It looks like this THQ saga, which has been in the news for over a year now, is finally reaching an end. Yesterday, during an open court hearing, numerous rival publishers gathered to fight over THQ’s assets. If you recall, late last year THQ announced that they had found a buyer. That purchase was over-ruled by THQ’s previous creditors and as such this court-led auction took place instead.
The entire proceedings took more than 22 hours to complete and were presided over by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Marry F. Walrath. The bids that were received by rival publishers have not been finalised, but they have been accepted on the surface of it. There is no reason as to why the sales won’t go through, and it’s thought that the delay in the judge’s acceptance of the sales is a court proceedings formality. The closing acceptance of the sales should be done today US time.
Sadly, one of the casualties of this auction was Vigil Studios and their Darksiders IP. Vigil failed to receive any bids and as such, if no other buyer materialises in time, the studio and Darksiders will die when THQ dissolves.
As for the rest of the bids, they include the following:
- Relic (developers of Company of Heroes and the Dawn of War Warhammer 40K games) will be purchased by SEGA for $26.6 million; if that sale fails, Zenimax is ready to purchase for $26.3 million.
- THQ Montreal and South Park: The Stick of Truth have been purchased by Ubisoft for $2.5 million and $3.265 million respectively. All further development on the South Park game will continue at Obsidian and the game is still on track for release. Interestingly, South Park Digital Studios LLC (the company that owns the South Park brand) objected to this auction a few days prior; that objection looks to have been over-ruled.
- Volition (developers of Saints Row) and the Metro franchise have been purchased by Koch Media. Volition’s bid was $22.3 million and the Metro franchise’s bid stopped at $5.8 million. Koch Media is a German media group that has been instrumental in bringing a lot of games to European market; they also own publisher Deep Silver, so think games like Risen and Dead Island.
- Homefront (THQ’s very mediocre military shooter) has been purchased by Crytek for a mere $500, 000.00. This purchase makes sense in that Crytek was on board for developing the sequel, Homefront 2.
- Evolve has been purchased by Take 2 for $10.8 million. Adding insult to injury, this bid just beat the game’s own developer Turtle Rock’s bid.
THQ’s CEO Brian Farrell and president Jason Rubin penned a letter to the staff of THQ in the wake of yesterday’s auction. The letter warned ex-THQ staff that the sales might not necessarily mean that their jobs will carry over to the new employers. It is believed, however, that most staff will remain affiliated to the studios and games they were working on prior to the auction. You can read the letter in its entirety below.
January 23, 2013
To All THQ Employees:
We now have the answers we’ve been seeking through our financial restructuring and Chapter 11 case. While much will be written, here are the facts of the bids and auction that occurred :
Yesterday morning, we received a competing bid for the operating business, along with Clearlake’s offer, and numerous offers for separate assets.
During an auction process that lasted over 22 hours, the final conclusion was that the separate-asset bids would net more than a single buyer for the majority of the company.
Shortly, we will, present the results to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, which must concur with our assessment.
The proposed sales of multiple assets is as follows :
Sega agreed to purchase Relic
Koch Media agreed to purchase Volition and Metro
Crytek agreed to purchase Homefront
Take 2 agreed purchase Evolve and
Ubisoft agreed to purchase Montreal and South Park
We expect these sales to close this week.
Some assets, including our publishing businesses and Vigil, along with some other intellectual properties are not included in the sale agreements. They will remain part of the Chapter 11 case. We will make every effort to find appropriate buyers, if possible.
What this means for employees
We expect that most employees of the entities included in the sale will be offered employment by the new owners. However, we cannot say what these owners may intend, and there will likely be some positions that will not be needed under the new ownership. You should receive notice this week or early next week if the new owners intend to extend employment to you. Please note that the terms of your new employment, including pay and benefits, may be different from the current terms of your employment with THQ.
If you are an employee of an entity that is not included in the sale, we regret that your position will end. A small number of our headquarters staff will continue to be employed by THQ beyond January 25 to assist with the transition. THQ has sufficient resources to pay these employees for work going forward, and we will be contacting these employees immediately to ensure their continued employment during this transition period. We are requesting the ability to offer certain severance pay to minimize disruption for employees of non-included entities as they determine the next steps in their careers.
We know you will have many questions about this news. We’ll be meeting tomorrow when we return to talk through this announcement and to answer any questions you have. You will receive a benefits fact sheet and FAQs with answers to some questions that may be on your mind. Please review these materials closely.
A personal note
The work that you all have done as part of the THQ family is imaginative, creative, artistic and highly valued by our loyal gamers. We are proud of what we have accomplished despite today’s outcome.
It has been our privilege to work alongside the entire THQ team. While the company will cease to exist, we are heartened that the majority of our studios and games will continue under new ownership. We were hoping that the entire company would remain intact, but we expect to hear good news from each of the separate entities that will be operating as part of new organizations.
For those THQ employees who are part of entities that are not included in the sale, we are confident that the talent you have displayed as part of THQ will be recognized as you take the next steps in your career.
Thank you all for your dedication and for sharing your talent with the THQ team. We wish you the best of luck and hope you will keep in touch.
Chief Executive Officer