Sections

THQ sold: buyers include Ubisoft, SEGA, Crytek, Koch, T2

Wednesday, 23 January 2013 20:19 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

THQ properties were sold today at auction. SEGA picked up Relic; Koch purchased Volition and the Metro franchise; Crytek bought Homefront; Take-Two bought Evolve; and Ubisoft bought THQ Montreal and The South Park game.

The reported figures

SEGA bought Relic for $26 million.

No bidders for Darksiders developer Vigil Games nor its project “Crawler”.

Crytek paid $500,00 for Homefront.

Koch bought the Metro game rights for $5.8 million and Volition for $22.3 million.

Ubisoft paid $3.2 million for South Park: The Stick of Truth and $2.5 million for THQ Montreal. The latter is working on 1666 and Underdog.

Take-Two bought Turtle Rock’s “Evolve” for $11 million.

Total proceeds of auction came to around $100 million.

Part and parcel

A letter to employees co-issued by THQ’s CEO Brian Farrell and president Jason Rubin, courtesy of Kotaku, lists the companies which purchased the firm’s IPs at auction.

“The proposed sales of multiple assets is as follows: Sega agreed to purchase Relic, Koch Media agreed to purchase Volition and Metro, Crytek agreed to purchase Homefront, Take 2 agreed purchase Evolve, and Ubisoft agreed to purchase Montreal and South Park,” the letter stated.

“We expect these sales to close this week.”

According to tweets from DDInvesting, Crytek picked Homefront up for $500,000, Koch nabbed Metro for $5.8 million and Volition for $22.3 million, Ubisoft paid $3.2 million for South Park: The Stick of Truth and $2.5 million for THQ Montreal headed up by former Assassin’s Creed chief Patrice Désilets and its 1666 title. A project called Underdog is also in the works at the Canadian studio.

Ubisoft confirmed both its purchases in a press release, making mention that its THQ Montreal acquisition included “a new, yet-to-be announced IP in development”.

“This deal adds experienced developers to our internal creative teams at a key moment in the cycle of the video game industry,” Ubisoft Montreal president Yannis Mallat said.

SEGA bought Relic for $26 million and Take-Two bought the unannounced Evolve game from Turtle Rock Studios for $11 million.

Total proceeds of auction came to around $100 million.

There were no bids for Darksiders developer Vigil Games. According to Kotaku‘s translation, Atsuhi Anaba or Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and Bayonetta developer Platinum Games tweeted his interest in picking up the Darksiders IP “on the cheap”, although it’s not clear if this was a serious statement.

Bethesda’s parent company ZeniMax Media has put in a backup bid of $26.3 million for Relic in case SEGA’s offer doesn’t go through. Other backup bidders include Ubisoft for Volition ($5.4 million) and the Metro franchise ($5.175 million). Turtle Rock also submitted a backup bid of $250,000 for its title Evolve.

Speaking with The News-Gazette, an Illinois-based newspaper, Volition general manager Dan Cermak said under Koch Media, the studio will remain in the Champaign, Illinois area. He also said the future looks “very positive” at the moment.

“I haven’t had a chance to sit down with [Koch] except for a few moments, and they were very positive,” he said. “They love Saints Row and are very happy to own its creator.”

As far as THQ’s WWE license is concerned, a source close to IGN told the site it will be be sold to Take-Two.

Negotiations for the license took place outside of the auction process, and have yet to be ironed out. Should all go according to play, 2K will be handling development of the wrestling titles; however, until we get confirmation of this, take it as a rumor.

Turtle Rock’s Evolve, also known as Metamorphosis, is now in the hands of Take-Two, and is listed on LinkedIn as a “next-gen” title which is also slated for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. Superannuation dug up the information, along with beat boards for the in-development title.

Some of THQ’s legacy properties will be auctioned off at a later date, according to a developer who tried to pick up Homeworld.

Vigil to remain part of Chapter 11 process

Through the firm’s financial restructuring and Chapter 11 case, some assets, including the publishing businesses and Vigil, along with other intellectual properties are not included in the sale agreements. These will remain part of the Chapter 11 case and appropriate buyers will be found “if possible.”

“We expect that most employees of the entities included in the sale will be offered employment by the new owners,” the letter continued. “However, we cannot say what these owners may intend, and there will likely be some positions that will not be needed under the new ownership. You should receive notice this week or early next week if the new owners intend to extend employment to you.

“While the company will cease to exist, we are heartened that the majority of our studios and games will continue under new ownership.” – THQ

“If you are an employee of an entity that is not included in the sale, we regret that your position will end. A small number of our headquarters staff will continue to be employed by THQ beyond January 25 to assist with the transition. THQ has sufficient resources to pay these employees for work going forward, and we will be contacting these employees immediately to ensure their continued employment during this transition period.

“We are requesting the ability to offer certain severance pay to minimize disruption for employees of non-included entities as they determine the next steps in their careers.”

A meeting is scheduled to take place tomorrow, January 24, and the company letter stated further talks with employees will commence.

The letter went on to say THQ was “proud of what we have accomplished despite today’s outcome,” and while the company will “cease to exist, we are heartened that the majority of our studios and games will continue under new ownership.”

THQ said throughout the ordeal, it was hoping the company would remain intact, “but we expect to hear good news from each of the separate entities that will be operating as part of new organizations.”

“I am truly sorry for the THQ employees that have lost their jobs. Please know that I did everything I could and understand your pain,” THQ resident Jason Rubin, who took over from Danny Bilson in 2012, said on Twitter.

“Good Luck to Volition, Relic, THQ Montreal, Obsidian, Crytek, TurtleRock, and 4A. Working with you has been an honor. You have my $60,” he added, and then:

“I am truly sorry for the employees and fans of Vigil Games. It is a travesty that the team and its potential were not recognized.”

“I am truly sorry for the employees and fans of Vigil Games. It is a travesty that the team and its potential were not recognized.”

In response to the news that Vigil was not purchased during today’s auction, Ben Cureton, lead combat designer at the firm, left a heartfelt message on NeoGAF regarding the slight. He also mention a title Vigil had in the works codenamed “Crawler.”

“I’ve been in this industry for 20 years. Seriously. Two decades. I’ve been laid off more than once. It sucks every time. But am I sad I don’t have a job? Not really… I’m sure I’ll get another one eventually,” he said. “I’m sad because it won’t be THIS job. It won’t be at Vigil. That’s why I’m sad. The people I waged war with are no longer together.

“Was I proud of the work that I did? Yes. More importantly, was I proud of the work that WE did? Absolutely. I knew, without a shadow of the doubt, that the project we were working on (Codenamed: Crawler) was going to blow people away. In fact, it DID blow people away.

“We did, in TWO months, what many companies haven’t done in a year. The pride of knowing that no one was doing anything like us was so satisfying, it kept us coming to work and giving 100% every single day, even through the dark times.”

Cureton closed his post by thanking the fans, whose “support means more than you can imagine… you are the reason we made Darksiders 1 and 2… and you are the reason we will continue to make games,” he said.

Darksiders 2 lead designer Haydn Dalton also shed some light on Vigil’s now-shelved plans, via Twitter:

“There was a shimmer on a slither of hope, that at one point, there’d be a Darksiders III: 4 Player Co-Op; It rode off into the sunset today,” he said.

THQ: 1989 – 2013

THQ Studios through the years

Big Huge Games: Acquired in January 2008. Sold to 38 Studios in May 2009.

Blue Tongue (Australia): Acquired in November 2004, closed 2011.

Concrete Games: Founded in 2004, closed in January 2008.

Heavy Iron Studios: Founded in 1999, went independent in March 2009.

Helixe: Founded in July 2000, closed November 2008.

Incinerator Studios: Founded in 2005, went independent in March 2009.

Kaos Studios: Founded in 2006, closed June 2011.

Locomotive Games: Acquired in 1999, closed November 2010.

Mass Media: Acquired in 2007, closed November 2008.

Outrage Games: Acquired April 2002, closed in 2004.

Paradigm Entertainment: Acquired from Atari in May 2006, closed November 2008.

Relic Entertainment: Acquired in May 2004. Sold to SEGA in January 2013.

Sandblast Games: Founded in August 2002, closed November 2008.

THQ Brisbane: Founded January 2003, closed August 2011.

THQ Digital Phoenix (Rainbow Studios): Acquired in 2001, closed 2011.

THQ Digital Studios UK (Juice Games):Acquired in 2006, closed June 2011.

THQ Japan closed in February 2012.

THQ Montreal: Founded October 2010. Sold to Ubisoft January 2013.

THQ Studio San Diego (Midway Games: Acquired in August 2009, closed June 2012.

Universomo (Finland): Acquired in May 2007, closed March 2010.

ValuSoft: Acquired in 2002. Sold to Cosmi in 2012.

Vigil Games: Acquired in 2006, still retains ownership.

Volition: Acquired September 2000. Sold to Koch Media January 2013.

Source

THQ was founded in 1989, and was known throughout its existence as both a publisher and development house for gaming franchises such as: Saints Row, Warhammer 40,000, Company of Heroes, Darksiders, WWE, and Red Faction among others.

Starting life as the Trinity Acquisition Corporation, in 1990 the firm’s business and name were changed to THQ, Inc., which stood for Toy Head Quarters after it acquired Broderbund’s video game division. Its first game to hit shelves was Peter Pan and the Pirates in 1991

In 1994 the firm left the toy business to focus on video game production and publishing, and by September 2000 it had acquired Illinois-based developer Volition.

Other acquisitions followed over the next few years, with THQ picking up Blue Tongue Entertainment, Relic Entertainment, Kaos Studios, Vigil Games, and more while expanding its offices into Europe, Australia, Japan, and South Korea.

By 2007, THQ’s revenues had hit over $1 billion, and despite its success, growing pains plagued it. Come November 2008 it had closed five of its internal studios, including Paradigm Entertainment.

The firm’s revenue continued to decline, and in 2009 the firm announced it would be cutting $220 million in annual costs by 2010. Part of this strategy was letting Heavy Iron Studios and Incinerator Studios become independent firms, and selling Big Huge Games to 38 Studios. However, the firm also picked up left overs from the Midway Games auction, and walked home with the developer’s San Diego Studio for $200,000.

After more developer cuts in 2010, THQ introduced the now infamous uDraw Tablet for Wii, a move which was a precursor to even more financial issues for 2011.

During the year, it sold its wireless games division, closed Homefront developer Kaos Studios, dropped the Red Faction IP, and closed Digital Warrington. The firm also announced it would no longer be developing kids titles, a move which saw the closure of Blue Tongue along with Digital Phoenix, killing the MX vs. ATV franchise.

By May 2012, THQ reported a loss of $239.9 million for fiscal year 2012, compared to the $136.1 million it lost the prior year. Last year, the firm also lost its UFC license to EA, and by November it had defaulted on a $50 million loan signed off by Wells Fargo.

By the end of the year, the firm had been delisted by Nasdaq, delayed the release of Company of Heroes 2, South Park: The Stick of Truth, and Metro: Last Light.

THQ filed for bankruptcy in December 2012, revealing at the time that it was in negotiations with a stalking horse purchaser. Five potential buyers were also known to be mulling over the idea of buying at least part of the company, and interested parties included Warner Bros., EA, and Ubisoft, which now owns at least three IPs along with THQ Montreal.

Original report by Steph Nunneley, minor updates from Brenna Hillier.

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51 Comments

  1. dex3108

    Patrice Désilets is really sad man today XD He left Ubisoft and now they bought him back XD

    #1 2 years ago
  2. OlderGamer

    Sad. I am glad some work will pressumably continue and I am glad some of the studios/ips have new owners. But still, a lot of folks are out of a job. And one major pub is gone.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Old MacDonald

    If Koch bought Volition, I’m betting Freespace 3 will have been greenlit by the end of tomorrow.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. SplatteredHouse

    :( So grim. THQ was there for PAL territories several times that Nintendo wasn’t, brought us Saints Row and Warhammer 40k at a high quality, as well as Darksiders, and other IP, including De Blob and Titan Quest through the years. For these actions, I will not forget them.

    I hope all people affected in this will continue to be able to remain in the games industry, and go on to assist/make many more well remembered and appreciated games, in their future.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. daytripper

    Surprised MS or Sony didn’t buy anything, especially South Park

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Edo

    Metro and Saints Row going to Deep Silver?I can live with that
    @5 and thank god for that.Also Ubisoft was runner up for Metro and Volition…bullet dodged.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. DSB

    So it’s confirmed that Vigil is dead.

    South Park and Ubisoft…. I kinda hope the lawsuit manages to do something about that.

    Depressing stuff.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. OlderGamer

    You are right Day, South Park could have been a nice exclusive, I would think.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. The_Red

    Wait, Koch got Volition? Seriously, I was expecting a really big publisher to get them, instead of Deep Silver (Koch). Same for Metro though that series IS a bit niche. Serious bummer for DarkSiders and Vigil…

    Anyway, best wishes for devs and artists involved with all of THQ’s projects.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Butcher8

    I hope Sega greenlight a Warhammer Space Marine sequel, the first is highly underrated!

    Darksiders 1 was great but Darksiders 2 not so much, maybe it was THQ’s money troubles that caused it to be so rushed mind…

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Old MacDonald

    Hm, THQ Montreal didn’t cost much. I don’t think the studio will last very long under Ubisoft (I mean, why’d they want to continue with two studios in the same city?).

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Hunam

    @1 Yeah, that’s an epic lol for Ubisoft. They do have a sense of humour :P

    #12 2 years ago
  13. Ireland Michael

    Rest is peace, THQ.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. someguy2

    Evolve for $11M is interesting since it hasn’t technically been announced yet and cost much more than all the other IPs

    #14 2 years ago
  15. monkeygourmet

    Ironic, their last game was about Death…

    #15 2 years ago
  16. SplatteredHouse

    Were there no decisions reached about sales of IP held by THQ not related to the acquired developers? I have seen rumor that WWE is now an EA property, but there are “active” properties, yet unaccounted for.

    Homeland…Homefront is more likely ;)
    3.2m seems incredibly cheap for South Park…But, isn’t that (independent) Obsidian’s game…So, maybe the complication to try to bring it to market is what kept the price down?

    #16 2 years ago
  17. DSB

    Screw WWE, where’s Homeworld?

    I was really hoping that CD Projekt might pick that up for a GOG rerelease.

    @14 It’s the Turtle Rock shooter (?). I don’t know. Given the transition it’ll probably be a while before we hear anything more than that.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. monkeygourmet

    Fuck me…

    Why did Crytek bother to buy up Homefront, I know they are at the helm of the next one but I thought that was just contracted.

    It’s an awful franchise and will just look more and more outdated.

    Best buy was Metro I guess.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. SplatteredHouse

    @18: gives them something to release that’s not Crysis, and, if they turn up a quality game, that’s well-received out of Homefront 2, they may find themselves with a lot of interest from publishers.

    Given the released story that lays the blame for Homefront squandered potential, and lacking release, squarely at the feet of the management at the time – I don’t see how Crytek could go wrong on this one. I’m pleased with this outcome. Because the work to date won’t have been wasted, and they must have familiarity with the source material already. Freed of overbearing (middle)management, and with one clear vision, Crytek could have a new, big mainstream hit on its hands!

    #19 2 years ago
  20. monkeygourmet

    @19

    I guess..

    Im just still smarting from seeing the RPG tech demo section from Cryteks Cryengine 3 demo… It looked amazing.

    The waterfalls, the forests…

    Was hoping they would make something like that rather than generic shooter clone 4 ;)

    #20 2 years ago
  21. SplatteredHouse

    @20: That game was always clearly intended for so much more than it became, under hideous management, and instigated conditions.
    Here’s a story about how Kaos Studios came to an end, around Homefront – Death March, the long, tortured journey of Homefront: http://www.polygon.com/2012/11/1/3560318/homefront-kaos-studios-thq

    See also: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/173660/kaos_descends_how_homefronts_.php

    #21 2 years ago
  22. DSB

    @21 I honestly don’t see that as any kind of validation of the IP.

    All games go through compromises, and while I’m sure working for THQ was depressing, these guys actually built a game in which the US is invaded by a starving third world country.

    Obviously five minutes were not spent thinking that through.

    If they had shown some kind of creative vision or some kind of desire to actually thrill, then maybe I could accept that “it was all the suits”.

    In all seriousness though, Red Dawn is one of the worst movies ever made. I couldn’t help laughing when I watched it for the first time. Using that as a template for a game is just… I mean, why?

    #22 2 years ago
  23. TD_Monstrous69

    What Patrice Désilets must be thinking; “just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in again”. Good news to hear about these IP’s being taken up by the proper people (though Koch with Volition and Metro, I hope they don’t do something stupid with them, like they have with the promotion of the Dead Island games), and somewhat sad to see how it all ended with THQ.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. SplatteredHouse

    @21: I made no attempt to validate the Homefront IP in my post. The intention was to inform about why things turned out the way they did for the game. I provided that mostly in the light of “generic shooter clone 4″, when if you read up and check on the history behind that game, there was an intent present to deviate from, and seek to offer more than existing properties in the genre.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. Gheritt White

    You got some typos in THE REPORTED FIGURES section, Steph.

    #25 2 years ago
  26. Maximum Payne

    If Koch bought Volition is that mean they also bought licence for every game they made ?
    Crytek went cheep for Homefront :D

    #26 2 years ago
  27. Erthazus

    @26, “If Koch bought Volition is that mean they also bought licence for every game they made ?”

    Yes!

    #27 2 years ago
  28. DSB

    @24 I get that, but then that’s true for almost every game.

    You start with a glorious picture and then you go at it with a hammer until it’s disfigured enough to fit in the box.

    I don’t question buying Homefront because of the game Kaos made, I think the idea itself was misguided.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. Gheritt White

    Kinda surprised nobody picked up Vigil, even without the Darksiders IP. Must have had a peculiar team ethic.

    #29 2 years ago
  30. rrw

    @27

    actually no. they only get Saint row but not their previous work (I.e red faction)

    #30 2 years ago
  31. AHA-Lambda

    RIP THQ *salute*

    I’ll be pouring a drink out for you :(

    #31 2 years ago
  32. SameeR_Fisher

    Patrice Désilets game “1666″ is my most anticipated games out of these titles, I hope Ubisoft doesn’t fire him -to get back at him for leaving- and doesn’t shut the development, I really want to see his game, he is a great creative guy.

    #32 2 years ago
  33. Stephany Nunneley

    A quote from Volition has been added, as well as a report that 2K will take over development of the WWE games.

    #33 2 years ago
  34. SplatteredHouse

    @33 2K Sport’s WWE?…interesting. I wonder if they have a line to AKI.
    @28 I think, when the game was first shown (before the delays and drama) that they publicly said they wanted to provide a change from the sort of shooter mostly available. But, I take your point about high aspirations, and do see where you’re coming from around the premise that was put forward.

    #34 2 years ago
  35. Stephany Nunneley

    And a quote has been added from Vigil’s lead combat designer, which mentions a game the studio had in the works codenamed “Crawler”.

    #35 2 years ago
  36. SplatteredHouse

    http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?p=46817540#post46817540

    Lead Combat Designer at Vigil, there, signing off for now. :( I want to remark at how well written it is. I’d almost call it beautiful, if the situation around its creation wasn’t so ugly, and outcome sorrowful.

    #36 2 years ago
  37. Stephany Nunneley

    @36 Yeah, that’s the post I mentioned above you there. It was heartbreaking. :(

    EDIT: I also fixed a screw up in there. I got UFC confused with WWE. Both feature sweaty, yelling, half-naked, buff men beating each other up – so go figure. :p

    #37 2 years ago
  38. SplatteredHouse

    That it was, Steph. Sorry for not seeing your update in amongst all the other text about happenings from today.

    #38 2 years ago
  39. Stephany Nunneley

    @38 No need! The article is a massive wall of text. :)

    #39 2 years ago
  40. Telepathic.Geometry

    RIP THQ. It’s such a shame that it ended this way…

    #40 2 years ago
  41. Stephany Nunneley

    Guys, I have to leave before I go blind. Any more news related to THQ and its former studios will be covered by Brenna when she returns to her desk. We allow her to leave on occasion, but not very often.

    #41 2 years ago
  42. manamana

    Thats really sad actually. Another one bites the dust.

    #42 2 years ago
  43. NeoSquall

    @1 Yeah, Patrice must be pretty much pissed at the moment :D

    Forgive me, I’m sad like you all, I just wanted to make the mood a bit lighter…

    #43 2 years ago
  44. dex3108

    Patrice’s reaction after THQ auction XD http://i.imgur.com/KPy2HF5l.jpg

    #44 2 years ago
  45. Phoenixblight

    I was so sure that Vigil would get picked up. They are a fantastic team of people and shouldn’t be chucked out to the wind like this. I have a few friends that worked for the studio and now they are back to square one. Thankfully there are some local studios opening up positions specifically for those that lost their jobs. I really hope the best for them all. It just one of the dark sides of this industry.

    #45 2 years ago
  46. Christopher Jack

    RIP THQ :’(
    It also seems that after W40K Dark Millennium was announced to no longer be an mmo, it was silently canceled, can anyone confirm this? I mean I never saw any official statement from THQ about that, only have a reply from a PR rep to a single games site to go on but that rep made it sound as if when it became stripped of being an mmo, it was actually canned.

    #46 2 years ago
  47. 4G

    RIP THQ (and Vigil Games it seems.) :(

    It’s a shame to see them go, they were actually a decent publisher, but a few bad decisions and the current economic climate cost them dearly.

    However, I’m really glad Activision and EA didn’t get their hands on anything. Imagine if they did? *shudders*

    Does Ubisoft now definitely have South Park: SoT though? I thought South Park studios were trying to contest the auction of it?

    #47 2 years ago
  48. VonGhoulish

    Such a shame Vigil hasn’t been picked up yet. I love their style. Darksiders 2 is a fantastic game.

    As is, its always sad when comapanies you grew up with die, So long THQ, you will be missed :(

    #48 2 years ago
  49. sh4dow

    Seems to me like Koch got a good deal while SEGA didn’t invest all too wisely. Shouldn’t they know better? Oh well maybe it’s me who doesn’t know better… Time will tell, I guess.

    #49 2 years ago
  50. friendlydave

    @49 why do you think ‘SEGA didn’t invest too wisely’?

    Make’s sense they went for the mainly PC developer seeing as Sega want to focus on digital products, Now I don;t think relic where worth that much but I’m pretty confident they will get their moneys worth

    #50 2 years ago
  51. bitsnark

    @49 @50

    I guess the line of thinking behind the Relic purchase (at least one of them anyway), is that Sega now own all the entirety of the Warhanmer franchise, after TSA scooped up the Warhammer Fantasy license late last year.

    #51 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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