THQ stock drops 26% following Homefront reviews

Low Metacritic score leads to panic selling as de Blob 2 also underperforms

The share price for publisher THQ fell by almost 26 per cent yesterday, after intense trading followed disappointing reviews for key upcoming title Homefront.

The new first person shooter from Frontlines: Fuel of War developer Kaos Studios currently has a rating of 72 for the Xbox 360 version on review aggregator site Metacritic - with several major websites giving the game a score of between 50 and 70.

This appears to have been the catalyst for trading over four times the daily average, with almost 7 million shares changing hands and the price dropping as low as $4.40 per share. This rose to $4.70 in afterhours trading.

The fall followed a 7 per cent rise on Monday to $5.94, which appeared to coincide with a smaller number of more favourable reviews for the game.

The volatile trading appears to be due almost entirely to anticipation over Homefront, which THQ's executive vice president Danny Bilson stated must sell 2 million copies to break even.

A certain level of success did seem to be guaranteed for the game when Bilson revealed that it was the company's most pre-ordered title ever, with over 200,000 reservations made.

The Homefront reviews have not been the only source of negative news for THQ recently though, with new title de Blob 2 selling 'much less' than 75,000 copies in the US and failing to make the UK Top 40 in its first week on release. The game also suffered a relatively low 77 Metacritic score.

According to an analyst note from Wedbush Morgan's Michael Pachter sales of the uDraw game tablet on the Wii have also begun to slow, with just 26,000 US sales in February. Although the hardware bundle did perform much better over Christmas and broke into the UK Top 10 on its European debut this month.

THQ's most recent financial results showed a $14.9 million loss and a drop in revenues to $314.6 million. At the time the company assured investors that its fiscal 2012 results would be significantly boosted by the release of core games including Red Faction: Armageddon, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, MX vs ATV Alive and Saints Row: The Third.

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Latest comments (27)

Terence Gage Freelance writer 10 years ago
I feel bad for de Blob 2. It has been getting some great reviews and seems to have been launched at £30 in the UK, but I think it launched at a bad time (amidst Killzone 3, Bulletstorm, Dragon Age II, etc) and in terms of marketing has kind of been swamped by the 3DS, Pokemon and the big releases of the moment.

I am going to pick it up at some point as I've just got Move on my PS3, and a cute game like de Blob should be a nice antidote to the likes of Resi 5 and Killzone 3 :)
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Bruce Nesbit Programmer 10 years ago
When did an average score of 70 become a bad score !? Sheesh.

Im declaring shennanigans.

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jim ellis 2D/3D artist, design, illustration, concept artist, video editor 10 years ago
I have a theory that the consumer and the critics are just so spolit that even great games get kicked in the teeth these days. I dont know if Homefront is a great game or is justified in this instance but it all comes down to expectations - which a spoilt populous just wants more and more and more - its like some fat obese entity with an enormous gullet that cannot be sated. I'm sure the game is fine - its the critics and the public which I feel is progressively more and more at fault. /endRant
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Show all comments (27)
Terence Gage Freelance writer 10 years ago
I think the problem is that the FPS genre is so insanely crowded, and obviously COD sits at the top of that pile, so any similar-themed games have an incredible level of quality to live up to.

I mean, looking at COD's sales figures I can see why other publishers would enviously decide they want a piece of that pie, but at the same time they're creating a rod for their own backs because it requires a massive investment and huge marketing push.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Terence Gage on 16th March 2011 9:51am

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Meh, the top ranking shooter in metacritic is bloody Half-Life 2. When something THAT mediocre is the standard everyone is trying to live up to, the whole genre kinda loses credibility.
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Martin Mathers Copywriter/Journalist 10 years ago
@Bruce - actually, I think you'll find that in the eyes of many gamers, anything under 85 = shit. Sad but definitely true. Of course, given that games cost £40 upwards in many cases, it's understandable that people have to be picky... but even so, it's a ridiculous way to think.
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How odd - shareholder anticipation was not met, but THQs Homefront servers are filled to the brink and they had a good pre-order run (and in comparison to other FPS's a very good release with no serious issues). It seems to me that investor expectations were way overboard on this one.
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Mark McMichael Head of Game Design (mobile), I-play10 years ago
Just watched the first 15 mins gameplay and it looks pretty nice tbh
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 10 years ago
"Homefront's most intense moments aren't action movie sequences--they are emotionally wrenching, human encounters with the horrors of war. "

Thats not going to appeal for a trigger happy console user on a killing spree. Its sounds more like an anti-war movie directed by John Milius... Also, reviewers are complaining about short campaign and that they had "i was expecting more" feeling.
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Jamie Watson Studying Bachelor of Games & Interactive Entertainment, Queensland University of Technology10 years ago
hey,its a new IP so they have to start somewhere. I mean once this sells the number of copies required for a 2nd one then that should be good as the issue of the first game can be fixed and homefront can turn into a awesome franchise!

i have not played the game but will pick it up when i can as the story sounds good.

as de blob 2 if user reviews (thats what really matters,right?) are good then it could turn into a little gem..
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 10 years ago
Jehferson - most other shooters do not try to clone or emulate Half-Life 2 because most other developers cannot manage the degree of nuance, balance and variety it has. I think it's a brilliant game, and I don't really know what to suggest if you disliked it so much.

Out of interest, can I ask what you thought of BioShock?
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@Terence I really liked Bioshock. Played through it twice and between the whole background of Rapture, the array of strategies offered by different plasmids (though nothing will ever be as fun as building solely for the wrench) and the whole tone of the enemies and the story was really compelling to me.

As for HL2, for me just it felt like a really annoying jumble of rubbish. I did love the first one but on 2, the AI felt worse, the whole thing with city 17 started confusing and then just goes to turn silly, graphics were really impressive at the time, weapon selection didn't satisfy and Valve trying to "force a meme" with the crowbar just didn't cut it (it was "all that" in the first one for sure, but not in the second one and, thus, just became silly once again). Gordon Freeman was perfectly fine in the first game but suddenly as the game becomes more complex, he just gets ridiculous too. They did invent the grav-gun which seems to have become the new double-jump (in the sense of people feeling compelled to putting it into games for no particular reason) and it did serve as a very nice tech demo for Havok. I liked episode 1 much more but in contrast, episode 2 disappointed me again a bit. It has variety, sure, they put "zomg!" a zombie part and vehicles and such, but nuance and balance? Hardly. I played it once, tried a second time in the "maybe I'm overhating this..." kind of feeling but didn't manage to force myself to get very far.
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The problem is publishers actually use Metacritic as an decisive indicator. Metacritic still quantifies Alphabetical grading system into a number, which doesn't make it credible. (How does a C = 50 or a 4/5 = 70)

If one reviewer really despise a game, his/her review tarnishes the metacritic score.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Mark Abraham on 16th March 2011 11:53am

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Tommy Thompson Studying Artificial Intelligence (PhD), University of Strathclyde10 years ago
It's very disappointing to see what could be a knee-jerk reaction given that the game has not had the chance to get out there and sell. While there are many titles that create instant gratification from a shareholders perspective (i.e., in case you didn't figure it out, CoD), there are also titles that take time to sell as a result of continued word of mouth and further support for the title (BF:BC2 and Borderlands spring to mind). Though I imagine that is far less satisfying for the shareholders. As noted by Lukas, there is a lot of hype for this game and provided the players like it, then this could help generate more sales. I'm looking forwarding to trying it out.

Oh and eh, they made a sequel to de Blob? They kept that quiet.
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Lewis Brown Snr Sourcer/Recruiter, Electronic Arts10 years ago
Im going to approach Homefront with an open mind.....Ive been playing all the big FPS over the last few months on my lunch break and to be honest generally they all have plus and minus points but none are bad, I agree with the comment that its overcrowded so unless if offers something new they do get a beating. interestingly I have decided BF:BC2 is my favorite and I have only started playing that in the last month.
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Abraham Tatester Producer 10 years ago
The above article didn't mention any of the reasons why the game is getting "low" reviews, but I've since read that the game's single-player campaign is only five to six hours long. As one who's not into online multiplayer, that's inexcusably short in my opinion, and will keep me from buying the game until it's heavily discounted.

Personally, I don't care if the game doesn't "reinvent the FPS" as so many reviewers insist upon. (What's that about anyway? They want the control scheme changed so drastically that the gameplay is utterly unfamiliar? There's a good reason why FPS games have converged upon similar controls and mechanics: they work!)

Another thing I don't understand: how many multiplayer FPS games do publishers expect the typical gamer to commit to? Probably the biggest reason why I don't get into multiplayer FPS is that each game requires serious time/effort investment to get to that peak level of fun. This is demonstrated by the hundreds of hours that hardcore FPS gamers can put into a single title. If I was really into multiplayer FPSs, I cold see myself "committing" to one or maybe two FPS games each year, but probably no more. Is this typical among gamers? And if so, can this practice really support so many FPS entries to the market?

I don't mind this trend of deeper and deeper online multiplayer FPS gameplayóit provides massive value to those gamers that want it. But I question whether it's worthwhile for so many publishers to develop so many games in the genre. There's just not enough room. (Plus, as a story-loving, singleplayer gamer, it makes me feel more and more neglected!)

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It has to be both a entertaining yarn with longevity via multiplayer elements. Time will tell if this game is a good yarn indeed!
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Temi Web design 10 years ago
I have issues with the whole stock market/shares system. Companies don't operate on their own merit and grow as they do well; they get investors in to blow everything out of proportion and are forever enslaved to those investors. I wonder what the video game industry would be like without having to worry about shareholders.

Am I the only one baffled by that system?

Anyway I really didn't expect the game to do well but we'll see. It's interesting how all these companies always think they made an awesome game when in fact, they just might not have
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Abraham Tatester Producer 10 years ago
No one ever forced a company to go public. And few are the companies like Valve that can resist the cash a public offering brings. I think the guys at Rovio will one day regret letting VCs into their company. They are no longer their own bosses. (And why they felt they needed that $42mil after making so much off of Angry Birds is beyond me.)
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 10 years ago
"I have issues with the whole stock market/shares system. Companies don't operate on their own merit and grow as they do well; they get investors in to blow everything out of proportion and are forever enslaved to those investors."

That's not just unique to the videogames market; it's what happens to most companies once they're floated on the stock market. Sadly it seems it's no longer about building brands and long-term profitability, it's the here and now and profit spikes, then subsequent share drops when said spikes cannot be maintained (which they can't for anyone - not even Activision).

"I wonder what the video game industry would be like without having to worry about shareholders."

I like to think there'd be more companies like Valve, Rockstar and Gearbox, although in reality that may not be the case. I guess we'll never know.
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Abraham Tatester Producer 10 years ago
Rockstar is owned by Take-Two, a publicly-listed company.
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John Burns Studying Game Software Development, Westwood College10 years ago
I think we are too expectant upon what a fps should be nowadays. It's a great game within the first 5 mins. Sure it looks like a last gen ps2 game (black) but it offers a great campaign that is plausible. It's development is based on speculation rather than history which requires much more creativity. Leave it be, good job thq!
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Sean Arnold Editorial and Content Manager 10 years ago
@Terence to be fair the only thing other FPS's have to live up to when it comes to COD are the sales numbers. Over the years the game has honestly become bland because a new one is released every year. Homefront so far has a great single-player story, and the multiplayer is kinda fun to play (not Battlefield: BC2 fun I haven't played that much of it but definitely enough to say it's more fun then COD.

The problem is the gamers that are out there right now, about 85% of them are casual gamers so they aren't going to pick it up unless it says "CALL OF DUTY" on the box. It's sad that 70 is considered "bad" and that because of that there is a good chance that a good new IP won't get the chance to flourish while IP's like COD just rest on their laurels and pump out the same exact garbage year after year.
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Logan Borsos10 years ago
I kind of wrote this little review and posted it on their facebook wall. Might as well post it here since it's relevant, and most of the commenters seem to not have played Homefront. It has a few spoilers, but I've marked where they are, just skip that part of it.


Alright, hereís the deal with Homefront: the first few minutes of the single player are really brutal and emotional. The feel of the world really gets the player immersed into it. However, once you meet the resistance fighters, everything goes downhill. You find yourself waiting around at doorways for the NPC to kick in the door for you, because you arenít allowed to do anything yourself, in fact you only ever open one door for yourself. Either Jacob Roberts thinks heís above opening doors, or the game thinks you are an idiot and need to have your hand held the entire five hours (On hard difficulty. Reportedly it's about 2-3 hours long on normal). The characters never really have any quiet moments to let you get to know them, so your squad mates never really feel like your squad mates, and I ended up not caring about them the entire time. They just end up being those random people that occasionally yell out "Nice shot!" that you wish would be quiet already. (SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER!) This is especially annoying because at the end when Connor kills himself and the gameís name flashes, I was really unimpressed. He just calls in an airstrike on himself and then the game ends and it tries to play it off like it was a big deal. Who cares if Connor died? I sure as hell didnít. The idiot ran into enemy lines guns blazing without thinking more than a couple times during the campaign, nearly got the entire squad killed in the process, and he pushes you of the way because HE wants to kick in the doors, or take cover in that spot. Besides all that, the story line is shallow. All you do is get some jet fuel to the US military. Thatís it. Thatís the whole story. There was no drama, no bad guy, not a single moment where I got chills down my spine. They built this huge rich world, with a great and believable enemy.. and they make you deliver gas? The Homefront book had a great plot, what happened to the writing? (SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER!) Furthermore, I felt like 99% of the campaign I couldnít fire my gun because of the fact that as soon as I just stood up to fire my gun, everyone on the map immediately stopped shooting who they were previously shooting to target me. Itís not such a fun firefight when 50 infinitely-spawning AI computers with infinite ammo auto-target you literally the split second you stand up or come out of cover at all.

All that being said, the multiplayer is intense, fast paced, and fun. The guns feel really nice and handle well, and so do the controls. The perk system and the battle points system really make the multiplayer system great, and unique. Iím really loving ground control. Itís like conquest (Or domination if you prefer call of duty) and Rush put together. Battle Commander is a breath of fresh air as well, but not really for my taste. Not to mention that you have to unlock the Battle Commander playlist (although you do unlock it before level 10). The only thing that could make the multiplayer better is if there were more game types, like for instance: Search and Destroy (My favorite game type from Call of Duty. Really gets the adrenaline flowing and the heart pumping in those intense clutch moments.) and more weapon choices.

Bottom line: If youíre interested solely in the singleplayer aspect of the game: Skip this one, buy it used, or rent it. If you are hardcore into the online FPS scene: This is a must have. Very fun, and you wont regret it.
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 10 years ago
I'm aware Rockstar are a Take-Two subsidiary, but I meant if there were no stock market and no shareholders in the videogame industry more companies might emulate their business practices. I mean, they're practically pushed as a separate entity from T2, and their length of development cycles and risky projects are not typical of most corporate companies in the industry.

Also, I saw reported on EG last night that Homefront sold 375k copies on its first day on sale in the US. I don't know how this compares to the likes of Medal of Honor 2010 or the pre-Modern Warfare COD instalments, but that seems like a bloody good debut for a new franchise. Hopefully it will do well enough to have a sequel commissioned, allowing Kaos to create a more compelling campaign and build on the solid multiplayer mode they've developed.

Abraham - "Another thing I don't understand: how many multiplayer FPS games do publishers expect the typical gamer to commit to? Probably the biggest reason why I don't get into multiplayer FPS is that each game requires serious time/effort investment to get to that peak level of fun."

I definitely agree with this; I enjoy multiplayer games to various extents, but there's so many of them out there and in the knowledge that most need a significant time investment to get good at them I simply can't find the time or enthusiasm to really give them a chance. I would love companies to get back to the idea of making single-player the focus, but instead things seem to be shifting the other way; especially when it comes to FPSs.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D10 years ago
Crazy. I wonder how much of that trading has been in the form of short selling.

The games industry is crazy enough at best, with its hits and misses - but mix it with the stock market and you have a recipe for disaster.
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Edward Buffery Head of LQA (UK), Testronic10 years ago
If a score of 50 means a game is average, how does 77 mean 'low'? That's a rhetorical question, but thinking about it makes me sad. I've always been of the mind that if I really like a specific genre, I'll probably enjoy anything in that genre that gets 40+ unless I've played too many similar titles recently. If I'm indifferent or have played too many similar games, it'll probably take a 70+ score for me to really like it, and if I tend to avoid a particular type of game, then I'll still enjoy the 90+ rated games of that genre. At 77 and with a decent amount of pre-release hype, I'd expect Homefront to do very well.
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