The timing may be unfortunate but the inevitable has happened: THQ has filed for bankruptcy. After suffering several major setbacks, the chief of which was the uDraw HD debacle, THQ has been on an ever steady decline despite solid software releases, with the exception being WWE 13 of course.
After further company wide restructuring, which saw internal studios such as THQ San Diego close and IPs such as Devil's Third and Insane were relinquished, THQ has now filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Whereas in some cases a company can bounce back from bankruptcy, especially if it files for chapter 11, things seem to be officially done for THQ as the company’s stock has been halted and an investment capital company, Clearlake, has bought THQ and will likely sell off the remaining chunks to the highest bidder.
THQ is remaining cautiously optimistic about things as company CEO Brian Farrell said, “The sale and filing are necessary next steps to complete THQ’s transformation and position the company for the future, as we remain confident in our existing pipeline of games, the strength of our studios and THQ’s deep bench of talent.”
Farrell’s comments may be nice as he doesn’t sound as glum as he did during the most recent investor conference that was held, but to be honest it seems as if he’s just doing the by-the-numbers motions that a person in a lame duck position would do, perhaps because he’ll probably secure a nice golden parachute no matter what.
The current status of THQ of course raises questions as to the future of the existing games that were set to be released in the next few months, the most notable of which are South Park: The Stick of Truth, Company of Heroes 2, and Metro: Last Light. Given their financial situation I doubt THQ will end up publishing these games themselves unless Clearlake allows it so it’s likely that the properties will be snatched up by other publishers and released later in 2013.
Obviously there may be a level of worry concerning the fate of key THQ properties such as Saints Row and it’s accompanying developer Volition, alongside other things such as what will happen to Relic and what will be the fate of THQ Montreal. It’s still too early to predict what could transpire, but as we heard last month it seems like there are several publishers, such as Warner Bros. and possibly Ubisoft, who have expressed their interest about acquiring THQ’s properties, either with or without the main development studio. So the next two months will be interesting to see who will be saved and what could possibly be the next great studio to sadly shutter.
THQ hasn’t made the best decisions this generation, but it is disappointing to see that this is how the company will likely end it’s twenty-three year history, perhaps sullying the Holiday festivities for those who are part of THQ’s remaining corporate/developer structure. I don’t think we should be too worried about the fate of Saints Row as it could be the most sought after property, but other than that it’ll be open season as far as what franchises will be bought and more importantly if we’ll ever see them surface again.
Since the news of THQ's bankruptcy filing was made public, company President Jason Rubin has taken to Twitter to lightly discuss things. In an attempt to reassure core THQ fans, Rubin revealed that the company still plans to release key titles such as South Park and Company of Heroes 2 along with major future releases such as the Crytek helmed Homefront 2 as are other unannounced games such as the first title from Patrice Desilets and THQ Montreal.
Beyond that Jason didn't offer any insight as to the current situation other than saying that Clearlake is helping the financial future of the company. Besides Jason's brief comments on the situation, THQ has released estimated sales forecast figures for future releases which include titles such as Saints Row 4, Homefront 2, and three games which haven't been publicly announced (Evolve, 1666, and Atlas).
THQ's financial documents confirm that Evolve is the new IP from Turtle Rock (Left4Dead) while 1666 is from THQ Montreal. Atlas on the otherhand is apparently a new IP being crafted by the talented folks at Relic up in Vancouver.
Right now it seems like THQ's future could be in two very distinct camps: 1. Clearlake will indeed purchase the company and it'll be business as usual or 2. The company will still be sold off no matter what, if not now then in a few months. Those at THQ are of course painting a very pretty picture for us, but the fact is that things are still far from perfect and it's possible key talent at internal studios such as Vigil could jump ship now given what's going on.
We'll likely now what's going on with THQ for sure in the coming weeks as there are only faint details, possible sugarcoating, and speculation from industry pundits.