THQ Assets Mock Draft: Who Should Buy What and Why
THQ had a complicated and fascinating 2012. From almost being de-listed from the NASDAQ twice, to their eventual Chapter 11 application, the end was almost inevitable. How it got this far is up to debate. Some blame the poor sales of big license games, while others blame the Udraw debacle. Either way, their creditors have their hands out, and selling off their assets in a public auction is the only way to solve this issue.
Many hands are in the pot for THQ’s studios and IP’s, EA and Warner Bros. being confirmed by the courts, and Ubisoft being rumored. There are many reasons why these particular companies would be interested in certain, very specific titles or studios, and there are plenty of yet unnamed contenders who are most likely watching very closely. Add the various investment firms and venture capitalists who will be looking to sit on the next big nest egg, and January 22nd has the makings of one hell of a party.
Allow me to look into my crystal ball then, and make a few of specific cases for a few of specific opportunities for interested parties that could come out of this frenzy.
EA has been known for its annualized sports series’ for decades, and it would most likely want to add to their extensive catalogue by acquiring THQ’s most prized license: the WWE. It would accompany their UFC and Fight Night licenses nicely, effectively giving the company full control over the world’s supply of non-traditional fighting games. The only other entity that would really want the license is the WWE themselves, and they may actually wish to reacquire their license and publish their games themselves.
WWE would also have to bid on their IP like everyone else, and Vince MacMahon has deep pockets and has expressed interest in reacquiring their property. That may be a bidding war not worth the time for EA, but of THQ’s line up, it’s the only one that makes sense.
Warner has many games divisions, and many studios subdivided into these divisions. Under the WB banner have been some real hits, like Netherealm’s Mortal Kombat and Rocksteady’s Batman games. TT Games Lego games are a big money makers for the publisher as well, but there is definite room to expand their catalogue across more popular genres. How about the FPS? A strong move for WB would be to buy Kaos Studios outright, and get cracking on Homefront 2 as soon as possible.
Homefront was rather well received by critics when it was released back in 2011, and reportedly sold respectfully as well. With strong support by the WB’s coffers, Kaos may really be able to make a Homefront sequel that changes the game. I suspect they won’t be the only party interested in this license, but every other semi-large publisher has a reliable FPS entry, and this is a great opportunity to throw their hat into the market.
Ubisoft is a very interesting hat in this ring. A very large publisher, it doesn’t enjoy the luxuries of fiscal muscle like EA or Activision, but still has plenty of cache in the industry. If it really wanted to make the best of this opportunity, buying up Vigil would be their move. The Assassin’s Creed series is in a weird place; there will most likely be another in some form, but they main series is finished for all intents and purposes.
There is also no real signs of another Prince of Persia game on the horizon, so the action platformer niche that they are pretty well known for having solid entries in is looking rather empty. Vigil’s Darksiders franchise might be exactly what the doctor ordered. Having Vigil under their wings, Ubisoft may be able to filter some staff from their other studios to help fix the problems that stop that series from achieving real greatness.
Probably the only publisher who doesn’t need to buy anything, Activision might be the one publisher who could gain the most from the auction by scooping up Volition and, with it, the Saints Row franchise. Activision is a big fan of games they can annualize, and using their massive resources they could make Volition the sort of studio that can bang out SR games yearly, capitalizing on the kind of open world chaos that people who buy Take Two/Rockstar’s GTA series or Square Enix/Avalanche’s Just Cause series are looking for, but being able to do it year after year. If Activision wants it, there’s no one who could out bid them for it. Saint’s Row is easily the move valuable franchise THQ has, but also don’t be super shocked if Activision makes an offer for THQ in its entirety.
This Eastern juggernaut got wise years ago when it scooped up Eidos. Since then Deus Ex and Hitman have seen new, rather successful entries, and the Tomb Raider reboot looks to only add to that progress. To continue this trend, Square should pick up Relic, a developer of very good RTS franchises like Company of Heroes and the Dawn of War series. The Games Workshop license is becoming more and more valuable, and with Relics entries getting better and more popular each game, this is as good a time as any for Square to get their feet into this genre.
Bonus Outrageous Prediction: Valve
“What the hell?” you’re probably asking yourself.
Valve will probably sit this fire sale out, as they are known for their sovereignty. But what if they didn’t? What if they wanted to take an un characteristic risk, and throw down for the Metro IP? Last Light looks like it can really be a great sequel, and past DOTA 2, there’s nothing concrete on Valves plate. The “Steam Box” is still just rampant speculation, and even then, wouldn’t it be great to have a real genre stand out be a launch title on it? Besides, it would be a great excuse for Valve to continue to not make Half-Life 3.
Who do you think should make some of THQ’s most popular titles?