OPINION: Bittersweet lesson as THQ evaporates

When THQ shut down, recently appointed president Jason Rubintweeted a picture of himself leaving the premises, giant purple Saints Row-branded dildo slung over his shoulder.

Rubin – installed to rescue the firm, not nanny it to the grave – used the hashtag#Notembarrassed, defying offended replies.

Too bloody right. THQ’s legacy will hopefully not be of a failed business, but one with decent IPs and talent that punched above their weight.

Of course, there is a business lesson here: with a cold, corporate eye you can see THQ was no canary in the mine. We’ve been told by digital mavens and developer pundits that mid-tier publishers will fail, one by one. But the post-THQ fallout has been to those firms’ credit.

Ubi’s studio landgrab aside, middleweights Sega, Crytek, Koch and Take-Two are the ones who have powered up here.

While the number of publishers may have decreased, the deceased’s contemporaries have grown. The presence of those who were sniffing around but empty-handed (Bethesda, Warner Bros) versus the absence of the giants (Activision, EA) in the bankruptcy bidding only proves it.

Rather than see the THQ business flipped for cash and then pared down by a new owner, the tangible value THQ had will go straight back into the industry itself.

Yet there was more to THQ than just its IP. The people were a talented and close group. One that endured tough times in recent years but remained loyal.

In the UK, THQ’s PR and marketing initiatives were ambitious, over-the-top, and at times happily silly. Just what you need for WWE, SpongeBob and Saints Row. Getting journalists to strip off and lose weight for a UFC Fitness Challenge is one of my favourite PR stunts. But not silly for the sake of it – these campaigns were creative and effective.

So when Jason Rubin tweeted that pic of himself walking away from THQ with dildo in hand, yes, maybe it was a little offensive. But it was also quite sad, quite brutal. Because in many ways THQ was exactly that kind of irreverent, and we’ll miss it for that.

Let’s hope that attitude isn’t lost for good.

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