Every game maker not currently in bankruptcy appears to be picking at the carcass of THQ right now. U.S. bankruptcy judge Mary F. Walrath rejected THQ’s previous plan, saying it favored Clearlake Capital Group over other interested parties. The judge thinks selling off individual titles to interested bidders piecemeal may make more money than forcing someone to bid on the whole company. She’s probably right, as no publisher would willing take on THQ’s mountain of debt if there’s a way around it.
This looks to be the biggest game franchise bonanza since Midway’s bankruptcy. Some of the same players in that courtroom drama are poised and ready to strike here. EA, who ended up with NFL Blitz and NBA Jam after Midway’s bankruptcy, is interested in THQ’s assets. EA picked up a sweet deal from THQ’s summer fire sale, the license to make Ultimate Fighting Championship games. It didn’t disclose exact financial details, but THQ wasn’t really in a good negotiating position. The sports gaming giant probably got a huge franchise for pennies on the dollar. That WWE license would look great in EA’s stable.
Warner Bros. was another big winner in the Midway auction, coming away with legendary fighting franchise Mortal Kombat. Warner legal staff have been present at the THQ bankruptcy hearings as well.
The franchise most publishers will covet is the rabidly successful Saints Row franchise. The open world sandbox stars the 3rd Street Saints, a gang so mainstream it now sells energy drinks and Halloween costumes. Saints Row The Third sold five million units during a time when sales are down throughout the industry. The Darksiders franchise has earned critical acclaim that hasn’t translated into commercial benefits. That’s a series that deserves another go with a publisher that has the resources to devote to making it huge.