THQ shutters five studios, trims two

Paradigm, Mass Media, Helixe, Locomotive Games, and Sandblast Games all officially closed as of today; layoffs hit Rainbow Studios and Juice Games.

Despite the overall health of game sales in the US, American publishers have seen their stock prices ravaged during the ongoing economic crisis. Now the effects of that overarching downward trend are trickling down to the individuals on the ground.

A THQ spokesman today confirmed for GameSpot reports that the publisher had shuttered five of its studios and laid off workers at two more. Paradigm Entertainment, Mass Media, Helixe, Locomotive Games, and Sandblast Games have all officially ceased operations as of today, while a portion of the workers at Rainbow Studios and Juice Games were laid off, the representative confirmed. The total number of project cancellations tied to the layoffs and studio closures is unknown.

"It's just constantly trying to react dynamically to the market," the spokesman explained, "whether it's because of things happening to our industry or the economic environment as a whole. It's making sure that we're set up over the next three to five years to be profitable and successful."

The exact number of layoffs at Rainbow Studios and Juice Games were not clear. However, the representative said they were made in order to realign the sizes of the outfits with the number of projects they had in the works and where in the development cycle those products were. Rainbow Studios is best known for the MX vs. ATV line of games, while Juice Games is the outfit behind the Juiced street racing series, which THQ shelved after the most recent installment stalled at retail.

The closed studios were responsible for a number of popular and high-profile releases in their lifetimes. Paradigm worked on the Nintendo 64 hit Pilotwings 64 and the highly regarded Beetle Adventure Racing before being acquired by Infogrames. Under the French publisher's Atari brand, Paradigm's most notable titles included The Terminator: Dawn of Fate and Terminator 3: The Redemption. After being acquired by THQ in 2006, the studio worked on Stuntman: Ignition, which launched in 2007 to decent reviews, but underperformed commercially, leading the publisher to abandon the brand alongside Juiced.

Moorepark, California-based Mass Media was best known as a long-standing port house going back to its well-received Nintendo 64 adaptation of Blizzard's Starcraft. The company would work with Blizzard properties several times more, bringing 16-bit Blizzard games Rock 'N Roll Racing and Blackthorne to the Game Boy Advance. Before being acquired by THQ in 2007, Mass Media worked with the publisher to bring its Full Spectrum Warrior and Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers military shooters to the PlayStation 2.

Helixe was a Boston, Massachusetts-based studio specializing in portable gaming since its inception in 2000. The studio had most recently been working on the DS version of de Blob, but spent much of its life span working on adaptations of Pixar films, including The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Cars, and Wall-E.

Previously known as Pacific Coast Power & Light, Locomotive Games produced such games as Jet Moto 3 for the original PlayStation, MX Superfly, and the wrestling-meets-vehicular-combat experiment WWE Crush Hour. Its most recent title was Destroy All Humans! Big Willy Unleashed for the Nintendo Wii. A planned PlayStation 2 edition of that game was canceled.

Meanwhile, Sandblast had been busy working on the current-generation debut for that series, Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Both versions of the game had been announced as early 2008 releases, but were bumped to the publisher's current fiscal year and are expected to launch next month.

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Discussion

70 comments
sphinx-shadow
sphinx-shadow

odd that that they didn't close Juice Games if the are not making anymore Juiced racing games anymore

Roddimus09
Roddimus09

The numbers for the video game industry have been staggeringly high. Oh yeah I forgot publishers and developers are losing money to the ginormous expansion of the second hand market. Too bad all those people had to lose their jobs.

MattHopeKids
MattHopeKids

Of course I do feel really sorry for the people working there, maybe this will spur them on to join better teams and make better games. I hope they all do well.

MattHopeKids
MattHopeKids

It seems to me like THQ are making all the right choices here. All the studios mentioned seemed to be creating title after title that wasn't going to sell or make profit for them. THQ seemed to be marketing much more in the UK aswell, they've been advertising on TV here a lot recently. Probably the best choices they've made in a long time.

kuda001
kuda001

THQ need to consider a merger or strategic alliance at this point with another firm like Atari or Eidos to stay competitive and avoid going belly up.

MariusSE
MariusSE

As long as they don't touch Relic!

HAMMER261266
HAMMER261266

I sure hope UFC 2009 Undisputed doesn't get cut. It's been almost 5 years since the last UFC game.

BloodMist
BloodMist

Well that's fine by me, talk about getting rid of dead weight.

hashmanalum
hashmanalum

I'm starting to get worried about something. If companies are losing an amount of money so large that might shut down it's studios what about the research of new ideas for games? It scares me that they may focus more on the moneymaker titles like Gears, Final Fantasy, etc. and forget to forge new ideas for us... Maybe innovations will also be shut down, at least for a while...

tevic
tevic

Too bad for Stuntman Ignition, it's a great game with impressive cinematic gameplay. Too bad for Destroy all Humans! too never played it but I liked the idea.

quietguy
quietguy

THQ is resizing itself to stay in the game, recessions as usual.

Mikethechimp
Mikethechimp

Does that mean no de Blob DS? Aww man :'(

shawn7324
shawn7324

If your games don't sale, what do you expect???

gunswordfist
gunswordfist

What they banished the Jet Moto 3 team?! NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNIOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

DastardlyD
DastardlyD

LegomanX5, if what you say is true, I'm sorry for your brother's misfortune. Hopefully he can bounce back, as I have much faith in the game industry, and he sounds like he has more than what it takes to get things going. How did he get into the business, anyway? I'm curious, since I want to get my foot in the door.

kaziechameleon
kaziechameleon

i have to say atleast they didn't axe any one i love!

bloodaegis666
bloodaegis666

For this I am verry sorry to hear it saddens me that many people will lose their jobs and lose some ok titles but if it's in the name of progress than companies will cut whoever,whenever and however to save a penny :|

Gamingcucumber
Gamingcucumber

Sad to see anyone go I guess.But to me, few if any of those games mentioned in the article were keepers anyway. So in my eyes it was a move that had to be done by THQ to perhaps one day make room for new and better studios.

LegomanX5
LegomanX5

Well gee, thanks, kimarous, that's very kind of you. My brother spent two and a half years working with Mass Media and recently got huge promotions/bonuses, as well as the opportunity to make a brand new game (with enormous amounts of funding) which all turned to crap all of a sudden. He was majorly responsible for Saints Row 2 for the PS3, in fact, he did almost everything so thank you once again.

kimarous
kimarous

Despite my sympathies to those who have lost their jobs, I must say "Good riddance to bad rubbish."

buzzguy
buzzguy

So who's left working on Destroy all Humans for the PS3/360?

TheClown24
TheClown24

THQ are a great company, sad to see this

snakes3425
snakes3425

The Only game I'm interested in is Destroy all Humans, but it's sad to see so many people lose their jobs, especally with how bad the economy is.

fauljosh
fauljosh

Wow that sucks. Oh and Beetle Adventure Racing is seriously one of the greatest games made on the N64!!

Sins-of-Mosin
Sins-of-Mosin

Not exactly any games I care about but always sad to see people lose their jobs. Specially in today's job market. They should've formed a new studio with the best people from the five they closed and come up with a new IP. Such a waste.

00Terry00
00Terry00

The economy lately is just really bad...

linhlh
linhlh

I'm just glad they didn't do anything to Relic. Maybe because it is their flagship studio now. Can't wait for DoW 2.

insanitycheck3
insanitycheck3

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Naok1
Naok1

Trooperdx3117 how can you say "no other game capture space combat so brilliantly".... Homeworld is an awesome game i agree with you...but the question is....what are the standards for space combat? where can they capture it in real life?lol...still great awesome game.

RealKilla_789
RealKilla_789 moderator

seems like these studios needed to be shut down

Trooperdx3117
Trooperdx3117

What THQ needs to do now is to get Relic to start working on a new Homeworld game. I know Relic are working on a new Company of heroes game and Dawn of war game but no other game capture space combat so brilliantly as Homeworld and I would certainly buy it.

Paladin_King
Paladin_King

Seems like most of these companies that were shut down did something great many years ago, and nothing all that great since then. I can see why THQ chose them to be shut down.

magd84
magd84

The Warhammer 40000 series is made by developer Relic, published by THQ. It's one of THQ's most profitable franchises. They won't close it... If they get to the point where they have to close the studio or sell it, then it would be the of THQ.

mariokart64fan
mariokart64fan

damn i also liked rock n roll racin saints row isnt affected

mariokart64fan
mariokart64fan

no pilot wings 3 that sucks they announced a c version whichgot canned

HufflePuff-TLH
HufflePuff-TLH

I love the dawn of war series. and looking very much farward to dow2

killamarl
killamarl

dawn of war series is the best thing from thq and they better not cut it

insanitycheck3
insanitycheck3

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

brain20035
brain20035

I don't care what games they made in the past and what the results have been, but the fact that people are losing their jobs saddens me...

DrKill09
DrKill09

As long as they keep Volition, I'm happy.

Ra-Devil
Ra-Devil

... but I liked Saints Row... then again, I can't think of a single other game THQ does that I would actaully even slightly consider...

Master__Shake
Master__Shake

Unfortunately a lot of companies in the game industry just "get by". They lack a real passion of the art of development, they like games but approach it with a lack luster enthusiasm. Couple that with poor management and you have a pretty good chunk of the game industry. When big companies like EA or THQ need to cut things, guess which studios get cut usually the weakest links. So this isn't surprising other than sandblast since they haven't even shipped DAH. It must be be past the gold master state.

Scynt
Scynt

Good; die THQ. F*** you for canceling Frontlines for the PS3 a month before it was to release. Sorry to hear about people getting laid off, but I hope you completely crash and burn and never recover.

yboucher
yboucher

On the subject of the game market crashing, that is not the case. What it is is that the global crash is resulting in a little cleanup. Bloated developers and publishers that were surviving purely on good economic conditions can't make it anymore (EA, THQ, and others i can't name just yet :P ). But publishers who have healthy processes, and good products are still totally thriving. Look at Nintendo, Ubisoft, and a few others that announced positive results recently. So no worries. This global crisis will just clean the market up a little. Hurts when it happens, but in the long term it's a good thing.

yboucher
yboucher

A total disaster for the employees... but not exactly surprising on a corporate point of view. What has THQ done that was any good in the last MANY years ?

waffles1993
waffles1993

eh, no major losses i never really liked destroy all humans anyway hopefully a new development team can bring greatness to the series