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THQ pushes back titles, says it can't afford to release unpolished games
THQ pushes back titles, says it can't afford to release unpolished games
November 5, 2012 | By Tom Curtis, Frank Cifaldi

November 5, 2012 | By Tom Curtis, Frank Cifaldi
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

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has announced delays of three of its upcoming titles -- including a major release for its fiscal year -- and has withdrawn any financial guidance it is giving for the future of the company.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 The company announced that it will not provide financial guidance for its upcoming quarters, and has completely withdrawn its guidance for fiscal 2013.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.

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Dave Ingram
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Jason Rubin is making the kind of decisions that may irritate short-term investors, but that can do great things for the company over the long run. A short-sighted executive can easily dig a company into a hole, but making these far-sighted decisions is an investment in the companies future and the prestige of the brand. Even if this causes some short-term pain in it's stock, I see this as an investment opportunity that will yield results over the long term.

Beyond Good and Evil
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Just seems so strange that the most senior management remains after all these years when the stock has lost, in essence, all of its value under their stewardship. In what other context could you fail this visibly and for this long and still keep your job? So perplexing.

Zirani Jean-Sylvestre
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Invest in quality, make a solid game, leave fond memories to players and start a franchise.

Never worked before.

Justin Sawchuk
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No you have to pump out shitty half finished products full of bugs, whats this guy thinking.

Joe McGinn
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Reasonable decisions, but I hate to be the bearer of bad news ... South Park is so last-decade. No one cares anymore. That's going to flop no matter how good the game is.

Tyler Shogren
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Bravo. Now it's time to announce this again with a pre-order promotion.

Anthony Giallourakis
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I would have loved to have been in that boardroom when Jason told Brian and Paul he wanted to give the next three video games some more development spit polish, to insure they were up to his standards (two months each according to the conference call). In essence what you have here is the beginning of a meaningful management shift away from mediocrity and towards brilliance and success.

I expect the company to be successful in their financing efforts. It's easy to back a proven winner - that would be Jason Rubin.

I expect the business to run like a Swiss watch, perfectly tuned, GOING FORWARDS. Jason is the Steve Jobs of video game development. He won't disappoint investors or gamers, the latter being the most important factor of all. Do your homework. Connect the dots.

dude od
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Yes Anthony do have any idea how broken THQ is, from the top to the bottom, years of bleeding have left the few studios they have gutted, junior staff have become the seniors and leads. Leads who where never trained to run whole departments have been thrust in management. WWE13 is doing just OK, and wont carry them, there next to games in spite of what the fan boys say, metro and coh2 will not be huge sellers, they are niche titles, THQ doesn't have the money or resources to market them or support them. THQ has one option, sale of assets. Jason Rubin creative type, he is not a experienced executive trained to turn around former billion dollar companies.

Beyond Good and Evil
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Hahahahaha. Um, yeah sure. How about this - talk to some of the staff (the few who are left) about how much "confidence" they have that THQ is going to re-emerge, Phoenix-like, as a finley tuned Swiss watch.

When they stop laughing they'll probably punch your lights out.

Enough bogus promotion.