The demise of THQ: where each franchise is going, and what it means

  • Posted January 23rd, 2013 at 21:24 EDT by Kyle Prahl

Today's auction of various THQ intellectual property rights has ended, and news is pouring in of franchises and future games that will be henceforth published by other industry giants. Until just recently, the identities of the IPs and studios for sale was unknown (though we speculated that Saints Row, Darksiders, and MX vs. ATV would change hands). Now, we have a clear picture of where our favorite franchises will be going, and how much each company paid to acquire them.

The next few years will be very interesting indeed, as a whole host of sequels and titles-in-progress will now be published under different corporate umbrellas. Let's take a look at each successful bid, and examine what each sale means for the industry moving forward.

Relic (developer of Company of Heroes) sold to SEGA for $26.6 million

The first sale listed in the official auction summary filed with the US Bankruptcy Court of Delaware is perhaps the most unexpected, as SEGA Corporation outbid Zenimax Media, Inc. (owners of Bethesda Softworks) by a mere $300,000. Given SEGA's recent history of middling game sales and a notable lack of blockbuster releases, it's a bit surprising to see the storied publisher bid the highest amount in today's auction for a currently PC-exclusive franchise. Still, Company of Heroes 2 (which was first announced in May 2012) should generate much-needed revenue and variety for SEGA if its planned launch window of Early 2013 stays intact. It's hard to argue that SEGA probably needed Company of Heroes 2 more than Zenimax Media, but the latter might've benefited from strengthening its PC portfolio and audience as the Elder Scrolls Online beta draws near.

THQ Montreal (developer of unannounced title) sold to Ubisoft for $2.5 million

Ubisoft's first acquisition of the day gives the French publisher exclusive rights to one or more as-yet-unannounced titles. We covered Ubisoft's acquisitions earlier this evening via press release, but close examination of the official auction summary mentions two mysterious names that may relate to Montreal's top-secret project(s). The first is 1666, a game whose trademark was filed in March 2012 but whose content remains under wraps. The other is Underdog, which may very well be Montreal's mystery game. In any case, it may be quite some time before gamers realize the implications of either. At the very least, Ubisoft has proven itself to be a fine nurturer for a wide variety of genres on every conceivable platform. Whatever the outcome of this acquisition, PlayStation gamers are sure to benefit.

Evolve sold to Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. for $10.894 million

Much like 1666 and Underdog, the nature of Evolve (also referenced in official documentation as Metamorphosis) is utterly vague at best. Like 1666, Evolve was trademarked in March 2012, but because so little is known, let's examine the Take-Two implications. Take-Two owns both 2K Games and Rockstar Games, which means this title could ultimately end up in the hands of either. My money's on 2K Games; Rockstar is notorious for lengthy development times on a select few highly-profitable franchises, while 2K Games has - in the last couple years - handled everything from Duke Nukem Forever and The Darkness II to Borderlands and XCOM: Enemy Unknown. As of now, 2K's only announced in-development titles are BioShock Infinite and an XCOM third-person-shooter. The former will be on store shelves in two months, and the latter has no set release date. By appearances, 2K's stable of studios - including Firaxis Games, Irrational Games, 2K Marin, and others - have or will soon have plenty of time on their hands. Don't be surprised if one of these three gives Evolve a big reveal at E3 or Gamescom in 2013.

Volition (developer of Saints Row) sold to Koch Media for $22.3 million

If you aren't familiar with Koch Media, just substitute the words 'Deep Silver' in the line above. The publisher is best known for Risen, Risen 2: Dark Waters, and Dead Island, and with no other game label under its corporate heading, Koch Media clearly intends for Deep Silver to assume publishing duties and for Volition to resume development on Saints Row 4 post-haste. It's far too early to make a definitive call on the game's final quality, but the fact that Volition staff is expected to remain largely intact is an excellent sign. No need for doom-and-gloom here, though its interesting to note ... (continued on next page) ----

Kyle Prahl is a PSU senior editor and a Communications student at the University of Minnesota. If you care about PlayStation or the life of a pale Midwesterner, you should follow him on Twitter.
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