THQ Studio Australia and Blue Tongue Entertainment to close this week

souri's picture

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In a "strategic realignment" to steer development away from "licensed kids titles and movie-based entertainment properties" and push "focus to high-quality owned IP with broad appeal", publisher THQ has decided to close its games development operations in Australia.

The two studios owned by THQ in Australia, THQ Studio Australia (formed in 2003 and based in Brisbane) and Blue Tongue Entertainment (the Melbourne based studio founded in 1995 and acquired by THQ in 2004, most well known for their de Blob series of console games), will be closing down this week. Both studios had 90 staff each for a combined workforce of 180 employees. An internal development team in Pheonix has also been let go, making the total amount of employees redundant at 200.

THQ have slowly been restructuring and refocussing over the years. A 17% workforce reduction in late 2008 left both the local Australian studios unscathed.

The Games Development Association of Australia (GDAA) is currently working on options and support mechanisms for the ex-THQ OZ and Blue Tongue developers, so please follow @gdaa_oz on Twitter for further updates...

Working furiously to develop support mechanisms for all the talent at the local THQ studios. Way too much talent for Oz industry to lose.

Not prepared to let THQ vanish without a fight. Already working on options.

Hiring

Sega Studios Australia (Brisbane)
They will be sending tsumea new job adverts on open positions shortly. Keep your eye out on the front page and the jobs page.

Firemint
Firemint are specifically after programmers and quality assurance testers.

Fmod (Melbourne)
If there's any tool programmers at Bluetongue we're looking for one at Firelight, please send resumes to jobs@fmod.org

The Binary Mill (Gold Coast)
They are hiring programmers, please find the job descriptions in our jobs page.

Halfbrick Studios
Concept Artist positions available.

Please visit our jobs board for the latest jobs, including game programmer openings at Firemint, Twiitch, and The Binary Mill.

The THQ press release in full...

AGOURA HILLS, Calif., August 9, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) – THQ Inc., (NASDAQ: THQI) today announced a strategic realignment of its internal studio development teams to better align resources with the company’s future portfolio of interactive entertainment. THQ is in the process of transitioning its portfolio away from licensed kids titles and movie-based entertainment properties for consoles and has also decided not to actively pursue further development of the MX vs. ATV franchise at this time. As a result, the company announced the closure of two studios in Australia, and the elimination of a development team at the company’s Phoenix location. The company is maintaining its Quality Assurance team in Phoenix.

THQ’s five internal development studios are focused on key initiatives and franchises: THQ Montreal, creating an unannounced new IP with a team led by industry veteran, Patrice Désilets; Volition, Inc., developing the highly anticipated upcoming game Saints Row®: The Third,™ and inSANE™ in collaboration with renowned film director Guillermo del Toro; Relic Entertainment, creators of Company of Heroes and the upcoming Warhammer 40,000®: Space Marine™ for PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system and the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system; Vigil Games, developing Darksiders® II and next year’s MMO Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online™; and THQ San Diego, developers of WWE All Stars and creating best-in-class fighting games.

Today’s actions will result in a personnel reduction of approximately 200 people. All affected employees are eligible to apply for open positions within the company globally.

“With this realignment, we are narrowing our focus to high-quality owned IP with broad appeal that can be leveraged across multiple platforms, and to work with the best talent in the industry. By right-sizing our internal development capacities for our console portfolio, our five internal studios are focused on delivering high-quality games with talented teams driving the execution of those titles to market,” said Brian Farrell, President and CEO, THQ. “As we have outlined in our business strategies, we are making shifts to reduce movie-based and licensed kids’ video games in our portfolio, which underscores our strategy to move away from games that will not generate strong profits in the future.”

Farrell added, “We will continue to evaluate our capital and resources to concentrate on fast growing digital business initiatives such as social games, mobile and tablet -based digital entertainment.”

The company has recently outlined its four-pillar digital strategy: 1) create a digital ecosystem around key console title launches such as the scheduled November 15, 2011 release of Saints Row: The Third, which includes plans for a robust DLC schedule, online Season Pass, and in-game store for consumables; 2) create a critical mass of users on social media platforms such as Facebook and mobile platforms, including iOS and Android™, using THQ-owned or branded content, such as the upcoming fall release of Margaritaville® Online, based on Jimmy Buffett’s popular brand; 3) create an ongoing digital revenue stream with the launch of the company’s MMO, Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium™ Online; and 4) continue to drive digital end-user sales through existing channels as well as through the upcoming re-launch of THQ.com.

Comments

Anonymous's picture

Another one?

Another one? We won't have any devs left in this country at this rate.

What's the reasoning for this?

souri's picture

"to focus on high-quality owned IP"

Well, the news about the closure is absolutely everywhere now with the THQ president and CEO releasing a press release on the reasons. I've posted a part of it in the main news item.

Anonymous's picture

In case you haven't been

In case you haven't been paying attention, the global economy is foobar.

Sean Edwards's picture

Terrible News

This is really bad news, I have friends at both studios, this is the last thing they needed. :(

Brisbane's Games Development Industry is nothing like it was 3- 4 years ago. I estimate something around 300+ jobs lost in that time between Auran, Pandemic, Krome and now THQ.

Only Creative Assembly and a handful of Indie guys left...

Anonymous's picture

Higher aussie dollar is

Higher aussie dollar is definitely a downfall for publisher-owned local studios.
What once was a cheap source of workers for them is now a money sink.

It really is a pity. I used to work for BT and have many friends still there who I hope can hit the ground running in some way.

Anonymous's picture

90 people at StudioOz, not

90 people at StudioOz, not sure how many at BT, very well looked after for redundancies, but devastating just the same.

Anonymous's picture

Owwww. Well, there goes the

Owwww. Well, there goes the last of the serious game development in Brisbane. What's left, Creative Assembly and Halfbrick? (And I somehow doubt that Creative is long left for the world either...) Australia-wide it's not looking too healthy either.

Andrew Goulding's picture

Aw man

I had to look at this news twice, I can't believe it! =0(

Well, actually I can, I think the high AUD is a big factor in this decision, it's more expensive to run a studio in Australia now than the US. It bounced below parity yesterday, but now it's back up again. What worries me though is that this exodus of big international studios is going to be hard to build up again if/when the dollar becomes more favorable again.

Yeah it'll create more indie devs, but being an indie dev also means running a business, something that a lot of developers don't want to have to worry about.

And what really boils me up is that every time the AUD goes up, the news always seems to tout that as a win. We're an export country guys, it's NOT a win! We SHOULD be worried.

Anonymous's picture

It seems the media too often

It seems the media too often portray the high AUD as good because they're idiots and think its some sort of Olympic medal count. For the vast majority of people who don't work in export industries all it means to them is cheap computers, electronics and home entertainment systems. And the government seem to be quite happy to leave the currency where it is because having it damage exporters is keeping a lid on inflation. Punish the minority harshly just so the majority don't have to moan about a minor increase in the costs of their luxury.

Japan had recently moved to devalue their currency against the USD as have a lot of other central banks around the world. But when it comes the RBA they intervene to pump the AUD when it hits 80c just because they don't want to have people rattling their change tins and moaning about how much it's costing to hold 3 investment properties while the money from mining keeps the good times rolling for the average Joe.

Anonymous's picture

Wow, what a ridiculous

Wow, what a ridiculous tangent. So, on the flipside, you would prefer punishing the overwhelming number of consumers to artificially prop up fewer businesses? Businesses that weren't smart enough to have a strategy, say like currency hedging? No, there's a reason the wealth of countries have a floating currency, and there's no reason to be involved in any direct intervention on the currency. Not unless you want to chop off a hand to save a toe.

Anonymous's picture

Of course it didn't take long

Of course it didn't take long for someone like you to come on here and kick people when they're down.

Perhaps you can explain how your currency hedging strategy is supposed to have avoid all of this?

Anonymous's picture

Sorry but my comment wasn't

Sorry but my comment wasn't about THQ, but the idiotic comments about monetary policy. For anyone who wants to know, currency hedging can help medium/large sized companies get access to preferential currency rates - it's basically insurance against the highly speculative currency market. Call your bank to talk about it.

As for the workers, I have nothing but the utmost respect for Bluetongue and THQ, as they were one of the few Aus dev houses actually producing games with profile. I've been laid off twice, once along with 90 others so can definitely sympathise. You guys are handling it admirably, best of luck for the future.

Anonymous's picture

"Well, actually I can, I

"Well, actually I can, I think the high AUD is a big factor in this decision, it's more expensive to run a studio in Australia now than the US."

Actually, it's still not more expensive to run a studio in Aus compared to the US, as Australian salaries are generally lower by 20% on average. Nonetheless, the point remains.

Anonymous's picture

the list to the Right is

the list to the Right is going to get very small now, hopefully the talent doesn't leave to Canada or Europe or join other IT sectors and join the growing indie scene and add experience and talent so one day those indie devs can grow into larger studios to replace them. Lucky Sega Australia (creative assumbly Brisbane) is making the london Olympics game that Sega has said good information about, so they are in business until mid next year.

Anonymous's picture

unless the Summer Olympics

unless the Summer Olympics somehow get cancelled for whatever reason.

souri's picture

KMM Games

Not to put an extra bummer on things, but KMM Games (Brisbane) is finishing up in October as well.

Myndale's picture

Bye bye

The problem with THQ isn't their inability to make high-quality games, or their lack of vision and willingness to take risks, or the fact that they cripple their dev staff with layer-upon-layer of corporate procedure, or the global economic downturn, or even poor management decisions made by the people at the top. No, the real problem is with their new logo, it doesn't adequately reflect the companies underlying synergetic management structure or the transitional projections behind their concept-driven mission critical contingency policies. Just ask THQ managment, I'm sure they'll agree...

RIP Blue Tongue, I will always remember you as somewhere I once worked.

Anonymous's picture

You could see this coming a

You could see this coming a while ago: THQ's share price has been in a nasty slide since the beginning of the year ( -70% ), and Aus is the most expensive, least convenient place to have a studio. It's definitely disappointing, but not at all surprising. Actually I'm just surprised it didn't happen a bit sooner.

Anonymous's picture

Yeah, well given that they've

Yeah, well given that they've averaged a net loss of $150 million a year for the past 4 years, and currently have a market cap of just $136 million, it didn't take much to see they were staring down the barrel of imminent bankruptcy.

Andrew McMillen's picture

Sad bloody day.

This is terrible news. My condolences to all affected by this decision.

I am seeking interviews with StudioOz and Blue Tongue staff. If anyone reading this wishes to speak to a journalist, on or off the record, email me: andrew dot mcmillen at gmail dot com. Thank you.

Anonymous's picture

This is really becoming

This is really becoming beyond a joke. If this industry is meant to worth so much every year why isn't the government trying to protect at least some of these companies that have proven there worth. It's like they are taking the stance of ok if we let it all go to fubar we don't have to worry about it.

Anonymous's picture

Come on now. What societal

Come on now. What societal value do video games really provide? Why should the government think that De Blob so important that the franchise should be preserved at the taxpayers expense?

Anonymous's picture

Because the industry isn't

Because the industry isn't worth much at all, not to the studios themselves; it's the overseas publishers that make all the money. If anything the game industry is seen as a liability by tying up good staff that would be contributing more to our economy by working in other fields.

And unlike the film industry we're not seen as being culturally significant enough to warrent an inexhaustible supply of grant money.

Canflipper's picture

By that logic, one could also

By that logic, one could also argue that the TV and Film industries are also tying up useful people and are holding the country back, as many of the shows we see on TV and the Vast Majority of Films shown are from overseas. If, all of a sudden, all TV except news and all movies except government approved documentaries were canceled, would you still posses such a cavalier attitude?

Anonymous's picture

Wasn't saying it's how I see

Wasn't saying it's how I see it myself, just pointing out it's how the Australian government sees it.

designerwatts's picture

My sympathies to all the

My sympathies to all the super skilled guys and girls at THQ and Bluetongue. I hope you all find yourselves back on your feet soon enough.

I'm happy to sit down and talk to anyone from BT/THQ looking for advice on going Indy, approaching investors for funding or managing small scale projects as it's something i've been working in for the last few years.

Get in contact with me at chriswatts at playbitent dot com

Cheers,

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