THQ must be 'flawless' moving forward

CEO Brian Farrell admits responsibility for tough times at publisher, says digital sectors and emerging markets capable of attracting core gamers.

Saints Row publisher THQ has had a tough year, and to turn things around, company CEO Brian Farrell told Gamasutra that the company must perform without error.

"We don't have a lot of room to run, so we've got to execute flawlessly," he said.

THQ must be "flawless," Farrell says.

Yesterday, THQ announced that its board had approved a 1-for-10 reverse stock split maneuver in an effort to remain listed on NASDAQ. Farrell said this was an important step, but much of the work remains ahead.

"We want to show the shareholders that the heavy lifting is done," he said of the reverse stock split. "The last six months have been an exercise in great pain and suffering. We feel like we're getting there."

"I've been doing this long enough to know that…at the end of the day, the product will drive the stock price. When it will happen, we don't control that. So the focus is on getting great products both in the near term and the long term."

Elsewhere in the interview, Farrell explained that he believes core gamers will be attracted to new AAA properties like Saints Row 4 and the Crytek-developed Homefront sequel. But the executive is not betting the farm on big-budget games alone.

"I think there's a real opportunity in the changing business models we see happening in the marketplace for a smaller and more agile company like us to position ourselves quite differently," he said. "We think there's a real opportunity--particularly in the digital space on the core gamer side [and] especially on emerging platforms like the PC and some of the things we see coming down the road, where there's an opportunity for core games that are not just [made with] the highest budgets, but [offer] alternate pricing and business models There's a place to attract the core gamer there."

Lastly, Farrell admitted responsibility for the recent troubled times at THQ, and said the burden rests on him to revive the firm.

"There is no question who is responsible for where THQ is right now. That's with me," he said. "That said, I feel equally responsible for getting this company out of it. I think the path we're on right now is a good one. I don't expect anyone to believe that until we do it--but my intention is to do it."

Last month, THQ announced that it had canceled the stand-alone Saints Row: The Third expansion Enter the Dominatrix and would instead fold this content into the next installment in the series, slated to arrive in 2013. THQ estimates this will mean taking a $20 million hit in net sales for the current financial year.

Additionally, THQ has shuffled its top management recently. In June, the publisher named Naughty Dog cofounder Jason Rubin president, with vice president of core games Danny Bilson also exiting. Further, THQ vice president, corporate controller, and chief accounting officer Teri Manby resigned on June 14 and will officially leave the company on Friday.

THQ has had a difficult run of late, as the publisher is looking to divest itself of Tomonobu Itagaki's Devil's Third project, citing profitability concerns. Earlier this year, the publisher laid off hundreds as part of a restructuring to exit the children's licensed game market, and then changed its long-awaited massively multiplayer online role-playing game Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online to a standard RPG in light of "changing market dynamics and the additional investment required to complete the game as an MMO." That move led to 118 more layoffs.

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Discussion

57 comments
wolvern28
wolvern28

 @thq 

The company needs to stop making games based on current content and adding in time wasting endeavors for items or things not related to any form of aid in the moving forward with storyline. Games aren't just actions of collecting and puzzles but need a deeper meaning that forwards a story in any one action made even if it earns something extra along the way. I've noticed many THQ games that copy movies or series yet have no explanation of a deeper story to contrast character personalities out of this grey area of meaningless killing to a more intricate story level that shows who they are. You've made some of my favorite games and i do play them over again but i see that all of the games i have that i even like that you've made lack massive character depth or emotion. If you can make one tear-jerking game i'd be extremely surprised.

Apastron
Apastron

THQ must be 'flawless' moving forward...

 

Because if they're not, there's a plug hole with their name on it.

soulless4now
soulless4now

I give them a few more years at the most before they finally go under. 

interrasteral7
interrasteral7

Sadly, THQ might be bankrupt. They did so well to focus on publishing core games instead of casual games, so it would be sad to see them close. If only they focus publishing core games sooner than they did. 

zaku101
zaku101

This wouldn't have happen if they made COH2 like they should have 2 years ago. Then they release games no one really wants to play, and squeals to games that should have stopped at 2.

greasemonkey42
greasemonkey42

Space Marine sequel before you go under, please :)

jasonredemption
jasonredemption

what games does THQ actually make/publish exactly??  I don't think I own any of their games from the past like six years...

george43
george43

If THQ does Warhammer 40k: Dark Millennium right, they may revitalize their company.

 

 

 

There is desperate need for an all inclusive 40k game far beyond what Space Marine ever was.

Hairygrim
Hairygrim

Fingers crossed that THQ pulls through. Moreso after reading Brendan's article about the extent to which many of the other big publishers treat their developers like dirt.

 

Feeling guilty now about buying Space Marine 2nd hand last week...

OJ_the_LION
OJ_the_LION

Better luck to THQ in the future.  They're not perfect, but I appreciate any company that's focusing on delivering triple A games as opposed to endless crap shovelware like the fashion is right now. I just hope they do it with real quality titles and not with shovelware DLC, and that move with SR3's DLC is an encouraging step as far as that goes.

Hakkology
Hakkology

Oh no, not the dawn of war :/.

DemannameD
DemannameD

oh is that all they need to do... I'll remember them fondly for publishing S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl.

Lotus-Edge
Lotus-Edge

Then make the games.

But stay cautious, take the time you need, and do it right.

You can do it THQ....

XIntoTheBlue
XIntoTheBlue

I hope they can come back from the brink. We need more competition in the publishing part of the gaming industry, not less. I am doubtful they will come out any further than lukewarm, but we'll see.

inaka_rob
inaka_rob

I will support THQ until the end. preorder saints 4 and homefront 2.

Homefront was such an underated game. yeah the SP was WAY too short, but the MP was where it was at! and its too hard to get MP off the ground. You either play. gears, halo, COD, of BF. every other game just picks up the scraps.

crysis and killzone have a decent number of players online for what 6 months (console versions). cod and bf for years and years. people still play MW2 on 360

brucecambell
brucecambell

This is bad news folks. Every publisher that goes down the drain means EA & Activision are one step closer to dominating the market.

Carpetfluff
Carpetfluff

Good luck with that then -  I don't wish them gone, but flawless isn't something they've had much luck with - although they're better now than when they first started and were putting out the worst SNES games ever made.

Frozensky
Frozensky

What he said: "We don't have a lot of room to run, so we've got to execute flawlessly."

 

What he meant: "We need a miracle."

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

InSane, Company Of Heroes 2, Devil's Third,

Metro Last Light, Saints Row 4, Homefront 2.

 

those are promising titles, I don't think they're gonna died anytime soon.

Gen007
Gen007

Yeah i think Darksiders 2 has to be a good hit for them to survive. It seems though that that their current situation could have have affected development of DS2 which would be really bad. They should have pulled out all the stops regardless. THQ has a ton of great series under the belt though. The problem is that they have a bunch of not so good ones as well. They need to cut the fat and stop trying to be a mega company like EA and Activision. If the can manage to recover from this they need to hunker down and focus on 1 or 2 AAA titles a year. Also the need to cut most of the the licensed stuff infact they already have stopped most of it so thats a step in the right direction.

mike468
mike468

I see THQ winding up just like Midway Games in the next few years, bankrupt and gone. They rely mostly on milking a small handful of established franchises yearly for the bulk of their revenue with little success with new IPs. In the long run gamers are going to get tiered of them and sales are going to tank. 

yomonkey
yomonkey

I hope they can hold it together at least long enough to get CoH2 out the door successfully. I'd also love to see another Dawn of War game. 

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

Must be "flawless"?

 

Well... nothing like stacking the deck against yourself, eh, buddy?  Then again, you did that when you took the CEO job.

jubdeidamasta
jubdeidamasta

The are publishing the South Park rpg. That's the only game they are publishing that I am looking forward too.

gix47
gix47

they have only 2 games coming out this year and thats a big "if", Darksiders 2 and maybe a WWE game too..THQ is over, should just sell the IP's and slowly lay everyone off and finishing paying all their bills and move on. at lest give their workers time to find another job and drop this false hope

polsci1503
polsci1503

THQ seemingly was doing well for a while, I thought they had positioned themselves well as a mid-level developer, and were smart not to sink tons of cash into AAA games. Sure, their games weren't the highest quality, but some were genuinely fun and didn't need the extra polish. Too bad they lost their way... would like to see them right the ship but banking on SR 4 and a sequel to Homefront doesn't give me much hope for them.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

I am not sure the Saint's Row and Homefront brands are sufficient to keep the company afloat. They are decent IPs, but not the kind to save a company from bankruptcy. Perhaps THQ needs greater re-structuring: unloading more studios and IPs that do not carry sufficient weight on a corporate level (so they have a chance to function better with another publisher) and make much greater cuts on its own publishing side.

 

Ultimately, though, perhaps THQ as an umbrella corporation has simply outlived its usefulness. I do not feel too badly about its dissolution provided its subsidiary studios have a future elsewhere. Watching frontline devs getting laid-off and products getting killed or altered for the sake of corporate survival is much more painful. The business aspect of gaming should be much more cut-throat. And corporate bankruptcies and lay-offs should be much more common. Instead, right now it's the other way around; management is entrenched while the actual game makers are let go with greater ease.

Mozuckint
Mozuckint

If My stock was trading at around 62 cents, you better damn well be "flawless" going forward THQ.

ydnarrewop
ydnarrewop

Well I hope they right the ship. THQ is a great company  :)

planetjumper
planetjumper

valve buys THQ drops all kiddie games but will also guarantee that all future releases will meet AAA quality as well as be loved by millions....I can dream right

glimpus
glimpus

 @Hairygrim maybe we should try to buy smaller studio's games new, but EA can suck it.

Jd1680a
Jd1680a

 @brucecambell 

If two publishers end up cornering a $34 billion market, it will cause huge interest for more people to try and compete.

pasofreak
pasofreak

 @Ladiesman17 They do have some impressive titles for the future, but the real problem is how they gambled so much money on those tablet peripherals. That almost bankrupted them

blackothh
blackothh

 @yomonkey *a new dawn of way game without the garbage GFWL requirements

beast70
beast70

 @polsci1503

 they have alot of AAA games, DOW,COH,red faction, and saints row. and all of thoughs games are high quality like DOW which won pc game of they year and COH wich is the highest rated strategy game ever, higher then starcraft1 and 2.

R2BDSi
R2BDSi

62 cents is what there worth will gosh thats pathetic.

Hairygrim
Hairygrim

 @glimpus Yep, not gonna be making the same mistake with Darksiders II & Metro: Last Light!

polsci1503
polsci1503

 @beast70 I didn't say they didn't make any AAA games, just said they were smart not to sink a ton of money into making AAA games. THQ has specialized in movie licensed games, wrestling and mid-level stuff, to their credit - there is a good market for those. And Red Faction isn't AAA, and neither was the first SR game (it was a indeed a GTA knockoff at the time) - and I liked the first SR and RF:Guerilla so I'm not dissing them. COH is a great game, to Relic's credit too, they are the development house.You're pointing to 3 series (one of which is dead - RF) out of how many games they published though?

glimpus
glimpus

 @beast70 unfortunately.  (wait i didnt say that, i need more shooters!)  they're under-represented this generation.