Beleagured video game publisher THQ has finalized the sale of several significant games and studios, including "South Park: The Stick of Truth," "Homefront 2," and the studio behind "Saints Row" and "Red Faction."
Strategy specialist Relic ("Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II") was bought out by Sega, which already has Creative Assembly of "Total War" fame on its books.
Twist: Creative had recently signed to develop a new sci-fi Warhammer game, after building its reputation on historical battle tactics titles; Relic's next game is the well anticipated World War II title "Company of Heroes 2," which THQ had scheduled for March 2013 or thereabouts.
Germany group Koch Media, whose games label Deep Silver had been buoyed by the surprise success of "Dead Island" in 2011, snapped up the Champaign, Illinois team Volition, having turned the "Saints Row" series from a derivative "Grand Theft Auto" rip-off into a well-loved and well-polished franchise with its own strong sense of identity, packing "Saints Row 4" in the hopper for later in 2013.
In addition, Koch obtained the "Metro: Last Light" game, based on the fiction of Russian novelist Dmitry Glukhovsky, developed by the Ukranian team at 4A Games, which had received praise for "Metro 2033."
Another German company, the studio network Crytek, bought "Homefront 2." Crytek had been contracted to develop the military shooter for THQ but is now in complete control in the wake of THQ's sell-off.
Turtle Rock Studios, which had previously created the innovative and impressive "Left 4 Dead" for Valve Software, was working on a secretive project named "Evolve" for THQ. That is now under the purview of Take Two Interactive, publisher of the "Grand Theft Auto," "BioShock," "Civilization," "XCOM," and 2K Sports titles.
Ubisoft successfully bid for "South Park: The Stick of Truth," despite South Park Studios' wish to obtain control of the March 5 release, and agreed to purchase one of THQ's newest studios, THQ Montreal.
Super twist: THQ Montreal was a studio set up in 2010 and led by ex-Ubisoft creative director Patrice Désilets, known for his work on the first three "Assassin's Creed" games. While Ubisoft increasingly viewed "Assassin's Creed" as an opportunity for regular, blockbuster revenues, Désilets said: "The creative freedom that THQ gives its artists and developers -- and their willingness to make games that truly reflect an artistic vision -- really drew me to THQ." Eventually, THQ received an injunction that prevented it from headhunting any more of Ubi's Montreal-based staff.
Absent from the initial sale process was Vigil Studios and its "Darksiders" franchise, based on the work of comic artist and "World of Warcraft" art style inspiration Joe Madureira, and Relic's foundational space strategy series "Homeworld," with THQ electing to keep hold of them as it files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
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