THQ logo, 2011-2013
|Fate||Bankruptcy, Publishing label of Nordic Games GmbH|
|Founded||1989 (as Trinity Acquisition Corporation). |
|Defunct||January 23, 2013|
|Headquarters||Agoura Hills, California, United States|
|Products||Saints Row series (sold to Koch Media)
Darksiders series (sold to Nordic Games GmbH)
Company of Heroes series (sold to Sega)
WWE series (sold to Take-Two Interactive)
Homefront series (sold to Crytek)
Warhammer 40,000 series (sold to Sega)
Red Faction series (sold to Nordic Games)
MX vs. ATV series (sold to Nordic Games)
South Park: The Stick of Truth (sold to Ubisoft)
|Revenue||$665 million (2011)|
|Net income||$136 million (2011)|
THQ Inc. was an American developer and publisher of video games. Founded in 1989 in Agoura Hills, California, the company developed products for video game consoles, handheld game consoles, as well as for personal computers and wireless devices. Its name derives from "Toy Head-Quarters" during the time when the company was a toy manufacturer in the early 1990s. THQ had offices in North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region.
The company published both internally created and externally licensed content in its product portfolio. THQ's internally created games included the Saints Row series, the Red Faction series, MX vs. ATV, Company of Heroes, and the Dawn of War series, among others. The company also held exclusive, long-term licensing agreements with leading sports and entertainment content creators such as WWE, Nickelodeon, Disney and Pixar.
After several years of financial struggles and an increasing amount of debt, THQ finally declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2012 and began liquidating its assets the following month with several properties either being acquired by third parties or auctioned off to other developers. In addition, most of the remaining staff were laid off.
In 1989, Trinity Acquisition Corporation was founded in New York as a shell corporation to raise money for a future venture in an unspecified field of activity. One year later in April 1990, former LJN co-founder Jack Friedman established the toy company, THQ, Inc., in Calabasas, California with a personal investment of $1 million. "THQ" was an abbreviation for Toy Head Quarters. THQ acquired Brøderbund's video game division in September 1990 and released its first video game, Peter Pan and the Pirates, in January 1991. Though always formally called THQ, the company typically traded as T*HQ in video games' box arts and instruction manuals. In 1991, THQ agreed to be acquired by Trinity Acquisition Corp. in a stock swap valued at about $33 million with THQ's shareholders owning 51.7% of the new entity. THQ's name was retained for the new company and Friedman was named as its president. THQ then acquired video game developer Black Pearl Software of Chicago in 1993.
THQ withdrew completely from the toy business in 1994 to focus solely on video game production. In addition, the company dropped the * from its label. Jack Friedman then left the company in 1995 to co-found the toy manufacturer Jakks Pacific. In 1997, THQ was reincorporated as a Delaware Corporation, and acquired San Diego video game developer Pacific Coast Power & Light.
In 2000, THQ introduced a new slanted logo for the new millennium, which it would use for the next eleven years. In February of that year, THQ faced a class action lawsuit over federal securities laws violation due to nondisclosure of material information. In September of the same year, the company expanded its internal product development capabilities with the acquisition of Volition, Inc. located in Champaign, Illinois. Since then, THQ's internal studio system grew to eleven studios across the globe with distinct capabilities across all viable gaming platforms. Examples of these studios are: Relic Entertainment, Vigil Games, Blue Tongue Entertainment, Juice Games, Kaos Studios and Volition, Inc., who worked on games for next-generation consoles as well as PCs. THQ went on to acquire Vigil Games in 2006. On May 10, 2007, THQ reported its highest annual sales figures and net profits ever for the fiscal year which ended on March 31. THQ's revenues reached over $1 billion. In March 2008, THQ announced the development of the world's first ever cheerleading game using the Wii Balance Board. Not long after, on November 3, 2008, the company closed five of its internal studios: Paradigm Entertainment, Mass Media Inc., Helixe, Locomotive Games, and Sandblast Games. In 2009, huge declines in sales prompted THQ to form a strategic plan to cut $220 million in annual costs by 2010 and invest in "fewer, better bets." Previously in 2007, THQ had a $68-million profit and $1 billion in revenue, which put it within range of the rival Activision. Many of its big-budget games sold poorly, despite having favorable reviews, as the recession hit. Its hold on kids' games based on Nickelodeon TV shows and Pixar movies slipped as kids turned to free online games playable on the Internet. With shares down 86% from the previous year and a market value of only $173 million, THQ had the possibility of being acquired by other companies. In March 2009, THQ spun off Heavy Iron Studios and Incinerator Studios as independent companies, and announced it was looking to sell Big Huge Games. Two months later in May 2009, THQ agreed to sell Big Huge Games to 38 Studios. In August 2009, THQ acquired Midway Studios San Diego for $200,000. The sale of the studio included all assets, except for the TNA iMPACT! video game.
In February 2010, THQ announced that Juice Games and Rainbow Studios would be part of a reshuffle, and would now bear the title THQ Digital Warrington and THQ Digital Phoenix, respectively. It is said that 60 members of staff face redundancies between THQ's US Rainbow studio and the UK Juice Game's studio. In August 2010, THQ unveiled the uDraw GameTablet, a $70 accessory for Nintendo's Wii console that lets gamers draw and play on their television screens. The white, 9-by-7-inch peripheral houses a Wii Remote on the left, with a doodle pad and tethered stylus on the right. THQ said more software for the uDraw would launch every couple of months. In November 2011, a uDraw for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 was released. However, it was a commercial failure, and is considered one of the main causes of the financial woes that broke up the company. In January 2011, THQ sold off its Wireless division to a Swedish mobile company called 24MAS. On January 12, 2011, THQ unveiled its new logo. In March 2011, THQ, after its game Homefront was released, suffered a 26% stock drop. The large drop was speculated to be a result of Homefront's poor reception. On June 13, 2011, THQ announced the closure of Kaos Studios (the developer of Homefront) and THQ Digital Warrington (formerly Juice Games). On July 27, 2011, THQ announced it was dropping the long running Red Faction franchise. This was believed to be due to the poor reception over the latest game in the franchise, Red Faction: Armageddon. In the same year on August 9, 2011, THQ announced it would shift its development focus away from licensed kids and movie-based titles by closing down THQ Studio Australia and Blue Tongue in order to focus on "high-quality owned IP." The company also closed down THQ Digital Phoenix (formerly Rainbow Studios), thus dropping the MX vs. ATV franchise. In May 2012, THQ reported a net loss of $239.9 million for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012. The loss was $100 million more than the previous fiscal year's loss of $136.1 million. THQ filed a notice with the SEC on May 25 for a June 29 stockholder's meeting, where THQ asked stockholders to approve a reverse split of the company's common stock. On June 4, 2012, THQ announced a deal to turn over their license for UFC games to Electronic Arts. In July 2012, THQ reported that its stockholders had approved the 1-for-10 reverse share split of its common stock to avert a delisting from the NASDAQ.
Bankruptcy and liquidation
On November 13, 2012, THQ reported that they had defaulted on a $50 million loan from Wells Fargo and were on the verge of bankruptcy. With its stock price plummeting from early November values bordering on $3 down to $1.16 and with long-term liabilities of $250 million, THQ was forced to delay the release dates of its flagship titles Company of Heroes 2 and Metro: Last Light to March 2013. On November 29, 2012, THQ partnered with Humble Bundle to launch the Humble THQ Bundle in an effort to raise more money. By December 12, 2012, THQ sold nearly 800,000 bundles, raising around $5 million; THQ President Jason Rubin also made a purchase, spending $11,050 on the bundle. On December 19, 2012, just days after the Humble THQ bundle ended, THQ filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy with the intention of selling THQ and all of its assets to Clearlake Capital Group. Handling the sale of THQ was Centerview Partners. Skip Paul, a former colleague of Jason Rubin, helped orchestrate the proposed stalking horse bid from Clearlake Capital Group.
However, the bid was ultimately denied by Judge Mary F. Walrath and creditors instead approved an individual auction of THQ's properties which went ahead on January 22, 2013. At the auction, the Homefront franchise was acquired by Crytek (whose UK studio was developing its sequel prior to the auction), Relic Entertainment and the video game rights to the Warhammer 40,000 series were sold to Sega, and publishing rights to Turtle Rock Studios' Evolve and the WWE series were acquired by Take-Two Interactive. Ubisoft acquired THQ Montreal and the publishing rights to South Park: The Stick of Truth while the publishing rights to the Metro franchise and Volition, Inc. were acquired by Koch Media. Vigil Games and THQ's publishing unit were still included in the Chapter 11 case, although all employees related to these entities were laid off. In a posting on Twitter, Platinum Games' producer Atsushi Inaba expressed interest in acquiring the Darksiders franchise from THQ. On February 26, THQ announced that it would sell off its remaining properties – the Darksiders, Homeworld, Red Faction, and Destroy All Humans! franchises, as well as its licensed and original properties in a court-approved auction which would be held from April 1 to April 15, with the process completed by May. All of THQ's remaining franchises, including the remainder of its original IPs (aside from Homeworld, which was acquired by Gearbox Software, and Drawn to Life, acquired by 505 Games) and licensed software, were auctioned to Nordic Games.
Creditors initially said the proposed sale of THQ in bankruptcy court benefited current THQ management, including Rubin. Early creditor objections and court documents criticized THQ management. Presiding Judge Walwrath called these criticisms a "conspiracy theory" on record. Creditors ultimately released THQ management, including Rubin, of any malfeasance in the company's official plan of liquidation.
The liquidation of THQ also had an effect on other studios; British developer Blitz Games Studios shut down in September 2013, citing financial difficulties. The company's CEO Philip Oliver said that the demise of THQ, who was a major client for the studio, was one of the major contributing factors to the closure.
- External Development Group (XDG) was founded in 2006 to streamline THQ's outsourcing initiatives. In 2008, the group opened a headquarters in Shanghai, China to transition from traditional business to business outsourcing methods to a form of distributed development.
- Play THQ, used for THQ's family-oriented games beginning in 2007. The label was primarily used to publish licensed games for Disney, Pixar, and Nickelodeon titles.
- THQ Wireless
- Heavy Iron Studios in Los Angeles, California, founded in 1999.
- Helixe in Burlington, Massachusetts, founded in July 2000.
- Incinerator Studios in Carlsbad, California, founded in 2005.
- Locomotive Games in Santa Clara, California, founded as DT Productions in 1997, then Pacific Coast Power & Light, acquired in 1999.
- Mass Media in California, founded in the late 1980s, acquired in 2007.
- Outrage Games in Ann Arbor, Michigan, founded as Outrage Entertainment in December 1997, acquired April 4, 2002.
- Paradigm Entertainment in Addison, Texas, founded in 1998, acquired from Atari in May 2006.
- Sandblast Games in Kirkland, Washington, founded in August 2002 as Cranky Pants Games.
- Universomo in Tampere, Finland, founded in 2002, acquired in May 2007.
- Juice Games in United Kingdom, founded in 2003.
- Blue Tongue in Melbourne, Australia, founded in 1995, acquired in November 2004.
- Rainbow Studios in Arizona, founded in 1996, acquired in 2001.
- THQ Studio Australia in Brisbane, started in January 2003.
- Big Huge Games in Timonium, Maryland, founded in February 2000, acquired in January 2008, sold to 38 Studios in May 2009, defunct with the closure of 38 Studios in mid-2012.
- ValuSoft in Minneapolis, founded in 1997, acquired in 2002 and sold to Cosmi on 2012.
- Relic Entertainment in Vancouver, founded in May 1997, acquired in May 2004. Sold to Sega on January 22, 2013.
- Volition in Champaign, Illinois, founded in November 1996, acquired in September 2000. Sold to Deep Silver on January 22, 2013.
- THQ Studio Montreal in Montreal, Quebec, founded in October 2010 is THQ's first North American studio that was not acquired. It is also described to be THQ's largest studio hiring more than 500 employees. Sold to Ubisoft on January 22, 2013.
- "Investor Relations". THQ.Inc. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
- "Jason Rubin from Naughty Dog Appointed as President of THQ". Planet Xbox360. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
- "2010 Annual Report". THQ. 2010. p. 92. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
- Fritz, Ben (January 23, 2013). "THQ bankruptcy auction closes; video game rivals pick up assets". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
- Peltz, James F. (24 December 1991). "THQ's Video-Game Success Comes With Betting on Winners". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
- "THQ, Inc. – Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on THQ, Inc.". Reference of Business. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
- Carlsen, Clifford (10 September 1990). "Broderbund Software Inc. jettisons Nintendo, games. (THQ Inc. buys New Ventures division from Broderbund)". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
- "Game Companies:THQ". GameFAQs. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
- "N.Y. Company to Acquire Game Firm in Stock Swap". LA Times. 21 May 1991. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
- "THQ Inc. to Acquire Black Pearl Software". LA Times. March 8, 1993. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
- Nelson, Valerie J. (6 May 2010). "Jack Friedman dies at 70; toy maker". LA Times. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
- "ames San Jose Game Developer Now Subsidiary of THQ". LA Times. June 6, 1998. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
- "Spector, Roseman and Kodroff, P.C. Announces Class Action Lawsuit Against THQ, INC.". February 20, 2000. Retrieved Jul 12, 2013.
- "THQ Announces Acquisition of Vigil Games". THQ. 16 March 2006. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
- Dring, Christopher. "THQ announces cheerleading game | Games industry news | MCV". Mcvuk.com. Retrieved 2014-01-19.
- Dring, Christopher (7 March 2008). "THQ announces cheerleading game". MCVUK. Retrieved 7 March 2008.
- Faylor, Chris (November 3, 2008). "THQ Closes Five Studios". ShackNews. Retrieved 3 November 2008.
- Ransom-Wiley, James (5 November 2008). "THQ reveals 'Significant Business Realignment'". Joystiq. Retrieved 6 November 2008.
- Pham, Alex (March 5, 2009). "Calabasas publisher has a new game plan". LA Times. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
- "THQ To Obtain Midway’s San Diego Studio". Gamer Daily News. August 9, 2009. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
- "THQ Biggest Loser Works Out for Profit". SPOnG.com. February 4, 2010. Retrieved February 5, 2010.
- Saltzman, Marc (August 27, 2010). "Saltzman: Katy Perry gets her Revenge". Toronto Star. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
- Eykemans, Peter (November 18, 2011). "uDraw Gametablet Impressions". IGN. Retrieved Jabuary 4,2013.
- Dutton, Fred (February 2, 2012). "THQ details full extent of uDraw disaster". Eurogamer. Retrieved January 24, 2013.
- Dodson, Don (January 20, 2013). "THQ auction clouds Volition future". News-Gazette (Champaign-Urbana). Retrieved January 24, 2013.
- Daniel Nye Griffiths (2013-01-24). "The Break Up - Bankrupt THQ's Assets Sold At Auction". Forbes. Retrieved 2013-01-24.
- "24MAS acquires THQ’s Wireless Operations". February 8, 2011. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
- Chester, Nick (January 12, 2012). "THQ reveals new logo for 'new THQ' (Update)". Destructoid. Retrieved December 2, 2012.
- "THQ Stock Price Drops 26%". TheSixthAxis. March 16, 2011. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
- Crossley, Rob (June 13, 2011). "THQ to axe Homefront studio Kaos [Update 2]". Develop-online.net. Intent Media. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
- French, Michael (June 13, 2011). "THQ to cut down UK studio [Update 2]". Develop-online.net. Intent Media. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
- Dutton, Fred (July 27, 2011). "THQ abandons Red Faction franchise". Eurogamer. Retrieved July 28, 2011.
- David Hinkle (August 9, 2011). "THQ lets 200 go, shifts development focus away from kids and licensed titles". Joystiq. Retrieved August 10, 2011.
- Mark Serrels (August 10, 2011). "THQ Closes Blue Tongue And THQ Brisbane To Focus On ‘High-Quality Owned IP’". Kotaku Australia. Retrieved August 10, 2011.
- Richard Mitchell (August 8, 2011). "THQ 'not to actively pursue further development' of MX vs ATV franchise". Joystiq. Retrieved August 10, 2011.
- Conditt, Jessica (May 15, 2012). "THQ sees net loss of $239.9 million, still in business". Joystiq. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
- Peterson, Steve (May 26, 2012). "THQ plans reverse stock split". GamesIndustry International. Eurogamer Network. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
- Plunkett, Luke (June 4, 2012). "EA Gets the UFC License, Will Make Games For Years, Dana White Looks Uncomfortable". Kotaku. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
- "UPDATE 1-THQ Inc announces 1 for 10 reverse stock split". Reuters. July 2, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
- "THQ, Inc. (NASDAQ:THQI) On the Verge of Bankruptcy". Gamer Daily News. November 13, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
- Agnello, Anthony J. (November 30, 2012). "Humble Bundle THQ sale raises over $2.3 million with help from CEO". Digital Trends. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
- Good, Owen (December 15, 012). "Who was the Biggest Beneficiary of THQ’s $5 Million Humble Bundle?". Kotaku. Retrieved Dexember 23, 2012.
- "HQ Inc. Secures Asset Purchase Agreement with Affiliates of Clearlake Capital Group, L.P.". THQ. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
- "THQ declares bankruptcy, will continue publishing duties". PC Gamer. 2012-12-19. Retrieved 2014-01-19.
- "Centerview Partners". Centerview Partners. Retrieved 2013-08-23.
- Barnes, Brooks (25 April 2010). "Longtime Hollywood Hand Is Joining Boutique Bank". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
- Savage, Phil (January 8, 2013). "THQ’s franchises and studios to be auctioned off on a "title by title" basis". PC Gamer. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
- "THQ's Quick Sale Denied, Individual Franchises Up for Offer". Tomshardware.com. Retrieved 2013-08-23.
- Bathon, Michael (February 13, 2013). "Take-Two to Take Over Development of WWE Games From THQ". Bloomberg. Retrieved February 16, 2013.
- Goldfarb, Andrew (23 January 2013). "THQ Dissolved, Saints Row, Company of Heroes Devs Acquired". IGN. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
- "Platinum Games boss expresses interest in buying Darksiders on Twitter". Polygon. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
- Parker, Laura (2013-02-26). "THQ to sell remainder of intellectual properties - GameSpot". Gamespot. Retrieved 2014-01-19.
- "Going once, going twice! Gearbox picks up Homeworld in THQ auction". Ars Technica. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
- "Lazard: Blockbuster’s Game Expansion No Problem For GameStop". Gamasutra. 2008-04-29. Retrieved 2014-01-07.
- "Distressed Debt News: Objections in the THQI Bankruptcy". Distressed Debt Investing. 2013-01-04. Retrieved 2014-01-07.
- In Re: THQ, Inc., et al., Case No. 12-13398-MFW (Bankr. Ct., D. Del.), Transcript of Hearing on January 4, 2013 (pp. 238-239); lines 24-2. A copy may be viewed at the Office of the Clerk, District of Delaware Bankruptcy Court, or by contacting Transcriber Reliable at 302-654-8080.
- In Re: THQ, Inc., et al., Case No. 12-13398-MFW (Bankr. Ct., D. Del.), Disclosure Statement for the First Amended Chapter 11 Plan of Liquidation of THQ, Inc., and Its Affiliated Debtors, May 28, 2013, p. 154 (Dkt. No. 0710). A copy may be retrieved at http://www.kccllc.net/thq/document/1213398130528000000000002.
- Lee, Dave (2013-09-12). "UK games developer Blitz Games Studios shuts down". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-09-15.
- "THQ trademark acquired by Nordic Games". Polygon. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
- "THQ Announces Formation of XDG – New Team to Streamline Development Outsourcing Needs". Investor.thq.com. 2006-03-14. Retrieved 2013-01-02.
- "An Examination of Outsourcing: The Developer Angle". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2014-01-19.
- Leigh Alexander. "THQ Adds China Office For Company Of Heroes Online, Local Partnerships". Gamasutra.
- Savage, Phil (17 July 2013). "THQ gets approval for its liquidation plan, officially ending bankruptcy case". PC Gamer. Retrieved 10 September 2013.