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.
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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