Vigil: THQ has taken "a lot of bullets" while restructuring

But publisher's faith in creative talent and new properties will change perceptions of company, says Darksiders team

The restructuring of THQ, which has resulted in cancelled projects and studio closures, has been necessary to help turn around the company and change perceptions that it's not just a house for kids games and wrestling licenses.

And according to David Adams, general manager at Darksiders outfit Vigil Games, the publisher has put great faith in its new creative talent and intellectual property, supporting its developers rather than pressuring them to churn out games on demand.

"THQ went through a lot of pain and restructuring - they took a lot of bullets so we could continue to make our game, and that's a good indication of their faith in us, and their drive to make great-quality products," said Adams, speaking in an exclusive interview published today.

"You always hear the strained relations, because it's a pretty stressful thing. There's a lot of money involved, a lot of people involved. The one thing I've been impressed with at THQ, since we've been there... it's funny, because when we signed with THQ we didn't think they'd want to publish us, but since then they've put out Saints Row, Company of Heroes, Red Faction, UFC."

Vigil received the cold shoulder when it first began shopping the recently released Darksiders to publishers, said Adams, who also admitted that although the team didn't have established development methods in place, THQ believed in the team's final creative vision.

"We were pretty lucky, just because our publisher had this weird, insane faith in us that I don't necessarily think any other publisher would have had. They signed us when there were about six or eight of us, and pretty much every other publisher just said: 'You guys are lame...'. But our take was that if we just did really cool stuff, people would see that - they'd want to jump on the bandwagon and support us, and THQ did.

"Hopefully it's a reflection on us - we are very iterative on everything we do, and that's not just related to the actual games that we make. It's also the processes, trying to be more efficient, do stuff quicker, using less money - it's something we're constantly working on," added Adams.

The full interview with David Adams and Joe Madureira, creative director of Vigil Games, where they discuss the upcoming Warhammer 40k MMO and the evolution of the studio, can be read here.

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Latest comments (3)

Kenneth Seward Game Designer 8 years ago
As a up and coming developer and founder of a studio, I hope to find a welcoming publisher to be our studios home like THQ has done with Vigil. Now I can't make publishers understand the difference between a true IP, and a "blarg, our game has guns and lols" concept, but we hope that they wise up so they won't have to run into situations where their studios fail to be productive business wise. But that's capitalism for you, either your game is good and everyone loves it, or it sucks and no one cares to even rent. But to sum it up, THQ has to do better in picking their prize horses when trying to run the industry's derby.
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Elikem Jubey8 years ago
"As a up and coming developer and founder of a studio, I hope to find a welcoming publisher to be our studios home like THQ has done with Vigil."

*Points at Sony*

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Elikem Jubey on 10th March 2010 2:22pm

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Robert Huebner President/CEO, Nihilistic Software8 years ago
I think there's an important distinction to make between an up-and-coming developer getting "signed" by a publisher and remaining independent, versus a publisher making an opportunistic purchase of a studio in its infancy.

The path Vigil took is not the classic "indie studio makes good" story we're used to. Instead, in order to get the faith and funding for their vision, the company immediately sold controlling interest to THQ at the start of their relationship.

Not to say that isn't a valid model for studios, its happening more and more often.

You could see it as a publisher having EXTREME faith in a particular developer right from the start and wanting to dive in with both feet. Or if you're a "glass half empty" sort of guy, you might see it as a way for the publisher to exert more control and limit their financial downside (and conversely limit the developer's upside) from day 1.

It's always in the publisher's interest to acquire a studio when its at its weakest point and strike the lowest price. Generally, when a studio is just a handful of guys pitching a title with mixed success, that's going to make a purchase very inexpensive for the publisher, compared to what it would cost after they release a hit game. THQ gambled on Vigil and if Darksiders becomes a franchise hit for them, the saved themselves maybe $20m or more in the long run. Not a bad deal.

THQ has done a lot of acquisitions in early-stage studios (Vigil, Kaos), but also has acquired studios with more experience (Volition, Relic).

A lot hinges on whether a studio that is acquired so early on can keep a hungry studio culture and not get impacted by the downsides of being corporate owned. It would be interesting to compare the success & failure of various studio acquisitions based on when in their lifecycle they were acquired.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Robert Huebner on 10th March 2010 2:47pm

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