No THQ booth at E3 2012: Panic or sit tight?
Earlier this month, THQ announced that it won’t have a public booth at this year’s E3 in June. It didn’t provide any reasons for making such a worrisome decision, because it really didn’t have to. It’s been known for a long time now that the company is experiencing serious financial troubles which forced it to lay off hundreds of employees and cut CEO Brian Farrell’s salary in half earlier this year, among other unpleasantries. Following the announcement, a good number of gamers voiced their concerns about the company’s future, some going so far as to proclaim it as good as dead. Is there really enough reason to panic or should we sit tight?
1. Weak 2012 line-up
THQ’s 2012 line-up comprises only 5 titles: Darksiders 2, South Park: The Game, WWE ’13, Nicktoons: Unleashed, and Saints Row: The Third – Enter The Dominatrix, a standalone expansion. That’s only 3 titles worthy of the consumer’s attention, really, and only 2 which need do some convincing, as Enter The Dominatrix can already count on The Third’s multi-million following. Holding a booth for just 2 titles is, that’s right, ridiculous (THQ is no Activision).
2. THQ will have a presence in the press and business sections
Although it won’t be present on the show floor that’s open to the public audience, the publisher will still have a presence in the press and business sections of the Los Angeles Convention Center for meetings, will be showing off its games to the E3 judges, and will be participating in first party activities. If not offline, THQ’s titles will be there for everyone to see online and you can be sure it will make the best of it.
3. Show floor space is not for free
What some forget to take into account or are simply unaware of is that the costs that come with the construction and operation of a massive booth on the show floor can be outrageous (the bigger ones are upwards of $1 million). With the company facing a possible delisting from Nasdaq by July 23 if it doesn’t raise its stock price (which currently sits at $0.65) above $1 for 10 consecutive days, it really can’t risk alienating its investors even more by investing huge amounts into a 3-day public booth.
4. 2013 line-up currently looks much stronger
Many gamers also expressed their bewilderment at THQ skipping a public showing of its other, more anticipated future titles, such as inSANE, Devil’s Third, Metro: Last Light, Company of Heroes 2, and Homefront 2. One thing one should keep in mind is that just because these titles are in development, it doesn’t mean they are ready to be shown off. Just recall the Too Human E3 debacle years ago. THQ can’t have that, especially not at the time when its investors are sitting on the fence with both legs dangling on one side. Another thing to bear mind is also that demos take a long time to build and are therefore not only expensive for the company to produce, but also force the development team to work at reduced capacity for a considerable period of time. This, in turn, prolongs the development time, increases the costs, and reduces the already weak prospects of THQ in the eyes of its stakeholders.
THQ’s decision to sit on the sidelines at this year’s E3 might raise eyebrows, but it’s the right thing to do. Let’s hope Darksiders 2 and South Park: The Game do well enough to tide the company over until the much more promising 2013.