THQ dropping Ninja Gaiden creator’s third-person shooter, Devil’s Third

Remember Tomonobu Itagaki? Probably not. Itagaki is personally remembered for being crazy in interviews, getting sued for sexual harassment, and quitting Team Ninja before 2008’s Ninja Gaiden 2 was properly finished. He took off to found Valhalla Game Studios where he was working on a third-person shooter called Devil’s Third. THQ announced it would be publishing Devil’s Third back at E3 2010, but no one anywhere has seen or heard about the game since. Nor does it look like they will any time soon as word has come out that THQ is looking for another publisher to take the game off their hands.

During its earnings call reporting financial results for the past fiscal year, THQ said Devil’s Third’s “profitability profile” is no longer in line with the company’s “internal threshold.”

This is actually surprising considering THQ’s recent moves in the business. The company’s been closing studios left and right for over a year, desperately trying to stop the bleeding of its cash resources, but it’s also been trying to bulk up its stable of core gaming properties. As we reported in April, THQ CEO Brian Ferrell justified the company’s sale of its ValuSoft budget PC game business saying, “[Our] internal resources are now focused on our core video game portfolio where we can drive the highest quality performance and execution for our games.”

Even though cancelling a game like Devil’s Third seems contrary to THQ’s survival tactics, previous reports indicate that the game had become a money sink for the company. Itagaki told Game Informer in February, “I’ve made more than 30 games, and if you put a little bit more [money] into the one I’m making now, Devil’s Third, I could make all of the 30 games I made before.” He went on to say that there was no problem with his working relationship with THQ, despite reports of financial troubles at the publisher.

Devil’s Third may be no big loss if it never sees the light of day. Itagaki made some moderately popular games back when. His most famous creations while head of Tecmo’s Team Ninja were the Dead or Alive series, otherwise known as “the booby game,” and for the Xbox Ninja Gaiden series, otherwise known as “the really hard, really bloody games.” He also made Dead or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball, which is less known by the name and more commonly remembered as “the really, really creepy booby game.” Of those though, only the original Ninja Gaiden was truly great.

Fingers crossed that THQ isn’t also dropping it’s collaboration with Guillermo Del Toro, Insane.

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