December 20, 2012 by khrisgolder
THQ has filed bankruptcy. In recent news, THQ has opted to allow the highest bidders the opportunity to accumulate various assets and business operations. The future of the brand rests on the shoulders of potential buyers or developers willing to tackle their assets despite a terrible return on equity. Who then could turn the tables for THQ?
Disney could buy up THQ’s assets. Several Disney titles already run through THQ anyway, and they’ve bought up everything else this year. There stands a good chance that Steam powered Valve could purchase THQ, given their successful marketing platform and business strategy. In fact, THQ franchises like Homefront and Metro could profit from a Valve touch in almost every way. Unfortunately, these kids will unlikely find the same home. What gamers are most likely to see is the division of THQ’s labors with different titles distributed amongst different companies.
The question still lingers: what one man has the opportunity, talent, and pull to change the face of THQ?
When thinking about likely candidates to tackle troubled THQ projects, few major players come to mind. Peter Molyneux, free of the Fable series, would definitely be resourceful enough to take on such grandiose projects through 22Cans, but the idea of an ever proud Molyneux adopting a brainchild that wasn’t his own seems a bit doubtful. Not to mention investors would shy from the boy who cried Fable, ignoring any potential claims about how THQ is the biggest, best THQ to date.
BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk, having resigned from the company in September, seems a likely choice. He knows how to simultaneously knock out multiple high-profile projects, and has had quite a few blockbusters pass through his hands in his twenty plus years in the industry. The biggest concern with Zeschuk tackling THQ is not the Mass Effect 3 ending controversy, but the shift in gears. BioWare, while far from perfect, is an industry juggernaut. It ended a trilogy in almost the worst possible way, and it took a public outcry of hundreds of thousands of gamers before the issues and concerns were addressed. That’s true brand power. Not saying the stigma would carry over, but if THQ were to make a mistake of half that magnitude, it wouldn’t take a hundred complaining gamers to blow THQ’s house of cards to the ground. The RPG approach that provides BioWare games their signature style is also far detached from nearly all of the flashy, fast paced THQ games (though I’m sure it would do wonders for the WWE franchise story arcs).
If ever there was a single man who could jumpstart THQ’s still beating heart, it would be none other than Epic Games’ ex-golden boy: Cliff Bleszinski.
In case your PC recently crashed, Cliff Bleszinski recently stepped down as director of Epic Games. Bleszinski commented on his true motives in a recent G4 interview by saying, “I don’t really want just the whole chainsaw gun to be my legacy.” He is an industry veteran looking for a challenge, and saying THQ is chock filled with challenges would be the biggest understatement of the year.
Financially, Bleszinski is more than capable of purchasing a handful of THQ assets out of his own pocket. Cliff Bleszinski’s net worth is $15 million. While it might not be enough to win the bidding of every THQ brand, his name alone would inspire investors to flock to THQ, providing him with almost unlimited backing.
He has the time and the money. Surprisingly, what he has the most to offer THQ is his experience. His work on Jazz Jackrabbit might be a bit outdated, but Bleszinski proved he still has it when Shadow Complex hit XBLA in 2010. This covers all of THQ’s Disney development needs (and maybe we’d start to see some awesome recurring Disney titles).
Bleszinski also has a laundry list of record breaking shooters. Before Gears became a household name, he brought the world Unreal Tournament (still one of the coolest multiplayer shooters ever). There’s also Epic Games’ redheaded step child (and one of my favorite lesser celebrated shooters) Bulletstorm. Bleszinski is prepared to tackle any shooter franchise, and has a proven track record for turning bullets into gold. Think for a moment about the possibilities for grittier titles like Homefront and Metro. Saints the Third already took a favored over the top approach, something Bleszinski showed the world he’s capable of with Bulletstorm.
There are the many THQ sports entertainment titles that may suffer from a Bleszinski-centered development team, but the assets purchase means these THQ games might wind up right back into EA’s hands.
THQ is in dire need of someone with a strong background, stronger contacts, and an ironclad wallet. Cliff Bleszinski might not want to sink his teeth into something as questionable as THQ, but he certainly has the right kind of bite.