Late in 2012 THQ simultaneously declared bankruptcy and also announced that a new company, Clearlake Capital Group, had bought THQ and its assets for $60 million, which included a $10 million note for THQ's creditors (1). THQ's creditors did not approve of the sale, however, and a judge ruled that the sale to Clearlake could not stand because THQ did not make it public that the company was even for sale in the first place (2). Creditors also objected because, more than likely, they will be able to recover more money from THQ if its assets are sold separately.
In a new ruling in early 2013 (3) it was determined that THQ would have to go up for auction instead, but with a couple of new scenarios introduced. If no other company offers more than $60 to buy THQ outright, the sale to Clearlake will stand. Or, if another company offers more than $60 million, it will be sold to that company. Or, when the individual studios and properties are auctioned separately, if the total of those separate auctions totals more than the largest offer for the whole company (which it likely will), then the company will be split apart.
Notable assets include studios such as Relic, Vigil Games, and Volition, as well as game properties such as South Park: The Stick of Truth (though South Park Studios is fighting over whether THQ has the right to sell it (4), Company of Heroes, Homefront, Metro, Saints Row, Red Faction, Darksiders, and more. This will also open the doors for the WWE license to be sold or transferred to another company, similar to the way EA picked up the UFC license from THQ at E3 2012.
How the assets will be split and sold and who will be buying them are still up in the air - rumors indicate all of the big players are involved (Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft, Warner Bros.) - but we will post more information on everything as it becomes available.
1-23-13 Auction Results Update
Here is what we know so far, based on an e-mail sent from THQ management to its employees.
- SEGA bought development studio Relic
- Koch Media (better known to gamers as Deep Silver) bought developer Volition (and the Saints Row IP) as well as the rights to the Metro series
- Crytek bought Homefront
- Take 2 bought "Evolve" (new game from Turtle Rock Studios)
- Ubisoft bought THQ Montreal studio, as well as rights to South Park: The Stick of Truth
The fate of some other assets hasn't been disclosed yet. Vigil Games, makers of the Darksiders series, doesn't seem to have been picked up by anyone.