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THQ Finally Ceases To Be + IP News

At long last the era of THQ has come to a close. After being foretold in a sense nearly a year ago via Kevin Dent and made more apparent by the public financial issues that the company was running into, THQ is now a thing of the past.  The somewhat unfortunate demise of THQ isn’t a complete tearjerker moment however as several properties and studios made famous by the company will thankfully live on with new homes. 

As it was announced last month, THQ’s individual assets went up for auction and as rumored several companies made rather prominent bids to procure what caught their eye. After alluding to their interest, Ubisoft has wound up with not just one but two THQ properties, one of which is rather sizeable considering its long-term potential. 

Joining the Ubisoft family will be THQ Montreal, or rather the studio formerly known as THQ Montreal.  Headed up by former Assassin’s Creed creator Patrice Desilets, THQ Montreal was acquired by Ubisoft for the rather low sum of $2.5 million  Ubisoft’s acquisition of THQ Montreal of course entitles the company to the unannounced project the studio was working on, rumored to be a game which takes place in 17th century London, but it may not include the talents of Patrice. 

After leaving Ubisoft to join THQ, a thing which resulted in a minor lawsuit on behest of Ubisoft, Patrice may or may not once again join the company.  An official announcement concerning Patrice’s future has yet to be made, but Patrice isn’t a lock as per a comment made by a Ubisoft spokesperson.

Ubisoft’s other main get in the THQ auction was its acquisition of South Park: The Stick of Truth.  Believed to be sunk in a would-be thick web of legal drama over a dispute raised by South Park Studios, the first seemingly proper South Park video game will now be published by Ubisoft - hopefully later this year pending any unforeseen issues.

Other notable assets acquired in the THQ auction was Sega picking up Relic Entertainment.  Bought for the rather hefty sum of $26.6 million, Sega beat out Zenimax to acquire Relic and the Company of Heroes IP.  Even though Sega has fallen on somewhat hard times as of late and are planning a more precise focus in the future revolving around specific franchises, the acquisition of Relic will no doubt play a large part in Sega’s continuous presence in the PC/mobile arena given the talents of Relic.

The other big get, and perhaps the one most worried about from gamers, was the Saints Row franchise.  Presumed to be the one THQ property up for grabs to an array of publishers, Saints Row ultimately found an unlikely home with Koch Media, the firm behind Deep Silver (the publisher of Dead Island).  Koch Media was serious in having the Saints Row franchise and developer Volition join its stable since both entities were acquired for a total sum of $22 million. Yes, Koch really threw down the big bucks, so much so that it surpassed the rather paltry $5 million bid made by Ubisoft. 

Koch Media/Deep Silver may not be as prominent a name as an EA or Activision, but by maintaining the creative team at Volition I have a feeling we could see the company’s cache rise considering the immense fandom Saints Row: The Third garnered.  Thankfully with production on Saints Row 4 reportedly under way already, with whispers being for next-gen platforms, it’s good to know that the 3rd Street Saints will once again surface - dildo bats and all.

A more surprising development of the THQ auction was Take Two Interactive acquiring the rights to the game Evolve. Currently in development by Turtle Rock Studios, the team behind Left4Dead, Take Two must’ve liked what they saw or at least heard about the game since they purchased the property for $10 million, almost quadrupling what Turtle Rock themselves bid in an attempt to retain ownership of the property. 

Storyboard art for Evolve

One of THQ’s more illusive projects, details on Evolve have been scarce but the gaming sleuth that is Superannuation did pick up on some storyboard images posted an artist who worked on the project.  The images themselves don’t convey the graphical tone the game is striving for, but they do reveal the project will likely be a shooter which involves giant aliens/beasts that are obviously up to no good.  Given how Evolve is being developed for next-gen platforms it’s possible we could see Take Two formally unveil the game at E3 this year with a possible late 2013 release seeing as how the project has been in development for a while now.

Other THQ properties also found homes such as the Homefront series which was picked up by Crytek.  Considering Crytek is currently developing Homefront 2, it makes sense for the company to keep what they’re working on since their name alone will boost the once tepid attitude gamers had for the title when it was released in 2011. 

Not all of THQ’s properties were auctioned off today as older titles, such as Deadly Creatures will be auctioned of later next week.  An exact list of which titles will be auctioned off hasn’t been released, but such a thing could include a vast array of titles ranging from 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, Red Faction, or the iconic titles such as the Homeworld franchise.

One casualty of THQ’s initial auction was that Vigil Games, makers of the Darksiders franchise, were sadly passed up by potential suitors.  Instead of trying again at the next auction, the fate of Vigil has seemingly been decided as employees have been let go and one even went as far as to make an open letter stating as much.

There is an extremely small sliver of hope for Vigil/Darksiders however as a user on NeoGAF spotted a Tweet made by Platinum Games’ Atsushi Inaba stating his interest in the property.  With the asking price for Vigil/Darksiders being low enough to appeal to Inaba, perhaps we’ll be lucky enough to see the planets align in a positive way for once as to see the Darksiders franchise continue as opposed to dying a death that would even make the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse feel a bit glum.

In case you were wondering what is the fate of the WWE franchise, the honest truth is that no one exactly knows as of now.  Not included as part of the initial THQ auction, the fate of the WWE video games was reportedly handled last week as the contract for the franchise allowed the WWE to shop the game on their own to other publisher partners - of which one was secured.  Initial reports pegged EA being the new home for WWE wrasslin, but word has it that Take Two and the 2K Sports brand may now be the new home for polygonal squared circle action.

Anything other than THQ may seem good to WWE fans, though upon deeper thought EA may be a better home for WWE if such a thing has indeed happened.  Take Two knows how to market a game, but unless they put one of their core teams on it, of which there are few other than Visual Concepts and 2K Czech (who made Top Spin 4), we could see yet another wrestling game developed by Yuke’s merely to keep things consistent and not delay a new entry until 2014.

EA on the other hand would of course develop a new WWE game in-house, likely building upon either the Fight Night or UFC engines as a basis.  Exactly when we’ll find out who landed the WWE franchise is up in the air, but whoever manages to get Vince McMahon do a guest spot at their E3 presentation will likely get immediate buzz for that alone.

The ending of THQ may be bittersweet in a lot of ways since the company has definitely helped create memories for gamers out there, whether it be in titles like Red Faction, Saints Row, or even the MX games.  It’s nice that key properties were picked up, but it should still be noted that hundreds of talented artists, programmers, and designers are either without a gig or may not have one in a matter of days.  Even with how the industry and financial climate the way it is, I do hope that those affected by THQ’s demise ultimately find a new home or go about creating their own studios which could create the next big thing that captivates the gaming audience.