In a courtroom yesterday, games-maker THQ was dissolved and its assets individually sold off to the highest bidders. Lots of people have lost their jobs, and that just fucking sucks. Plenty of others have found new homes and, if their luck holds, bright futures in their new digs. Reading about how the company has fallen, what precious parts were plucked to safety as it was felled, and what didn't, left me with a mixture of emotions. All odd, like.

AND HERE'S WHY.

Hi, I'm Adam from ten years ago. Ask me what I think of THQ. Go on.

They're a bit rubbish, innit. WWF and stuff, right? Pfft.

Hi, I'm Adam from right the hell now. Ask me what I think about THQ.

They've published, financed, and directly control the creators of some of my most favourite games.


I didn't even realise fully, until I heard about their big financial trouble over the last twelve months and dug through both a Wikipedia list of their titles and my own library, that THQ had been responsible for so many games I bloody well love of the last few years. Here's how they did it.

In the Nineties, I actively disliked THQ, because their name was on things I mostly thought of as tat. Licensed games, portable cash-ins and those bloody wrestling titles with sweaty beefcake men gurning through their long, lanky strands of hair on the box. Then they went and bought the people who made Freespace 2. I foamed at the mouth when I read previews of Red Faction. They were all like, this is totally Half-Life, but so much better man 'cause we got GEOMOD. Oh man, that Geomod. Sounded sweet as honey and seventeen times as explosive. Okay, so Red Faction was only okay, but I was fourteen and played the shit out of it on my PS2.



Then they bought the people who made Homeworld. I tried to play Dawn of War, but couldn't really get into it. Warhammer was another thing I actively disliked at this point, so trying to reconcile that with my fervour for Homeworld and, by extension, Homeworld's creators, was tough going.

They published Full Spectrum Warrior, and brought my attention to Pandemic, who would go on to produce some more of my favourite games of the last decade until their regrettable demise. I didn't know that at the time, but Full Spectrum Warrior was surprisingly fun. Maybe THQ wasn't so bad.

In 2006, I got Company of Heroes, and within that game came some of the best gaming experiences I've had through its brutal yet incredibly fair, innovative, tactical and balanced multiplayer.

From there, things snowballed. Titan Quest. All the Company of Heroes expansions. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. Frontlines: Fuel of War (divisive, I know, but great fun in multiplayer). Red Faction: Guerrilla. Supreme Commander. Metro 2033 - wait, I thought I didn't like Metro 2033, but then why do I own it on two platforms? Carry on. Dawn of War 2.


Darksiders. What an incredibly fun experience, and a game I'd paid next to no interest to until I was actually playing it. Lovely to look at, fun to play, expertly meshing together its medley of gaming inspirations yet making them very much its own, it was a damn pleasure.

Costume Quest. Red Faction: Armageddon. Stacking. Space Marine. Saints Row: The Third.

Saints Row: The Third. How I love thee. How I pray that Volition's new paymasters throw money indiscriminately at them until Saints Row 4 is at least one-tenth the awesome of Saints Row: The Third, and therefore easily the second most awesome thing in existence.

After that, this year there's been... what? Darksiders II? Guiltily skulking around in my backlog, though I did buy it three times (PC, 360, PS3) in some sort of useless gesture of support. I found it hard to start it, nothing to do with the game, but it did remind me of the gloomy situation surrounding those involved in its making.


Yesterday's auction was something of a relief on many counts for fans of the various franchises and developers THQ housed. Relic went to SEGA, and there is few better homes I can think of, if SEGA's respectful dealings with Sports Interactive and The Creative Assembly are any indication of how they'd treat Relic. Volition is now a subsidiary of Koch Media, who I know little about but, judging by their output, are more open to developer freedom and new IP than most of the top-tier publishers around. THQ Montreal, though they've released nothing as of yet, have also mercifully found a home and Ubisoft can make real that list of horrid things they'd do to Patrice D├ęsilets were he ever in their employ once again that they've been writing.

Vigil, makers of my beloved Darksiders and my bought-three-times-played-no-times-champ Darksiders II, weren't bought by anyone. It's heart-wrenching. It's like picking football teams on the school playing fields, only there's mortgages and families and futures at stake. Vigil closed down yesterday when no bidders came forward. Hopefully, they'll all find work again soon, but at the very least, that team won't work together again, and so that also means no Darksiders 3. We still had two horsemen to go, guys!

I don't have any objective means of measuring how respectable a publisher of video games is. The prevailing winds of the internet sure isn't one of them, and as a gamer rather than an employee I'm not privy to how they treat their employees and conduct their business. To me, and to most who'll care, a publisher is only as good as the games it publishers. In that regards, THQ's departure is saddening.

So pour one out for THQ, they were pretty good at the end. Pour one out for Vigil, they made great stuff. Rub your lucky rabbit's foot until sparks materialise wishing that Company of Heroes 2 will be good, Saints Row 4 will be good, Metro Last Light will be good, Homeworld 3 and Freespace 3 will happen and that all those talented men and women get to keep on making kick arse games until they don't want to make kick arse games any more.

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