THQ may spike yearly UFC releases

Following slipping 2010 sales of MMA fighter, publisher says new franchise installments could come every 15 to 21 months.

UFC Undisputed 2009

THQ had a bona fide hit on its hands last year with UFC Undisputed 2009, its first foray into the nascent mixed martial arts genre. The in-the-Octagon brawler delivered a one-two combo of solid reviews and sales that exceeded 3.5 million units. Into 2010, UFC already appeared to be sagging, and THQ said yesterday as part of its anemic April-June earnings report that this year's installment shipped--not sold--a markedly lower 2.7 million units.

UFC 2010 apparently needed more than just an ice pack to keep fighting.

To get its fighter back on track, it appears as if THQ will be taking the classic approach of simply spending more time training. As part of the company's postearnings conference call with analysts and investors yesterday, THQ chairman and president Brian Farrell said that the studio in part attributed UFC 2010's sales decline to the length of time between franchise installments. And while he reiterated that a new UFC title will be available next year, a 12-month release cycle may not be in the cards going forward.

"Yes, we will have a UFC title in fiscal '12," he said. "The question is timing, as I said. Could it be 15, 18, 21 months. That depends on both the scope of the game, the window, and how we want to release that game. So as I said in my prepared remarks, we thought maybe a 12 month cycle might be a little quick but it will be somewhere around 18 months, give or take a few months."

Currently, THQ plans to launch two more UFC-branded titles in the near future. The first will be a scaled-down version of UFC 2010 for the PSP, which is slated to arrive on September 7. Ushering in the New Year on January 1, the publisher plans to wade into the fitness genre with UFC Trainer, which will be compatible with Kinect for the Xbox 360, Move for the PlayStation 3, and the Wii.

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