THQ CEO - "Difficult Economic Environment" To Blame For LayoffsWe have received a letter purportedly sent by THQ CEO Brian Farrell to explain to his employees the reasoning behind the company closing five studios and laying off staff from two others. The closed studios are Helixe, Sandblast Games, Locomotive, Mass Media and Paradigm. Farrell blamed both the economic downturn and "changing market dynamics" for discontinuing several projects - and closing the associated studios. The closures form part of a strategic plan initiated by Farrell with the aim of returning THQ to profitability. We have not been able to confirm the validity of this letter - THQ has been contacted for comment but has not yet responded.
Good afternoon team, I want to take this opportunity to update you all on some important actions we are taking to best position THQ for future profitability and growth. As you know, the past year has been a challenging one for THQ, and the video game industry is changing rapidly. We are responding aggressively to both changing market dynamics within the video game sector and the impact of today's difficult economic environment. Over the past several weeks, we have completed a new strategic plan for THQ and presented it to our board of directors. The plan was initiated by me and developed by the executive committee in close collaboration with senior members of our product development and publishing organizations. The new plan will result in substantial changes to our product strategy and pipeline. Our goal is to ensure that we have the right resources behind the products and product categories that represent the biggest opportunities for THQ. As a result of this new plan, we have discontinued a number of projects from external developers, as well as certain projects within our internal THQ studios. In a number of cases, the cancellation of a project means that the THQ studio working on that project will be closed. Specifically, we have closed Helixe, Sandblast Games, Locomotive, Mass Media and Paradigm studios. We have also reduced staffing at Juice Games and Rainbow Studios as a result of our product realignment. Our senior PD and HR teams are on the ground at each of the affected studios today, meeting with the employees to discuss severance packages and outplacement services, as well as potential opportunities on other THQ products. While the actions we are taking are difficult, we believe they are a necessary step toward returning THQ to profitability. We are confident that the product pipeline we have outlined in our strategic plan positions us to win in the video game marketplace. We also remain very confident in our internal development capabilities, as evidenced by the strong critical and commercial success of Saints Row 2 and de Blob. I encourage each of you to listen to our Q2 FY 2009 earnings call this Wednesday as I take investors through both the trends that are affecting our business and the manner in which we are realigning our business to best compete. I thank you for your continued focus during this challenging time, and I look forward to sharing more details about our strategic plan with you in the near future. Brian