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|THQ Canada Inc. (2004–2013)|
Relic Entertainment (known as THQ Canada Inc. between 2004 and 2013) is a Canadian video game developer based in Vancouver, founded in 1997. The studio specializes in real-time strategy games and is known for series such as Homeworld, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War and Company of Heroes. Acquired by THQ in 2004, the company was sold to Sega on January 22, 2013 as part of THQ's bankruptcy. Relic is now a part of Sega West, which also comprises Creative Assembly, Sports Interactive and Amplitude Studios.
Relic was founded in May 1997 by Alex Garden, Luke Moloney, Erin Daly, Aaron Kambeitz, Rob Cunningham, Gary Shaw, and Shane Alfreds. The name of the company was chosen because they liked the name and it was easy to pronounce. Their first title, Homeworld, was released on September 28, 1999 to critical acclaim and successful sales. Though they did not immediately continue working on the franchise (Sierra Entertainment, the game's publisher, owned the rights), the game did have a spin-off, Homeworld: Cataclysm, developed by Barking Dog Studios and published by Sierra.
Their next title was Impossible Creatures, released by Microsoft on January 7, 2003. It focused on a fictional environment during the 1930s, allowing players to design units from different anatomical parts of animals. The game was successful, though it did not receive the same attention as Homeworld.
Homeworld 2 was released on September 16, 2003. Although it boasted improved graphics and features and changed some elements of gameplay from the original, reviews cited some issues and did not score it as highly as its predecessor.
Relic released Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War on September 20, 2004, a real-time strategy game based on Games Workshop's popular Warhammer 40,000 franchise. The game was a success, with many reviewers applauding its innovative resource management system and squad-based interface. As a series Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War has sold more than 7 million copies worldwide as of January 2013.
Following up on the success of Dawn of War, Relic released an expansion pack entitled Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War: Winter Assault on September 23, 2005. The expansion added a fifth race, the Imperial Guard, to the game, as well as giving the existing races several new units. The expansion was mildly successful, although it did not have the impact of the original game.
Relic's first foray into the console world of gaming, The Outfit, was released on March 13, 2006 for the Xbox 360. Not very successful, many reviewers saw it as a love-it-or-hate-it game. It was also criticized for its weak single-player modes.
Company of Heroes, a World War II-themed real-time strategy game, was released on September 12, 2006. It used Relic's new Essence engine. The engine, which had been designed in-house by Relic, featured many next-generation graphical effects, including HDR and dynamic lighting, as well as utilizing the Havok middleware physics engine. The game was very successful and won many awards from multiple gaming magazines and websites. As of January 2013, the Company of Heroes series has sold more than 4 million copies worldwide.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War: Dark Crusade, a second, standalone expansion pack for Dawn of War, was released on October 9, 2006. It brought many new things to the franchise: two new races (the Necrons and the Tau), new units for the existing races and a Total War-esque turn-based campaign, as well as a rebalancing and tweaking of game mechanics. Its standalone design meant that the player did not need the original Dawn of War or the Winter Assault expansion for the game's full features (apart from online multiplayer games). It was successful and considered one of the best expansions of 2006.
On September 25, 2007, Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts, the stand alone expansion pack to Company of Heroes was released. It introduced two new playable armies, the British 2nd Army and the German Panzer Elite.
There has been speculation supported through various sources that Relic has re-acquired the rights to the Homeworld franchise from Vivendi. Finally, following the discovery of a document on the United States Patent and Trademark Office's electronic filing system by a fan, THQ confirmed that Relic indeed owns the trademark again, making a continuation of the series under THQ's lead possible. However, no comment on future installments was given.
On November 3, 2008, Relic announced a second Company of Heroes stand-alone expansion, Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor, which was released on April 9, 2009. This expansion introduced a new campaign, new units, weapons, game play features and three new game types.
Relic released the sequel to Dawn of War, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II, on February 18, 2009. It featured the introduction of the Tyranids to the Dawn of War series. In an attempt to avoid recent complaints about digital rights management, Relic chose to release Dawn of War II on Steam and use Games for Windows – Live to arrange multiplayer matches. Subsequently expanded with Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Chaos Rising in March 2010, and Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Retribution in March 2011, the latter saw the multiplayer platform move to Steamworks.
In early September 2011, Relic released its second cross platform console title, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine. It was released for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on September 6, 2011, in North America and September 9, 2011, in Europe. It features the Ultramarines chapter. Its gameplay focuses on a hybrid shooting and melee combat model.
In May 2012, Relic Entertainment announced it was developing the highly anticipated sequel Company of Heroes 2 for the PC platform, scheduled for release in early 2013. In this sequel the game moves the battle away from the Western Front of World War II and refocuses on the Eastern Front.
In December 2012, during THQ bankruptcy filings, it was revealed that Relic Entertainment "is currently developing Company of Heroes 2 for a calendar year 2013 release and a new game with the working title Atlas for a release in calendar year 2014." On January 23, 2013, it was revealed that THQ had sold Relic Entertainment to Sega for US$26.6 million as part of an auction of the company's properties. The Homeworld franchise was sold to Gearbox Software at a separate auction in April 2013.
In November 2015, Relic Entertainment and Sega relinquished the rights of Impossible Creatures to THQ Nordic after it was revealed that neither THQ nor Microsoft Studios owned the rights to the video game. In May 2016, Relic Entertainment announced Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III, which was released for personal computers in 2017.
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