Update #4: Does IP changing hands equal upheaval? Does upheaval equal game delay? Obsidian's South Park: Stick of Truth was due in March. Is it still? "It's too soon to say," Ubisoft told me this afternoon. "We'll have more details to share about plans for specific games soon."
Update #3: The US Bankruptcy Court has approved the sales - it's, um, even more official. Of note: "The assets that are not included in the sale agreements will remain part of the Chapter 11 case. THQ will continue to seek appropriate buyers, if possible."
Update #2: Sega bought Relic and with it IP rights to Company of Heroes and UFO, but there was no mention of the Warhammer 40,000 licence. THQ signed a multi-year extension deal for the licence in 2011, so THQ definitely still held it. So what happened to it?
I've been pestering Games Workshop about this today. I finally heard back from the Warhammer creator and unfortunately it's company policy not to comment on these issues. In time we'll hear about whatever may have happened to the licence by whoever then holds it.
Update: Darksiders lead designer Haydn Dalton has commented on what looks like the end for his studio Vigil.
"There was a shimmer on a slither of hope, that at one point, there'd be a Darksiders 3," he tweeted. "Four-player co-op: it rode off into the sunset today."
Lead combat designer Ben Cureton wrote a sad account on NeoGAF of the studio's predicament. Of the game in development codenamed Crawler (maybe Darksiders 3), he said Vigil had done in two months what other teams couldn't do in a year. Crawler, he wrote, "was going to blow people away".
But is this the end? Bayonetta, Vanquish and Anarchy Reigns mastermind Platinum Games appears to be interested in the Darksiders licence.
First JP Kellams, talent spotter/translator/writer for Platinum Games, responded to Haydn Dalton's post with this: "@haydndalton hey man. If anyone is interested in working with/at Platinum let me know how to get ahold of you via DM."
THQ will be a shell company until it closes down, and it still seems to hold onto some IP. Out of auction, presumably that IP could be sold at a lower price.
Original story: As of earlier today THQ is no more. The company's assets have been divided and auctioned off to the highest bidder. Curious to know what properties went where? Here's the breakdown (via Kotaku).
Makers of Company of Heroes, UFO
Winning bidder: Sega, $26.6 million.
Backup: Zenimax Media, $26.3 million.
Sega offered the following quote to Eurogamer this morning - in summary, it's early days: "It is true that Sega took part in the bidding of all shares of THQ Canada Inc. and THQ's IPs related to the titles developed by THQ Canada Inc. SEGA won the bid as the court announced and the deal will be closed tomorrow, after which SEGA will release detailed information."
Makers of 1666 and Underdog, titles under development.
Winning bidder: Ubisoft, $2.5 million. No runner-up.
On whether Patrice Desilets, the former Ubisoft star who joined THQ and now may be going back to Ubisoft again, Ubisoft said: "It's too soon to say for certain, but we are very excited about THQ Montreal becoming part Ubisoft. In the coming weeks we'll be looking at how to offer an organisational structure that provides continuity for the creative teams involved. Unannounced projects from THQ Montreal are included as part of the acquisition."
License; South Park: The Stick of Truth is due for release March 5.
Winning bidder: Ubisoft, $3,265,306
Ubisoft confirmed the acquisitions on Twitter: "We officially confirm the acquisition of THQ Montreal as well as the publishing rights for South Park: The Stick of Truth."
How the acquisition will affect the South Park RPG is unknown. Developer Obsidian had only this to say: "We're excited - Bummed for THQ and its situation, but we'll work hard with Ubi to wrap it up."
(title in development at Turtle Rock Studios)
Winning bidder: Take-Two Interactive, $10.894 million.
Backup: Turtle Rock Studios, $250,000.
Maker of Saints Row (includes work done by High Voltage on Saints Row 4, apparently)
Winning bidder: Koch Media/Deep Silver, $22,312,925.
Backup: Ubisoft, $5.4 million.
Series; due for the sequel Metro: Last Light.
Winning Bidder: Koch Media/Deep Silver, $5,877,551
Backup: Ubisoft: $5.175 million.
Koch Media had this to say about its acquisitions on Twitter: "We're SO EXCITED to be cooperating with @VolitionInc and 4A Games on a future for Saints Row and Metro that is faithful to their franchises!"
Koch Media sent out a statement moments ago. It doesn't add anything. How the acquisition will affect Metro and Saints Row and Volition isn't detailed either. "Koch Media and Deep Silver will roll out future plans for each franchise in the coming months," is all that's being said.
Released 2011; due for a sequel.
Winning bidder: Crytek. $544,218.
Curiously, Darksiders developer Vigil Games wasn't bid on at all, according to twitter value investor Distressed Debt Investing, who had been following the proceedings in person. This leaves Vigil's staff without a job - at least until some publisher somewhere makes an offer.
"Some assets, including our publishing businesses and Vigil, along with some other intellectual properties are not included in the sale agreements. They will remain part of the Chapter 11 case. We will make every effort to find appropriate buyers, if possible.," wrote CEO Brian Farrell and president Jason Rubin in a letter to THQ's former employees.
"If you are an employee of an entity that is not included in the sale [i.e. Vigil], we regret that your position will end. A small number of our headquarters staff will continue to be employed by THQ beyond 25th January to assist with the transition. THQ has sufficient resources to pay these employees for work going forward, and we will be contacting these employees immediately to ensure their continued employment during this transition period. We are requesting the ability to offer certain severance pay to minimise disruption for employees of non-included entities as they determine the next steps in their careers."
WWE was another licence that didn't budge. EA is rumoured to be interested, as is Take-Two. The WWE Twitter account had only this to say: "We don't have any details to share yet, but there WILL continue to be WWE Games. Stay tuned for more information and some exciting news!"
Regarding the rest of the staff, the letter noted that these employees will likely be kept on by their new employers, but it's not a guarantee. It's out of THQ's hands now.
"We expect that most employees of the entities included in the sale will be offered employment by the new owners. However, we cannot say what these owners may intend, and there will likely be some positions that will not be needed under the new ownership. You should receive notice this week or early next week if the new owners intend to extend employment to you. Please note that the terms of your new employment, including pay and benefits, may be different from the current terms of your employment with THQ."
On a personal note, the letter continued:
"The work that you all have done as part of the THQ family is imaginative, creative, artistic and highly valued by our loyal gamers. We are proud of what we have accomplished despite today's outcome."
"It has been our privilege to work alongside the entire THQ team. While the company will cease to exist, we are heartened that the majority of our studios and games will continue under new ownership. We were hoping that the entire company would remain intact, but we expect to hear good news from each of the separate entities that will be operating as part of new organizations."
"For those THQ employees who are part of entities that are not included in the sale, we are confident that the talent you have displayed as part of THQ will be recognized as you take the next steps in your career."
"Thank you all for your dedication and for sharing your talent with the THQ team. We wish you the best of luck and hope you will keep in touch."