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THQ Auction: The Outcome in Full

by on January 24, 2013
 

THQ-Auction-The-Outcome-in-FullLate yesterday evening, the results of the THQ IP/Studio auction were revealed, and it’s a sad day as it appears that THQ are pretty much no more.

One of the saddest things about the auction, is of course all the people who will be out of work, including Darksiders studio Vigil Games, who were not bid upon at all. Though there will still be attempts to sell the studio (and the publishing division of THQ), but it doesn’t look good. Ubisoft’s acquisitions also include an unannounced game. At time of writing, there’s no news on the future of the WWE franchise.

  • SEGA are reported to have paid $26 million for Relic, the developer of Company of Heroes
  • Crytek has paid $500,000 for the Homefront IP
  • Ubisoft have paid $3.2 million for South Park: The Stick of Truth, and $2.5 million for THQ Montreal
  • Koch have grabbed the rights to Metro and Volition (the Saints Row developer) for $5.8 million and $22.3 million respectively
  • Take Two have grabbed Turtle Rock’s unannounced game “Evolve”, for $11 million

Kotaku were sent the letter from THQ’s CEO Brian Farrel and President, Jason Rubin:

To All THQ Employees:

We now have the answers we’ve been seeking through our financial restructuring and
Chapter 11 case. While much will be written, here are the facts of the bids and auction
that occurred t:

  • Yesterday morning, we received a competing bid for the operating business, along with Clearlake’s offer, and numerous offers for separate assets.
  • During an auction process that lasted over 22 hours, the final conclusion was that the separate-asset bids would net more than a single buyer for the majority of the company.
  • Shortly, we will, present the results to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, which must concur with our assessment.
  • The proposed sales of multiple assets is as follows :
  • Sega agreed to purchase Relic
  • Koch Media agreed to purchase Volition and Metro
  • Crytek agreed to purchase Homefront
  • Take 2 agreed purchase Evolve and
  • Ubisoft agreed to purchase Montreal and South Park
  • We expect these sales to close this week.

Some assets, including our publishing businesses and Vigil, along with some other
intellectual properties are not included in the sale agreements. They will remain part of
the Chapter 11 case. We will make every effort to find appropriate buyers, if possible.

What this means for employees

We expect that most employees of the entities included in the sale will be offered
employment by the new owners. However, we cannot say what these owners may
intend, and there will likely be some positions that will not be needed under the
new ownership. You should receive notice this week or early next week if the new
owners intend to extend employment to you. Please note that the terms of your new
employment, including pay and benefits, may be different from the current terms of
your employment with THQ.

If you are an employee of an entity that is not included in the sale, we regret that
your position will end. A small number of our headquarters staff will continue to be
employed by THQ beyond January 25 to assist with the transition. THQ has sufficient
resources to pay these employees for work going forward, and we will be contacting
these employees immediately to ensure their continued employment during this
transition period. We are requesting the ability to offer certain severance pay to
minimize disruption for employees of non-included entities as they determine the next
steps in their careers.

We know you will have many questions about this news. We’ll be meeting tomorrow
when we return to talk through this announcement and to answer any questions you
have. You will receive a benefits fact sheet and FAQs with answers to some questions
that may be on your mind. Please review these materials closely.

A personal note

The work that you all have done as part of the THQ family is imaginative, creative,
artistic and highly valued by our loyal gamers. We are proud of what we have
accomplished despite today’s outcome.

It has been our privilege to work alongside the entire THQ team. While the company
will cease to exist, we are heartened that the majority of our studios and games will
continue under new ownership. We were hoping that the entire company would remain
intact, but we expect to hear good news from each of the separate entities that will be
operating as part of new organizations.

For those THQ employees who are part of entities that are not included in the sale, we
are confident that the talent you have displayed as part of THQ will be recognized as you
take the next steps in your career.

Thank you all for your dedication and for sharing your talent with the THQ team. We
wish you the best of luck and hope you will keep in touch.

Sincerely,

Brian Farrell
Chief Executive Officer

Jason Rubin
President

Further to that, if you needed reminding of how sad this is all, Ben Cureton, Lead Combat Designer for Darksiders II took to NeoGAF to post some heartfelt feelings:

My name is Ben Cureton, and I was the Lead Combat Designer at Vigil Games. I’m sitting at my desk among… what appears to be a warzone. The walls look bare. It’s quiet.

The seats are empty.

We’ve all been on edge for the past couple months… and more so, the last couple weeks. I mean, I’m sure you can imagine what it’s like to wonder if you will have a job tomorrow. Most of us here joked about it just to keep the mood light, but we all knew what could happen. Now I look around and I realize… it did happen.

Am I sad? Well yea. I’ve been in this industry for 20 years. Seriously. Two decades. I’ve been laid off more than once. It sucks every time. But am I sad I don’t have a job? Not really… I’m sure I’ll get another one eventually. I’m sad because it won’t be THIS job. It won’t be at Vigil. That’s why I’m sad. The people I waged war with are no longer together. The people that I bled with, vented with, argued with (often times LOUDLY), and kicked back with… these people will never be together again in the same combination.

Not that it was perfect. But what is perfect? Did I like coming to work? Yes. Was I proud of the work that I did? Yes. More importantly, was I proud of the work that WE did? Absolutely. I knew, without a shadow of the doubt, that the project we were working on (Codenamed: Crawler) was going to blow people away. In fact, it DID blow people away. We did, in TWO months, what many companies haven’t done in a year. The pride of knowing that no one was doing anything like us was so satisfying, it kept us coming to work and giving 100% every single day, even through the dark times.

… so maybe you can imagine what it feels like when you read the list of who bought what only to discover your name is not on the list. Why? Did we do something wrong? Were we not good enough? Were we not worth ‘anything?’ Imagine that.

Vigil was filled with people that I would put up against the best in the industry. People that made my work better, people that made me a better designer, and people that made me a better person. And now they are gone.

Their seats are empty.

It’s OK, though. I guess this post makes it sound a bit melodramatic. Seriously… if you work in the video game industry you have to be resilient. Doing what you love often comes with a price – anyone who has been around for a while can tell you that. Today, that price has been paid. That being said, I’d still never dissuade anyone from following their dreams if their dream is to make video games. While it’s not as romantic as it sounds, it’s sure a hell of a lot of fun.

So don’t cry for the people at Vigil. We made games for game players. I have no Horror stories from working here… only Honor stories. Through both praise and critiques alike, our goal was always to make a product as if we, ourselves, were the end-user. We may have gotten pushed and pulled in certain directions by forces out of our control, we were always in it to make games for game players. And that’s what we did.

I can only hope that those spared from the other companies remain employed long into the future. There is not much worse than false hope, and these people deserve to continue making great games. You may not know their names, but they exist, and they bleed, sweat, and cry for your entertainment. I mean that honestly, with no negativity. They do it… no, WE do it… because we want you to have a good time.

In closing, I can only say thank you to the fans of Vigil games. Your support means more than you can imagine. Your feedback (both positive and negative) gave us long-lasting insight that we will all take with us, wherever we may go. You are the reason we made Darksiders 1 &2… and you are the reason we will continue to make games.

And with that… my seat is empty.

Ben Cureton
Lead Combat Designer
Vigil Games

P.S. This is no place for a horse.

I’m sure you’d all agree with us in sending out our condolences to those who’ve lost their job, and to send best wishes to people moving to pastures new.

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