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THQ Phases Out  Red Faction  Franchise Following 'Disappointing' Sales
THQ Phases Out Red Faction Franchise Following 'Disappointing' Sales
July 27, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi

After what was "clearly a disappointing performance" for Red Faction: Armageddon both financially and critically, THQ CEO Brian Farrell says that the company will not be moving forward with the franchise.

"Given that that title now in two successive versions has [only] found a niche, we do not intend to carry forward with that franchise in any meaningful way," Farrell told THQ's investors in a Gamasutra-attended conference call.

According to Farrell, the game "did not resonate with a sufficiently broad console gaming audience," despite its "passionate niche following."

"In today's hit-driven, core gaming business, even highly-polished titles with a reasonable following like Red Faction face a bar that continues to move higher and higher," he said.

"Moving forward, our core game titles must meet a very high quality standard with strong creative and product differentiation, appeal to a broad audience, and be marketed aggressively."

Red Faction: Armageddon currently averages in the 71-75 range on Metacritic across its three SKUs.

Developer Volition is currently at work on two major projects: this year's Saints Row: The Third, and a collaboration with film director Guillermo del Toro called Insane.

Farrell also said that that as a result of the game's sales, THQ would revise its internal review process in order to reach a higher quality bar.

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John McMahon
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I think they should go back to what the original Red Faction was about, not some alien killfest game. Nor a open-world game about destroying lego blocks.

They've taken the franchise well off base from where it started and this is what happens.

I mean, come on, why was "Helter Skelter" playing for a game commerical?

This is coming from someone that enjoyed Red Faction 1 & II. I like the Saint's Row games as well, but the Red Faction franchise is based on rebelling against tyranny, conspiracy, and destroying the environment to make new paths.

Of course, that last part has not made a big enough difference given games (like one I cannot name) where you could raise or lower the ground with grenades/other devices.

But they've taken the franchise is the wrong direction. Aliens? Come on.

Eric McVinney
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^ Agreed 100% I loved RF1 more so with the GeoMod they had, which I didn't see much of in RF2 :P

I played a bit of RF:A and it just didn't feel the same as you had mentioned. The previous titles were about uprising against a tyrant and the aftermaths of a rebellion.

Jack Kerras
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I absolutely positively would have been a day-one buyer if Armageddon had competitive multiplayer.

I spent TONS of time in Guerrilla's multiplayer, having an absolute blast with it, and was looking forward to an updated, better-balanced, more-weapons version. What I got was a big fat nothin'. The inclusion of a Horde mode analogue was fine, I guess, but does not make up for the total lack of the part of Guerrilla that drew me the most. I would play it to date if I could ever find a Goddamn game to join.

Jack Nilssen
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Phased out due to disappointed fans.

Allen Brooks
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"Moving forward, our core game titles must meet a very high quality standard with strong creative and product differentiation, appeal to a broad audience, and be marketed aggressively."

This sounds awfully familiar. Oh wait, Danny Bilson said virtually the same thing in 2009:

"New THQ says to compete in this environment, you can only compete at the highest level at the highest level in big titles, where we're spending a lot of money."


Homefront? Disappointing sales, kill the developer. Red Faction? Disappointing sales, kill the franchise. Two for two so far. What's the alternative? Danny ominously says himself, in the interview above:

"I think the middling games are just going to go away and those studios are going to get wiped out, so we can't be in that business either. "

Joe kennedy
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No we got it all wrong, Red Faction failed because it didn't have yet another big Hollywood named writer to tell story.

Oh no my bad, I forgot to mentioned Red faction missed out on its own self funded concert event at GDC.

Gosh I got it wrong again, Red Faction fail because it never released several hundred balloons with Logos into the California coast.

Uhhhhh, where is Danny Bilson these days. Volition will soon share the same fate as Kaos. Who takes responsibility for these misdirects? Two for Two is right, isn't Brian getting the message?

I wonder who's next in the THQ branch?

It's sad, unlike Kaos, Volition had way more credibility as a studio and god only knows what they had to deal with on an executive level with Danny and his creative henchmen.

I hope Volition pulls out of this intact!!!

Jeff Carroll
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Sincerely. I was the producer for Red Faction: Guerrilla's multiplayer, but when Danny Bilson came on board, made the enemies into aliens (Bilson's Bug Hunt!), brought in himself and his partner to write a generic story, and said in his first meeting with the company that he didn't trust numbers or focus groups--he trusted his gut--I assumed this was a guy who admired the old, oligarchical Hollywood model, so I moved on. Plus we couldn't have the money or staff to make our competitive MP compete with the big guys, so we had to cut it.

I'm frustrated still (obviously) because there were exceptionally talented people on RF, and while Red Faction still may not have continued, it would have gone out with Volition's style, not Bilson's. As I said, I'm no longer with the company, so consider this my opinion alone.

Raison Varner
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No one questions the Rocketeer!!!! :)

Pretty disappointing all around. When you allow egos to distort perspective and honest deconstruction, you weaken the whole. Volition and THQ are both suffering from the same affliction and we're witnessing the symptoms of mis-management on multiple levels.

There are so many brilliant people in the industry, it's sad that they feel they need to leave it to find inspiration. THQ and Volition do not suffer from external factors... They'll continue to hemorrhage ideas and talent until they acknowledge that and "empty their cup" to start anew... They have all the resources they need to be successful. Maybe they'll get desperate enough to take a risk instead of trying to find all these creative ways to play it safe.

Jack Kerras
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You were the producer on RF:G's multiplayer?

Consider yourself personally thanked. I love that Goddamn game, and I imagine I will remember it fondly forever. You and your people did great work.

Jeff Carroll
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Thank you, but the team gets all the credit. I just tried to move things out of their way.

Lyon Medina
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THQ is killing a great game because they made a mistake? I mean I bought the game and love it to death, it really is a great game, but the problem with the game was the total disconnect from the last game. Yes this game takes place after the events of Red Faction:Guerrilla, but for a few little snippets of dialogue and the setting your in, their really is no connection to the last game to this game. It skip and never explains anything. Yes we did get the movie but how many people knew about it? How many people would do the research to see that this game was actually good? THQ made a lot of mistakes with this game, marketing wise, direction wise, and management wise. This game should have been an easy sell if they just a RF:G that didn't feel so.... alone. Their really wasn't any love for this game out of marketing the stuffing out of it to get people to buy it. I don't think the game is to blame though, or even the franchise it self.

Ok that was a lot of jumbled thoughts. No real structure to my statement but I have nt slept in the last 24h gonna cut myself a break this one time.

thay thay
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If THQ axes Volition, I wish Interplay would hire them to work on Descent 4!

Germain Cout
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You can't base a series on nothing but a mechanic and a setting without tying it all up with some good storytelling. I remember enjoying the first game to death, but from what I've seen from the 3 other games, they threw it all out again and again to start over. I was not compelled to buy any of them.

The same thing happened to Ground Control: a superb game with some questionable story elements. Instead of getting rid of the bad stuff and expanding on the rest (maybe keep a few main characters, I dunno) they completely re-booted the whole thing. That's a no-buy from me. Unsurprisingly, Ground Control 2 became a bargain-bin title, and that was the last I heard of that series.

They need to learn that making spinoffs can only get you so far.

Man, Volition used to make great games (Freespace ftw!), it makes me sad to see them making only cheap sequels now. They'll probably suffer the same fate as Kaos to let some new blood in.

Joe McGinn
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How about they phase out the decision makers in management who green-lighted this ill-conceived sequel?

In chasing the good ol' COD tail, Armageddon eliminated everything that made Guerilla so great. Guerilla got great reviews and sold 1.5M+ units. The sequel execution isn't bad - the team did what they could with a bad idea. In fact I couldn't disagree more with Andrews post above. The problem is not that the series is based on a mechanic - the problem is that this partucular game was not well-conceived for that mechanic.

Prince of Persia is conveived around Ubisoft's re-invention of platforming. That's not a bad thing. But if you make a PoP kart racing game - yeah you'd expect to fail.

Jamie Mann
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Aye... is the issue with the franchise, or the direction that the developer/publisher decided to take it in?

It's perhaps not too bad an idea to let the franchise rest a little, but I'd hope there'd be some genuine internal analysis as to why this release didn't meet expectations, rather than just pegging the entire franchise as a failure...

Lyon Medina
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Ujn Hunter
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The other problem with their strategy was trying to make games "annually" like these damn Assassin's Creed nonsense games. How many years passed between RF & RF2? You're more likely to get people to buy sequels to games if they're spaced out... not yearly. Get with the program! So much milking going on in this industry these days.

Guyal Sfere
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RF:G appealed to me as "GTA on Mars with destructible buildings". Run around having fun in a vaguely plausible sandbox until I got bored with an area, then do the missions necessary to open up the next area and new weapons. RF:A was all generic rails shooter until I got bored and moved on to another game. Seems like they made 3 different games in 3 installments of a so-called franchise - and not in some amazingly reinventive way - so no surprise that the sales and satisfaction results were uneven.

Matt Cratty
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Its unfortunate. Most of the great games I've ever played would be considered niche games in this market.

I've yet to see a great game that was made for a broad audience (at least in the last 5-6 years).

I do fully understand why they want to chase the big money, but not everyone can be a rock star. I just hope that the PC game industry gets through this ugly phase quickly.

Eli Blyth
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THQ, dont kill RF because the latest one didnt sell well. Just spend MORE TIME making the games, if you make GOOD games, they will be profitable. If you have the accountant control the production of games, people (and I mean people who BUY and PLAY games) will simply see you as making low quality games, and will want to wait for the pre-owned versions of games regardless of how many insentives you put into the game. Take your time, make good games and the profits will follow. Morrowind wasnt made in a year, deus ex 1 didnt take a year, gears of war didnt take a year, Halo didnt take a year, all of these games sold well, and due to their success their sequals could be worked on slowly, resulting in well selling sequals. It shouldnt be a game a year in a franchise... and dont shy away from investing in NEW franchises... you never know they may catch on. Make the games good, and people will buy them again and again.

You know the old addage Garbage in, Garbage out right?