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.