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THQ Partners to focus on 'quality, not quantity'

Tue 01 Jun 2010 7:00am GMT / 3:00am EDT / 12:00am PDT
BusinessPublishing

Newly-established business unit aims to provide strong focus and flexibility for 'select' clients

THQ Partners, announced last week in an attempt by the publisher to maximise its global distribution network, has no plans to sign up any and every deal that comes along - but instead will seek to offer a small group of "high quality" products a greater mind share and range of flexible options in a bid to increase the company's range of titles.

That's according to the business unit's VP, Tim Walsh, who told GamesIndustry.biz that he was aware the development landscape needed additional options, rather than just the standard publisher-funded model.

"I think there are a few key drivers, [including] studios wanting to keep their own IP," he said. "The business is so much more sophisticated than it has been over the past ten years or so - if you look at financing, in the movie business studio financing has been around for a long time, and you're starting to see that become more prevalent in the videogame world. So there's more access to financing for studios.

"But also there are more revenue streams, so a developer can generate more income through digital sales, through online - so they're not 100 per cent reliant on retail, and that means they have the ability to find revenue on their own. Once they start to do that, and they start financing their own development and owning their own IP, it makes sense that they'd want to have a different relationship with the publisher."

The move comes at a time when rival publisher EA has successfully negotiated a range of high profile deals with independent developers to its Partners programme - most notably the recent coup in signing the former Infinity Ward leadership's Respawn Entertainment start-up.

And while other publishers offer various distribution services, Walsh admits that EA's success has been well noted.

"I think they're an inspiration, for me personally," he said. "If you look at the success they've had, one of the benchmarks I'm most impressed with is that when they sign a partner, that partner tends to stay with them for a very long time - so obviously they're doing a good job.

"And that's what I want to do - I want to create a small group of partners that deliver high quality games year-over-year, and in a sense become part of the family - part of our release schedule."

He went on to explain that he was intent on looking at the individual circumstances of a potential partner to work out what kind of deal would work most effectively - for both sides.

"I think that's the other thing that's important - when you talk to the larger studios, depending on what kind of resources they have in place, they have different needs," he explained. "It's important to work together to figure out what each partner brings to the table - and then figure out the economics based on that so that it's fair.

"Some studios want full control of marketing on a global basis, others don't. Some want manufacturing to be provided, others can deliver finished goods - when you figure out the economics of those relationships, that's what makes a potentially long term partnership possible."

But he was open about the fledgling unit's situation in the market - particularly when compared to its rivals.

"I guess the one thing that's obvious is that we're new to this as an official organisation, so I think there's an opportunity for a major developer to be the big fish in a small pond, so to speak," he said.

"There are certain business where the more you have, the better. In others you really want to know you have the mind share of the publishing group, and in this case I think that will be attractive to some people."

The full interview with Tim Walsh, in which he also explains the THQ Partners view on physical versus digital distribution, is available now.

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