In the past week, the news headlines have looked pretty bad for developer/publisher THQ, collectively painting a bad future for the company that only recently (November of last year) released Saints Row The Third to critical success. The THQ president and board of directors have taken pay cuts, they are cutting more and more jobs, NASDAQ has threatened to delist THQ and they’ve also pulled out of the children’s market for games. There’s more to be found, but you get the idea.
Since the writing on the wall started forming up in big, bold letters in the last two months, various publications have been offering up their opinions on where THQ went wrong and I’m not going to really go into that other than to say that I tend to agree with the general consensus that has formed; poor management with a side of uDraw under performing sales.Personally, I consider THQ to be a big name in the gaming industry. Sure, they aren’t really on the level of say Activision or Electronic Arts but they are a name, I think at least, that most people are aware of. So with saying that, they certainly aren’t the first ‘big’ name in the industry to have suffered as a result of poor management.
Atari were probably the first company that I can think of that suffered from poor management, among other things, like say this. The Atari of modern times is certainly a different picture from back then, when not only did they develop and publish games but consoles as well. There was also Sega, though I can’t say if their failures were down to management or not, after poor performance by the Dreamcast (Sega’s last console) their focus shifted to third party software.
What can THQ do to turn around things? Well that’s hard to say. They currently have a gold mine of licenses, just waiting to for lack of a better term, be exploited. And they have what is, in my opinion, a good core of games going forward. I personally don’t like the Saints Row franchise, but it is increasingly popular.
A Saints Row 4 seems inevitable, provided THQ don’t go under and I imagine that it will perform even better than the third installment of the series. I am a massive fan however, of the Dawn of War franchise, which utilises Games Workshop’s intellectual property of Warhammer 40k. As far as RTS games go, I’d much rather sit down and play a game of Dawn of War than Starcraft 2.
There is also the WWE franchise of games (previously Smackdown vs Raw) which I imagine to be mildly successful, depending on how much the WWE license actually costs. God knows I buy them every year just about, despite having been average at best now for the past few iterations (a slew of bugs every year and little actual improvement are plaguing the series, in my opinion).
Ultimately, sitting on gold mines means nothing, if the company isn’t managed properly. So unless things turn around, we could see them either going under completely or being bought out by another company. I especially hope the former doesn’t happen, but if the latter does, I would hope that those (licensed) games that I do enjoy are treated well.