THQ Studios Up For Auction (Updated)
I really wish that was some kind of pun, but this time I'm shooting straight. Further to the troubles THQ have had recently, namely the move to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the middle of last December, and despite the huge success of their collaboration with the Humble Bundle people, which I actually picked up myself. There were some objections raised recently, specifically that the deal made with the Clearlake Capital Group who had, effectively, offered to give them money with no strings attached, was a breach of Chapter 11 legislation. Specifically that the time scale for the deal was too short, and that there should be room made for other interested parties to make bids, amongst other things.
That news alone was already a devastating blow. I can't even begin to imagine how much of a blow it must have been. To come so close, only to have it snatched away. The deal with Clearlake was perfect. It would have allowed THQ effective autonomy, and amounted to nothing more than being given enough capital to clear all of their debts. It would have given them the opportunity to not only retain the copyright for all their existing franchises (Red Faction and the still unreleased Metro for example) but we also had news of several, previously unknown, works in progress to look forward to. But after the concerns raised by several creditors and trustee Roberta DeAngelis of Distressed Debt Investing, there was much uncertainty in the air. Which came to a head today with the revelation that, as the title says, THQ are now putting their assets up for auction individually.
Reports from VentureBeat and Twitter posts by DDInvesting, one company, in particular, have shown a great deal of interest. People from EA have already made a number of visits to various THQ studios, and it seems obvious that they will soon be putting in a bid for at least some of them. This is devastating news. Not just the fact that THQ have had success snatched from them at the last moment, but the news about EA specifically. I know it's all the rage to bash them these days, but it's with good reason. And I, as well as many others I'm sure, have been so fond of THQ precisely because they are not like EA. They have long remained a strong counter balance to the vapid, boobs and violence approach that EA have adopted in recent years. I just don't know what to say anymore.
Update: Regular visitors will already know that we Judges have been following the woes of THQ with rapt attention. Further details have come to light. Whilst, yes, bankruptcy legislation has conspired to prevent their initial deal with Clearlake being the fixall we were originally hoping for. They've refused to just roll over and take it on the chin, stating that they will only sell their assets piecemeal if the total of each, individual offer, exceeds the $70million ($60 for THQ and a further $10 solely for their creditors) currently offered by Clearlake.
"Today's ruling provides a clear path. We will now know definitively by January 23 where we stand," stated THQ CEO Brian Farrell. "We appreciate the support of our employees, partners, and suppliers now more than ever." This does, of course, mean that other buyers could still snatch things away after the auction takes place 22/01/2013. But if nothing else, it shows precisely how determined they are to ensure the future of both their staff, and their brands. And one thing is for certain, the next two weeks are going to be amongst the tensest time the video game industry has ever seen.