THQ Adrift on Stormy Seas
This past week has not been a kind one for THQ, between the NASDAQ’s threat to delist THQ stock and the company’s announcement yesterday that they would be letting go of 240 employees, the publisher would be well within its rights to feel a little under the weather.
For the past month THQ stock has failed to break the dollar mark even fleetingly, and is currently languishing at $0.72 per share. Subsequently, the publisher has been given a deadline of 180 days in order to right their ship and get the stock back trading above $0.99 for ten consecutive days in order to regain compliance. If THQ fails to correct their share price by July 23 this year, then they risk being delisted from the NASDAQ, though there do exist further avenues for appeal should this transpire.
Following on from that bombshell, THQ yesterday announced that they would be letting go of 240 employees at an estimated cost of $8.5 million in severance packages and other sundry debiting of fixed assets. The bulk of redundancies will be implemented before the end of the 2012 financial year on the 31st of March. The majority of terminations appear to consist of administrative staff rather than game designers, and it is not just mid level employees who are set to feel the pain, with THQ CEO, Brian Farrell, along with the board of directors set to absorb a 50% pay cut.
While it remains unclear what is to blame for THQ’s soft financials, one is nevertheless tempted to assume that they have not been working their Online Pass technology hard enough – perhaps if they were to quarantine all rather than some of their title’s content behind a one-shot pass code, then that would be enough make their software profitable?
Capcom’s Dogma Proves Partisan
Capcom stirred up some buzz this week with the announcement that a demo for their hotly anticipated action-horror title, Resident Evil 6, would be shipping with their imitation WRPG, Dragon’s Dogma; well it turns out that Resident Evil fans might want to temper their expectations some, because this offer comes with several caveats.
When bid to think on the practice of using the inclusion of an anticipated demo to bolster sales of a lesser known property, most would bring to mind Square Enix and their demos for Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy XIII, which were used to sweeten the pot for Dragon Quest VIII and Advent Children Complete respectively. Capcom’s Resident Evil 6 demo differs from this model in one significant respect, and that is that when Dragon’s Dogma sees its release in May, it will not be accompanied by a disc containing the demo but instead by a redeemable PSN/XBL code, a code without any immediate use because the demo will not be available until months after the game’s release. How many months must Dragon’s Dogma owners wait to access their demo? That is a question contingent upon whether an individual owns an Xbox 360 or a PS3, as, citing strategic reasons, Capcom have decided to sit on the PS3 version for an additional two months.
Xbox owners will have had to wait slightly over a month when their demo launches on the 3rd of July, yet their unfortunate PS3 brethren will not have such access until September 4, a whopping two months later. When asked, Capcom described this move simply as “a strategic business decision”, one is inclined to interpret this as meaning that their strategy does not require doing business with PS3 owners.
Ubisoft Presents a Dubious First in Gaming
Server disruption is an intimately familiar pain to online gamers, for when it occurs it means that their title of choice is not worth so much as a damn until server access is restored. Next week offline gamers will be in a position to sympathise with their online counterparts, or at least they will if they are valued customers of Ubisoft products.
Ubisoft are on the cusp of setting a dubious gaming precedent next week, when over the course of the week hundreds of thousands of their customers are set to lose access to their single player games, as Ubisoft moves servers. Ubisoft’s always on DRM makes it so that if the server is not there to authenticate games, then the games will remain inoperable. The games set to be affected include: HAWX 2, Might & Magic: Heroes 6 and The Settlers 7 for PC, along with Splinter Cell: Conviction, Assassin’s Creed and The Settlers 7 for Mac.
While Ubisoft customers may be inclined to view a week’s disruption as small beer in the grand scheme of things, they would nevertheless do well to view next week as a dry run for when their games are switched off permanently.