THQ's development revamp hits full swing

THQ's development revamp hits full swing
Michael French

By Michael French

January 23rd 2008 at 10:54PM

Juiced and Stuntman properties canned and Concrete Games closed as publisher looks to drive IP roster and product quality

THQ has announced a number of changes to its product portfolio and internal development business, including the decision 'not to pursue' certain IPs and the closure of a studio in California, in a bid to boost its slate of owned property and begin a new product quality strategy.

The moves come following an announcement by the firm in October that it was initiating a new product development strategy.

The publisher said it was to close its Concrete Games studio, which was established in 2004 and was working on one of the unannounced titles. THQ said it "expects a substantial number of the studio's employees to be offered positions in its other studios".

Also, the firm said its Frontlines: Fuel of War PS3 SKU, and the PS2 SKU of an upcoming Destroy All Humans title were cancelled, and two unannounced 360 and PS3 games have also been given the chop, as have the Juiced and Stuntman IPs.

In a report released to investors the firm said that it would record non-cash charges of approximately $27m following the changes. The firm also remarked that the likes of Stuntman, Ratatouille and Conan had underperformed.

However, the firm added it was raising revenue guidance to $509 million from $490 million, "reflecting better-than-expected sales" of its latest WWE and MX vs ATV games.

"In October, we announced certain product quality initiatives, including personnel and structural changes in product development and a more rigorous internal and external product evaluation and feedback process," said Brian Farrell, president and CEO of THQ. "Consistent with these initiatives, we have taken actions to strengthen our pipeline and position ourselves to compete aggressively with compelling, high quality games."

At the same time, the firm has appointed two games industry veterans to newly-created roles at THQ Studios to drive forward its slate of owned intellectual property and quality of all product made at its studios.

Former EA creative director and VP of IP development Danny Bilson joins as VP of creative development at THQ worldwide studios. Bilson played a key role in building The Sims, Medal of Honor and Harry Potter franchises and boasts over 20 years of writing and direction experience in a variety of entertainment fields from film and TV to comic books.

Meanwhile THQ vet Roy Tessler has been named vice president, production, worldwide studio. He joined the publisher in 2003 as GM of THQ Studios Australia and then served as boss of Rainbow Studios.

"We have built a tremendous studio system to support our strategy of creating new franchises based on owned intellectual properties," commented Jack Sorensen, executive vice president, worldwide studios. "With the addition of Danny and Roy, we are significantly enhancing our studio management infrastructure. Roy's strong project management experience will heighten our focus on our production processes, while Danny brings a wealth of creative experience that will be brought to bear on the production values of our titles."