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New De Blob would be "the perfect indie game"

THQ Nordic reveals a Splatoon-like online multiplayer game was in development before previous firm went bankrupt

Franchises that THQ attempted to grow are likely to be scaled down and taken in different directions by rising publisher THQ Nordic - with colourful platformer De Blob as a prime example.

During an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, business and product development director Reinhard Pollice discussed how his firm is taking a different stance to its forebear when it comes to the various IP it acquired after THQ collapsed. Darksiders, for example, will be larger than anything the publisher - formerly known as Nordic Games - has tackled before, but still avoid the Call of Duty levels that THQ had internally been aiming for.

A more interesting case is De Blob. While the original was released on Wii, the colour-themed platformer's sequel was brought to all platforms and built as a much larger adventure. THQ Nordic has since released both games on Steam, and is now contemplating what the future holds for the series - and it might go small, rather than big.

"De Blob is the perfect indie game," Pollice tells us. "On the Wii, it was a bit underrepresented - it should have been on Steam in the first place, it would have been a massive success. Although it's not that hardcore, in terms of the visual style, the mechanics are so cool and it's so relaxing. I remember when we looked into that, I was playing it with a Wii emulator and I felt like I could play it forever."

THQ Nordic acquired De Blob back in 2014, having already picked up the likes of Darksiders and Red Faction in an auction of the defunct publisher's properties. While the old THQ had been declared bankrupt two years previously, Pollice reveals there were numerous issues in adding De Blob to Nordic's collection.

"De Blob was a really hard one, because the rights were actually [held by] the Swiss entity of THQ," he says. "They acquired it from a group of Dutch university students. The European parts of THQ actually caused the whole bankruptcy so there was a lot of tension between the US - where we acquired all the rights - and the European entity. It was a bit of a dance to get all the pieces together, because the actually game software rights were in the US entity, so we had them before but we didn't have the IP rights, so we couldn't do anything with them."

Our conversation about the series also revealed the direction THQ had hoped to take it before its struggles eventually led to bankruptcy and closure - and the publisher's vision wasn't too dissimilar to one of Nintendo's biggest breakout hits of the past few years.

"Before THQ went bankrupt, they had an online De Blob game [in development] which was basically like Splatoon," says Pollice. "It was never released, but I think they invested a couple of million into it. They were making it for Asia. It was pretty far [through development], it wasn't far off soft-launch. But it was funny, because when Nintendo announced Splatoon I was like 'hey, I've already seen that - that's literally De Blob Online'."

Splatoon has turned out to be a hugely popular new IP for Nintendo, with the sequel arriving on Switch this month. We'll never know whether De Blob Online could have held its own against the platform holder's multiplayer title, but it sounds unlikely that THQ Nordic will revive such a project.

You can read more about THQ Nordic's plans for its portfolio of acquired IP in our full interview here.

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James Batchelor

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James Batchelor has been a journalist in the games industry since 2006, joining GamesIndustry in 2016, and also runs Non-Violent Game of the Day (@NVGOTD). He does play violent games, but always on Story/Easy mode.

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