THQ was a bit of an odd duck amongst video games makers and publishers. In many ways they felt like an indie game company who made it big. They have numerous succesful titles to their name, games like Company of Heroes, Darksiders, Saints Row, Metro, Dawn of War just to name a few.
More impressive is that they took chances numerous times by experimenting on established video games tropes and came out ahead. Companie of Heroes pretty much showed everyone how squad based RTS could be made, Dawn of War was a masterful display of how to translate a tabletop game into a video game, Darksiders mixed up Zelda-esque gameplay with Spawn-like comic book characters…. and I could go on like that. THQ was a big studio that still took chances…
… and now it’s going bankrupt and it will be sold piecemeal to various bidders. It’s a sad day when one of the last big studios who still innovated gets shut down.
It’s not clear… despite all the articles about this I found the real reason of the bankruptcy is relatively unclear but here’s what I found out.
Since 2010 THQ has been having fiscal difficulties. They still released games and the vast majority of their titles were received favorably and sold excellent numbers when you compare them to similar titles in the industry. I’m not saying that everything was perfect but when you compared THQ to the rest of the publishers like EA and Activision they were doing pretty good with their games which means the problem is not related to the games.
Which leaves one likely explanation which is poor management and that’s where things get real muddy. I won’t speculate much on the exact cause because I could not find any definitive explanation. I found multiple theories though ranging from poor investments, projects costing too much, mishandling of money and outright fraud. I’ll leave it up to you to pick which reason you think is the best one.
Why it’s a tragedy
Beyond the loss of jobs and all the problems that go with that, we’re losing a big studio that was innovating. Worst, we’re sending the message that even if you innovate and make succesful games you can still fail. This worries me greatly because I’m afraid it will only drive companies to make more of the same. I can do without more Call of Duty clones.
I’m going to end this by saying that I hope, pray, that another company will rise to take THQ place and keep taking chances on games and innovating some.