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Jon Rooke & Adam Roberts: Part Two

THQ UK's marketing and sales chiefs on annual franchises, licenses and Homefront

Last week we published part one of the interview with THQ UK's head of marketing Jon Rooke and head of sales Adam Roberts.

Here in part two the influential pair discuss the challenges of keeping annual franchises fresh, working with partners on licensed products, and why the company's big bet - Homefront - will be "genre-competitive". There's a big challenge to keep annualised franchises fresh, isn't there?
Jon Rooke

Yes - there's a definite challenge there. When you compare it to other annualised franchises such as FIFA - there's a whole transfer market there, and the football fan wants to buy each version because they want the latest data.

WWE, similarly, there are roster swaps and other changes, so people want to get the latest talent to make sure they're all correct. With UFC it's a bit more difficult - there is no season in UFC, no big roster changes. New talent comes in - It's a bit like golf in some respects - EA's had a bit of a challenge keeping sales on the Tiger Woods franchise stable.
Jon Rooke

That's been declining year-on-year - and we put another 20-30 new fighters into the product this year, which brought the roster up... but you know, if you wanted to play as the top fighters, they were all in the 2009 product too.

So it's a little bit more difficult to give that clear reason to buy the 2010 edition - we put a phenomenal amount of advancement into the 2010 product, not just in terms of features, but graphically it's so much better as well. But it might just be, for that less engaged consumer - the hit buyer - they're just happy with 2009.

Now, when we get to 2011 - and I know what's in that - it's going to be fantastic. People are going to want to buy it, and that's the step forward. But annualisation is tough. THQ works with a lot of partners, and towards the end of this we'll see lots of licensed games released. How important a part of the business is that? THQ seems to do that more then most other publishers.
Adam Roberts

I don't know - I think the amount of own IP that we've got looking forward is very tangible, especially with some of the big players like Truth or Lies that we'll be heavily investing in. It belongs to us - so in terms of own IP we've been pretty aggressive... de Blob is another example. But licenses are a good, solid part of the business?
Jon Rooke

Absolutely - it's a balanced portfolio. There are swings and roundabouts.

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