Thursday, December 20, 2012

Video Game Company THQ Files For Bankruptcy, Goes Up For Sale

According to the the following article from The Hollywood Reporter, the video game maker THQ, who publishes video games based on popular Nickelodeon properties, such as the hit Nickelodeon original animated series (Nicktoon) "SpongeBob SquarePants", with Nickelodeon's video game arm, "Nick Games", has filed for bankruptcy and has been put up for sale by the companies owners. The World Internet TV on PC blog is reporting in a separate post (also below) that THQ has reassured "South Park" fans that their upcoming video game title based on the popular "Comedy Central" animated series of the same name, titled "South Park: The Stick of Truth", will be unaffected by their announcement:
Video Game Company THQ Files for Bankruptcy, Up for Sale

"Employees will continue to work their usual schedules and receive normal compensation," the company says.

THQ Inc., a video game company that licenses several of Hollywood's TV and movie properties, filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday and said it will sell its business.

Wednesday's revelation sent THQ's stock 74 percent lower on volume that was 10 times its norm. By the end of trading, shares had fallen $1.02 to just 36 cents each.

The company said it has taken a "stalking horse" bid of $60 million from Clearlake Capital Group in hopes it will attract higher bids.

It also said it has secured $37.5 million in financing from Wells Fargo and Clearlake and that it will keep its business running, including the development of new games.

Some of the company's games are based on franchises like Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants, Disney's Princesses, NBC's The Biggest Loser and game shows like Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!.

"Consumers and retailers should see no changes while the company completes a sale," THQ said Wednesday. "The new financing will support business operations throughout the period. THQ does not intend to reduce its workforce as a result of the filing, and employees will continue to work their usual schedules and receive normal compensation and benefits, pending customary court approval."
Also, from World Internet TV on PC (blog)‎:
THQ File Bankrupcy But Assure Games Including South Park Still On Track

High-profile video game developers THQ yesterday revealed that they have filed for ’chapter 11 bankruptcy’ following long-term financial difficulties, but have assured that despite the setback, all company assets are being sold to an un-named investor, and will still release their roster of upcoming games as planned.

The company assets, set to be sold in principle for an estimated $60m ($10m going to THQ’s creditors) via Clearlake Capital Group, have safeguarded the future of their four in-house development studios (Relic, THQ Montreal, Vigil, and Volition), along with all games in development or being published by THQ, including action/first-person shooter Metro: Last Night and animated comedy tie-in RPG title South Park: The Stick of Truth.

To ensure the business running over smoothly in their self-described ‘new start’, THQ have requested to the bankrupcy courts that their auction process ends after 30 days if they have not found a better offer, and have noted that there will be no lay-offs for employees or any delays in their development schedules.

THQ’s CEO Brian Farrell said of the future plans for the publishers, and of how there will be no noticeable difference in the company from a consumer perspective: “The sale and filing are necessary next steps to complete THQ's transformation and position the company for the future, as we remain confident in our existing pipeline of games, the strength of our studios and THQ’s deep bench of talent. We are grateful to our outstanding team of employees, partners and suppliers who have worked with us through this transition. We are pleased to have attracted a strong financial partner for our business, and we hope to complete the sale swiftly to make the process as seamless as possible.”

The ‘business as usual’ mantra appears to have been applied on the same day, as representatives of the company’s European marketing division announced their plans to continue promoting the South Park game in a typically ‘controversial’ manner, with marketing director Jon Rooke stating: “It would be pretty difficult to market and PR a game like South Park without being irreverent, shocking and disruptive. After all that is the nature of the show. It is also a key pillar of the South Park brand’s marketing success to take relevant news stories and give them the South Park treatment – the opener to the VGAs, where Cartman beats the living snot out of Bilbo Baggins is just one example of how we are following that marketing execution into the video game campaign as well. The perception is that a lot of licensed games are poor or lazy. With The Stick of Truth and the deep level of involvement we have from Matt [Stone] and Trey [Parker, South Park creators], not only is this an authentic interpretation of the licence but it is also a quality game in its own right.”

While an edgy advertising campaign (as seen by the two trailers below alongside the VGA show-opening ’hobbit assault’) will see the Obsidian-developed game predictably not as standard industry fare, the main question remaining is what the release date attached to the end of the trailers will be, with a fully-confirmed day not yet announced, ranging from the end of April-start of May period, to the originally-planned 5 March date currently being announced by video game stores such as Gamestop.

While that particular title is expected to arrive at least within the next 6 months, will THQ manage to utilise their new-found financial support to see their slate of games make it to publication?