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*THQ* had a rough second half of 2008: ballooning losses and sluggish sales of a few of its games led the Saint’s Row and WWE publisher to shut down at least five of its studios and ultimately lay off 600 staff, or about a quarter of its workforce.
But President and CEO Brian Farrell told attendees at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet conference that the staff cuts wouldn’t hinder THQ’s ability to put out high-quality games this year: “We’ve outsourced things like model building and background arts to low-cost regions, but we still have over a thousand developers in our studios … and we’re going to focus on the titles with both the most profitability and franchisability.”
More after the jump …
— Why less is more: THQ (NSDQ: THQI) managed to move 2.6 million copies of Saint’s Row 2 by the end of Q4, but Farrell said the profits “went out the back door” because a glut of other titles weren’t selling as well. “We’re making sure that the key releases we do have this year have the quality, timing, marketing buzz and presence at retail for success,” he said. “We’ve done it before, we just need to do it more consistently.”
— Games coming down the pike: For core gamers, there’s the action-shooter Red Faction: Guerrilla, an expansion pack for MMO Warhammer, a WWE spinoff called Legends of Wrestlemania and the mixed martial arts (MMA) title UFC 2009 – Undisputed. Anticipation is high for Undisputed, the first major title to use the UFC license; Farrell said the game got “the most buzz” from retailers at SCEA’s annual Destination Playstation a few days ago.
— The “relative” success of de Blob: THQ had been criticized for not pushing puzzle title de Blob hard enough across the board, but Farrell defended the company’s decision to market the games to families: “I don’t think going after the core gamer would’ve been the right strategy, we tried to capitalize on the social experience,” he said. He added that the 700,000 copies it had sold weren’t disappointing. “We can make money on games like that, because we can also move budget titles like Big Beach Sports that cost less to make and sell 1.3 million copies.”