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Saints Row vs. Assassin’s Creed: Ubisoft considers buying THQ

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While the Clearlake Capital Group has posted up the funds to keep video game publisher THQ running as the company goes through the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process before becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of the holdings company, that doesn’t mean THQ won’t find another buyer. “Our Chapter 11 process allows for other bidders to make competing offers for THQ,” explained company president Jason Rubin in a public message on Wednesday, “So while we are extremely excited about the Clearlake opportunity, we won’t be able to say that the deal is done for a month or so.”

Who else might want a piece of THQ’s pie? French publishing giant Ubisoft may be a buyer.

MCV reported on Friday that Ubisoft plans to take over THQ’s remaining studios and intellectual properties when the company’s Chapter 11 proceedings are completed. Its anonymous sources explain that Ubisoft is currently dealing with Clearlake Capital to negotiate an appropriate deal.

In years past, THQ’s value came from its licensed games, particularly Nickelodeon brands like Spongebob Squarepants, the UFC series, and WWE. With the rise of iOS and Android devices, though, the home and handheld game console market that THQ’s kids games dominated has all but disappeared. THQ also lost the UFC license to EA earlier this year. Since 2008 the company has focused more and more on developing original IPs aimed at gaming enthusiasts. Company of Heroes, Red Faction, Homefront, Darksiders, and Saints Row are all franchises with successful releases in the past three years, but not successful enough to keep THQ afloat.

All of those properties, as well as the studios that make them like Vigil, Relic, Volition, and others in THQ’s diminished stable make the publisher a reasonably attractive purchase. Ubisoft said as much in November. “They have good things,” said CEO Yves Guillemot, “We are always interested in good brands. It’s something we can consider, but I can’t tell you more.”

THQ’s properties would certainly fill caps in Ubisoft’s layout. Darksiders would give it a fantasy universe missing from its sci-fi and military-centric line up, while Saints Row would give it crass teen comedy. Company of Heroes may clash with Ubisoft’s sprawling Tom Clancy franchise, but it also doesn’t have a strong multiplayer shooter anymore with Rainbow Six still dormant.

Purchasing THQ would also bring one of Ubisoft’s lost creators back into the fold. THQ Montreal head Patrice Desilets, allegedly making a game called 1666, was the creative director of the Assassin’s Creed but left after completing Assassin’s Creed II.