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THQ: The UFC brand is here to stay

Publisher cites Red Dead, the Election, recession and the World Cup as reasons for poor sales

THQ has reaffirmed its commitment to the UFC fighting game franchise, despite weaker-than-expected sales of this year's title.

Talking to at the publisher's UK retail event last month - The Gathering - head of marketing Jon Rooke admitted that the game hadn't sold as many units as the company had expected, and pointed to a variety of reasons for that.

"We've had Red Dead Redemption released one week before us and that sucked, to-date, probably three quarters of a million units from the market," Rooke explained. "The economy is still in decline - we haven't come out of recession yet, with VAT set to go up and the government looking for 40 per cent budget cuts... people are nervous about spending.

"There was that macro-setting, plus we were around the World Cup, which takes out a lot of consumer spending as well. You could even put into there the iPad launch as being on the same weekend - so a lot of things are coming on to it."

But Rooke does believe the product will continue to sell over time, and underlined that the company still has strong plans for the license in in the future.

"We know from 2009 that the brand has massive long legs," he said. "Last Christmas we were still selling a lot of units across Europe per week, a good seven or eight months after the game came out.

"We're seeing the sales for 2010 settle down to a good, steady pace and we're working that stock through the channels with our partners - and we've got a lot of stuff to come from UFC as well.

"We've got great brand awareness among that UFC consumer, and we know they're going to come to the brand - we know they're going to come to purchase. But it was just that a number of factors - predominantly Red Dead Redemption sucked so much cash out of the market.

"When Red Dead had shipped about 5 million we'd shipped about 2.6 million units of UFC globally - so it's still a massively successful game... just that the expectations might have been that little bit more. You have to step back a bit and recognise that.

"We're absolutely not walking away from the brand - we've got a long term commitment to it as we've shown with things like UFC Trainer, and it won't be long before we start talking about UFC 2011, I'm sure..."

The full first part of the interview with Jon Rooke - and head of UK sales Adam Roberts - is available now.

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