Red Faction. A few years ago, THQ brought back the Red Faction franchise with Guerilla, an open world game with a robust physics engine. It had its problems, but it sold well, reviewed well and had a lot of promise for a sequel. That sequel, Armageddon, proceeded to improve nothing, and indeed in many ways removed the best bits of Guerilla. It was so poorly received that it contributed to the premature shelving of the entire franchise, only a couple of years after it had seemed on the cusp of bigger things.

Red Faction, Part Deux. Oh, but it wasn't just the games world where THQ blew it with Red Faction. It also thought it would be a good idea to make a TV show about it. Not one based on the awesome Guerilla, though. It made one based on the awful Armageddon. The show was equally awful, which is why you probably never saw it, or had even remembered it existed until now. Sorry. Way to blow a franchise's chances at multimedia cross-over, THQ!

Homefront. A disaster. THQ marketed this game as a serious contender to the military shooters coming out of Activision and EA. The thing is, Activision's shooters are made by Infinity Ward and Treyarch. EA's are made by studios like DICE. THQ's shooter was made by...the guys behind Frontlines. Homefront did a few neat things, especially in multiplayer, but it was a short, linear, boring and occasionally stupid/insulting game. The gulf between the amount of marketing behind the game and its eventual quality perhaps best sums up THQ's problems of late; namely, you can't just throw money at bad games and hope that'll make them better.

uDraw. A bizarre, and if accounts are to be believed, devastating business decision. Nobody ever asked for a tablet drawing device on modern consoles. And nobody ever bought one. The fact this thing even made it off the drawing board, let alone got to the stage where it was costing millions of dollars, is baffling.

Warhammer. Another example of THQ not really understanding a license, or its market potential. Warhammer 40K is a storied franchise, one that's very popular in Europe, but it's not so big in the US, limiting its global appeal. To have stuck Relic - one of the world's premier developers - on the license for so long is like grinding metal. The Dawn of War games, and even the latest Space Marine title, were always going to hit a glass ceiling because of that license.


Read full article here.

Very interesting points made. I do believe they made a lot of missteps trying to be expand too rapidly. 2011 had a great share of quality THQ games that should at the very least be reassuring to the gamers that THQ has potential to become a triple-A publisher. Here's my two cents:

- Warhammer 40k: Space Marine should have been THE Warhammer game to kickstart the whole franchise in gaming. If the article is to be believed then W40k RTS has always only had a limited audience in the US, yet Space Marine, as simple as it was, had global appeal (Vinny likes it enough to read through the other novels). Shooting dudes in the face DONE RIGHT is always a plus in anyone's book. RTS done amazingly well? Probably only old-ass PC gamers like I would care. At least the game is out, hopefully cross-platform W40K action games can save THQ to fight another day. And the license is, no matter how limited the audience may be right now, very worth holding onto to, as the potential for an enormous following is huge if the right games came out. On the other hand though...

- Drop the fucking WWE license. No one wants another one, and certainly not one made by the same people. It's costing the company money AND reputation as the bad wrestling game publisher.

- NEVER try to draw equivalents to the big bois in the industry, and stop clinging onto things no one cares about. Red Faction is not the Halo of THQ; nor is Homefront THE Call of Duty. When a game becomes a hit, it becomes a hit. Usually popular franchises aren't cultured. Because you can't. The direction RF:A went was the biggest misstep any franchise could have taken. Signing a deal with Crytek to do a Homefront sequel? I say drop the franchise no one fucking cared about already. If anything, Crytek making a RF sequel (shooter or not) using Guerrilla tech would probably be the way to go. At least that franchise meant something to the gaming community. But the TV show? Fuck the TV show.

- Make kids' games. It's a huge market that could be connected with low investment. When you were a kid, did you care who made the games? You only had to convince adults to read the back of the box and say, "oh that looks fun for my kid!". Seriously, it couldn't have been done easier. I used to play total crap games (I even bought Action Man on the PS1) when I was a kid. Not having the Disney license isn't the end of the world, iconic mascots such as Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, or the ones still relevant, Ratchet and Clank, are all original creations. It also unearthed great talented studios that went on to make triple-A titles, some serious money. Also, the lack of any remarkable kids' games on the the market would mean an easy point of entry by a publisher with good rep, right?

It's always sad to see people being put out of jobs, but some of the past decisions really could have been made better by a college student who plays video games. Saints Row 4 and Warhammer 40k: Space Marine 2 may as well be the saving grace of the publisher. Don't screw up 2013, THQ. Also, Power Rangers.

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#2 Posted by Seedofpower (4066 posts) -
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That dude has no idea what he is talking about when it comes to Relic. Those guys fucking love 40k and it shows in their games. I don't think that company would agree that they are "stuck" doing 40k games. I mean look at their office. Dawn of war II is the reason I'm a massive fan of 40k and I think they are doing a fine job. Who ever buys them from THQ needs to give those guys more time and money to make a even more awesome game.

Skip to min one.

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#3 Posted by CaptainCody (1551 posts) -

@themangalist: Blame it on their poor decisions. They never put in the effort to glorify Space Marines, what should have been Halo 2.0 to the masses just ended up another TPS. Even though it isn't a bad game, when you put it in perspective, they fucked up HARD, and they preceded to do so with shit like wrestling games which just tells me they never even attempted to grasp their situation before it was too late.

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#4 Posted by SlightConfuse (3996 posts) -

They need to drop the WWE license or get a new studio to work on it. there are diminishing returns on the games and a fresh face could do a lot. eather that or pump some resources into the all stars franchise because that games was fun. they seem to have handle on UFC.

Also Relic seems to like working in the 40k universe and it shows, some good marketing could have pushed a few more copies of Space marine , which was fun to play.

I have to agree with the udraw thing i have no idea why they put so much into it. same can be said for homefront , they expected to hit big it is proved to be mediocre.

Voltion and Vigil are making some quality games and they need to promote them more.

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#5 Posted by Enigma777 (6285 posts) -

All of those points make sense except for the last one. Runic lives and breathes Warhammer. No one is forcing them to do anything.

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#6 Posted by Jimbo (10472 posts) -

They got ideas above their station. Not that there's anything wrong with ambition, but they didn't pace themselves at all. It felt like they started going 'all in' with every project they ran, and you can't keep doing that and missing. Maybe they knew they were heading in a bad direction anyway, so they just took bigger and bigger risks out of desperation to try and turn things around.

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#7 Edited by themangalist (1870 posts) -

@Seedofpower: @SlightConfuse:

Ya, Relic seems to be enjoying their work. Do you actually think it'd be better off they are known as THE Warhammer 40k devs? I still really loved Homeworld and hope they do something original.

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#8 Edited by maskedarcstrike (792 posts) -

@Enigma777 said:

All of those points make sense except for the last one. Runic lives and breathes Warhammer. No one is forcing them to do anything.

Should edit that to Relic enigma, Runic makes Torchlight =p. But to be honest I confuse the two companies names sometimes as well. I agree though, I just recently caught on to Warhammer games from the steam holiday sale during Christmas. I bought the Dawn of War 2 pack and I loved it. It was one of the most enjoyable games I've played in a while.

The Warhammer franchise is really cool but I think it has this weird stigma attached to it by the majority of mainstream gamers that keeps it from selling. Either that or it's marketing. Dawn of War 2 had really solid production values. The sound design is just so good..........

edit- I think it is true that THQ made some risky investments in the casual market that just did not pay out. Plus we live in a day and age in the market where unless you can convince the mainstream to buy your product, everything else is uncertain. Hardcore gamers in today's age will more than likely not pay a full $60 for a game unless they feel absolutely certain it is worth their money. Unless it is worth it than they will just buy it on the cheap on Steam or wherever it's on sale.

They do need re evaluate their contracts with UFC though. While Undisputed sold extremely well at first, it's last rendition did not do so well sales wise. It's a risky investment that can go either way due to the violent nature of the sport. While it certainly has it's fanbase and its on the rise, UFC will never get the same mainstream appeal as the NFL or other mainstream professional sports in the United States for now in the short term.

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#9 Edited by themangalist (1870 posts) -

@maskedarcstrike said:

They do need re evaluate their contracts with UFC though. While Undisputed sold extremely well at first, it's last rendition did not do so well sales wise. It's a risky investment that can go either way due to the violent nature of the sport. While it certainly has it's fanbase and its on the rise, UFC will never get the same mainstream appeal as the NFL or other mainstream professional sports in the United States for now in the short term.

I agree. Sports games have fallen off the gaming mainstream, and "M-rated" sports especially have extremely limited appeal. Not all of its fans are gamers, and certainly not a lot of gamers are fans of the "sport". If i want to play fighting, I'd play MK already. I'm not saying UFC games shouldn't be made, I'm just saying THQ should not be the one making them.

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#10 Posted by Mnemoidian (1016 posts) -

Looks to me like they took a lot of risks - the biggest one, and probably worst, most likely being getting rid of their apparently lucrative kids games' division.

Also, Red Faction: Armaggeddon is not as bad as people try to make it. It's disappointing after Guerilla, but far from a bad game. If anything sunk that game, it's it's reputation, not it's quality.

(No, I'm not saying it was amazing either).

Hope they pull out of the hole, I'm looking forward to several of their upcoming games and franchises. Shame, but I guess that's the price of over-reaching :/

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#11 Posted by jetsetwillie (882 posts) -

it always surprises me why these companies don't invest more time consulting the sage wisdom of the posters on internet forums.

surely they must realise by know that these poster know absolutely everything about every subject.

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#12 Posted by IBurningStar (2275 posts) -

They really messed up by trying to do annual WWE/UFC games. They are niche markets and not as widely popular as something like Madden. I don't know why people buy Madden games every year, but for some reason that works. Not so much with WWE/UFC. Doing nothing but iterating on those games was not a sound business model, and in the case of the Smackdown! vs Raw games was a terrible idea. If I am burnt out on them one year or just don't think they are fun then I am not going to buy them. You eventually start getting diminishing returns. THQ did it right when they did something different with the WWE license and made that All Stars game. They really should have done more diverse and interesting things with the license before things started going to hell.

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#13 Posted by HatKing (7321 posts) -

I bought a uDraw. Of course this was after it dropped from it's original $70 price tag and $30 for games to $30 for the device and $10 for an additional game.

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#14 Posted by themangalist (1870 posts) -

@HatKing said:

I bought a uDraw. Of course this was after it dropped from it's original $70 price tag and $30 for games to $30 for the device and $10 for an additional game.

Wow. I've literally just heard of that thing till everyone started talking about THQ. What's the buzz bout the uDraw? Is it like a tablet or something?

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