THQ closes two studios, shelves MX vs. ATV

By Alice O'Connor, Aug 10, 2011 6:00am PDT

THQ has laid off around 200 people as part of a "strategic realignment," shutting down another two development studios, as well as shelving the MX vs. ATV series and closing its dev team. The developer and publisher is shifting away from licensed children's games and movie tie-ins to focus on "broad appeal" multiplatform IP it owns.

THQ Studio Australia in Brisbane and the Melbourne-based Blue Tongue Entertainment are both being shut down, as they developed licensed and kids' games, though Blue Tongue was also behind the de Blob games. THQ's also laying off the dev team at MX vs. ATV developer THQ Digital Studios Phoenix (formerly Rainbow), as it has "decided not to actively pursue further development" of the franchise "at this time." However, the Phoenix QA team will stay on. "Approximately 200 people" will be out of work, all in all.

Sadly, these are but the latest in a long line of closures for THQ. Homefront developer Kaos Studios and Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team maker THQ Digital Warrington were both shut down earlier this year. The past few years have seen THQ sell off or close a string of studios.

THQ's now laying its hopes on its five internal studios and big properties. That's Saints Row: The Third and Insane developer Volition; Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millenium Online and Darksiders II dev Vigil Games; WH40K: Space Marine, Dawn of War III and Company of Heroes maker Relic; WWE All Stars studio THQ San Diego; and the new THQ Montreal studio headed by Patrice D├ęsilets, working on an announced new IP.

"With this realignment, we are narrowing our focus to high-quality owned IP with broad appeal that can be leveraged across multiple platforms, and to work with the best talent in the industry. By right-sizing our internal development capacities for our console portfolio, our five internal studios are focused on delivering high-quality games with talented teams driving the execution of those titles to market," THQ president and CEO Brian Farrell said in the announcement.

"As we have outlined in our business strategies, we are making shifts to reduce movie-based and licensed kids' video games in our portfolio, which underscores our strategy to move away from games that will not generate strong profits in the future."

THQ's also relying on the "four-pillar digital strategy" it recently revealed. It plans to "create a digital ecosystem around key console title launches," giving the example of Saints Row: The Third having big DLC plans, Season Pass, and, curiously, an "in-game store for consumables." Vigil's MMORPG WH40K: Dark Millenium Online will be tapped as "an ongoing digital revenue stream." Then there's digital sales, including through an upcoming relaunch of the THQ site. And, of course, there'll be social and mobile games.

Best of luck to everyone affected by the closures and layoffs.

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