Newly inaugurated THQ president Jason Rubin, co-founder of Naughty Dog, has given a little 'state of the union' address in an interview. He credits THQ for being here thanks to Saints Row.
Rubin has toured all THQ's projects except for Metro: Last Light, which is based in the Ukraine. THQ doesn't need huge budgets to survive, while the South Park RPG is no blockbuster but gamers are "excited".
"...looking at the industry in the future and what's happened in PC space, I think there's going to be a much wider variety of games in the future," Rubin. He was asked by Farrell if their slate could compete with the super $120m titles out there in development. As soon as 2 years ago Rubin would have said 'no', but the landscape has changed.
"I think you'll see things like Portal or World of Tanks or League of Legends or other ways of attracting people that don't require the snazziest graphics, the most dollars per minute on screen, 600 person teams. Not that those titles won't do well. They'll do really well. And they'll get bigger and that's a race. But we don't have to necessarily play in that race."
Super successful with not so super graphics? Minecraft.
"Maybe some of our titles will compete with some of the mid-sized triple-A titles - you know, a Naughty Dog title or something in the $50-$70 million dollar range. Some of our titles might be smaller than that. Whereas two years ago that might've been death, in two years I don't think that'll be a problem," continued the new THQ boss.
"And I think we can do all right without it." He uses Obsidian's South Park: The Stick of Truth as a prime example: "A lot of people are talking about it, excited about it. That's not a blockbuster. Graphically, it's not going to compete with Call of Duty, but it's a really cool game." In the South Park RPG the player joins the four boys on an epic quest.
Micro-transactions will play their part but won't fit in everywhere.
"Saints Row - if we do more Saints Rows, Saints Row may not be a place for micro-transactions. And again, that's fine. I'm not suggesting that every game out there has to do that," he explained.
"If somebody wants to make a game without micro-transactions, great. If somebody else wants to make a game entirely paid for by micro-transactions, I don't think there's any reason to complain, because you get to try it for free. So yeah, I think that's exactly what we're talking about. That variety of stuff."
Rubin is helping to shape the THQ business model moving forward. Keep your eye on successes, not failures.
"I think when you look at the business and you model it out, it's not how many failures you have, it's how many successes you have. So the problem is when you don't create hits or you don't create titles that do really well. The reason that THQ is here is because Saints Row is really successful," he said.
"You have to create titles that sell copies and do well and that's what we're going to focus on. I'm not going to worry as much about the ones that don't do well."
He'll be reining in how many projects they have: "You can only lose everything, but you can make an infinite amount of money. So there's a significant amount more upside than there is downside. You can't fail at everything all the time or you're done. One of the things I plan on doing is making a much more concise portfolio."
"I will not expand into the money I have because I want to keep this money around for a rainy day. So THQ is going to be a lot more careful with what it does and a little less cavalier. You won't be seeing another uDraw. We're not going to be doing side projects in mobile or casual. You're not going to see that stuff."
Check out thebetween Jason Rubin and GamesIndustry.biz discussing his new presidency.
THQ to be "a little less cavalier" moving forward, "much more concise portfolio"
19 June 2012 | By Simon Priest