Poor poor THQ. That little uDraw fiasco and banking on Darksiders II to save them just wasn’t going to cut it. THQ filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week, which means that while they will still operate and have current games still being developed, their primary focus right now is to pay off the debt they’ve incurred. In their bankruptcy filings, it’s revealed that THQ owes $45 million to World Wrestling Entertainment. THQ has partnered with WWE for a very long time, making wrestling games as far back as the original Smackdown! on the PS1 (and probably earlier). The WWE games got its loyal fans, but it looks like they weren’t enough as now THQ owes WWE. Chairman Vince McMahon is pretty peeved at this and is watching the bankruptcy proceedings closely. I think he should also consider starting up a videogame publishing branch and just self publish the games instead of having someone else do it.
In other THQ news, It looks like Ubisoft might want to buy out the company. Going back to how the bankruptcy works for the company, they’ve offloaded their assets to an investment firm and are trying to find a buyer. One of those potential buyers is Ubisoft, and they want to get THQ’s properties for cheap. According to MCV, “Ubisoft is after a bargain buy, and is prepared to hold-out until THQ is forced to sell off specific assets…” This means that if they’re successful, they will acquire Red Faction, Saints Row, Company of Heroes, Homefront, Darksiders, and any remaining deals left with the aforementioned WWE. Ubisoft’s been growing quite a lot as of late, and this acquisition will greatly expand their catalog of games.
Ahoy! In this episode of The Wired Fish Podcast, we ponder about THQ’s money troubles and how they hope Darksiders 2 will save them. Then we talk about Next-Gen Expectations and what people expect from the next generation of gaming. Finally, we discuss about the Free-to-Play model giving rise to Pay-To-Win.
Amidst the absolute mess SEGA’s in right now comes word that SEGA is closing down some of its offices in Europe and Australia. The casualties in Europe are Germany, France, Spain, and Benelux. Australia is getting the axe completely. Jurgen Posts states that this is all part of SEGA’s business realignment strategy. All is not lost though, as Koch Media and 5 Star will be taking care of the territories affect by this strategy. Post does say something that makes me nervious for SEGA’s (and the industry as a whole) future. “The big IPs are becoming bigger, whether that’s FIFA, Call Of Duty or Assassin’s Creed, those titles are just becoming bigger and bigger and it’s harder and harder to break into the market with new IP.” This concerns me greatly since SEGA postponed Anarchy Reigns to 2013. Along with this, SEGA’s probably not going to do much exploration with themes, settings, and ideas.
At this point, I don’t know what to say about SEGA anymore. They have a plan, and unfortunately it looks like it might work… for them at least. It’s a shame we probably won’t get more out-there games like Space Channel 5 and ChuChu Rocket. But this problem stems from a deeper problem plaguing the industry, and I’ll get to that in the very near future.
News of SEGA’s restructuring seems to be getting worse as now there’s rumors that the restructuring is also hitting Platinum Games’ titles. According to SPOnG, someone “…familiar with the situation has told SPOnG that progress on the apparent Platinum Games sequel was halted.” The source goes on to state that the game was to have new characters in the game. So far this seems to only affect any Platinum Games titles that SEGA has published, like Bayonetta, Vanquish, and MadWorld. So any other excursions Platinum has, like Metal Gear Rising, are still okay. This does however put MadWorld sequel Anarchy Reigns in a rather sticky spot. While the game looks close to finished and ready for launch, it puts the game in a situation where it’ll probably make it or break it for SEGA’s partnership with Platinum Games. Platinum, for a while, seem to have more hits than misses. Sure their games do well with critics, but the sales numbers, save for Bayonetta (which boggles the mind even more) seem to underperfom. If these problems continue, it won’t be long before we see Platinum left to fend for themselves. Hopefully, they won’t suffer the same fate as their previous entity.
While Nintendo did expect to lose a little over half-billion dollars in the past year, its still quite a kick in the face for the company. To put this in perspective, Nintendo has never reported an annual loss since going public, essentially when it went to the videogames business. Throughout those years, we’ve seen Nintendo stumble couple of times with the N64, Gamecube, and a few other excursions. But it never dragged Nintendo down that much… until now.
With Wii sales dropping as a new console looms on the horizon and the shaky (but much improved) launch of the 3DS, this could be the jolt that Nintendo needs to finally get back in the game. During this generation, you can see that Nintendo got pretty arrogant with their consoles, even going as far as charging $250 for the 3DS based on people really liking the 3DS with it was first shown at E3 2010. But hey, maybe things might be looking up. There’s a new Super Mario game coming out for the 3DS, and development on the new Super Smash Bros. is finally underway for both the Wii U and 3DS, and sales for the 3DS are on the rise as well. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Being a college graduate from New York City’s CUNY network of colleges (Lehman College specifically), I’ve seen some f’ed up shit happen behind the textbooks. But nothing compares to the downright stupidity that is happening in the University of Florida. In an age where tuition rates are ever rising and demand for people versed in technology is at an all-time high, UF goes ahead and removes the Computer Science division. Stranger still is the fact that the athletics department at the school saw its budget increase by $2 Million, bringing it’s annual budget to $97 Million (though Forbes stresses in a postscript that the Athletics budget is separate from the other depts. thanks to the UAA). According to Forbes, the big culprits here are “…the Florida state legislators, who have cut the budget for their flagship university by 30% over the past 6 years.”
Remember that announcement of an HD port of Jet Set Radio posted some time ago. I’m not saying it’s dead, but after reading this you might be a bit concerned. Citing financial difficulties in the last fiscal year (which ended last Saturday), Sega has layoff many workers from both its U.S. and European branches and downsizing the company to maintain “sustainable profitability.” In light of this, Sega also mentioned that for these markets, they’ll now focus more on games that are sure-fire his for them including Sonic, Total War, Aliens, and Football Manager. This puts other projects in danger of cancellation or being left to fend for themselves, which include Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown, Anarchy Reigns, Yakuza 5, and the aforementioned Jet Set Radio HD port. While Sega did mention that they have cancelled games, all of them so far are unspecified (i.e. never shown to the public). But still, this puts much concern on which projects Sega will give us now as they too are yet another victim of believing Westerners like their guns and football (save for Sonic). And the sad thing about all this: What they believe is right.
The first quarter has ended. And so far it’s a sad year to be a gamer. Maybe those crazy Mayans were right.
Uh-oh. Disney’s hungry, and it want to nibble on a bit of India. UTV is known for making TV shows and films in India. But to us, they’re the guys that own Ignition Entertainment, the publishers of Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Dragon’s Crown, and Deadly Premonition as well as the developers of El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. BBC reports that Disney saw the opportunity to increase their presence in India when they noticed that UTV had shares that they didn’t own, and seized a controlling portion of UTV. Once the acquisition is finished, Disney will delist UTV from the Bombay Stock Exchange. So far a brand name change is unknown. As for Ignition, this could be wither good or bad. Good because Disney could finance them after a rough 2011. Bad because Disney might either let them go to fend for themselves, or just shut them down, leaving the fate of PSV/PS3 game Dragon’s Crown‘s western release up in the air.