Forecasting the Future of THQ’s Core Franchises
The game: InSANE
Developed by: Volition, Inc.
Release date: TBD 2013.
InSANE is highly anticipated if only because it marks Guillermo De Toro’s entry into the world of video games. Billed as a psychological thriller “where every single action makes them question their own senses of morality and reality”, InSANE is intended to be the first in a trilogy, which sounds fantastic, even if it gives one flashbacks to the trauma of Eternal Darkness’ failure to take off as a series.
However, it was first announced in December, 2010, and given a nearly 3 year development period, into the middle of which THQ’s recent tribulations inconveniently fall, InSANE’s prospects look somewhat dicey. Even if it is being brought to us by the Director of Pan’s Labyrinth and the developer responsible for Saints Row.
Likelihood of release: It’s directed by Guillermo del Toro and co-designed by Eisner Award winning comics artist Guy Davis. A passion project by one of the most acclaimed genre directors of our time, backed by that kind of supporting talent, makes InSANE’s chances for survival very high, at least on the first outing. We give it 95%, with chances for a full trilogy at 50%.
The Game: Metro: Last Light
Developed by: 4A Games
Release date: TBD, Q1 2013.
2010′s Metro 2033, with around 300,000 total units sold, couldn’t be considered an smash success. However, production costs were low (4A Games is based in Ukraine) and it was apparently very profitable for THQ. That, combined with generally high critical scores, made approval of a sequel almost a fait accompli. That sequel, Metro: Last Light, was announced at E3 2011, and since then 4A Games has been working closely with Dmitry Glukhovsky, author of the novel Metro: 2033, on a game that will continue directly from the so-called ‘bad’ ending of 2033.
That sounds great, but THQ’s recent unpleasantness has predictably affected things. Metro: Last Light was originally planned for a summer, 2012 release but on February 3, THQ confirmed that this had been pushed back to Q1 2013, presumably due to cost cutting measures, though no official reason was given.
Likelihood of release: With the original’s apparent profitability and presumably low production costs, survival is a strong possibility. The fact that it was specifically not killed as part of THQ’s streamlining, and that the studio could probably finad another publisher is need be, barring the collapse of 4A Games, we give it 95%.
The Game: Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online
Developed by: Vigil Games (Possibly others to come.)
Release date: TBD 2014
First announced back in 2010 at E3, Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online seemed like a obvious decision. The Warhammer series is venerable, largely beloved and generally a solid moneymaker for THQ. Unfortunately, due in large part to the fact that fully paid players are a dwindling resource, MMOs are increasingly switching to F2P schemes, which make high profits difficult. Add to that THQ’s planned reduction in size and workforce, and you have the makings of a dicey future.
Likelihood of release: When THQ’s problems started making news, it was widely assumed Dark Millenium would be among the casualties. But Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine was a solid hit for THQ, and they’ve already invested millions, so DMO was spared the chopping block. However, it has been delayed from 2013 to 2014, and THQ is still “seeking active partners” for it. Frankly, 2+ years is a long time, enough for a troubled company to experience further setbacks. We therefore give Dark Millenium Online a 70% chance of making it to release.