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THQ To Close Big Huge Games If Buyer Not Found, Spin Off Two More
THQ To Close Big Huge Games If Buyer Not Found, Spin Off Two More
March 18, 2009 | By Staff

March 18, 2009 | By Staff
More: Console/PC

Troubled publisher THQ has announced it will close Rise Of Nations developer Big Huge Games if a sale is not completed "in the near future," also revealing that its Heavy Iron and Incinerator studios will be spun off as independent developers.

The company sent a WARN Notice to the Maryland-based developer's employees earlier in the day -- a mandatory notification of imminent layoffs of more than 50 employees in any company of more than 100.

Subsequently, an official statement sent to outlets including Crispy Gamer read as follows:

"As part of THQs previously announced business realignment and related headcount reduction plans that targeted cost reductions of $220 million, including a reduction in workforce of 600 people worldwide, THQ today notified the staff at two of its development studios that they will be spun out as independent companies: Heavy Iron in Los Angeles, CA, and Incinerator in Carlsbad, CA.

In addition, THQ informed the staff at its Big Huge Games studio in Timonium, MD, that it plans to close the studio if a sale is not completed in the near future. These actions were unfortunate but were necessitated by the difficult economic environment."

The under-threat Big Huge Games was founded in 2000 by developers including Civilization II lead designer Brian Reynolds, and worked on PC RTS titles including the Rise Of Nations series before being purchased by THQ in early 2008.

Its current projects are known to include an RPG game being designed by former Oblivion co-creator Ken Rolston, and its last released project was a conversion of board game Catan for Xbox Live Arcade.

Now confirmed to continue as independent studios, California-based Heavy Iron has largely worked on licensed titles for THQ in recent years, most notably its Pixar-licensed titles such as The Incredibles and WALL-E, while Incinerator Studios has developed titles in the SpongeBob SquarePants and NickToons franchises.

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Larry Shanks
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Hey there,

Man... this is unfortunate. I used to work at Incinerator... those are a bunch of talented guys over there who have a good deal of potential.

The power to make good games is not in the power of the publishers or the developers... It's in the power of the teams that create them - the people. The coders, artists and designers who facilitate a good gaming experience. I guess I'm just bitter that some of my friends are gonna be out of the job because of short sighted profiteering.

Jonathan Rush
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I agree with what Larry said...

It's a shame to see a company cut it's most valuable asset (people) in order to meet a bottom line, and ensure top level executives of their annual bonus.

Vladimir Neskovic
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most of the US and UK based companies has incentives reward system for it's directors and c-management heavily linked to the financial performance of the plc. this is purely for a reason for the owners to attract more (institutional) investors and improve their share values.

if your financial ratios suck, you'll get fired. if you improve them you'll keep your job and get your bonus. i don't believe that there are CEOs enjoying these unpopular actions of laying of hundreds of employees in order to improve their financial performance quickly.

i am not even close to CEOs position but i think that i know :) in theory how the system works. unfortunately there is no win-win situation in such cases. those guys, running companies (who undoubtly can earn bunch of money) are just pawns in the game played by the managing an supervisory boards.

Paul Lazenby
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Much of this would not be happening if THQ had better marketing and IP management over the last 5 years. So many opps squandered, and now it's the developers who will ultimately pay.

David Rodriguez
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My Personal opinion is that bad management is now more visible then ever because of the state were in simply because, as EA said "consumers are now being cautious" meaing not blindly buying like before. Whether THQ is a victum of that doesn't matter now, it's a whole new ball game and it's sadly imparative to re-organize before making your next move.

David Turner
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This is unfortunate, however nothing is final at this point. I hope everyone there is prepared for "whatever" may come in the future. Until then, the artists and staff must keep working hard, stay focused and not lose any enthusiasm or passion for they do . The current circumstances should not have come as a surprise to any of them. Even though it's not mentioned in the contract, dealing with situations like this is what we agree to do, when we sign it.

Yannick Boucher
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David R. nailed it right on...