THQ Is All Hollywood (Or So It Thinks)

thq-logoWhat does it mean to be like Hollywood? In the mind of Danny Bilson, VP of  THQ Core Games, that means owning the rights to every IP they publish. His words, from an interview with Industry Gamers:

“The only thing we have to have and insist on is ownership of the intellectual property. That’s sort of the deal breaker for me. So, we have to own the IP, but I believe in the Hollywood model, which is that, the bigger the artist, the more important, the more successful they are, the bigger share they get. Just like in Hollywood. But you know, most of the biggest talents in Hollywood don’t own their IPs. It doesn’t work that way. My job coming to this company was to build an IP library, which builds value in THQ. So that means having a developer own the IP becomes a deal-breaker.”

The Hollywood analogy, as we see, is wildly inappropriate in this case. Because when an independent production house makes a movie in conjunction with a big studio, the studio doesn’t automatically get the rights to what is being created. In both the movie and games industries, independent studios and big publishers/distributors team up all the time, and they sort out, on a case-by-case basis typically, who owns the rights to what is being made, and it usually comes down to who’s going to be paying more for production. Bilson seems to be comparing entire game development studios with individual filmmakers, and that’s just silly. Boom, knowledge.

That doesn’t change the fact that what he’s aiming for is generally a sound business model. Of course, Bilson claims he had intense negotiations going with Infinity Ward offshoot Respawn before that company signed a deal with EA that allowed them to keep IP rights, so maybe his IP-mongering isn’t such a good idea in some cases. If it comes down to deciding between earning a half-billion dollars for your company on one game or standing your ground on this one issue, well, you get the picture.

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1 Comment on THQ Is All Hollywood (Or So It Thinks)

J Tay

On July 7, 2010 at 12:02 am

Activision signs Bungie to a huge deal which lets the developer keep their IP rights. West and Zampella (from Infinity Ward) create Respawn, which goes to EA in a deal that lets them keep their IP rights. This is top level industry talent, signing better deals with stronger publishers than THQ. If THQ wants to attract those kinds of premiere studios, they’re going to have to figure out away to be more attractive than the big guys, not less. What Bilson is essentially saying sounds to me that he’s content to have mid-level, less talented developers.