THQ Bankruptcy Means WWE License Will Likely Soon Need a New Home

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Posted December 19th, 2012 at 4:45 pm

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Earlier today THQ declared bankruptcy and the intention to sell off assets to Clearlake Capital Group representing the latest development in what is the gradual demise of the company.

While some ongoing projects at THQ have been confirmed to continue development the one property on the most shaky ground considering its licensed status is WWE. Several franchises were named-dropped by THQ president Jason Rubin today as still being on track and WWE was not one of them. 

Notable in the news release today was the comment that “the sale will allow THQ to shed certain legacy obligations”. The WWE license would make for a significant legacy obligation as the expensive commitment had been made through 2018. The WWE is the second largest unsecured creditor for THQ as they currently owe them over $45 million.

The bankruptcy and sale then looks likely to lead to one of two scenarios. The first is that the agreement frees up the license completely allowing WWE to take it to the highest bidder. The other relates to a transfer of the license in similar fashion as to how the UFC was handled back in June with it moving to EA Sports.

If that were to be the case the WWE would have to sign off on any such transfer just as the UFC did. Either way the power is in the WWE’s hands for how to move forward.

Potential suitors for the WWE license could include EA Sports, Take Two, and Activision. EA has shown interest in the past but having just taken on the UFC and with a significant investment in NBA Live it would be tough to imagine them taking on another new project when MLB is also out there to be claimed if desired. Regardless of who ends up with WWE the development process will be a lengthy one and it may not appear then until a year or two into the next generation of consoles.

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  • Keith

    This will be EA one day. On my left nut it will. That is all

  • Nov

    Anything to get it away from Yukes. What a shit pile that studio has pushed out over the years.

  • mcmax3000

    Even if THQ loses the license, I could see Yukes still staying on as the developer.

    They aren’t owned by THQ, so I could see whatever publisher picks up the license contracting Yukes to continue working on the games since they have over a decade of experience with that brand.

  • Keith.

    EA just lost a lawsuit tied to Madden — doubt they’re in any hurry to take on any more licenses either. They also havent had a profitable year since ’07, and have seen the number of annual releases drop from the 30s to the teens under Riccotello. I’d say all signs point to EA not doing anything with WWE.

    • Kevin Cline

      I disagree. You don’t take on a new license to lose money. You take it to make money. This would be the perfect time to do this.

      • Keith.

        I just don’t think the economics work. The licensing costs probably require an annual release, and the market just ain’t there for an annual $59.99 WWE game, no matter how creative EA gets with the paid-DLC.

        There’s a reason why the game was a financial loser for THQ. Unless the dynamics change, I just don’t see it — then again I’ve been wrong before. Just have to wait and see.

        • http://pastapadre.com/ pastapadre

          To put it in perspective…THQ expects WWE 13 to sell 1.9 million copies and that’s pretty good! But due to the license costs and other investments in development they only will make 6 million off that. And then they still own WWE 45 mil. Pretty big mess there. But shows if handled properly a company *could* make money on it.

          Just a lot easier to make that money when not having to build up the engine, assets, and features from scratch.

          • Keith.

            THQ saying they expect it to move 1.9 million isn’t saying much…if their sales projections were worth a hill of beans, my guess is they wouldn’t have filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday.

            And whoever buys it won’t have to build up the engine, assets and features from scratch — but they will have to buy that stuff through the bankruptcy court…it’s not being given away for free.

  • http://twitter.com/concity06 ConCity Soldier

    :(

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  • Mike Jones

    Please God don’t let Activision get this….

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