THQ said Wednesday it signed a multi-year deal with toy maker Mattel to develop and publish games based on toy brands including Barbie, Hot Wheels and Fisher-Price to target kid and family audiences.
It's a interesting move for the Agoura Hills, CA-based publisher, whose CEO Brian Farrell said as recently as December that the company would lessen its emphasis on licensed kid-targeted games and focus more resources on original, core gamer-centric intellectual properties like Homefront and Red Faction.
With the Mattel deal, THQ said it would also publish games based on new toy brands like Monster High, and classic properties like Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, Masters of the Universe, Polly Pocket and others.
THQ has had success in the past with licensed games based on Pixar movies -- particularly Cars -- and Nickelodeon properties like SpongeBob SquarePants.
But sales of licensed kid-friendly games have tapered off considerably for the publisher. THQ has maintained that it will continue to keep some mix of owned and licensed IP.
The Mattel deal involves THQ designing, developing and marketing Mattel-based games for all platforms, including consoles, PC, mobile, social networks and digital distribution.
THQ said its recently-released uDraw GameTablet for Wii will also host Mattel brands. The publisher and Mattel are "already in the development stage on multiple games," THQ said, with the first Mattel games under the deal arriving next holiday.