Over the last six months or so, the refrain “Could things get any worse for THQ?” has become steadily more and more difficult to answer. It’s closed local offices and developers, delayed games, and finally announced Chapter 11 bankruptcy and a quick Hail-Mary sale late last year. So what could get worse now?
Well, it seems there’s room yet for things to get worse, with the growing fear that THQ could cease to exist entirely, with the news that an auction for various IPs and studios under the ailing THQ banner.
The announcement comes on the tail of news that the apparent buyout by the Clearlake Capital group has been contested by lenders as being too fast, and not allowing proper access to the sales process by other parties. And who are these other parties?
Well, it’s practically a list of who’s who of gaming. Ubisoft’s interested, and EA and Warner Bros have been named in court, according to this blog.
Only certain THQ assets will be up for auction on the 22nd, but what those assets will be remains unknown.
Regardless, it does open up some amazing possibilities for some serious shifts in the gaming space. A studio like Relic – makes of the Dawn of War games, Space Marine, and the Company of Heroes franchise – would have to be an incredibly tempting purchase for any developer. In fact, with such a good range of PC titles, it would be an excellent fit for Valve, assuming Gabe Newell wanted to start turning the company into a publishing house.
Which really isn’t a long bow to pull.
Similarly, series like Saint’s Row would have to be equally attractive to a range of publishers.
Something even more curious is how Games Workshop might react to any sales that sees its license spread among different publishers. Both Relic and Vigil have access to the lucrative GW IP, along with EA through the less than successful Warhammer Online. Following a sale, would GW want to renegotiate its license with any potential buyer?
Is the Emperor a the immortal protector of Mankind?! (in other words, yes, it most likely would).
That could put a serious crimp in any ongoing development of titles like Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium. That game’s had a rocky road as is, going from MMO to an RPG last year, alongside intimations that development was pretty much at a standstill.
All this aside, one thing does seem certain. Yes, things can get a lot worse for poor THQ.