Behind the Fall of THQ
By Dan Maurer
Was THQ’s demise the result of bad management, bad circumstances or just plain bad luck? The company that had generated millions from games based on the Saints Row and WWE franchises, had struggled to transition into a world where kids games and licensed titles were no-longer safe bets. Certain analysts and industry commentators were already suggesting THQ never stood a chance. In an industry that’s enduring a painful transition away from the AAA, boxed game model, mid-tier publishers are the ones that will ultimately get squeezed out. THQ is just the first big victim. This article will critique some of THQ’s biggest mistakes that in my opinion, led to their ultimate downfall.
Marketing this to Wii owners? Great idea. Trying to market same clique idea to Xbox 360 and PS3 owners all while spending an ass-load of money to promote said failed product? Disaster. From the failed marketing to the overzealous push for this product, this idea had failure written all over it. Not only did THQ lose tons of money on this product, they still have a warehouse full of unsold product that they couldn’t even give away if they included a coupon for a free Big Mac with it.
Flooding of shovelware games:
Another dooming factor of THQ in my option was the flooding of half-hearted, half-ass shovelware games they put out into stores based on various Nickelodeon/kids shows/movies. Once in a while a decent game would come along and most of the time you would find these games in the bargain bin at your local Best Buy with a $9.99 price tag slapped onto them. Definitely did not help their cause when THQ eventually lost the licenses to produce all these games and thus the extra revenue they got from them.
Another example of a company with a bloated payroll for it’s fat cat executives while the little man, aka the developers, were paid pennies on the dollar for their work. At the end of the day when THQ closed up shop, their executives were left with nice parting severage packages while the studios that supported them were left hanging in the balance. Luckily there is a happy story in all of this as most of the important studios were picked up in the THQ auction.
After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on December 19, 2012, THQ and all its assets were sold to the highest bidders at auction. The WWE license went to 2K Games, Saints Row and the Metro licenses went to Koch Media, Crytek picked up the Homefront license, and just recently the licenses of Darksiders and various other properties found a new home at Nordic Games.
It was a sad end to a once great publisher. Between the bad mismanagement and the commercial failure of the uDraw, THQ headed down a slope of disaster they just couldn’t recover from. My humble hope is that some of the great licenses that THQ once owned will find new life at their new homes and be given a breath of fresh air. So long THQ and thanks for the memories!
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