Today, rumours have started spreading that publisher THQ is in the beginning processes of liquidating their assets, having cleared their projected release schedule for 2014 by cancelling all projects — starting by cancelling development on Dark Millenium Online, an MMO set in the Warhammer 40k universe.
These rumours come from Kevin Dent, an industry insider who works for the IGDA, who stated on his Twitter that THQ had cancelled development of Dark Millenium Online and had returned the intellectual property that they had licensed from Disney/Pixar. Because of this, people are also beginning to speculate that THQ may also return the licenses they have with WWE and UFC, and are in the beginning stages of shutting down for good.
THQ is a large company that functions as both a large publisher and developer in the industry. They own some critically acclaimed development studios, such as Relic Entertainment, Volition Inc. and Vigil Games, and have been responsible for bringing us acclaimed titles such as Company of Heroes, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, Saint’s Row, Red Faction, Darksiders and many others. THQ was also the company behind the uDraw tablet, something that our EIC really appreciated. It was Vigil Games, the new studio that developed Darksiders, that was working on Dark Millenium Online.
My take? I believe they did actually cancel Dark Millenium Online. (Sorry, Warhammer fans!) After seeing the extremely successful launch that BioWare’s MMO The Old Republic received, THQ made a calculated decision to cease production on what would, ultimately, become a failed project. The MMO crowd is not easily swayed and going against such stiff competition would only lead to failure.
|Will we actually see Dark Millenium Online? Probably not.
Is THQ getting ready to close down? Of course not!
The speculation about THQ liquidating its assets and giving up IP licensing deals, however? More than likely, that’s just people overreacting. THQ has a long and decorated history with Games Workshop, Disney/Pixar and WWE, and a burgeoning one with UFC; to think that they would willingly throw any of those deals away, after having established such successful relationships with each parent company, seems ludicrous.
Besides, in October last year, THQ founded a new studio in Montreal with Patrice Désilets, the creative director behind Assassin’s Creed and Assassin’s Creed II. THQ also signed a deal with tech experts Crytek for the development of Homefront 2, to be developed by Crytek’s Nottingham studio. They even announced a joint project with famed film director Guillermo del Toro, a game titled inSANE, which would feature del Toro as a creative director. All of these deals marked huge successes for THQ in the latter half of the year, leaving the prospect of their future even brighter than before.
To be fair, however, 2011 was marked by only marginal success for THQ, with titles like Red Faction: Armageddon and Homefront failing in the market. Further still, THQ closed five (five!) subsidiary studios in 2011, and stated the intent to move away from kid and movie-licensed titles and instead focusing on “high-quality owned IP”.
Maybe that move involves returning the Disney/Pixar license? Maybe this was something planned by THQ all along? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, what do you think is going on at the THQ HQ? Tell us in the comments!