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THQ's Farrell: Kids' Animated Film Games Becoming Less Profitable
THQ's Farrell: Kids' Animated Film Games Becoming Less Profitable Exclusive
March 11, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander

March 11, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC, Exclusive

Animated film tie-in games may not be the cash cow they once were, said THQ's Brian Farrell, speaking at the Wedbush Morgan Securities conference earlier today.

"The kids' business, as you know, has been a huge focus of THQ for many years," said Farrell. "But there has been a trend away from licensed TV and movie games, and it's become much more competitive for all participants."

THQ's 2007 Ratatouille game performed disappointingly, and analysts suggested it was because few players liked the idea of a rat protagonist. They looked forward to the Wall-E title, assuming that the film's adorable goggle-eyed robot would move more units for THQ -- and yet it performed even worse.

Farrell suggested the decreasing performance of its Pixar games has less to do with the games themselves and more to do with this competitive trend in the animated film environment.

"Back when we took the Pixar license on several years ago, Pixar was the only CG animated film company, and now there are several... up to 10 or a dozen CG animated films each year," he said.

"So it's much more competitive -- which means that the kids' pie is getting sliced in smaller pieces, which makes it less profitable."

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Paul Lazenby
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There are multiple reasons why THQ has been failing in this genre, and much of it directly translates to why the company overall has had so many problems:

1). Poor media marketing

2). Lack solid tie-ins with movie based titles

3). Low quality games

One can only hope that Mr. Farrell's team can assemble a new talent that will learn from their paast mistakes.

But I doubt it.

Joshua McDonald
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I'm not surprised to see these games making less money. In fact, I've expected it to start for a while. These work because non-gamer parents buy them for their gamer kids. Now, the number of gamer parents is increasing, and these parents know that most of these games are a cheap experience designed to cash in on a big name.

Farrell's explanation might have something to do with it, but there were always plenty of cartoons getting released, and I doubt that the CG aspect of it matters all that much to kids. With enough parents in the know, it may actually become necessary for movie tie-ins to be good games before they can succeed.

Tom Newman
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The article itself hits the nail on the head - too many animated films! If there were only 2-3 a year, each one would be a blockbuster success, but the market is flodded with these titles.

PLUS - consumers are much more educated/sophisticated when it comes to buying liscensed games. You simply can't put a franchised IP on a dull game and have it be a hit any more (with few exceptions), which is what has been happening for years with movie-games.

Jeff Haas
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Pixar's recent movies have become more sophisticated and have moved away from the themes previously explored in The Incredibles, Toy Story, etc. etc. The adventures of a chef (helped by a rat) and a robot looking for love in a dystopia don't create the instant gotta-have-the-toy impulse.

And how many movies about a bunch of animals that go on an adventure do we need each year?

Javier Elizondo
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I cant believe the nerve! the games are not selling because their users got wiser! They know that tied ins are quick money maker with total disregard for game design. They are a cookie cutter product and not a gaming experience. THQ will have to work really hard trying to pick up the market with good offerings before they can attract the kids and parents that they have so badly disappointed this far. I am a dad and I can haply tell you that my kids no longer ask for a game only cause a big cartoon charatcer is in it, they have been burned one too many times.

Christopher Romero
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"Farrell suggested the decreasing performance of its Pixar games has less to do with the games themselves and more to do with this competitive trend in the animated film environment."

I bought the Wall-E game out of curiosity and it crashed my Mac out entirely, not many games can do that. Couldn't get past the first 2 scenes. Graphics were kind of ok, but without serious QA what do they think is going to happen? It is always about the games!