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THQ closes five US studios

Redundancies at two more.

THQ has shut down five of its game development studios and made staff cuts at two more in an attempt to stave off the effects of economic recession. Some of the job cuts are at the UK's Juice Games.

A THQ spokesman confirmed to Gamespot that the publisher has closed the doors of Paradigm Entertainment, Mass Media, Helixe, Locomotive Games and Sandblast Games as of yesterday. In addition, staff at Rainbow Studios and the UK's Juice Games have been made redundant.

"It's just constantly trying to react dynamically to the market, whether it's because of things happening to our industry or the economic environment as a whole," the spokesman said. "It's making sure that we're set up over the next three to five years to be profitable and successful."

Paradigm was a former N64 specialist famous for working on Pilotwings 64 and Beetle Adventure Racing. It produced Stuntman: Ignition for THQ after being acquired by the publisher in 2006. Mass Media, acquired by THQ just last year, was a porting specialist known for its N64 version of StarCraft and PS2 versions of Full Spectrum Warrior.

Helixe made handheld games, including many Pixar licences. Locomotive made the recent Destroy All Humans! Big Willy Unleashed for Wii, while Sandblast had been working on a PS3 and Xbox 360 entry in that series, subtitled Path of the Furon, that is expected to be released soon. All the closed studios were US-based.

Of the studios facing job cuts, Arizona-based Rainbow is a racing specialist that saw some success with its long-running MX and ATV off-road racers. Juice Games is the Warrington, Cheshire-based author of the Juiced racing series which was canned in January, alongside Stuntman.

The news of the closures and layoffs comes just after the release of THQ's biggest game of the year, Saints Row 2. Publishers across the US are currently facing falling stock prices and reduced confidence from analysts and investors in the face of the current economic recesssion.