Yesterday, in a letter to employees, THQ CEO Brian Farrell and company president Jason Rubin revealed developer/publisher THQ had been officially chopped up and sold for scrap. After 22 hours of bidding, the major fallout is this (figures come courtesy of Joystiq):
- Relic Entertainment and Company of Heroes to Sega for $26.6 million (runner-up: Zenimax Media for $26.3 million)
- THQ Montreal, 1666, and Underdog to Ubisoft for $2.5 million
- Evolve to Take-Two Interactive for $10.894 million (runner-up: Turtle Rock Studios for $250,000)
- Volition, Inc. and Saints Row to Koch Media for $22,312,925 (runner-up: Ubisoft for $5.4 million)
- Homefront to Crytek for $544,218
- Metro to Koch Media for $5,877,551 (runner-up: Ubisoft for $5.175 million)
- South Park to Ubisoft for $3,265,306
The main takeaway seems to be that Ubisoft had a hard price limit they were sticking to and throwing a lot of bids at a lot of things, and that things can escalate quickly. I mean, come on, the runner-up for Evolve was over $10 million behind. Volition saw a jump of $17 million! That seems crazy to me, but then again I rarely (read: never) deal with such phat stacks. It also seems like Crytek got a hell of a deal with Homefront for $500,000.
The letter, however, points out that while studio buyouts are likely to include employment for those currently working, nothing is guaranteed. Studios not included in the sale, though, are definitely left without employment. This includes Darksiders developer Vigil Games, though apparently Platinum Games head honcho Atsushi Inaba has tweeted interest in acquiring them after finding out no one was willing to take the plunge. Should this fall through, Kevin Dent seems to have some solid advice for the Austin, Texas-based team.
The possible total scuttling of Vigil, though, has produced one of the most heartfelt, moving pieces I’ve read in a while—and on NeoGAF of all places.
Leftover licenses and properties are left somewhat in a void right now, though. It’s unclear as to what will happen to them should no one make a bid before THQ goes all the way under (they will still operate barebones for a few more weeks to aid in studio and property transitions), but it seems likely that they will remain locked away in legal limbo for the foreseeable future unless someone intervenes.
Homeworld, for instance, has an IndieGoGo started by Rob Santos of teamPixel dedicated to preserving and maintaining it as a viable property. Should the small, burgeoning development studio manage to raise the $50,000, they plan on following through with three steps (one of which seems a bit lofty): 1) release Homeworld on Good Old Games and Steam, 2) develop a touchscreen version of the original, and 3) eventually make and release Homeworld 3.
It’s also rumored that Take-Two Interactive will acquire the WWE license, but no one knows for sure. It should also be noted that Double Fine came away with nothing, though it’s not known if they actually bid on anything.
Now, though, the sales have been approved by the US Bankruptcy Court, it seems as though 24 years of THQ has come to an end. THQ, or Toy Head Quarters, officially began in 1990, though it was borne from a prior incarnation as Trinity Acquisition Corporation in 1989. They started with Peter Pan and the Pirates in 1991 after purchasing Brøderbund (of Prince of Persia fame) in 1990 and, despite a recent string of hits including Saints Row: The Third and Darksiders, has been floundering since 2009 when people stopped caring about Spongebob Squarepants games.
Though I guess a fair amount of blame could also be attributed to the uDraw tablet. That was $100 million burned and buried. To put that amount in context, THQ attorneys say that they still have $29 million in assets to sell. Add that to the $72 million they sold yesterday, that means the uDraw effectively cut THQ in twain and burned one of the resulting halves.
I’m assuming that this story will continue to develop for the next couple of weeks, but hot damn, yesterday was crazy. Or cray. I don’t know. What do those kids say nowadays?