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Rumor: THQ up for sale, cancels multiple titles [Update: THQ responds]

Lately things appeared to be going fine for THQ. Saints Row The Third garnered tons of positive press and end of the year recognition, it had relaunched its WWE franchise, and on the horizon are new titles from UFC and Darksiders alongside games from respected director Guillermo del Toro. Yet if current rumors spreading on the net are to be believed, THQ is in major financial trouble and is looking for cash now or it might have to sell the company.

The news came via the Twitter feed of industry insider Kevin Dent, which began with this tweet:

“Apparently, The Game Workshops MMO has been cancelled by THQ”

This no doubt refers to THQ’s Warhammer 4K MMO announced back in 2008. Dent followed that with more tweets saying that the company had cancelled all its planned 2014 titles, and had abruptly ended possibly lucrative contracts with Disney. Dent even concluded that THQ is desperate to raise investor capitol to keep going. You can see a rundown of his info here.

Though this is far from confirmation from THQ themselves, Dent is a respected games insider, not just some anonymous message board user, giving this some real weight. On top of that, while THQ hadn’t had a terrible 2011, it did have its fair share of bad news. The company closed studios like Kaos, uDraw, and two devs behind MX vs ATV along with cancelling the Red Faction series. When viewed together, you can see why gaming’s top man in the realm of guessing, Michael Pachter, predicted THQ would run out of money soon.

But what about all the games THQ has planned for its future, like Homefront 2, Darksiders II, the South Park RPG, and whatever the company has the former Assassin’s Creed creative director working on? The rumors only say the games of 2014 have been axed, so its more immediate future seems to remain intact, but if a company doesn‘t plan to release games two years from now, that‘s bad, bad news. However, properties likes those are worth keeping around, if for no other reason than to make THQ more attractive to potential buyers. And we’ve yet to get confirmation on this from THQ, though we’re awaiting some kind of statement (unfortunately this had to happen during a US holiday weekend).

Will THQ some day join the graveyard with Midway and Acclaim? Could it follow the example of companies like Square Enix and Tecmo Koei by merging with one of its competitors? Or is it possible these rumors are being blown out of proportion and THQ will shoot down these reports by day’s end? We will keep you posted with any updates.

UPDATE: In the hours afterward, THQ has responded to requests for clarification. Here's the company's official response:

THQ has not cancelled its 2014 line-up, and has not made any decisions regarding the planned MMO. As part of the ongoing review of our business, we have made decisions to ensure that the company is strategically addressing the most attractive markets. As we have previously announced, we have dramatically reduced our commitment to the kids' boxed games sector which leads to a significantly more focused release schedule moving forward. Our slate for calendar 2012 and beyond is focused on high-quality core games and continues to build our digital platform and business. We are excited for our pipeline of original and high-quality content along with our relationships with some of the best talent in the industry.

Additionally, we are thrilled with the great performance of Saints Row: The Third, which on a like for like period in North America has tripled in sell-through from Saints Row 2. In addition, WWE ’12’s worldwide sell-through sales are up almost 40% year-over-year for the same sales period with fewer platforms. According to NPD, for the month of December and the 2011 year, THQ was the #5 publisher overall, #4 third party, with reported sell through growing over 18% in a market that was down almost 6%. And coming up next, we have two great titles for the first half of the year including UFC Undisputed 3 and Darksiders 2.

This statement specifically goes against the rumor of cancellations, though the mention of a reduced commitment to kids' games might be their way of recognizing the report of Disney games being canned. It's also worth noting that their statement on the continued existence of the Warhammer MMO isn't as strong as the statement about the 2014 games, which to us still casts shadows on the title. THQ paints a rosy picture of its past and future, though we'll wait and see if these rumors persist.

Henry Gilbert
Henry moved from the suburbs of northern Florida to work at GR+, and hasn't looked back once in seven years. When not collecting Mario toys, you can find him constantly checking his Twitter.