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THQ sheds 250 staff as losses climb to $115 million

Publisher trims portfolio and delays titles - but makes moves for online market in China

Saints Row publisher THQ has reported losses for the second quarter of USD 115.3 million, a massive increase over the USD 7 million it lost for the same period last year.

As a result, and in line with a new initiative from the company, THQ has confirmed plans to close five studios, cancel a number of titles in development and lay off approximately 250 staff, or 17 per cent of its development workforce.

Net sales for the three months ended September 30 were down from USD 229.3 million last year to USD 164.8 million, with the company acknowledging a "lighter" release schedule for the period, with sales of Disney/Pixar tie-in Wall-E failing to reach expectations.

The company has said that it plans to refocus the business on fewer titles, with cancelled titles not previously announced.

THQ also announced it has struck a new deal to launch WWE Online in Asia in 2010, and will launch Dragonia, a free-to-play MMO in 2009 as part of a joint venture with ICE Entertainment, based in Shanghai. THQ also intends to open a new office in Shaghai to develop opportunities in the Chinese market.

The company has reduced its development spend for the fiscal 2010 year by USD 100 million, around USD 30 million lower than its spend for fiscal 2009.

"We are aligning our business to be more competitive in key consumer segments and address the current business environment," commented CEO Brian Farrell.

"We expect the combination of a much more focused and competitive product line with a more efficient cost structure to put THQ back on the path to growth and profitability in fiscal year 2010."

Forthcoming titles Red Faction: Guerilla and Darksiders: Wrath of War have both be delayed until the fiscal year ending March 2010.

For the fiscal third quarter ending December 31, 2008, THQ expects to report net sales in the range of USD 400 million to USD 420 million.

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