THQ Forced To Change Plans And Sell All In Auction

THQ’s spate of games planned for release in 2013 are now likely to do so under a new publisher, after the planned collective asset sale by the American company has been changed to an auction this month to sell off the publisher’s content.

south_park_the_stick_of_truth_trailer_princess_kennyOn 22 January, Clearlake Capital, who were going to buy all assets themselves (presumably to stabilise and sell on afterwards, or to run the company themselves), have agreed to run an auction that will see THQ’s studios and ‘game intellectual properties’ up for grabs.

The planned sale to Clearlake was blocked by a Delaware court on account of not leaving enough time for ‘other potential bidders’ to make offers, and as such the solution has been offered in which bids will be filed by 22 January, before a sales hearing deciding on any potential ‘winners’ the day after, and closing on the 24th.

It is said to be similar to a process which Midway Games (who still exist in the process of long-term liquidation) used in 2009 as they shut down operation, where some rights were actually purchased by THQ themselves, though most was taken over by Warner Bros. (including their flagship fighting series Mortal Kombat).

And it appears as though Warner Bros. Interactive could be making a move on THQ assets this time around, as both they and Electronic Arts (EA) have been listed in the court documents as interested parties to take on various items, while fellow publishers Ubisoft have publicly declared their intention of making bids.

It has been noted Clearlake will still take over everything not bought by others in a fortnight, though amongst the “only certain assets (titles, studios, etc)” being offered could be THQ’s range of confirmed 2013 games, which include Company of Heroes 2, Metro: Last Light, WWE ’14, and South Park: The Stick of Truth (pictured), though it is unclear if upcoming titles will be offered, or if THQ will be able to continue their regular work at all after the auction.

In other video game news, it has been confirmed that the most popular title of 2012, The Walking Dead: The Game, has reached 8.5 million ‘episodes sold’ across all platforms, according to developers Telltale Games, who have earned around $40m from their hit online release at an ‘average revenue per user’ of $16, while 25% of those sales are said to have come from users buying the game on iOS systems.

Because of the structure of the comic book and TV series-based ‘point-and-click adventure’ (released in 5 ‘episodes’ or individual parts contributing to the one story), it is difficult to display figures for the entire game (buying whole episodes), meaning that figures representing every ‘part’ purchase are counted as a contribution to the total (meaning that one ‘customer’ is likely to be counted 5 times).

Telltale’s CEO Dan Connors said of the unique sales records and trends: “To date, it’s sold 8.5 million episodes and it’s been in the marketplace for seven months. November and December were our biggest months. It was the culmination of the product, the game of the year awards, the retail push, and it still has a ton of head room in. The episodic model has allowed us to create an economy that works on mobile. As far as size, at this point it’s probably about 25% of the revenue of the product and it is on the largest upswing of all platforms as well. I think we see with iOS products, we see more impact from when the show is on, when there’s stress about the show. The Walking Dead benefits from the work done on all the previous products. Everything has been an investment in creating great storytelling and great dramatic experiences that work across multiple platforms. Cost-wise, it’s 40% more expensive than other games, but it’s not huge.”

Releasing the game in direct proportion to the airdates of the TV show it is based on is a strategy that the marketing team behind the South Park game will have considered(with the most likely release date still set to be in early May when the first half of its season 17 this year), but will they be able to execute it with THQ’s current troubles, or will someone such as EA Games (who publish games from fellow animated comedy The Simpsons) have to step in and work double-time to meet the deadline under a new guise? If it is EA, hopefully they are able to take a joke and brush this jab under the carpet…

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