Today is Blue Tongue and THQ Studio Australia's last day


Blue Tongue Entertainment, the Melbourne-based games development studio that celebrated their 15th anniversary only last year, and THQ Studio Australia in Brisbane are finishing up today. The outpouring of sympathy and well wishes for these local developers have been pretty overwhelming. Some of the poignant farewells were written in our comments areas by notable industry personnel..

From Andrew Heath, co-founder of Blue Tongue Entertainment..

To all at Blue Tongue I pass on my very best for your futures. Blue Tongue was an amazing studio, and I have very fond memories of the early years.

The industry has changed much over the past few years, however the new mobile platforms that have emerged have provided may small companies to shine where creativity and technical know how come together as one.

There is a future for the gaming development community in Australia, and we will continue to flourish.

All the very best.

Andrew Heath
Co-Founder Blue Tongue Entertainment.

From one of the original staff at THQ Studio Australia, David MacMinn..

As one of those lads around that kitchen table, it saddens me to hear the news. Working there in the early years was a pleasure and I feel privileged to have worked with so many talented people.

And from Mario Wynards, New Zealand's Sidhe..

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.

Also via tweets by Tony Albrecht..

Big props and hugs for the great guys and girls at THQ Oz and Blue Tongue. You guys rock and deserved better. Good luck.

To all the Brisbane THQ people having their final party today - It's been a pleasure working with you all. Wish I was there. Get messy.

Kotaku games journalist, Mark Serrels, has written a heartfelt farewell and thanks to the fine folk at Blue Tongue, and in the process gives us a firm reminder on how great this studio is...

And let’s never forget, Blue Tongue made incredible games. The original De Blob was arguably the best 3rd party release on the Nintendo Wii – a game transformed by Blue Tongue into something unique and tactile. A ponderous purple cow in a sea of murky browns. Its sequel, De Blob 2, was a game that I, personally, fell in love with instantly. You got the impression that De Blob was a game that sprang from a different place, a different time where reward wasn’t coldly drawn from the dull dirge of gamification, instead deliriously delivered through explosions of colour, sound and glorious feedback. De Blob was just fun like that.

Tony Reed from the Games Developers Association of Australia (GDAA) who is currently working on options and support mechanisms for the staff being retrench, has given Gamespot his thoughts on the studio closures...

(Tony Reed) Those studios are filled with exceptionally gifted and experienced game developers. They have proven many times that they can deliver to the highest standards. Unfortunately the closures are a direct result of a strategic shift for the parent company and maintaining the local studios was not a part of the new direction.

The news of the studio closures has sparked additional debate on the current climate of the local games industry. Here are just some of those reports...

ABC News had a report on the THQ studio closures as well as the current state of the industry, with ex-Krome Studios employees providing their thoughts on the dire job situation in games development in Australia...

JOEL CRABBE: Now the biggest company in Australia I think is 50 people, if that, and geez, I'm looking at most of my friends and I'm guessing there's probably an 80 per cent unemployment rate amongst professionals with more than two or three years experiences. Anywhere between 60 and 80; it's horrendous to be quite honest and realistically, the country is losing a lot of talented people to overseas because that's really the only place that they can find employment and continue to do what they've been doing for the last 10 years and trained in.

Screenplay feature by James "DexX" Dominguez also discusses the current state of the industry and looks towards the future with additional comments from Steve Fawkner (founder of Infinite Interactive), Freeplay's Paul Callaghan, and the GDAA's Tony Reed...

(Steve Fawkner) We certainly can come back stronger, but it's going to take a heap of work, a lot of brains, a ton of inspiration, and just a little bit of luck. Still, I'm optimistic.

This is really the first time in the last 20 years that an indie can have a really big success.


Anonymous's picture

Mental note: If I ever have a games company of my own don't sell out to a foreign publisher.

Sad day guys all the best in your future endeavours.

MarkF's picture

What a lot of people are forgetting is that this is the natural cycle of a game development studio. A studio starts up, it's a terrific place to work, it gets bigger, it gets taken over by a foreign publisher who starts milking the IP and "changing" things, the people who were there from the beginning start getting disillusioned and leave, they get replaced by comparatively inexperienced people, the studio productivity starts to drop, the parent company continues to meddle and they milk the IP dry until they've made back their original investment at which point they close the studio down. And then everyone bitches about how horrible the parent company is.

The thing is, if this cycle didn't exist then venture capitalists wouldn't invest in start-ups in the first place and publishers wouldn't be able to secure funding for the development of any studios games. The trick is to get in once a company is reasonably secure, ride out the good times while they last and then exit gracefully when it all goes to shit, with full appreciation for the fact that if it wasn't for this cycle then the good times that make the game industry worth working in wouldn't exist in the first place.