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THQ – Bilson leaving firm, Rubin appointed president

Tuesday, 29th May 2012 22:07 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

THQ has announced Danny Bilson, EVP of Core Games, is leaving to pursue other interests and will be replaced by Jason Rubin, who will be responsible for all of THQ’s worldwide product development, marketing, and publishing.

In addition, the company announced that Dave Davis, SVP Core Studios, will be leaving.

Rubin co-founded Naughty Dog, and at the firm he served as the co-creator and game director of the Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter series of games, which combined have sold over 40 million copies worldwide. He will report directly to Brian Farrell, THQ Chairman and CEO.

“Jason’s proven track record in the industry speaks for itself, and he is one of the brightest minds in the business,” said Brian Farrell. “We believe he can be a game changer and can contribute immensely to executing on our strategy of delivering quality connected core game experiences.

“Danny has made significant contributions to THQ, and we thank him for his efforts. Along with Danny, Dave has been instrumental in getting our strong pipeline into production.”

Rubin’s appointment comes as THQ realigns its focus from a maker of licensed games for broad audiences to a developer of AAA “core” games for multiple platforms.

The company also has appointed Jason Kay as its CSO, who will report to Rubin.

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15 Comments

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  1. Colin Gallacher

    Crikey.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Patrick Garratt

    That’s some news.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. DSB

    And Brian Farrell is staying right where he is. Of course…

    Pretty classic case of a captain refusing to leave before he’s well and truly sunk.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Patrick Garratt

    It may not look like it, but Bilson was good for THQ. If it hadn’t had been for him pushing very heavily on core I think THQ would have bought it some time ago.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Patrick Garratt

    Saints Row’s a great example. Over 4 million units shipped and the game was amazing. Tons of people said it’d do nothing. Last Light and Darksiders are prime examples of how committed he was to the core vision. Homefront wasn’t amazing, obviously, and the Itagaki and 40K MMO stuff was clearly off, but it all made sense as a vision. I hope Rubin is as ideologically powerful.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. DSB

    @4 Are you sure though?

    http://www.industrygamers.com/news/wii-is-a-nightmare-for-third-parties-says-thq-exec

    It looks to me like he kinda steered them that way to begin with.

    Personally I have no doubt that there’s a very general crisis of leadership in THQ, and I think it goes straight to Farrell, who would’ve been fired anywhere else if he hadn’t cornered the CEO and Chairman positions. If the top dog doesn’t know what he’s doing, that’s going to hurt everyone else.

    For all the things he may have done (I’m not really familiar) Bilson also has Homefront on his hands. I’m guessing he isn’t totally innocent of the uDraw either.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Razor

    Crikey indeed.

    This is out of the blue.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Patrick Garratt

    @6 – His Job was strictly core. I’m sure he had involvement in all that stuff, but he always spoke sense about the core market and knew it really well. The last time I spoke to him he said that you only need to have one or two major core successes per year to keep an entire company the size of THQ afloat. Saints Row did it last year, and I’m sure DS2 and Metro will do the same between them this year. He had a proper plan for keeping THQ alive, and when they cut recently it all came from kids and casual. Like, under Bilson they were making great games.

    Homefront was a mess, yeah, but he knew why and he knew how to fix it. I’ll be very interested to see where they go now.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. TD_Monstrous69

    I wish Danny Bilson well, and this tells me that THQ could truly turn things around now with Jason Rubin in charge of core games. Hearing that one of the guys responsible for founding one of the industry’s most respected development houses for their creative prowess in creating masterful experiences (Naughty Dog) is now in charge of THQ’s core titles is nothing but encouraging to hear when it comes to THQ creatively. Now whether or not this amounts to financial success, is truly wait and see.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. DSB

    @8 Fair enough.

    I wouldn’t know about the internals, but it seemed to me like THQ were on a downward slope the minute they decided they were gonna be like EA and Activision.

    The last 6 years has felt to me like they were desperately looking for a Gears of War/Call of Duty/Elder Scrolls style franchise, and they’ve thrown everything into chasing that, all the while banking some huge projects that they couldn’t possibly justify betting on, especially once it became clear that they were in a serious slump.

    Company of Heroes Online and WH40K must’ve cost a fortune, and they never truly had one.

    The fact that they didn’t realize that, and cut them sooner is purely on Farrell from my perspective. The guy was asleep at the wheel for years. Whether Bilson was also at fault is irrelevant in that regard.

    The sad thing to me is that no one ever loved THQ for their ability to create franchises. We loved them for taking a stand on quality, like Metro or Red Faction or Dawn of War/CoH. Once they started making Red Faction: Not Gears of War, or Space Marine: Not Gears of War, or Homefront: Not Call of Duty, or Dawn of War: Not A Me-Too Online RTS they just completely undermined their own role in the market.

    Being core is good, but you can’t compete with major publishers on generic titles. You have to beat them on the love that goes into it.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Patrick Garratt

    @10 – Good post.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. GrimRita

    @10 I agree totally there. The fact THQ have created new IP has made me a firm supporter of the publisher. When they took over Relic, they knew just how good Relic were after Homeworld – then along comes the utterly brilliant Dawn of War.

    Its just a shame that WH40k and CoH online were taken on, because MMOs are such huge cash sinks with no return until 4-5 years down the line.

    Really, I never looked at Metro but after seeing the trailers for the new game, I am downloading the old one(its cheap!) from Steam and looking SO forward to the new Metro thanks to that trailer and the interview today.

    And I thank god that THQ are not like EA/Activision – the bastards of the gaming industry and I pray to god that these guys pull through this stronger.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. Hunam

    @10

    Agreed. Bilson is a character but the games lost direction under him and Homefront was just too big a gamble for who the developer was. Trying to get in on everyone else’s action seemed to be the bigger focus for the last few years and ironically, the only big hit was SR3, which was basically trying to move away from GTA.

    THQ used to stand for quality, but big risks are great if you don’t try 4 at a time.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. Christopher Jack

    Sad, I liked him, I think he was good for the company, just not quick enough to save the company from their current crisis. Problem is they are fucking around with some of their core franchises & its just wasting precious money on R&D that’s not going anywhere.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. NeoSquall

    Again the wrong people leave THQ and the ones that really should GTFO stay in top positions in the company.

    #15 2 years ago