Interviewing Danny Bilson, THQ's executive VP of Core Games, last night at a preview event for an upcoming title, I asked whether or not Relic's Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine sold well enough to "deserve" a sequel.
"Perhaps," Bilson told me. "But there's an issue--a very interesting one around that. I can't speak to it too much without giving away too much about the MMO that we're working on," he said, referring to the long-in-development title Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online from Vigil Games.
"Dark Millennium Online has, in some ways, more of an action component. It's not like an action game, but it has more of an action component than traditional--sort of more turn-based--combat systems." Due to similar mechanics, THQ has yet to decide whether or not to create a sequel to Relic's recent action title.
THQ has always billed Dark Millennium Online as an online action-RPG; however, this is the first time we've heard its release could affect other franchises in THQ's catalog.
Bilson continued, expanding on how Dark Millennium Online could affect a Space Marine sequel. He reminds me that THQ already announced the Imperium of Man is featured in Dark Millennium Online, giving players the chance to play as a Space Marine in the upcoming MMO.
"It may be that the next iteration of Space Marine is a much bigger universe, where if you love Space Marines you can play there [in Dark Millennium Online] that way. If you love some of the other factions we'll announce later you can play that way," he explains.
Bilson says that he and THQ are not sure if there is "enough room" in the world for both titles, asking whether or not, maybe, Dark Millennium Online and Relic's Space Marine were "getting too close." He tells me he isn't saying that the two properties possibly sharing gameplay mechanics is the last word on the fate of a Space Marine sequel, but "it has a lot to do with it."
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"We're fully committed to the Warhammer 40K brand, and you're going to see more product besides the MMO. Just, at this time, we haven't 'green-lit' another Space Marine."
But, in terms of sales and not the committal to the universe, was Relic's Space Marine a success? Recently, THQ decided to put the Red Faction franchise on the shelf after Red Faction Armageddon failed to meet sales expectations. Like any game, a certain level of success is expected for a company to invest more time and resources into expanding it into a new franchise. When asked, Bilson is quick to point out that he "always" hopes for bigger sales.
"Space Marine has done pretty well, but there was a creative overlap going on with Dark Millennium Online's development that, really sort of, felt like there's not room in the world for that overlap."
For more on Space Marine, check out the Shacknews review for the game. Dark Millennium Online is currently slated for launch sometime in 2013.