Saints Row devs reflect on THQ collapse

uDraw and lack of focus on mobile blamed for THQ's closing.

THQ's collapse was down to "bad choices" made by the publisher according to Saints Row developer Scott Phillips. Speaking to GameSpot about the company's collapse, Phillips blamed not just poor decision making, but also a lack of investment in mobile games.

A lack of investment in mobile contributed to THQ's collapse according to Phillips.

"It was uDraw and bad choices like not getting into mobile," said Phillips. "I don't even think they were thinking about mobile as of the beginning of this year, nor were they planning on iPad games. They were just behind the curve on everything and that ultimately hurt them."

Senior producer Jim Boon placed much of the blame on uDraw, a tablet peripheral for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii that fell over $100 million below the company's sales expectations.

"When you have things like the kids business--which by their own admission they wished they had gotten out of a bit earlier than they did--there's a lot of investment that went into that," said Boon. "Then there's the lynchpin of it all with the uDraw issue. That came out right when Saints Row The Third came out, so here on the one hand is this huge hit for THQ, and everyone's so excited about that, and then here's a $100 million loss as the same time for uDraw."

The collapse of THQ led to Saints Row developer Volition being purchased for $22.3 million by Koch Media. Saints Row IV is now being published under Koch Media's subsidiary brand, Deep Silver. Boon told GameSpot that while the transition between the two publishers wasn't entirely without issue, it hasn't affected the studio's creative direction.

"I don't think we were really worried about [switching publishers] for our jobs, say, because with THQ they had the Clearlake investment that they were going for," said Boon. "We always looked like we had an avenue where we knew we were gonna be safe. The concern for us was who would ultimately be the owner of us and what would that mean? Say if it was a different publisher that grabs us, are they going to want to change the game, or are they going to want to change our culture or processes? Luckily with Deep Silver they've been totally great. It's the same process, the same culture, they've not asked us to make a single change on the game. It's been pretty seamless."

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Discussion

112 comments
VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

Also... Saints Row IV... looks so SUPER awesome.
Can't wait to run around like the Flash.

VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

lmao no mobile focus? I might not think mobile games are worth the craptastic lines of code they are made of... but it doesn't take a genius to see that mobile games are booming because we live in a culture of impusle buy brainless sheaple.

Then there's the Udraw... lmao. Let's take a high level artistic tool. Dumb it down, put it on the Wii (and other non age demographic platforms) and watch it sell... like shit.

THQ... why you didn't fall apart sooner is a mystery to me.

PStrife
PStrife

Except they were in the start of mobile gaming, see these THQ Volition guys are really living in a bubble.  Pretend THQ mobile game beginnings (even though they were unsuccessfull in the early 200s, when it started), having a douchebag dev on board feeling used after years of benefits from those same consumers.

Volition guys gotta start knowing their employers business better, if they still think this way they ain't gonna last long under Deep Silver either.

X_Box_Killer
X_Box_Killer

The only reason THQ was able to stay afloat for so long is because they had the WWE license. Too bad every game in that franchise that came after Smackdown 2005 sucked. 

commander1122
commander1122

is 100% nothing to with mobile game......only reason they collapse is make alot of crap console game.....

Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

What he says is that if you don't make crap mobile games you can't survive... The world we live in... where you can't survive as a publisher making just GOOD CORE games... really saddening.

adam1808
adam1808

I was reading the name "Boon" for most of this article thinking Ed Boon had somehow ended up at Volition.

NoelXYeul
NoelXYeul

I don't didn't know the Saints Row devs were capable of talking seriously, putting into account the joke/parody that is Saints Row franchise.

wanaskug
wanaskug

Sandbox yeah! I'm checking out one very different style Age of Wushu.

PinchySkree
PinchySkree

How about make a Red Faction sequel that is actually better than the original.

A simple solution to money problems is to stop making shit games.

Sakarnen
Sakarnen

We want Summoner 3. Does Volition still own the license?

jimrhurst
jimrhurst

Blaming it all on uDraw is like saying that the assassination of Franz Ferdinand was the cause of WW1.  It might be the proximate spark, but THQ had a sea of problems leading up to that.  It was partly those other issues that led them to bet the whole farm on this ridiculous peripheral in the first place.  And when it failed they had nothing to fall back on because they had been so incompetently managed for so long prior.

Chushingura
Chushingura

piracy destroyed this company also...

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

The other reason THQ failed was burning money on failed MMO development.

freedomspopular
freedomspopular

I have a hard time believing that mobile is THAT profitable.

nurnberg
nurnberg

I disagree with that guy.  Mobile games would not have saved the company.  Mobile games are struggling right now.  Mobile games are just a bandwagon that everyone jumped in, hoping to make a quick buck.  But the genre is oversatured and filled with low-quality titles.

WCK619
WCK619

So your choice to sell out by releasing a DLC as a full game was entirely your choice and not the publisher's. Good to know you have no integrity.

radikel
radikel

I just pray and hope 'Darksiders' finds a nice place, and people who care about developing it. 

@MJ-X

spot on with everything i appreciate about the series.

Crytek should fuckin die, if they set about making the ex-vigil staff work on another goddamn uber-graphic FPS monstrosity.

aryanbrar
aryanbrar

most heart breaking thing about THQ bankruptcy  was death of darksiders franchise. i still can't believe nobody  bid on it. 

telaros
telaros

"Luckily with Deep Silver they've been totally great. It's the same process, the same culture, they've not asked us to make a single change on the game."

 Worries laid to rest. I'm pretty excited for this game again.

 I really wish they managed to get things at THQ worked out better, it was a great company. Not my favorite, but far from my least. I just hated you had to use that crappy website to register their games though. I was never able to recover my password for it, and now you just have to get all new accounts for PC... Sucks.

MadGamer132
MadGamer132

I FEL SORRY  FOR THEM AND I GLAD THEY GOT GOT OUT OF THE MESS,

TheSkyrimStatue
TheSkyrimStatue

Volition need to take their head out their ass and make a new red faction

DMcG276
DMcG276

@Ripper_TV As a publisher, yes. Triple A games just don't make enough money to keep a publisher going. The mobile market gets huge numbers of people to pay small amounts, with very little cost to the company.

The mark of a good publisher is one who spreads their interests across the market, but still have those good games at the core. EA/Activision have begun to slide onto the other side, lacking some good core games in an endless search for more and more money.

The developers on the other hand should be concentrating on only making good games, that way their projects attract the money from their publishers, allowing us to reap the benefits of the excess of greed in the games industry

swantn5
swantn5

@Shango4 freaking spamers there is no escape your like the zombies from world war z!

syafiqjabar
syafiqjabar

@Sakarnen No. It is part of the second THQ auction that includes legacy franchises like Homeworld

jimrhurst
jimrhurst

@soilworker651 I'm sorry you weren't a fan of SR3, but wishing the company failure as a result is pretty much BS, dude.  I'm sure wherever it is that you work has never done anything that someone didn't like, right?

syafiqjabar
syafiqjabar

@soilworker651 The Saints Row franchise is made disgrace-proof by its very own nature.

Wanting people to lose jobs and income for doing something you don't like is horrible.

syafiqjabar
syafiqjabar

@nurnberg Millions of people play ad-supported free mobile games. If even a fraction of that gets annoyed enough by ads that they pay $1 to remove them, that is still  a lot of money.

DeViLzzz
DeViLzzz

@nurnberg Mobile games are great.  The ones I play are free and I will keep it that way.  For me that is good and for companies not so good. lol

jimrhurst
jimrhurst

@WCK619 I believe the DLC was canceled and converted to a full-sized game while they were still under THQ management.  But from what I understand, the Volitioners aren't all that pissed about it.  So maybe they think they can stretch it into a full game?  Since its being built for current-gen hardware, they can reuse all the engine and tools.  Just have to create many times more content to justify full retail price....

I guess we'll have to wait for SR5 to see a complete overhaul built for next gen equipment.

buffaloblitz85
buffaloblitz85

@WCK619... and it is the gamers choice to buy the game/dlc or not.  I love that making a profit is 'selling out'. 

syafiqjabar
syafiqjabar

@radikel Crytek probably wouldn't disappear any time soon. Their F2P game is practically printing money.

DeViLzzz
DeViLzzz

@aryanbrar Nobody bid on it ?  I thought everything was to be sold out of the THQ bankruptcy so you think if need be the franchise would have been sold for $1 if need be.

MJ-X
MJ-X

@aryanbrar I wanted to see fury and strife and the conclusion of the series :(

Amazing art direction, intuitive controls and attractive story its just so sad that Crytek ruined them for the sake of more FPS.

_Silent_Jay_
_Silent_Jay_

@TheSkyrimStatue Volition doesn't own the rights to Red Faction.  They were owned seprately by THQ, and nobody bought them up during the auction.  Word has it that Cryteam were interested.

XboxGuy1537
XboxGuy1537

@TheSkyrimStatue YES! Armageddon was amazing and terribly under-rated. If Deep Silver could actually market the next game unlike THQ, then there's still hope for the game series.

WCK619
WCK619

@buffaloblitz85 using bullshit sketchy business practices to squeeze the most out of your loyal userbase shows a serious lack of character and integrity. It certainly is selling out.

Serpentes420
Serpentes420

@XboxGuy1537 Sorry, but I liked the original FPS Red faction games alot more than this generation's TPS Red Factions.  I understand why they changed, because everything is a FPS these days, but the older ones were still better...and yeah Armageddon was bad IMO

TheSkyrimStatue
TheSkyrimStatue

@XboxGuy1537 lol wut? Armageddon was a steaming pile of crap and ended the series.

jimrhurst
jimrhurst

@XboxGuy1537 @Thanatos2k @TheSkyrimStatue The fact that RFA was even playable is kind of amazing if you knew its development history.  As it is, I find it to be entirely mediocre and unremarkable.  And it sold about as well as... well... uDraw.


RFG was awesome, IMO.  But it was incredibly hard to build the engine, making the cost skyrocket.  So it was hard to recoup its investment, and THQ refused to greenlight something that ambitious the second time around.  Then corporate meddled shamelessly in RFA, from my understanding.  And _that_ is what killed the series.  

Now the Red Faction IP belongs to the corpse of THQ.  Our best bet is to see Volition make something similar but in a different setting.

XboxGuy1537
XboxGuy1537

@TheSkyrimStatue I'm sorry, how was it so bad? Me and my friends loved that game. I found the marketing to be terrible but none the less the game deserved an 8.0. Great game despite the terrible ending that just dragged on.