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With THQ's demise, plenty of questions remain
With THQ's demise, plenty of questions remain Exclusive
January 23, 2013 | By Chris Morris

January 23, 2013 | By Chris Morris
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    13 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing, Exclusive



The fat lady has sung at THQ. After years of near misses, the company that was at one time the industry's third largest publisher is being sold for parts.

THQ has a lot of haters in the game world, with plenty of people pointing fingers of blame at the company's management, expansion philosophy and business methods. But any time a publisher is forced to close its doors – especially when it has titles on the near horizon that seem to have so much potential – it's sad.

I've taken THQ to task a few times over the years both here and at other outlets, including CNN, but there's something about the company that has always stuck with me. And, like company management, I actually thought they'd manage to pull through this – though certainly in a different form than they were a year ago.

Of course, that's not happening now. And while the future of many parts of the company is set, Wednesday's actions raise a lot of unanswered questions – some of which won't be resolved for a while. Here are a few that are vexing me as I digest the news.

Who the hell was the money behind Clearview Capital?

- Many organizations reported that Clearview Capital was the initial potential buyer of THQ's assets. They weren't. They were the corporate equivalent of a middleman for an unnamed investor.

That investor (or possibly investors) was never named – and I, personally, wonder who it was. Is a titan of business looking to invest in a game publisher? Was it someone hoping to fund the company short term, then flip it? Was it a competitor? Heck, was it someone who was already an insider at THQ that saw the potential in the game's lineup (assuming that's even legal)?

The mystery man behind the initial offer is, in my opinion, one of the most important questions about this whole process. Because while THQ has been in critical condition since last November, there are a number of other publishers and developers who could be on the block by the end of the year – and I'd like to know who might be considering a bid.

Will Patrice stay?

– Ubisoft reportedly picked up THQ Montreal, according to a note to employees obtained by Kotaku. But will the head of that studio - Patrice Desilets, best known as creative director on Assassin's Creed and Assassin's Creed II - stay put?

Desilets left Ubisoft 2.5 years ago – and returning to his former corporate home could be either a celebration or a bit awkward. Wikipedia has already declared he will stay, but that's nothing more than an assumption by a fan. Until we hear from Desilets directly, nothing is certain.

Does this put Koch Media in the big time finally?

- Koch Media's Deep Silver has certainly turned heads with titles like Dead Island, but they're not a household name yet. Taking over a proven franchise like Saint's Row and one with potential like Metro could thrust them fully into the spotlight, though.

What happens with the WWE license?

- THQ and the WWE have been joined at the hip for years. And, while the games weren't for everyone, THQ did a good job in overseeing that partnership. (Special kudos are certainly due to THQ's Senior Global Communications Manager Jaime Jensen – who not only shepherded the games to the media, but is as much a part of the WWE locker room these days as John Cena, and perhaps more beloved by the wrestlers.)

EA, of course, is the likely destination of the license, but it's a little too early to rule out interest by Take-Two or another dark horse. And I certainly don't put it beyond Vince McMahon to bring the team in-house and then distribute the game through a partner.

How the hell did Vigil Games get overlooked?

- Darksiders never knocked it out of the park financially – and the underwhelming sales of the sequel last year likely sealed the fate of Vigil Games -- but the team is a talented one and the games were solid. It's surprising that no publisher was willing to pick them up – though perhaps it was simply cheaper to buy them outside of THQ.

Either way, here's hoping the team finds employment soon – hopefully without having to uproot out of Austin.

Whither "de Blob"

- Ok, maybe I'm alone in this one, but I actually liked this game!

What's next for Jason Rubin?

- That's a question that actually could be asked for the entire executive team for the company, but Rubin's footprint in the industry is substantial and he's among the most likely high profile executives to land somewhere in the near term. The question is: Where will it be?


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Comments


Raymond Grier
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I also like De Blob. There was a Gamasutra article about how the sequel sold less than expected and to paraphrase the comment I made there: "I'm a fan of De Blob but didn;t even know they were working on a sequel until after they complained they didn't sell very many copies. That's a marketing issue.".

Isaiah Taylor
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Patrice was [unfortunately] write about how Assassin's Creed was being dealt with, he left ... seemingly, just in time. Now, well, s**ts gonna be awkward at the "Welcome To Ubisoft" party.

Steven Ulakovich
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I would imagine that the remains of THQ will be picked up at the end of the bankruptcy proceedings. The idea of a whole package of IP's cheap without having to buy the manpower that went behind it is probably why a lot of THQ did not sell this week.

Biff Johnson
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A good place to find out who is behind Clearview Capital is here:HERE .. The US Securities and Exchange Commission's site.

Gil Salvado
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If Vigil is being bought after THQ's demise, there'll be some lay-off's in between for sure. But I just can not imagine that Vigil won't find a new home. Be it Austin or where ever.

Axel Cholewa
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It'd be a shame if Vigil can't find a new publisher. Yes, both Darksiders didn't sell that well, but in my oppinion they were more than just solid.

And even if no publisher would continue the franchise, it's a studio I consider capable of creating a lot of great games in the future, no matter the genre, platform or IP.

Mike Wasilewski
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does anyone figure that Sega received the Homeworld IP ?

James Yee
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Yeah where did Homeworld go? I heard it was NOT picked up with the SEGA deal.

Martin Sabom
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Mis-management and lack of fiduciary responsibility. I know for a fact that Rubin was offered ample opportunities to reduce support costs significantly a while ago and he balked.

Mike Higbee
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So did Sega get the 40k license?

Biff Johnson
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according to Atomic (now PC $ Tech Authority) they did. Jump over and read there too. A couple of details not covered here. (great article Chris)

A W
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I posted this in the other thread about Vigil, but a rumor suggest that Platinum Games may be interested. Some tweets suggest that they where shocked that no one picked up the developer and another tweet suggest that the head of the company was interested in picking them up for a good price.

Biff Johnson
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I wonder if we'll see a FreeSpace again? Not sure if Interplay ...such as they are... is still holding property rights to that franchise. The folks at Volition has voiced that they'd love a shot at making another one.


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