Published on January 24th, 2013 | by Fraser Brown6
THQ picked apart like carrion
THQ has finally been stripped for parts. As of yesterday, the company no longer exists as we knew it, its assets split up and auctioned off to a variety of publishers and developers. A couple of weeks ago there was a glimmer of hope, as the possibility that it would be purchased in its entirety seemed likely — all of that quickly fell through.
A few notable assets were not purchased, and remain with THQ in its guise as a shell company. According to the US Bankruptcy Court, THQ will continue to look for buyers for these assets, including the Darksiders developer, Vigil Games. It’s a sad state of affairs, but at least some of these franchises have a chance to live on under other publishers.
The list of successfully auctioned assets and their respective buyers was revealed by THQ CEO Brian Farrell and Jason Rubin, its president. Here’s the letter in full, with additional tweets from some buyers and the developers:
To All THQ Employees:
We now have the answers we’ve been seeking through our financial restructuring and Chapter 11 case. While much will be written, here are the facts of the bids and auction that occurred:
- Yesterday morning, we received a competing bid for the operating business, along with Clearlake’s offer, and numerous offers for separate assets.
- During an auction process that lasted over 22 hours, the final conclusion was that the separate-asset bids would net more than a single buyer for the majority
of the company.
- Shortly, we will, present the results to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, which must concur with our assessment.
- The proposed sales of multiple assets is as follows :
- Sega agreed to purchase Relic
- Koch Media agreed to purchase Volition and Metro
- Crytek agreed to purchase Homefront
- Take 2 agreed purchase Evolve and
- Ubisoft agreed to purchase Montreal and South Park
We expect these sales to close this week.
Some assets, including our publishing businesses and Vigil, along with some other intellectual properties are not included in the sale agreements. They will remain part of the Chapter 11 case. We will make every effort to find appropriate buyers, if possible.
What this means for employees
We expect that most employees of the entities included in the sale will be offered employment by the new owners. However, we cannot say what these owners may intend, and there will likely be some positions that will not be needed under the new ownership. You should receive notice this week or early next week if the new owners intend to extend employment to you. Please note that the terms of your new employment, including pay and benefits, may be different from the current terms of your employment with THQ.
If you are an employee of an entity that is not included in the sale, we regret that your position will end. A small number of our headquarters staff will continue to be employed by THQ beyond January 25 to assist with the transition. THQ has sufficient resources to pay these employees for work going forward, and we will be contacting these employees immediately to ensure their continued employment during this transition period. We are requesting the ability to offer certain severance pay to minimize disruption for employees of non-included entities as they determine the next steps in their careers.
We know you will have many questions about this news. We’ll be meeting tomorrow when we return to talk through this announcement and to answer any questions you have. You will receive a benefits fact sheet and FAQs with answers to some questions that may be on your mind. Please review these materials closely.
A personal note
The work that you all have done as part of the THQ family is imaginative, creative, artistic and highly valued by our loyal gamers. We are proud of what we have accomplished despite today’s outcome.
It has been our privilege to work alongside the entire THQ team. While the company will cease to exist, we are heartened that the majority of our studios and games will continue under new ownership. We were hoping that the entire company would remain intact, but we expect to hear good news from each of the separate entities that will be operating as part of new organizations.
For those THQ employees who are part of entities that are not included in the sale, we are confident that the talent you have displayed as part of THQ will be recognized as you take the next steps in your career.
Thank you all for your dedication and for sharing your talent with the THQ team. We wish you the best of luck and hope you will keep in touch.
Chief Executive Officer
South Park Studios were looking to stop the sale of South Park: The Stick of Truth, in part due to money owed to the company by THQ. Either this was unsuccessful, or they settled with the publisher.
Maddeningly, nobody placed a bid for Vigil Games, making the future of the Darksiders franchise unknown. Lead designer Haydn Dalton lamented that his hope for Darksiders 3 “rode off into the sunset”. Lead combat designer Ben Cureton took to the NeoGAF forums and wrote a heart-felt goodbye, hammering home the potentially tragic end to this wonderful franchise.
Am I sad? Well yea. I’ve been in this industry for 20 years. Seriously. Two decades. I’ve been laid off more than once. It sucks every time. But am I sad I don’t have a job? Not really… I’m sure I’ll get another one eventually. I’m sad because it won’t be THIS job. It won’t be at Vigil. That’s why I’m sad. The people I waged war with are no longer together. The people that I bled with, vented with, argued with (often times LOUDLY), and kicked back with… these people will never be together again in the same combination.
Atsushi Inaba, head of Platinum Games tweeted (translated by Kotaku) about Vigil not being sold, saying that he’d buy it on the cheap. Joking? Maybe. But damn, that would be a wonderful match.
What all this means for the titles that were sold off is anyone’s guess. It would surprise exactly no people at all if it meant delays for the titles being worked on; some of which were slated for release in little over a month, like South Park. It could also mean “restructuring”, which, as well all know, really means firing. So even for the developers who have found themselves on solid ground, the future might not be peachy.
Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to neck a bottle of whisky.