THQ Lays Off 200, Closes Two Studios
It’s never a good thing when people lose their jobs, and unfortunately, THQ announced today that it’s laying off 200 of its employees and closing two studios.
The news comes after reports that it was shuttering its Red Faction franchise due to poor sales. Now, the company is “refocusing,” steering development away from licensed games and kids games. The two Australia-based studios it closed—THQ Studio Australia and Blue Tongue—were both mainly focused on developing licensed games, according to a report on Gamasutra. The company also shut down a development team in its Phoenix, AZ location.
THQ’s president and CEO, Brian Farrell, offered a statement on the new, revised vision of the company:
“With this realignment, we are narrowing our focus to high-quality owned IP with broad appeal that can be leveraged across multiple platforms, and to work with the best talent in the industry. By right-sizing our internal development capacities for our console portfolio, our five internal studios are focused on delivering high-quality games with talented teams driving the execution of those titles to market.”
There’s news that the company will also stop making games in the MX vs. ATV series, a franchise that, until this very moment, I had never heard of before. So that one’s probably not a bad move. Farrell also offers some specific discussion related to their decision to avoid licensed games:
“As we have outlined in our business strategies, we are making shifts to reduce movie-based and licensed kids’ video games in our portfolio, which underscores our strategy to move away from games that will not generate strong profits in the future.”
Now let’s think about this for a second: they’re saying that licensed games don’t generate strong profits…but that’s not true. SHITTY licensed games don’t generate strong profits. What’s that game that earned a world-record for “Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game Ever”? Oh yeah—Batman: Arkham Asylum, a licensed game. Add the top UK sales for Toy Story 3: The Video Game, a licensed kids game, and you start to see that there are some flaws in the reasoning here.
And it wasn’t too long ago that THQ had quite a bit of success with licenses, as this 2007 Joystiq article discussing the billion dollars in sales their WWE, Cars, and Nickelodeon licenses had generated.
I’m hopeful that the folks at THQ are able to figure things out to move forward from here, and I’m even more hopeful that those who lost their jobs because of this “realignment of focus” are able to land on their feet.