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Analyst:  Darksiders  A Disappointment For THQ?
Analyst: Darksiders A Disappointment For THQ?
February 2, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

February 2, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

THQ is hoping to continue narrowing its losses and achieving profitability this year, but it seems Darksiders, its latest original IP, might have ultimately dinged that goal.

Signal Hill analyst Todd Greenwald believes THQ "spent fairly heavily" on marketing for the title -- without much result, he adds.

"Darksiders didn't perform up to THQ's expectations, likely selling less than 1 million units despite heavy marketing dollars, 2-3 years of development costs, and was also subject to discounting just 2 weeks after its release," Greenwald suggests.

He expects the publisher to report sales of $347 million overall for its March quarter, with year over year growth hurt by challenging comparisons to last year's release of Saints Row 2 and "weak sales and heavy discounting for WWE, MX vs. ATV Reflex, and numerous Wii titles."

The company's recent settlement of its longstanding dispute with Jakks Pacific over the WWE license isn't likely to contribute as much as one might think, despite the fact that THQ now has a licensing deal with WWE exclusively.

"While this reduces its payment to Jakks to just $6 million in FY11, down from roughly $13 million in FY10 and $20 million in FY09, we don't know what the new royalty paid to WWE will be," says Greenwald: "Much of the savings will likely accrue to WWE, therefore we don't see material upside for THQ as a result of this settlement."

Overall, Greenwald is concerned that estimates for THQ, which predict 5 percent growth for the company in the coming fiscal year, are "still too high", as the publisher faces tough comparisons to a release lineup that was much stronger than this year's.

"We'd also note that THQ will lack a Pixar title for the first time in 7 years, as Pixar is developing Toy Story 3 internally," Greenwald points out. Finally, the analyst says THQ relies on the Wii and DS market for 35-40 percent of its sales -- and that market will be "much weaker" in 2010.

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Anthony Charles
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I don't know where this heavy marketing spending went. I didn't know about this game 'till a week before release.

Sean Blevins
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I was really glad to see THQ spend some cash on marketing just before and after the games released. But like Anthony I don't think many people who follow games even knew much about this game. It got little to no coverage and the only time I paid any attention to it was when I stumbled upon PLAY Magazine's review of the game back in mid December.

It was really awesome to just have a game seemingly released out of no where, with no hype at all, and turn out to be as good as Darksiders did. However, I think everyone can agree that we would rather of had too much coverage of the game so that it would have at least sold a little better, in lieu of there being any doubt about THQ investing in a sequel.

From my perspective it appears that THQ only cared about getting the game in the public's eye once it got a 10/10 from PLAY. I understand why they would have had some doubt about the game's quality due to it being from a newly formed development team, but if they just would have done a little work to better show the game much sooner, their marketing budget and efforts could have gone a long way.

Terry Matthes
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I think that this article is largely speculative and takes the onus off Todd Greenwald by not linking to his company or any sort of personal profile.

Here are the links...

Signal Hill

Todd Greenwald

Read up on Todd Greenwald for yourself and see if his notions are worth paying attention to.

Juan Del Rio
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Darksiders made me get an Xbox360.

From a hard core PC gamer, thats huge :) And I enjoyed every minute of the game's rich art style and rewarding gameplay.

I sincerely hope that many more people will discover the fun of Darksiders: Wrath of War, as I am eagerly anticipating Vigil's next game, Warhammer 40k MMO.

Adam Bishop
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I'd heard a fair bit of good things about the game before its release, but I have to say that I was pretty disappointed in the final product. There's nothing especially *bad* about the game for the most part, but there's nothing especially good about it either. The combat is decent but nothing special, the level design is decent but nothing special, etc. The whole thing is mediocre top-to-bottom, so I can't say I'm too surprised if it didn't sell all that well.

Tyler Peters
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I agree with Anthony, I didn't see "heavy" marketing dollars being spent on this (though I did see it for games like Mass Effect 2).

And to be honest, the marketing that I saw online was not that great. The latest trailer was disappointing, especially when you look at other AAA titles releasing in the same period.

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Ed Alexander
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I picked up Bayonetta and Darksiders on day 1. Via Platinum's continual teasing and hinting I knew I wanted to play Bayonetta somethin' fierce, so I started with that. Played through, beat it, love it, played through a bunch of the way on Hard and then decided to switch gears for a little bit and play Darksiders to stay current with all my friends who played Darksiders first.

It is pretty hard to play Darksiders now, to be honest. As Adam said, there's nothing that really lunges out as particularly excellent that really sells the experience (except perhaps the art). The gameplay feels very middle of the road, which is fine, but pales in comparison to it's same-day launch competition. They're not the same beast, but Darksiders tries to be like that style while trying to not be... it just doesn't hold a candle to Bayonetta, unfortunately.

I will buy Darksiders 2. I enjoy the game for sure, something about amazing "comic book" style anti-heroes just grabs me (Spawn: Armageddon was a guilty pleasure), I just wish it were closer to "fantastic" instead of "pretty darn good". Hopefully combat will be looser, faster, not require just mashing one button and have an evade button that, you know, makes you evade the moment you need to. ;)

I do have faith the next one will be closer to greatness. Hearing all the behind-the-scenes lately and hearing just how ambitious the game started out to be and see how far it came to finished product tells me Vigil can get it done, it just needs a little bit more focus in the beginning for a more solid, polished experience. I think they would have a good grasp now and can pull it off. Plus the feedback from all the people who treasure the game wouldn't hurt, either. Here's to hoping!

Tom Newman
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Darksiders was under my radar but I was inclined to check it out anyway and was shocked by how great of an experience it was. Sure is uses many "borrowed" gameplay elements, but the execution was spot on. I stopped playing Bayonetta for this and although not the same genre, Darksiders was a much stronger title for me.

Thomas Lo
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The trend is quite clear in Wii sales eh? This few years into the Wii's life cycle and its ability to make money for third-party developers has already cratered. Nintendon't make any money for developers. I guess a demo of little kids and soccer mom don't make for a good attach rate ...

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