THQ said on Wednesday that it is exiting the kids' licensed games business, and going forward will focus on "core" gamer titles while expanding its digital business.
It's a big change from a few years ago, when THQ had a solid business based on making kids' licensed games, based on properties such as Spongebob and Pixar's Cars. Now the focus will be on franchises such as Saints Row and Warhammer 40,000.
The publisher said it is "in the process of exiting its relationships with kids’ licensed entertainment companies but will continue to sell certain previously released titles." The company did not state if any THQ jobs would be affected.
THQ CEO Brian Farrell said in a statement, "THQ will be a more streamlined organization focused only on our strongest franchises. The success of Saints Row: The Third is an example of what our revised strategy and focus can achieve."
Farrell said THQ has shipped 3.8 million units of Volition-developed Saints Row: The Third, and is expecting lifetime shipments between 5-6 million units. He said digital add-ons for the game "have resulted in the highest digital revenue of any console title in our history."
The news of THQ's realignment comes as the publisher launches its Facebook and iPad social game, Margaritaville, on which musician Jimmy Buffet consulted.
THQ said its five internal studios are working on the upcoming UFC Undisputed 3 and Darksiders II, as well as Company of Heroes, inSANE, Saints Row, Warhammer 40,000, a new game from Ubisoft's former Assassin's Creed creative director, Patrice Desilets.
The announcement also arrives on the same day an alleged former THQ employee sent a distressing letter to the company's board of directors blaming top executives for making a series of poor decisions that led to layoffs, studio closures, millions spent overpaying for licenses, its share price plummeting, and uDraw's "implosion."
Claiming to represent the interests for other current and former THQ employees, the message (which was sent to a member of gaming community NeoGAF, where it was posted online), condemns those executives for their "chronic and constant mismanagement of their company," and calls on the board to oust Farrell and other THQ heads.