Wednesday, January 23, 2013

And That's a Wrap - Goodbye THQ

Most of the reports of today's sales have been made public and many of the companies that have walked away with shiny new things have already gone ahead and confirmed the reports of their purchases.  While there's still some loose ends, it's more or less done and dusted with the latter, very unpleasant option of piece-mealing THQ's resources away being the one that went through.  Though, at the very least with this deal, Studios and IPs were a package deal, so as long as the IP was purchased, the studio and the folks who worked on the game still had a place to work, even if it was a different place.  Though, that distinction is an important one to make, and I'll get into the why of that eventually.  It is rather unfortunate, however not only for that bit, but for everything overall I'd say.

First up is the obvious important bit:  What went where?  As stated, for the most part, if a Studio was sold off, their IPs made the travel with them from what we know, though I'll make a point to point out who has what still.  The elephant in the room and the one everyone expected the most out of was Volition, specifically for the Saint's Row franchise.  Of course, Volition also handles the Red Faction IP, so by all accounts that should stick with them regardless.  So who bought Volition?  Why, the Koch Media Group of course!  Who?  Oh, Koch Media is a big thing, but most notable is their gaming branch which is known as Deep Silver, a publisher that hasn't made a lot of waves aside from Dead Island.  Oh, and that whole little thing about the up-coming Dead Island:  Riptide coming with a bloody female torso statue in the limited edition.  You know, a tiny thing like that that certainly didn't draw any attention at all.  Volition was acquired for $22.3 Million, handily beating out the next bid from Ubisoft of all places at a paltry $5.4 Million.

So that means Volition went for the most money right?, actually.  In a move that surprised the hell out of everyone, I'm sure, Sega actually coughed up the most amount of money in the whole of the auction, offering $26.6 Million for the developer Relic (along with their IPs) and the Company of Heroes IP.  Right behind them was Zenimax Media, the fine folks who own Bethesda, at $26.3 Million which, of course, also made it the highest runner-up bid for the entire sale.  Ignoring the usual doom and gloom that generally comes with Sega news, it should be noted that, for the most part, Sega already has their toes in this market with Creative Assembly's Total War franchise which was held up as one of Sega's 'core' franchises.  For the most part, it seems that a different branch of Sega, a more sane one, handles the workings with CA, so it might just be safe to assume Relic will be treated much the same - simply allowed to put out a quality product when they can.  Not too bad of a deal there.

The next highest priced item was actually just an IP known as "Evolve", which we have...surprisingly little information about.  If the rumor mill is to be trusted, it might look like some sort of First-Person XCOM-ish affair, but I imagine we'll want to wait for some news before figuring on it.  Take-Two Interactive was the buyer on this one with a bid of $10.894 Million, handily beating out Turtle Rock Studios bid of a mere $250,000 which was the minimum bid for anything if we're told correctly.  Some have speculated that this was Turtle Rock's attempt to buy their way out and become independent, but I don't know the truth behind it.  Anyway, they were about $10 Million short, so I suppose it's mostly a moot point by now.  With any luck, we'll hear some information about this game come E3, if not before, since it seemed like it was nearing the end of its development.

As for everything else?  Koch Media also managed to grab up the License for the Metro series (which I believe is just the ability to publish the games - the one that's already out and the up-coming sequel) with a bid of $5,877,551 which is a bloody precise number if nothing else, beating out Ubisoft's bid of $5.175 Million.  I mentioned Ubisoft a lot because they bid on quite a lot, really, and all of that ended up paying off.  They secured the rights to publish the South Park:  The Stick of Truth game (barring legal issues) for $3,265,306 which was the only bid for said item.  They also walked away with THQ Montreal for a cool $2.5 along with the two IPs it was working on - 1666 (I believe it's a Star Wars game) and a game named "Underdog" which we have very little information about.  The only other IP that was on sale on its own was that for Homefront, which sold for a paltry $544,218 to Crytek, who was working on the game anyway, meaning they'll be able to develop and publish it them for themselves.

There are quite a few unresolved issues here regardless, the bulk of them being rather strange to think about.  Early reports stated that the likes of EA and Warner Bros. at least were also sniffing about, yet not a single one of their bids (if they made any) were apparently high enough to secure them anything.  Warner Bros., that's possibly understandable, but EA?  There's even rumbles that Take-Two Interactive, and not EA (also known as the company with like every single sports franchise) secured the license for WWE games outside of the auction itself.  Considering how it turned out, I'm just wondering if they only put in a bid for Volition, but their bids were lower than even Ubisoft's (which is hard to imagine).  Still, I had expected to see at least one instance of EA, be it the winning bid or the runner-up.

The other, honestly really sad thing to point out is that, as you no doubt have noticed by now, there was not a single bid for Vigil Games, the developer behind the Darksiders franchise.  I'm not quite sure what made this a reality - I don't know if everybody psyched themselves out with the other properties that everyone thought a low bid for Vigil was someone else's responsibility, or if the budget for the previous two games scared off potential buyers since, let's face it, the games did not come cheap.  Most of that was thanks to THQ mismanagement, which brought about this whole situation to begin with, but one could only assume there was a cost-sink in mind associated with the series.  Whatever the reason, as unfortunate as it is, Vigil Games did -not- get purchased in the auction and, unless bought out before THQ's Chapter 11 goes through, that'll be it completely for both Vigil and the Darksiders franchise.  Over as in "If you ever wanted to own the games digitally, maybe do that -now- since it might be impossible for them to be sold soon enough".  Although...

There's definitely going to be more follow-up between now and when THQ is dissolved into Bankruptcy, but this is definitely the bulk of the story here I would assume.  Generally, the consensus seems to be that Relic with Sega is probably the best place for it, considering Creative Assembly's seeming autonomy, but is much less favorable for Volition.  Funny thing about that whole Zombie Bait thing is that somehow people don't trust you to be a normal, decent human being after that, so the worst is being assumed for Red Faction and, more importantly, Saint's Row, whose tongue-in-cheek humor about things know, how women are handled and such could get very awkward.  A Ubisoft-published South Park game is probably fine enough - I doubt it's going to mean much of a difference, honestly.  The rest is kind of just there, really.  With any luck, there'll be a good ending for Vigil before this whole thing pans out completely, since I don't think they're technically going anywhere just yet despite really sad, heartfelt goodbyes and I figure there's no reason why THQ -can't- continue to sell things off individually.  It's all just to pay people, right?  This deal just barely made more than the ClearLake deal would have, so a little more money would just make things much nicer for everyone.

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