Due to disappointing sales numbers and review scores for their three most recent retail releases, video game developer/publisher THQ has decided to stir up its internal pot. The most notable change is the cancellation of the Red Faction series, after sales of Red Faction: Armageddon failed to impress. The companies’ CEO, Brian Farrell, confirmed this news during a very recent investor call.
He also talked about the company’s pledge of quality, citing the fact that they lament the recent lack of success, and strive to make a change. Though no other titles were named, it’s a safe bet that he’s speaking about both UFC Personal Trainer for Kinect and MX vs ATV: Alive.
“The last three launches we’ve had have been disappointing in terms of the quality,” he said. “Mid-70s [in terms of Metacritic average] is not good enough, and the entire team in our core group knows that.”
To increase quality and please their fans going forth, THQ plans to make sure that all of their projects receive enough time in development. “We believe strongly the quality bar is there,” said Farrell. During that comment he specifically referenced Saints Row: The Third, stating that this new approach has led to the game’s new weapon: the “Quality Bar”.
MX vs ATV: Alive was certainly an interesting experiment. Although it failed, it showed a publisher who had interest in trying to make things optimal for their consumers, allowing for more choice than usual. However, it failed to achieve great review scores or sales, in relation to both retail copies and downloadable content. Reason being that it didn’t set itself apart from its predecessors or competition, delivering a safe though relatively enjoyable experience.
“We were trying to take some of our learnings from the free-to-play market and see if we could apply them to the console world,” Farrell explained. “The idea was [...] to come out with a robust product at a $39.99 price point, build a larger install base more quickly, and then monetize that install base through rapid and large-number of DLC drops.” He went on to blame the “high fixed cost of goods in the current console market”.
It’s great when a company shows transparency like this, admitting to areas where they wish to improve. I personally put a lot of time into Red Faction: Armageddon, which was a bit reminiscent of Dead Space, though quite fun regardless. It’s been a pretty fun series since its inception, so hearing about its cancellation is disappointing.