THQ pushes back titles, says it can't afford to release unpolished games
THQ can't afford to release a subpar game anymore.
That's the (very brief) message its new president Jason Rubin is sending to his investors tonight, as the company has announced delays of three of its upcoming titles -- including a major release for its fiscal year -- and has withdrawn any financial guidance it is giving for the future of the company.
Company of Heroes 2 and Metro: Last Light have been delayed from an approximate January timeframe to sometime in March, and its ambitious licensed RPG South Park: The Stick of Truth has been delayed from its initial March 5 release to sometime past April 1.
On a conference call, he told investors the titles "were guaranteed to fall significantly short of their design specs" if they were released as scheduled.
The company is doing a little better than expected since Rubin took charge: its $91.8 million in sales for the quarter ending September 30 was above the average analyst predications of $84.4 million, which it attributes to strong sales of Darksiders II.
However, investors can't be happy right now. The company announced that it will not provide financial guidance for its upcoming quarters, and has completely withdrawn its guidance for fiscal 2013.
The company even refused to answer analyst questions during its conference call this afternoon. Traditionally these calls have lasted in the neighborhood of one hour: today's call was 13 minutes long.
And though Darksiders II was the company's strong point for the prior quarter, selling 1.4 million copies, the company says this is still below expectations. It is also below the 2 million copies a popular estimate says it would have needed to break even on its development costs.
THQ's challenge now is convincing its developers that putting more work into its games -- and getting them up to a highly polished industry standard -- is the only way the company can survive.
"Only the top tier of releases are having an impact on the consumer, and I now have an opportunity to start impacting our next slate of products and position them to compete in this marketplace," Rubin told his investors.
Company CEO Brian Farrell added that THQ has hired investment firm Centerview Partners to help the company overcome its financial turmoil. The executive didn't offer any more details, but promised that investors would hear more in the months to come.