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THQ: Facebook games are brand extensions first, profitable second

New digital studios working on four projects, confirms CEO

THQ has said that keeping users engaged with its brands via Facebook is more important than creating profitable games for the social networking service.

The company hopes its Facebook titles – three of which are based on existing THQ franchises – can tide users over until the release of console games. CEO Brian Farrell said yesterday that its Facebook titles will launch before console versions of Red Faction and the next Saint's Row, due in the 2011 and 2012 financial years, respectively.

"For us, it's natural to extend our key brands into those areas," said Farrell. "Both as revenue and profit opportunities, but more importantly as brand extension opportunities. The revenue potential in those markets is obviously not quite as high because of the price points, but we think they are still viable markets to be attacked."

"It’s a great way to keep consumer engagement with our core properties in between these launches every two or three years. So we look at those markets as both revenue and profit drivers, but more importantly, they are great brand extensions for our key brands."

The company further detailed its digital ambitions last night, renaming Juiced Games and Rainbow Studios and aiming the four titles in development at digital formats such as social networking sites, PSN and XBLA, and iPhone and iPad hardware.

"We plan to launch our first digital core games this fiscal year including Facebook games based on three of our major brands and four games in development at our THQ Digital Studios," confirmed Farrell.

During a call to investors, Farrell also discussed THQ's early approach to Sony's Arc and Microsoft's Natal motion controllers, stating that the company will first try out casual games on the new technology, before committing big resources.

"We are focused on our continued leadership in this category, taking advantage of the lower hardware price points that we expect will attract new mass market gamers and new family-friendly platforms such as Microsoft's Natal and Sony's Arc motion controller," he said.

"We want to support the platforms with the right brands, we are not over-investing in those because we do like... to see a ramp in installed base before we aggressively go after it. But I think the big win here for us is the expansion of 360 and PS3 to the mass markets, which is a huge win for us."

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Matt Martin

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Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.

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