THQ Studio Australia and Blue Tongue Entertainment to close this week

News type: 

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

Very sad to hear of this especially considering that from all reports the Avengers game was really coming together awesomely.

Anonymous's picture

so is that canned or moving elsewhere?

Vodka Blue's picture

The two Achilles Heels of Australian game development are weak studio management and constant changes to game design. Together these eat up half the schedule and budget and leave every project on a knife edge.

Anonymous's picture

While absolutely true, not entirely relevant to the studios' closures here? Have you seen THQ's stock price lately?

I think it's a conversation worth having in another thread. A lot of designers have mistaken the much-touted 'iterative' design model with being unable to make up their minds and commit to anything. Can't improve and refine if there's a constant cloud of 'it'll probably change later' over everything. (Not so sure this is a purely local issue though...)

Mario's picture

Was sorry to hear the news about this. An unfortunate side effect of being a studio owned by a large publically traded company - you can become a line item on a balance sheet where high level strategic decisions have great impact, regardless of the underlying performance and quality of the studio itself.

Sidhe doesn't have a lot of vacancies at the moment, but we are looking for programmers and would be happy to hear from anyone effected in the studio closures.

You can contact us via careers@sidhe.co.nz

Regards

Mario