THQ had an unpleasant year. The Saints Row: The Third and UFC publisher reported its earnings for the fiscal year that ended in March this week and the company’s downward slide continued. Even as total sales for fiscal 2012 grew to $830.8 million, well above the $665.3 million earned in 2011, THQ still recorded a net revenue loss of $239.9 million, nearly twice the loss of the previous year. The company experienced a net loss of over $53 million in the first three months of 2012 alone.
These are bad times for THQ. While these losses weren’t quite as bad as expected for the company, thanks to strong sales of UFC: Undisputed 3 and Saints Row: The Third, they’re evidence that THQ still hasn’t found a way to stop bleeding money. The company has shed a huge portion of its work force over the past year. It closed down Studio Oz, its Australian branch that was developing a game based on Marvel’s Avengers movie. THQ’s Arizona studio as well as Homeland creators Kaos Studios joined Studio Oz last year as well.
THQ has also been shutting down production of games left and right. The company recently cancelled its plans for a Warhammer MMO, shut down production of both the Red Faction and MX vs. ATV franchises, and it continues to drop new IP in development, like Tomonobu Itagaki and Valahalla Game Studio’s Devil’s Third. What THQ hasn’t outright shed, it has sold, like ValuSoft, its budget PC title imprint that published games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent and You Don’t Know Jack.
It is also investing less and less in all-ages content, which was at one time THQ’s primary earner. The company said in its earnings report that it has reduced the amount it spends on “future kids’ license commitments” by $30 million. It also said that it has almost completely liquidated the stock of its casual game peripheral flop, the uDraw tablet and software.
Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Max Payne 3 publisher Take-Two, said in April that he believes THQ is done for. He believes they’ll be shut down by October of this year. It’s hard not to agree. What does THQ even have left? What games could possibly turn around the company’s fortunes? The WWE series doesn’t sell nearly as well as it used to; High profile core games that the company has been teasing for years like Guillermo Del Toro’s inSANE are reportedly still in production but nowhere near release; Obsidian’s South Park RPG has been delayed until sometime in 2013. Darksiders II is coming out this fall, but despite the series’ quality it’s not exactly a multi-platinum seller that can single handedly save the company. THQ may see its future in catering to the core, but it’s going to need something truly unique to combat the Ubisofts, Activisions, and Electronic Arts of the world.