As if further proof were needed that the Western games industry is looking to Asia to grow its business and harness low-cost development, THQ has thrown its weight behind the Chinese games scene with opening of a new studio in Shanghai.
Described as an outpost that will "pursue new development opportunities and expand publishing partnerships in the fast growing Chinese market", the office will oversee THQ External Development Group's (XDG) Global Operations and China development initiatives.
THQ already has relations with local developers and publishers, but it is hoped that the Shanghai office will help spearhead more deals to develop and publish both online and packaged games for distribution in the local market and globally.
The first of such games is already in the works, as THQ plans to launch Company of Heroes Online, a free-to-play, micro-transaction game based on the Relic-developed original but designed specifically for Asia in collaboration with its China publishing partner Shanda Interactive Entertainment.
"The Asian markets represent a significant growth opportunity for THQ, particularly as we execute on our strategy to grow revenue from online gaming, an increasingly important segment for our industry," said Martin Good, senior vice president THQ Asia Pacific. "We look forward to continuing to build new publishing and development relationships in China to expand our presence in this important and fast growing gaming market. We view our China initiative as an integral part of our greater Asia online strategy."
Tim Page, market development director for Asia Pacific, and Kevin Chu, corporate director of THQ's XDG, will lead publishing and product development efforts.
Page will lead efforts to expand THQ's online gaming portfolio by establishing and maintaining local publishing partnerships as well as bringing THQ online content to other markets around the world. Over the past few years, he has been responsible for THQ's online strategy for Asia, building partnerships and sourcing new online products, many of which THQ says are yet to be announced. Chu will run THQ's global outsourcing operations and assist in local product development initiatives from Shanghai.
Steve Dauterman, senior vice president of product development at THQ, pointing out hat publisher will not only be widening the remit of its development team, but lowering its costbase, too. "By expanding our development operations and deepening our commitment to the local market, we will accelerate our growth in Asia and at the same time improve the efficiency of our development processes worldwide."
THQ added that it hopes to take advantage of China's fast growing online games market, which is valued at US$1.7 billion in 2007 and reached more than 42 million online gamer - the the market is expected to grow to US$4.2 billion by 2010 according to research firm Niko Partners.