Following news that the "unacceptable" performance of recent titles has lowered Q2 and Q3 guidance
, THQ CEO Brian Farrell has said personnel and structural changes have been made, targeted Unreal Engine for delays of PS3 releases, and brushed off questions that Saints Row 2
might be affected by the loss of key design members.
Though both Stuntman: Ignition
and Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights
have sold more than a million copies each worldwide, Farrell said neither achieved desired play mechanic and overall quality targets, something that was "particularly disappointing" following the performance of games like Saints Row
"This is not acceptable," said Farrell, "and we've taken steps to address it," he said, adding that THQ would be taking a three fold approach for the future.
New Steps For The Future
The changes included undetailed personnel and structural changes, a new internal and external evaluation process with more frequent reviews with a broader range of management in on each of the reviews, and the previously reported movement of titles into fiscal 2009.
Farrell was asked if the two franchises, which classically have tracked in the high 60s to low 70s on Metacritic, and actually most recently scored just above their first franchise entries, were in general simply not viable.
Farrell replied that the franchises were "currently under review" into whether the recent problems reflect the quality of the games, whether the brands will have to be repositioned or simply whether THQ will move on to other brands "we can execute on very well."
PlayStation 3 Still Viable?
Farrell also lay blame on Unreal Engine as causing a number of key PlayStation 3 title delays, including its PS3 port of Frontlines
. While the Xbox 360 and PC versions are still expected to ship on time, with a demo due in December, "Unreal Engine difficulties" have put the PS3 version "a couple to three months behind."
Asked if a low installed base and development difficulties were causing the publisher to re-think its plans for PS3 support, though, Farrell said the company still believed the console was "very viable over long term," saying that "platforms, once they hit critical mass, can be very profitable."
Big Hopes For de Blob
Asked specifically about de Blob
's delay and whether its development was seen as simply not being where it should be given its release timeframe, Farrell instead said that the problem lay more in its positioning.
THQ, he said, was looking at the game now as "less of a pick up title, and more of a franchise" as it moved forward. The delay, he continued was to give it a "final level of polish," and in general make it "look more like a Nintendo-level Wii product."
What Of Blazing Lizard?
Finally, in a curious statement, asked about the future of the Saints Row
franchise, given that a number of lead design members have since left Volition to form upstart studio Blazing Lizard
, Farrell stated firmly, "categorically, we haven't lost any key development talent. We have a tremendous studio there with a lot of talent."