Today in Depressing THQ News: 240 Staffers Cut, While CEO Takes Pay Cut

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Avatar image for alex
Posted by alex (3481 posts) -

One of these days I'm going to be really happy to write a super positive news story about THQ suddenly turning around its recent misfortunes and returning to the glory days of yesteryear. Or I'm going to just keep writing really depressing news stories like this one until the whole thing crashes and explodes like an atomic bomb that CEO Brian Farrell rode all the way down to its fiery end. I'm really hoping for the former, but considering how things have been going, I can't help but feel a Major Kong vibe coming on.

Don't worry, corporate America. This guy is still making way too much money.
Don't worry, corporate America. This guy is still making way too much money.

Today's awful news comes from THQ's SEC filing, which came just a day before the company's scheduled financials call, in which Farrell is expected to be on the hot seat from investors after the dismal last several months the company has endured. The filing shows that in order to make good on the publisher's current restructuring plan, 240 employees have been released from various sections of the company. Curiously, THQ proclaims that none of its five, wholly owned studios were affected by the cuts, which raises the question of where all those cuts came from.

One of them appears to have been VP of Technology Mark DeLoura, who various sources have confirmed is no longer with the company. DeLoura was evidently in charge of the group working on that Warhammer 40,000 MMO that previously had been rumored to be canceled, and THQ gave the old "nothing has been decided" comment regarding. As I mentioned earlier today, that's usually code for, "Shit, how did you find this out?"

One person who hasn't been laid off (yet) is Farrell, who, for the time being at least, will remain with the company at a reduced salary and with a less restrictive severance package hovering over the Board of Directors, should they eventually decide to oust him. Farrell's salary will go from $718,500 to $359,250 for at least the next year. Additionally, his payout for termination will now just be the base amount equivalent to the highest bonus he received during his tenure at the company. Previously, it was three times that amount.

THQ's other directors will receive the same halving of pay for the next year, while the company tries to turn around its fortunes by focusing on "core games." While some of these measures may satiate some of the more uneasy stockholders out there, it probably does little to comfort the 240 people whose jobs were just unceremoniously axed. Here's wishing the best of luck to all those affected by the layoffs, and hoping they find new work soon.

Staff
Avatar image for alex
#1 Posted by alex (3481 posts) -

One of these days I'm going to be really happy to write a super positive news story about THQ suddenly turning around its recent misfortunes and returning to the glory days of yesteryear. Or I'm going to just keep writing really depressing news stories like this one until the whole thing crashes and explodes like an atomic bomb that CEO Brian Farrell rode all the way down to its fiery end. I'm really hoping for the former, but considering how things have been going, I can't help but feel a Major Kong vibe coming on.

Don't worry, corporate America. This guy is still making way too much money.
Don't worry, corporate America. This guy is still making way too much money.

Today's awful news comes from THQ's SEC filing, which came just a day before the company's scheduled financials call, in which Farrell is expected to be on the hot seat from investors after the dismal last several months the company has endured. The filing shows that in order to make good on the publisher's current restructuring plan, 240 employees have been released from various sections of the company. Curiously, THQ proclaims that none of its five, wholly owned studios were affected by the cuts, which raises the question of where all those cuts came from.

One of them appears to have been VP of Technology Mark DeLoura, who various sources have confirmed is no longer with the company. DeLoura was evidently in charge of the group working on that Warhammer 40,000 MMO that previously had been rumored to be canceled, and THQ gave the old "nothing has been decided" comment regarding. As I mentioned earlier today, that's usually code for, "Shit, how did you find this out?"

One person who hasn't been laid off (yet) is Farrell, who, for the time being at least, will remain with the company at a reduced salary and with a less restrictive severance package hovering over the Board of Directors, should they eventually decide to oust him. Farrell's salary will go from $718,500 to $359,250 for at least the next year. Additionally, his payout for termination will now just be the base amount equivalent to the highest bonus he received during his tenure at the company. Previously, it was three times that amount.

THQ's other directors will receive the same halving of pay for the next year, while the company tries to turn around its fortunes by focusing on "core games." While some of these measures may satiate some of the more uneasy stockholders out there, it probably does little to comfort the 240 people whose jobs were just unceremoniously axed. Here's wishing the best of luck to all those affected by the layoffs, and hoping they find new work soon.

Staff
Avatar image for jeffsekai
#2 Edited by Jeffsekai (7159 posts) -

HERESY

Avatar image for mikegosot
#3 Posted by MikeGosot (3237 posts) -

Dig deeper into Hara-Kiri. Ouch.

Avatar image for rawdanger
#4 Posted by rawdanger (58 posts) -

Sucks for the people who got cut. Hopefully they all bounce back.

Avatar image for cheappoison
#5 Posted by CheapPoison (1031 posts) -

mhhh, I wasn't too worried before but this might be bad.

Avatar image for ikarinotekken
#6 Posted by IkariNoTekken (993 posts) -

Thoughts go out to those who lost their jobs. Best wishes to them and their families.

Avatar image for bacongames
#7 Posted by bacongames (3979 posts) -

If it truly is the case that none of the wholly owned studios were affected, I'm wondering how many of those 240 were mercenary or contract devs. Mercenary development and other contract development is a standard of the industry nowadays so I'm wondering how that factors into the numbers.

Avatar image for ruthloose
#8 Posted by RuthLoose (909 posts) -

You have got to feel for those game developers forced to relocate or possibly jobless due to the combined fiasco that was the uDraw and leadership at THQ in-general. Fortunately, the good souls at Volition and Relic/Vigil have put in work over the past few years to build up their resumes.

These sad times are not going anywhere it would seem. And this is coming from a still unemployed graduate student of going on seven months.

Avatar image for sixpin
#9 Posted by sixpin (1345 posts) -

It is hard to feel bad for a guy that cuts 240 jobs and is still making almost $400,000 annually. Whatever happens I hope THQ survives.

Avatar image for jack268
#10 Posted by Jack268 (3370 posts) -

ITS OVER

THEY'RE FINISHED

Avatar image for flipperdesert
#11 Posted by FlipperDesert (2201 posts) -

This sucks, I do like the games they make even if they can be hit-and-miss.

Avatar image for re_player1
#12 Posted by RE_Player1 (8010 posts) -

If they don't bounce back I'd be curious to see who picks up some of the properties they have. I can see Square picking up some or maybe Warner Bros, they've been pretty aggressive in acquiring IPs and publishing games over the last couple years.

Avatar image for demoskinos
#13 Posted by Demoskinos (17325 posts) -

You know... if these CEO's would take less money and put MORE back into the company these things wouldn't happen or at least wouldn't happen as often. I mean 300k a year is still a TON of money.

Avatar image for laserbolts
#14 Posted by laserbolts (5506 posts) -

@Demoskinos said:

You know... if these CEO's would take less money and put MORE back into the company these things wouldn't happen or at least wouldn't happen as often. I mean 300k a year is still a TON of money.

Actually I thought that wasnt much at all. Especially for a CEO.

Avatar image for insidioustuna
#15 Posted by InsidiousTuna (559 posts) -

What's also noteworthy is that if THQ changes hands, his salary goes back up to what it was just before the pay cut. Think it was Kevin Dent who pointed that out, but I'm trying to find it.

Avatar image for danielcampbell
#16 Posted by danielcampbell (39 posts) -

This is infuriating. I remember being laid off from THQ and Mr. Farrell still took a multi-million dollar bonus that year. My heart goes out to those who lost their jobs. I know how terrible it feels to lose the job you wanted to have for the rest of your life.

Avatar image for demonbear
#17 Posted by demonbear (1934 posts) -

God I hope everything's gonna be ok At Relic, probably the last pc focused studio that aint Blizzard!

Avatar image for kevin_cogneto
#18 Edited by Kevin_Cogneto (1622 posts) -

, I know you take great pleasure in being Mr. Snarky-snark Snarkypants, but taking shots at the THQ CEO and its directors for taking pay cuts is a pretty ridiculous stance to take, if you ask me. The company I used to work for laid off 3,000 people and outsourced another thousand jobs to Asia, my own being one of them. Then the CEO increased his salary from $1.2 million to $1.8 million, not including bonuses. (If it wasn't for the terms of my severance package, I'd gladly tell you what company, but sadly I can't.) This guy at THQ is taking his fair share of the burden for THQ's failures, and when put into the context of the typical behavior patterns of your average CEO, I think someone like this guy who'll willingly pay the consequences alongside his company and his employees is a person who hardly deserves your scorn, in my opinion.

Avatar image for vorbis
#19 Posted by Vorbis (2762 posts) -

This continues to suck.

Avatar image for alex
#20 Posted by alex (3481 posts) -

@Kevin_Cogneto: I refuse to shed any crocodile tears for a CEO and management team that has taken a formerly prosperous publisher to the point of nearly being delisted from the stock exchange because the stock is trading so low. He and those who made the decisions with him do not deserve to be praised for merely taking less money. They should be thanking their lucky stars they still have jobs. If Farrell and crew turns the company around, then great. I'll celebrate that fact. But right now, his shit decision-making just cost 240 people their jobs. And he's still making 350 grand a year. So, hey, pardon me if I'm less than enthusiastic about him still getting a fat sum of money after fucking things up royally.

Staff
Avatar image for kiri90
#21 Posted by Kiri90 (299 posts) -

@RuthLoose: I agree with what you said man. In regards to the last statement about your unemployment, as someone graduating in June (undergrad), I sympathize with you even more. Best of luck in landing a good job man!

Avatar image for winternet
#22 Posted by Winternet (8397 posts) -

And they mocked my THQ-is-not-well-guys thread. Humf.

I'm not pleased to have been right.

Avatar image for demoskinos
#23 Posted by Demoskinos (17325 posts) -

@laserbolts: Thats because the expectations of what a "normal" salary is for a CEO is still outfuckingrageous in the context of what most normal people make.

Avatar image for cavemantom
#24 Edited by cavemantom (233 posts) -

@Demoskinos said:

You know... if these CEO's would take less money and put MORE back into the company these things wouldn't happen or at least wouldn't happen as often. I mean 300k a year is still a TON of money.

Compared to what you or I make? Sure.

Compared to a game's budget? Not really. They won't be making Space Marine 2 or Saints Row the Fourth for anywhere near $300,000. That's, like, 1/700th of the purported cost BioWare/EA sunk in to The Old Republic.

I'm no industry analyst, but I think a lot of THQ's problems stem from poor marketing where it matters, and heavy investment where it shouldn't. As I remember it (and hopefully my recollection isn't too tainted by bias), Homefront received a pretty heavy marketing push that really sold the tone of the game, even if the game couldn't live up.

They also decided to invest god knows how much in that SciFi Red Faction: Origins thing to hype up Red Faction: Armageddon. That was an interesting idea, but it speaks to them completely misreading the success of Red Faction: Guerrilla.

Meanwhile, great games like Space Marine and Saints Row the Third were sold with minimal, fan-centric marketing and alternatingly puzzling and embarrassing marketing, respectively.

They need to stop backing the wrong horses, and to start backing the right horses with some fucking respect.

Avatar image for nick_verissimo
#25 Posted by nick_verissimo (1447 posts) -

Man, I really like I should got out and buy THQ games. This is a bummer

Avatar image for olivaw
#26 Posted by Olivaw (1287 posts) -

Does that guy look like Rob Riggle to anyone else?

Avatar image for shades846
#27 Posted by shades846 (198 posts) -

stop fighting gentleman this a war room ;-) loving the dr strangelove ref

Avatar image for kevin_cogneto
#28 Edited by Kevin_Cogneto (1622 posts) -

@Alex: Look, I know nothing at all about Brian Farrell. Maybe he's a terrible CEO who made terrible decisions, and his mismanagement is the direct cause of THQ's financial troubles. I don't know if that's true, but let's just say that it is. And in that case, these layoffs, while unfortunate, were hardly done out of malice. It's not like the guy laid off 240 people so he could eke a few more cents out of the stock dividend. Because take it from me, those guys exist.

Maybe this is a case of CEO incompetence, in which case maybe the guy should be fired. But if that'd happened, he'd be getting triple the severance, as your story points out. This guy is actually paying a lot more for his mistakes by not being let go. Sure, it's sad that people are losing their jobs because of the CEO's mistakes. But this guy's paying as great a price as any reasonable person could expect a CEO to pay in these circumstances. At least he is feeling some pain -- as miniscule as it may seem compared to the pain of his former employees -- which is more than most people in his position would've been asked to do. And need I point out, not a single studio has been shut down. I see no reason why this guy deserves our derision.

Avatar image for napalm
#29 Posted by Napalm (9230 posts) -

@Alex said:

@Kevin_Cogneto: I refuse to shed any crocodile tears for a CEO and management team that has taken a formerly prosperous publisher to the point of nearly being delisted from the stock exchange because the stock is trading so low. He and those who made the decisions with him do not deserve to be praised for merely taking less money. They should be thanking their lucky stars they still have jobs. If Farrell and crew turns the company around, then great. I'll celebrate that fact. But right now, his shit decision-making just cost 240 people their jobs. And he's still making 350 grand a year. So, hey, pardon me if I'm less than enthusiastic about him still getting a fat sum of money after fucking things up royally.

Boom! Drop a fuckin' bomb on it!

Avatar image for tim_the_corsair
#30 Posted by Tim_the_Corsair (3053 posts) -

Am I a bad person for thinking that it's be interesting to see what Relic or Volition could do with the resources of EA behind them? (or Ubi or whoever)

Avatar image for theveej
#31 Posted by theveej (934 posts) -

A question towards the community:

Anyone here is willing to buy some THQ stock? if it is below 1$ per stock, we might as well get together and buy some stock at cheap, help the company not go bankrupt and hope they turn it around (and mb we get some small return on it eventually,...... I mean I'll through 10 dollars down just cause, but thats just me)

I really like some of THQ titles, and know a few people who work for them and they all are good people, so its kind of sad hearing news that the future is uncertain @ THQ

Avatar image for ipliskin
#32 Posted by iPliskin (118 posts) -

I can't say goodbye to yesterday, my friend, i keep holding on 'till the end. Out of the darkness, there is no other way than the light leading to yesterday... Please stay a while; make time refuse to fly. I can't say goodbye to yesterday, my friend 'Cause i know how good it has been... Facing forever, here I stand, come what may; Bring the old, bring the new yesterday!.

Avatar image for sooty
#33 Posted by Sooty (8193 posts) -

@demonbear said:

God I hope everything's gonna be ok At Relic, probably the last pc focused studio that aint Blizzard!

But you forgot Valve and CD Projekt.

Avatar image for mordukai
#34 Posted by mordukai (8481 posts) -

@Jack268 said:

ITS OVER

THEY'RE FINISHED

Say it right Gordon.

IT'S FUCKING OVER!

THER'RE FUCKING FINISHED!

Avatar image for superfriend
#35 Posted by Superfriend (1715 posts) -

If this piece of shit is responsible for stuff like uDraw and other wannabe casual crap they´ve produced, I say he deserves a pay cut. A 100% pay cut and a kick to the balls.

I like how there are still people defending vermin who get paid several hundred thousands of dollars for doing a shitty job.

Avatar image for pxabstraction
#36 Posted by PXAbstraction (394 posts) -

I really want to see THQ succeed. The AAA space needs more competition and it's been shrinking rapidly the last few years. But Farrell's been leading them into a death spiral for years now. If he isn't shown the door (like their investors should have done years ago), I don't know how they're going to avoid going down the pan.

Avatar image for phonicpod
#37 Posted by phonicpod (100 posts) -

@Napalm: I would agree. I used to work for THQ.

Avatar image for darkstar_pug
#38 Posted by Darkstar_Pug (200 posts) -

=(

Avatar image for cmblasko
#39 Posted by cmblasko (2386 posts) -
Avatar image for rolyatkcinmai
#40 Posted by Rolyatkcinmai (2763 posts) -

As a THQ shareholder, this is sad but profitable news.

Avatar image for ianmcc
#41 Posted by ianmcc (2 posts) -

Farrell looks like Rob Riggle's brother

Avatar image for baconator
#42 Posted by Baconator (172 posts) -

@Kevin_Cogneto said:

@Alex: Look, I know nothing at all about Brian Farrell. Maybe he's a terrible CEO who made terrible decisions, and his mismanagement is the direct cause of THQ's financial troubles. I don't know if that's true, but let's just say that it is. And in that case, these layoffs, while unfortunate, were hardly done out of malice. It's not like the guy laid off 240 people so he could eke a few more cents out of the stock dividend. Because take it from me, those guys exist.

...

They're mingling with AAA titles and marketing in those heights is costly. Darksiders and Saints Row 3 are both great games but my guess is that Saints Row 3 suffered horribly from the its poorly chosen release date (they thought they needed Xmas, they should have had more trust in the quality of the game) and Darksiders is good but (imho) not exactly something you run out to preorder. You may pick it up at some point, sure ... when you're done with the Battlefields and the Skyrims and while reading the next news report about THQ firing another 200 employees.

Maybe I'm crazy but a publisher that big can't afford a handful of alright-sellers but no real powerhouse monster IP.

Avatar image for aneternalenigma
#43 Edited by AnEternalEnigma (298 posts) -

On NeoGAF, there's a thread with the listing of all the development studios that have been closed since this generation started with the Xbox 360 launch in November 2005. It's a mile long and extremely depressing.

The current model doesn't work anymore.

Avatar image for amir90
#44 Posted by amir90 (2243 posts) -

Well this sucks :/

Avatar image for thesoutherndandy
#45 Posted by TheSouthernDandy (4107 posts) -

This is a real bummer. THQ releases some damn good games and they've got some great looking games coming out. Hopefully they can turn things around before it all goes belly up. Also that 40K MMO is looking less an less likely to happen which suuuuucks.
May the Emperors light shine upon his subjects and grant them fat stacks with which to finish His work.

Avatar image for hailinel
#46 Posted by Hailinel (25787 posts) -
@Baconator Saints Row 3 sold well. Red Faction, on the other hand...
Avatar image for kevin_cogneto
#47 Edited by Kevin_Cogneto (1622 posts) -

@cmblasko said:

@Kevin_Cogneto: http://www.joystiq.com/2012/01/25/alleged-former-thq-staffer-sends-furious-note-to-board-press/

Read that before continuing to defend any one of THQ's upper management. And yeah, studios have been shut down.

I'm not defending anyone. My comment was specifically directed at the tone of Alex's article, and even more specifically his tone regarding the pay cuts. If Alex had criticized upper management for being incompetent, I wouldn't have batted an eye. It's obvious they're not a very well-run company.

Avatar image for slightconfuse
#49 Posted by SlightConfuse (3996 posts) -

its amazing that a company that has produced some great gmaes is this deep in the hole. Darksiders, Space MArine and Saints Row 2 and 3 were some of the best games i have played. Hope they turn it around some how becasue they have good studios.

Avatar image for baconator
#50 Posted by Baconator (172 posts) -

@Anwar: That's very true. Great IP's don't come easy. I guess what I was trying to say is that THQ seems almost to big for its own good. Hm, putting it like that makes it sound like crazy talk though.

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