THQ has shut its doors.
A bankruptcy auction marked the formal end of the company that was once the industry's third largest publisher, divvying up its pieces among bidders like Vikings after a raid. Several companies bought THQ's franchises and developers for total of about $72 million.
Saint's Row? That's going to Koch Media, parent company of Dead Island developer Deep Silver. Koch also bought Saint’s Row developer Volition as well as the Metro shooter franchise.
South Park: The Stick of Truth? Ubisoft walked away with that one, paying $3.3 million for the rights to the anticipated role-playing game. The company also acquired THQ's Montreal studio and the two games it was working on (the unannounced titles 1666 and Underdog) for $2.5 million. Patrice Désilets, who oversaw the first entries in Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed franchise before leaving the company in 2010, runs that studio – though whether he will remain with the company is still unclear.
Sega picked up Relic Studios – creators of the strategy game Company of Heroes 2 -- for $26.6 million, while Crytek nabbed the rights to the Homefront franchise for just $500,000. WWE games are expected to go to Take-Two Interactive, though no formal announcement has been made yet.
Curiously, no publisher put in a bid on the critically-acclaimed Darksiders franchise or its developer Vigil Studios. THQ executives say a separate auction will take place in the coming weeks for franchises that weren't sold in Wednesday's proceedings as well as back catalog games.
A breakup, of course, wasn't what THQ was hoping for.
In December, the company announced plans to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy, with an outside investor (represented by Clearview Capital) planning to purchase the company en masse for $60 million, paying off creditors and allowing THQ to continue operating as normal.
THQ's lenders objected to that plan, though, saying the company was not being valued at top dollar and bids should be allowed on individual properties. The court agreed.
“I was brought in eight months ago to help turn this ship around, and while I’m disappointed that we could not effect a sale for the entire operating business, I am pleased that the new buyers will be providing jobs to many of our very talented personnel," said THQ president Jason Rubin. "When we first announced the sale process, I said I would be happy if the company’s games and people had a bright future, even if it meant I did not have a job at the end of it. And I still feel that way.”
Founded back in 1989, THQ was once a dominant force in the games industry. Licensing deals with the WWE, Disney and Nickolodean brought record profits, though eventually those deals began to eat away revenue as the games failed to recoup costs. THQ lost millions on the failed uDraw gaming tablet, and as the once-lucrative kid's market continued to dry up, the company tried to switch gears and focus entirely on a handful of core gaming properties. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late.
"It has been my pleasure to work alongside this great group of people, and I am proud of the imaginative and artistic games that our team has created," said CEO Brian Farrell.