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The Game Effect Editorial

Why THQ Still Has a Bright Future

How the struggling publisher can bounce back in 2012 and beyond

By Daniel Jones on 1/30/2012
Contrary to popular belief, THQ did in fact publish some very solid games in 2011. Homefront may not have been everyone's cup of tea, and it certainly had its problems, but I personally had a blast with its multiplayer which provided a great blend of Battlefield's sprawling maps and vehicles with Call of Duty's more immediate rewards and upgrades. WWE All Stars provided a fresh take on the stale wrestling game formula and Warhammer 40K: Space Marine was a great third person action game that deserved far more recognition than it got. Heck, they even published the Double Fine XBLA sleeper Stacking. The star of the lineup however, Saints Row: The Third garnered praise from critics but hasn't struck a chord with gamers beyond the hardcore. The absurdest comedy open world franchise has carved out its own place in the genre, but sadly the marketing and timing of this release were so poorly orchestrated that it had an uphill battle as soon as it hit store shelves.

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However, THQ claims that Saints Row: The Third sold better than expected and that its 2011 lineup was very successful. On the contrary, rumors have been swirling about THQ's financial troubles. Reports claim that the company's stocks are dangerously low at the time of this writing hovering around 70 cents per share. Industry analyst Kevin Dent reported on Twitter last week that THQ was cancelling its lineup of games for 2014 to save money. THQ denied these claims and indeed it may be far too early to spell doom for the publisher as they still has some tricks up their sleeve for 2012 and beyond. There are a few games on the horizon that could save THQ. These games are the reason its future may be much brighter than anyone might think.

UFC Undisputed 3

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The fastest growing spectator sport in the country has an exclusive publishing deal with THQ and it is one of the crown jewels of the publisher's lineup. As seen recently in our preview of the game, THQ is beefing up the career mode this time around and focusing on making the combat more visceral and believable. This is a big franchise for THQ and it will need to give fans reasons to invest in the new version. After the Kinect side-step that was UFC Personal Trainer, this entry looks to deliver the satisfying combat and depth the series is known for.

Darksiders II

 Embedded Image A lot of people slept on the original Darksiders, but the memory of that game and the word of mouth surrounding Death combined with the less intimidating competition of 2012 could spell huge success for Vigil Game's apocalyptic sequel. The combat, art design, graphics and world of Darksiders II are much more instantly appealing than its predecessor. The character of Death looks like an exciting anti-hero that wouldn't be afraid to take Kratos on face to face. The world of Darksiders II is also much more interesting as it is filled with otherworldly architecture that seems like the perfect backdrop for an end of days epic as opposed to the first game's run down city's and cathedrals. This has the potential to be one of the biggest games of 2012.

South Park: The Game

 Embedded Image Obsidian Entertainment has worked on some big games including Fallout: New Vegas and Knights of the Old Republic II. Now the Irvine, CA developer is focusing on bringing the world of South Park, Colorado to life in a new throwback RPG. If you're old enough to remember the laughable (not in a good way) South Park 64, have no fear; show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are writing this game and are focused on making it an authentic South Park adventure.

Fresh off the success of their Broadway show The Book of Mormon, the duo have their sights set on conquering gaming. They're both fans of classic JRPG's like Final Fantasy and South Park: The Game is their love letter to the art form, though they likely won't pull any punches when it comes to poking fun at the gaming industry and pop culture. South Park: The Game could be a huge success for THQ if Obsidian can manage to create a genuinely funny RPG that still appeals to western gamers in a post Skyrim world.

Metro: Last Light

 Embedded Image This sequel to the 2010 sleeper Metro: 2033 looks to ditch the sleeper status with a more accessible game design and graphics that rival the best in the business. Developer 4A Games is focused on making the action intense and fast paced while not losing any of the environmental detail that made Metro such an endearing game for many players. While the original focused on item management and was set in a very claustrophobic underground world, Metro: Last Light brings the player into more varied environments and more intensely orchestrated set piece moments.

The E3 demo followed the main protagonist Artyom through an intense train ride, a car chase, and even undercover at an enemy gathering filled with hundreds of hostiles. The lighting is the star of the show and the enemy design is gorgeous grotesque. Metro: Last Light could be one of the best First Person Shooters of the year.

But wait, there's more!

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The games listed above are all currently on pace for a release in 2012, but beyond this year, THQ has a few more cards up its sleeve. The company is partnering with some big names to bring hardcore gamers intriguing new projects. The most exciting could be the partnership with renowned horror fantasy filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro, director of Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth and producer on the upcoming Hobbit film adaptations. He is working with THQ to create a Lovecraftian horror experience called InSane. There aren't many details available on this game, but hearing Del Toro's passion for gaming in a recent conversation with Bioshock creator Ken Levine has placed this game on my radar.
Another big partnership for THQ is the third person action game Devil's Third from legendary outspoken game designer Tomonobu Itagaki. The Ninja Gaiden veteran is bringing the same kind of brutal, gory and over the top hack and slash gameplay to this third person action game. Again, details are hard to come by for Devil's Third, but the trailer from E3 gives a brief glimpse of what Itagaki has in mind.
It's hard to deny that THQ doesn't always make the best decisions. However, it's equally hard not to root for them. The publisher has been trying to bring excellent hardcore games to fans for the past couple years and some of these efforts are yet to bare any fruit. Looking at this list of titles is definitely an encouraging sign that THQ is working on some very exciting games. The future could be very bright for THQ, but only time will tell.
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Hamza79 on March 01, 2012
i likes the games of wwe12
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mitkenski on February 27, 2012
Warhammer 40k, Darksiders, Saints Row my favourite games. THQ are epic, keep it up.
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sunsedrengen on February 06, 2012
I loved and i still do love SR3 and i cant wait for Darksiders and dark millenium and this article made me happy for the company
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MikeDeas879 on January 31, 2012
I'm excited for a lot of these games. I should look into how to buy stock...
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Warbuff on January 31, 2012
Metro and South Park are 2 of my top most anticipated games for 2012. I'm also looking forward to any news about Homefront 2. Homefront may not have lived up to my expectations, but their multiplayer had some fresh ideas I liked.
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Sumeet on February 01, 2012
Indeed metro looks awesome.
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