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THQ Lays Off 200 Employees, Closes Australian Studios
THQ Lays Off 200 Employees, Closes Australian Studios
August 9, 2011 | By Tom Curtis

Publisher THQ announced today that it has closed two of its studios and laid off approximately 200 employees as part of a larger plan to narrow the company's development focus.

THQ says that it has decided to close a pair of its studios in Australia, and has eliminated a development team at the company's Phoenix location. A trustworthy Australian industry source on NeoGAF identified the shuttered Australian studios as THQ Studio Australia and Blue Tongue, both of which primarily focused on licensed titles.

According to the THQ, the company is currently in the process of transitioning away from developing kids titles and movie-based games. The company also noted that it has "decided not to actively pursue further development of the MX vs. ATV franchise at this time."

"With this realignment, we are narrowing our focus to high-quality owned IP with broad appeal that can be leveraged across multiple platforms, and to work with the best talent in the industry. By right-sizing our internal development capacities for our console portfolio, our five internal studios are focused on delivering high-quality games with talented teams driving the execution of those titles to market," said THQ president and CEO Brian Farrell.

"As we have outlined in our business strategies, we are making shifts to reduce movie-based and licensed kids' video games in our portfolio, which underscores our strategy to move away from games that will not generate strong profits in the future."

Following these studio closures, THQ's five remaining internal studios include THQ Montreal (Unannounced title), Volition (Saints Row: The Third, inSANE), Relic Entertainment (Company of Heroes, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine), Vigil Games (Darksiders II), and THQ San Diego (WWE All Stars).

THQ also reiterated its "four pillar digital strategy," which is to focus on major console titles such as Saints Row: The Third, to target iOS and Facebook with titles such as the Jimmy Buffet-inspired Margaritaville Online, to bring in regular revenue with the MMO Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online, and to drive sales through existing channels as well as through the THQ website.

Last March, the company laid off over 30 employees at Homefront developer Kaos Studios and Saints Row developer Volition. In June, THQ closed Kaos altogether alongside the UK-based Digital Warrington.

THQ also recently noted that it has chosen not to pursue future titles in its sci-fi Red Faction franchise, saying that the game "did not resonate with a sufficiently broad console gaming audience."

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Jeffrey Crenshaw
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Man, I learn so many nifty words and phrases from these kinds of announcements.

Ben Freund
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That term's been around for quite awhile!

The odd thing about it is that simply using the term "sizing" would probably express the concept. Instead, they add that rhetorical flourish to make it clear that the decision to cut these employees was not merely profitable or even necessary, but RIGHT!

Jason Pineo
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Blech, they used 'Leveraging'.

Boyd Lake
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MX vs ATV has made more money for THQ than any other of their wholly owned franchises. Also, since THQ acts like naming their Phoenix location akin to saying "Voldemort", I will simply say




Allen Brooks
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Any takers for the inevitable closing date for the just-opened THQ Montreal? At this rate, it's practically a given.

Christopher Enderle
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Did they get any subsidies from the government to open that one? The bill to close it down might be more than what it would cost to keep it open, so that could shield the studio for a while.

Joshua Sterns
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Unfortunate news for those effected. That said, I'd be hard pressed to find a game I've enjoyed from THQ in a long time. Not to say they aren't making quality work. They simply have failed to grab my attention for some time.

Ivan Beram
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De Blob (THQ Bluetongue) perhaps... ? Haven't played it myself, think it's a Wii title and I don't own one. Recall it rated well.

Darren Hedges
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Sad when this happens, especially to some very talented people..

Dan the gaming Guy
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Agree Darren. Publishers dont realize or admit this, but often low quality games are results of their mandated direction. But when the product doesnt do well, the ones following orders get the axe, not the ones who made the calls in the first place.

Joe McGinn
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Truer words were never spoken. Look at the debacle of Red Faction. Volition made a great game in Guerilla. Instead of investing in that, building on it, the THQ decision makers decided to chase CODs tail and make a linear action game - which, incidentally, is completely unsuited to the RF hook of destruction.

Jason Weesner
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Terrible news. :(

Good games (at the least) require a combination of studio talent (everybody who walks through the door everyday), realistic publisher expectations (what they want vs. what they've paid for), sufficient development time (take the time you think it's going to take and add 6 months), and a high degree of honesty from all parties involved. If a game production is missing any of these elements, you end up with a bad or canceled game or a shuttered studio. At this point in the history of the video game industry, it's baffling that history repeats itself as often as it does.

Best of luck to everybody who was laid off!

Dave Long
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De Blob 2 (Blue Tongue) was the best THQ game I've played in ages. Really sad to see another big publisher/developer go the option of "if it's not a mega-hit, we're not interested" - how about balancing development cost with expected return and doing a proper analysis of value, rather than a narrow-minded (and somewhat simple) "big sales or bust" mentality. Credit to devs like Gaijin Entertainment that have built themselves a niche with their fans with the likes of Birds of Prey and the upcoming Birds of Steel, or pubs like Konami that don't just publish mega-hits. Moves like this make gaming more bland and one-note for everyone. Best of luck for all the affected employees in finding future work.

Simon Ludgate
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I just wanted Homeworld 3...

Thierry Tremblay
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Wouldn't that be awesome?

Will Stein
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THQ must be really scrambling to find out what the hell to do next. I heard that they just cancelled a lot of pledged job offers at the new Montreal studio, some of which were promised to former Kaos employees. Really great of them to have strung along those guys after laying them off in NY.