THQ denies mass shelving rumour, highlights Q4 sales

Sunday, 15 January 2012 20:20 GMT By Staff

Rumours of THQ’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, the publisher has maintained, flatly denying cancellations of its 2014 line-up.

“THQ has not cancelled its 2014 line-up, and has not made any decisions regarding the planned MMO,” THQ’s Australian PR arm wrote in a statement.

“As part of the ongoing review of our business, we have made decisions to ensure that the company is strategically addressing the most attractive markets. As we have previously announced, we have dramatically reduced our commitment to the kids’ boxed games sector which leads to a significantly more focused release schedule moving forward. Our slate for calendar 2012 and beyond is focused on high-quality core games and continues to build our digital platform and business. We are excited for our pipeline of original and high-quality content along with our relationships with some of the best talent in the industry.

“Additionally, we are thrilled with the great performance of Saints Row: The Third, which on a like for like period in North America has tripled in sell-through from Saints Row 2. In addition, WWE ’12’s worldwide sell-through sales are up almost 40% year-over-year for the same sales period with fewer platforms. According to NPD, for the month of December and the 2011 year, THQ was the #5 publisher overall, #4 third party, with reported sell through growing over 18% in a market that was down almost 6%. And coming up next, we have two great titles for the first half of the year including UFC Undisputed 3 and Darksiders 2.”

Troubling whispers
Over the weekend, IGDA mobile SIG head Kevin Dent rumoured on Twitter that THQ had dropped its entire 2014 line-up, including “the Game Workshops MMO,” Vigil’s Dark Millenium Online.

In addition, it’s being claimed the publisher is offering itself for sale to “Asian firms” in order to increase its value.

Dent added that “word is spreading that THQ has returned IP to Disney AFTER paying the advance, with no refund.”

The rumours built on growing concerns over THQ’s waning financial performance. Over the past year, the company closed five development teams, and made a number of staff cuts. Red Faction and MX vs ATV Alive were both shelved during 201 after disappointing sales. However, it also poured resources into a new studio in Montreal, headhunting top local talent.

THQ development teams were among the first to receive Wii U kits, and several launch titles were expected; it also holds the UFC and WWE licenses, and saw success – now waning – with its Wii tablet add-on, uDraw.

The publisher has five major studios and at least ten games in the works, including Darksiders 2 and Metro: Last Light scheduled for northern summer; a publishing deal for Obsidian’s South Park: The Game, Guillermo del Toro’s inSane trilogy, and Tomonobu Itagaki’s Devil’s Third, as well as the highly anticipated Dark Millenium Online.

GamesIndustry cites anonymous sources for word that the Vigil-developed MMORPG is for sale.

THQ’s market capitalisation – the total dollar value of its publicly available shares – is $45.41 million. It is likely any offer to purchase the publisher would be much higher than that, resulting in a significant pay out to current investors – so expect interest in THQ stock to increase if a sale is on the cards.

At time of writing, THQ shares are on a slight rise at 67 cents in after hours trading. On Tuesday, THQ saw a spike to 80 cents per share – possibly on the back of insider rumours of a sale – but hit a 52 week low at 65 cents on Friday.

The company’s highest share price over the last year was $6.53 in early February 2011, but apart from a small bump in late October and early November, around the release of Saints Row: The Third, the company’s trade value has been on a steady decline in the 12 months since.