THQ has secured the global publishing rights to street racing title Juiced, the publisher announced last night, having seen its bid for the property approved by the US bankruptcy judge overseeing Acclaim's dissolution.
The title, developed by UK-based Juice Games, had previously been linked with Take-Two and other publishers after Acclaim's dramatic closure at the start of September, but it seems that THQ offered the most cash and therefore won. Take-Two had been tipped to pay around $10 million for the franchise, but we probably won't find out what THQ coughed up until its next round of financial results, if at all.
"Subject to final contract and certain closing conditions," THQ plans to release PS2, Xbox and PC versions in summer 2005 - this despite early versions sent out by Acclaim having already been reviewed in a number of print and online publications.
The extra development time could be beneficial though, giving the developer the unusual opportunity to respond to criticism in early reviews - which commended the online aspects and street racing culture the developer infused it with, but aimed particularly heavy blows at the handling model - by making 11th hour changes to try and smooth things over.
Either way, it's a good outcome for Juice Games, which seemed to be enduring some rotten luck when Acclaim closed, having already witnessed its previous project - the unreleased Lamborghini racing title - go under with former Scottish publisher Rage.
"We are very excited to have secured the rights to this strategic, highly sought after intellectual property," THQ's Jack Sorensen said of the Juiced acquisition this week. "The team is off to a great start and now has the time to build Juiced into one of the premiere brands in street racing."
Juiced had originally been due out around about now, when it would have gone head to head with the likes of Burnout 3 and OutRun2, with Need For Speed Underground 2 and Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition giving it further competition later in 2004. As it is, now it has to try and trump all of them when it arrives next summer.