Welcome back again to Jetsetter, Digital Trends’ weekly column that reaches into the far corners of the world to let you know about the games you otherwise wouldn’t. The United States is the biggest video game market in the world, with more people making, playing, and spending on games than anywhere else. It’s Jetsetter’s job to look beyond our borders, to places as close as Canada and as far away as Finland, to find the choices video games around. From big to small, from the Indian publishing schedule of Electronic Arts to a weird bootleg from the Philippines, Jetsetter’s got its finger on the global pulse.
It was a rough week for the global video game market. Two major plays, namely THQ and Funcom, saw their business shrink, and disintegrate completely in the case of the former. THQ’s demise means that the biggest non-American video game publisher in the world has a valuable new studio in its arsenal.
* THQ Montreal snatched up by Ubisoft alongside Assassin’s Creed creator’s new game.
French gaming giant Ubisoft was rumored to be considering a complete buyout of THQ, including all its properties and worldwide publishing operations. When THQ went up for auction, Ubi only bought a tiny slice of the company. In addition to picking up the publishing rights for South Park: The Stick of Truth, Ubi also bought Canadian studio THQ Montreal. The acquisition is actually a sort of homecoming. The head of THQ Montreal is none other than Patrice Desilets, director of Assassin’s Creed and Assassin’s Creed II. Desilets abandoned the acclaimed series to start a new studio for THQ and create a brand new franchise codenamed 1666. Now 1666 is Ubisoft’s property. The team is apparently thrilled. “This is the first time in my life that I have to a studio that was just newly acquired, given a speech to everyone, and then have everyone applaud,” said Ubisoft Montreal chief executive Yannis Mallat of his first meeting with Desilet’s studio. What is 1666 about? No one knows, but that was the year of the Great Fire of London (pictured above), a historically significant event perfect for inspiring of the creators of Assassin’s Creed.
* Funcom closes Beijing studio in massive restructuring.
The publisher and creator of MMOs The Secret World, Age of Conan, and Anarchy Online Funcom had a mediocre 2012. The Secret World didn’t even sell 1 million copies after more than half a decade of development, and the company was forced to layoff a number of employees. It announced on Friday that it’s now shutting down some of its international operations. Funcom Beijing, responsible for building much of The Secret World, will be closed by the end of the year. The Beijing team’s loss is the Funcom Canada team’s gain, though. As a result of the restructuring, Funcom’s Montreal studio will now be able to work on new projects, namely a swath of mobile titles.
* New red and blue PlayStation 3s for the United Kingdom.
Damn those Brittons and their snazzy new PlayStation 3s. While we have to settle for boring old black—and a dull, ugly black on the newest models at that—the United Kingdom gets two flashy new PlayStation 3 models come February. The Azurite Blue and Garnet Red models will have 500GB hard drives rather than the 12GB of flash memory on recent European models.