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THQ Postmortem

MCV outlines what they call "the full story" of the collapse of THQ, the game publisher/developer that was just broken up due to bankruptcy. They hear from Jason Rubin, who served as president of the company during efforts to put it back on course, and he is frank in saying the made "massive mistakes," and that: "There are certainly things to be said about challenges in the mid-tier triple-A publishing business, but I don't think that conflating it with THQ's experience is helpful." Here's a bit of his take on what went wrong:

Unfortunately, the mistakes that were made long before I joined, like the incredible losses attached to uDraw, massive wasted capital in the unpublished MMO that was cancelled, sticking with children's and casual titles far after mobile and tablets had killed the business, bad, late, or otherwise inferior titles like Homefront, and a generally haphazard and inefficient approach to deal making, left the company with too much negative hanging on its books.

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29. Re: THQ Postmortem Feb 1, 2013, 13:51 Creston
killer_roach wrote on Feb 1, 2013, 12:46:
Basically, publishers are venture capitalists with sector-specific marketing and logistics expertise.

I think that said "expertise" is highly, HIGHLY exaggerated. Sure, they get the boxes into the stores, but in most cases that's a matter of getting it to an actual distributor who takes care of the logistics. (Which, funny enough, is what publishers USED to be: distributors. They'd make the discs/CDs, print the manuals, put them in boxes and get them into the stores. And that was it.)

The marketing, some of them are pretty good at it, and others are obviously just flailing away blindly at an easel, and if the end-result happens to have a color match with the actual game, it's considered a succesful marketing campaign. In any case, it's nothing that an actual marketing firm couldn't do just as well, for quite a lot less money.

So what do publishers still do, besides put up the money that was given to them by other people? And why do they need 300 people to do it? (And THQ was a small publisher. Look at something like Ubisoft. The credits for AC3 ran for 25 minutes. About 22 of those were all the weasels who work for the publishing side of it.)

Had developers remained independent, and simply given their game to marketing firms and distributors, would they really have been any less than they are today? I'm going to say no. So the end value of a publisher is basically zero.

Now, it's true that a venture capitalist would have eventually just morphed into a publisher again, but who knows, maybe they would have at least stopped trying to pretend they know better how to develop a game than, you know, the guys who have been doing so for the last twenty years. Which is probably the biggest fucking publisher scourge: Their incessant need to meddle in shit.

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