THQ franchises in decline, Saints Row 2 sales below expectations

Cowen and Company highlights year-on-year decline in WWE, SpongeBob sales

THQ us unlikely to breakeven for the second half of it financial year due to a decline in sales of its key franchises, WWE and SpongeBob SquarePants.

That's the opinion of analysts Cowen and Company, who also point to lower than expected sales of Saints Row 2, as they anticipate a substantial loss from the publisher.

"The WWE decline is particularly concerning since that franchise had been one of THQ’s last bastions of strength," said Doug Creutz of the latest in the series. NPD data shows that for the last quarter of 2008, sales of the wrestling game were down 22 per cent in the US, compared to 2007.

"The unit decline is not likely due to quality issues as this year’s WWE title actually received meaningfully improved critical reviews compared to the last several editions," noted Creutz.

The latest SpongeBob SquarePants game from THQ also suffered a decline in sales compared to the previous year, dropping 19 per cent.

The publisher's open world crime sim, Saints Row 2, has also not met expectations, with Cowen anticipating it will shift 900,000 units in its first 12 months in the US.

"Previously we had been optimistic that the franchise could break the 1 million mark, given its launch on two platforms. The original Saints Row sold roughly 750,000 US units during its first four quarters in release on a single platform at a much earlier point in the console cycle," added the firm.

Cowen has lowered its third quarter estimates for THQ from 11 cents per share to breakeven, and its fourth quarter estimate from a loss of 14 cents to a loss of 20 cents per share.

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Latest comments (2)

After playing the 'realistic' ultra polished GTA4, Saints Row 2 in comparison was just plain awful. I spent more time in the character creation screens than I did playing the game.

Whereas GTA4 was released 'when it's done' you just know that Saints Row 2 was released when the men in suits decided, i.e. just in time for Christmas!!
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There is no doubt that Saints Row 2 could have used some extra time for bug fixing, but one could counter that GTA IV could have used some extra time to actually add some fun to the game. I beat GTA IV and I became extremely frustrated with the game after that trying to do all of the extras. I've already put twice as much time into Saints Row 2 and I'm not done with it.
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