Wednesday, 10 August 2011 13:50

THQ closes Australian studios

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sunsetOfficially it is a studio realignment allowing THQ to focus on strategic initiatives, but for many Australian video game employees the closure of THQ in Brisbane and Blue Tongue Entertainment in Melbourne will mean a scramble for new employment in what is increasingly becoming an independent development scene.


As part of a realignment of internal development studios, Australia has again been the target of major video-game development studios closures.

THQ has announced the following shifting of focus and strategic realignment of its video-game development: THQ is in the process of transitioning its portfolio away from licensed kids titles and movie-based entertainment properties for consoles and has also decided not to actively pursue further development of the MX vs. ATV franchise at this time.  As a result, the company announced the closure of two studios in Australia, and the elimination of a development team at the company's Phoenix location.  The company is maintaining its Quality Assurance team in Phoenix.

THQ's five internal development studios are focused on key initiatives and franchises: THQ Montreal, creating an unannounced new IP with a team led by industry veteran, Patrice Désilets; Volition, Inc., developing the highly anticipated upcoming game Saints Row®: The Third,â„¢ and inSANEâ„¢ in collaboration with renowned film director Guillermo del Toro; Relic Entertainment, creators of Company of Heroes and the upcoming Warhammer 40,000®: Space Marineâ„¢ for PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system and the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system; Vigil Games, developing Darksiders® II and next year's MMO Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Onlineâ„¢; and THQ San Diego, developers of WWE All Stars and creating best-in-class fighting games. 

Today's actions will result in a personnel reduction of approximately 200 people.  All affected employees are eligible to apply for open positions within the company globally.    

'With this realignment, we are narrowing our focus to high-quality owned IP with broad appeal that can be leveraged across multiple platforms, and to work with the best talent in the industry. By right-sizing our internal development capacities for our console portfolio, our five internal studios are focused on delivering high-quality games with talented teams driving the execution of those titles to market,' said Brian Farrell, President and CEO, THQ. 'As we have outlined in our business strategies, we are making shifts to reduce movie-based and licensed kids' video games in our portfolio, which underscores our strategy to move away from games that will not generate strong profits in the future.' 

Farrell added, 'We will continue to evaluate our capital and resources to concentrate on fast growing digital business initiatives such as social games, mobile and tablet -based digital entertainment.'

For Australia this means the closure of THQ Brisbane, and in Melbourne Blue Tongue Entertainment, recently known for the de Blob series of games.

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Many see the closure of these studios and others in Australia owned by other international publishers, such as Krome, Auran and Pandemic as reflective of poor management in the industry rather than a blight on the creative talent assembled in the former teams.
sunset
One former insider told iTWire.com how there is an increasing gulf between the creative and managerial talents within the publisher/developer structure of the Australian game industry: 'The thing about management at a studio is that there's better paid and more stable work in other industries for good managers, so for many the only real reason to come into it is to be involved in the gaming side of development.' He said.

The company has recently outlined its four-pillar digital strategy: 1) create a digital ecosystem around key console title launches such as the scheduled November 15, 2011 release of Saints Row: The Third, which includes plans for a robust DLC schedule, online Season Pass, and in-game store for consumables; 2) create a critical mass of users on social media platforms such as Facebook and mobile platforms, including iOS and Androidâ„¢, using THQ-owned or branded content, such as the upcoming fall release of Margaritaville® Online, based on Jimmy Buffett's popular brand; 3)  create an ongoing digital revenue stream with the launch of the company's MMO, Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millenniumâ„¢ Online; and 4) continue to drive digital end-user sales through existing channels as well as through the upcoming re-launch of THQ.com.

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Mike Bantick

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Having failed to grow up Bantick continues to pursue his childish passions for creative writing, interactive entertainment and showing-off through adulthood. In 1994 Bantick began doing radio at Melbourne’s 102.7 3RRRFM, in 1997 transferring to become a core member of the technology show Byte Into It. In 2003 he wrote briefly for the The Age newspaper’s Green Guide, providing video game reviews. In 2004 Bantick wrote the news section of PC GameZone magazine. Since 2006 Bantick has provided gaming and tech lifestyle stories for iTWire.com, including interviews and opinion in the RadioactivIT section.

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