THQ Banking On Killer Sales To Stay Afloat

THQ Banking On Killer Sales To Stay Afloat


In the wake of E3, THQ’s already precarious financial outlook has become a good deal stormier, with the loss of the UFC license and polarizing comments by new president Jason Rubin regarding one of its most popular franchises, the struggling publisher just can’t seem to catch a break. UFC Undisputed 3, despite making tremendous strides in MMA gameplay, did not hit its sales targets and Darksiders II, the studio’s next major release, was delayed from June until later this year, in August.

Stopping by their conference room at E3, though, where I was shown Metro: Last Light and Company of Heroes 2 (as well as a far more polished demo of Darksiders II), one wouldn’t have known that this was a publisher on the ropes, as spirits seemed high. Then, THQ San Diego was shut down and now, staring us in the face, is THQ’s 2012 10-K filing, which cuts through the PR fogginess and paints a clear picture of where the company stands.

The line, “There can be no assurance that we will be able to grow our net sales in future years,” sticks out like a sore thumb. THQ has been within inches of being booted out of the NASDAQ listing since January, a fate that the company is now only a month away from seeing become a reality. With Darksiders II not hitting until August, though, and the admission that “[Their] business is ‘hit’ driven,” THQ is caught between a rock and a hard place.

There are other options to avoid delisting, but none of them are particularly savory—the most likely is a reverse stock split, in which shares are consolidated, such that those who own stock might soon find they only have one share for every three, five or ten that they purchased. Investors hate that.

What will be the final fate of THQ? The once family-friendly publisher is now depending on its biggest, gnarliest franchises, Saints Row and Darksiders (neither of which, according to comments from Rubin, he is interested in continuing), to pull it through its darkest financial time. In a Western development landscape already dominated by mega-publishers Activision and EA, it would be a tremendous pity to see a comparatively unique voice like THQ’s be shut down for good.

Also, I want Metro: Last Light. That game looks amazing.

By Shelby Reiches

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