Troubled publisher THQ has announced it will close Rise Of Nations developer Big Huge Games if a sale is not completed "in the near future," also revealing that its Heavy Iron and Incinerator studios will be spun off as independent developers.
The company sent a WARN Notice to the Maryland-based developer's employees earlier in the day -- a mandatory notification of imminent layoffs of more than 50 employees in any company of more than 100.
"As part of THQ’s previously announced business realignment and related headcount reduction plans that targeted cost reductions of $220 million, including a reduction in workforce of 600 people worldwide, THQ today notified the staff at two of its development studios that they will be spun out as independent companies: Heavy Iron in Los Angeles, CA, and Incinerator in Carlsbad, CA.
In addition, THQ informed the staff at its Big Huge Games studio in Timonium, MD, that it plans to close the studio if a sale is not completed in the near future. These actions were unfortunate but were necessitated by the difficult economic environment."
The under-threat Big Huge Games was founded in 2000 by developers including Civilization II lead designer Brian Reynolds, and worked on PC RTS titles including the Rise Of Nations series before being purchased by THQ in early 2008.
Its current projects are known to include an RPG game being designed by former Oblivion co-creator Ken Rolston, and its last released project was a conversion of board game Catan for Xbox Live Arcade.
Now confirmed to continue as independent studios, California-based Heavy Iron has largely worked on licensed titles for THQ in recent years, most notably its Pixar-licensed titles such as The Incredibles and WALL-E, while Incinerator Studios has developed titles in the SpongeBob SquarePants and NickToons franchises.