The road to XBOX ONE. Follow the journey

Curran affairs

Ben Parfitt
Curran affairs
Looking back at the year so far, what do you believe are THQ’s greatest achievements?

We’ve had a relatively light first half this year. We’ve seen tremendous growth across our international territories and the offices we’ve opened in the past few years are now showing a great return on our investment.

Those offices include Spain and Benelux and they are delivering outstanding results. In the UK we are slightly behind where we were last year but that’s because our Pixar release, Ratatouille, came later in the year. Last year we had Cars in the summer.

We feel confident that with our strong back-end releases we’ll be able to make up lost ground there. In the last six months we’ve also announced our first online initiative – we’ve partnered up with Shanda to deliver our Company of Heroes franchise.

What products can we expect from THQ going into Christmas and the New Year?

For the first time ever we have a simultaneous launch across seven formats for Smackdown vs. Raw 2008. The franchise is going from strength to strength and we feel it will be a major hit going into Christmas. To back that up we have a sequel to Cars called Mater: National which we are also releasing across seven formats. To complement that we have our evergreen Nickelodeon line-up that includes Nicktoons. We are also excited about our Warhammer 40,000 licence.

Do you feel you have any gaps in your portfolio? If so how are you addressing this?

We are platform agnostic. We have expanded our internal studios significantly over the last five years – from a couple of hundred to over 1,500.

We are always looking out for talent. If we see developers out there that we feel would fit well with THQ then we’d consider them.

The Wii caught many publishers by surprise. Is this a platform you will be targeting going forward?

The Wii caught everybody by surprise. Anybody who says they haven’t been pleasantly surprised by the success of Wii is a liar. We’ve always had a very strong relationship with Nintendo over many years and we want to continue that relationship and get a good market share across that format.

What's your reaction to the PS3 price drop? How do you anticipate this will benefit THQ?

Absolutely, we’re happy. We expected it and expected it around the time it happened. It fell in line with price activity that Sony has delivered on previous consoles. We’ve been very happy with the uplift of sales in the last few weeks.

Do you think consumers have a perception of the THQ label?

I don’t think the consumer is focused on the label. They are buying the individual game. We are more concentrated on getting the quality of our product out to market. We are increasing the quality of the product rather than the perception of the label.

Does that improvement include downloadable content?

We do have downloadable content for many of our releases and we see it as an incremental revenue opportunity for us. We exploit whatever opportunities come up.

With the current-gen consoles now firmly established are you looking to expand? If so how do you plan to do this and take on the likes of EA?

We look at our current line-up and we see a lot coming to fruition over the next year. We will definitely grow our dominance in the kids’, family and handheld markets, especially PS2 – we are going to continue to support that format. There’s also more mass-market casual original IP with games like Drawn To Life and a new one called de Blob.

We also want to grow our core gamer market share. We’ve got releases of key titles such as Saints Row 2. That is coming next year. Red Faction was one of our biggest hits when PS2 launched and we’ll be following that up with Red Faction 3. We expect a lot from that. We also have another core game called Darksiders: Wrath of War that we’ve just announced. Then we’ve got next-gen versions of Destroy All Humans!, called Big Willy Unleashed, on PS3 and Xbox 360.

We are the most aggressive publisher when it comes to pursuing back-catalogue market share. We will exploit every opportunity we can.

Can you overtake EA?

One day! No-one stays at the top forever and that applies to EA. If somebody is going to move in and topple them, then we are best placed to do that. Can it happen? Will it happen? When will it happen? You’ll just have to watch this space.

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