Publisher THQ is going after the "core" market hard. In addition to an existing stable of talent like Relic (Company of Heroes), the publisher has signed Dead or Alive creator Tomonobu Itagaki for a game. So, who's next?
We ask because THQ is promising more than just Itagaki's name on a contract. A lot more. "We have absolutely hands down the best pitch in the world, the easiest place for artists to come, and you're going to see a series of announcements of some very serious game talent coming our way", THQ's Danny Bilson told IndustryGamers recently.
With games based on UFC, Warhammer and a Korean invasion of the US sitting alongside Devil's Third (Itagaki's title) on THQ's promising roster, it's clear the publisher has a certain demographic in its sights. No wonder, since it has an entire division (the one Bilson runs) called THQ Core Games.
Which leads us back to the question: who's next? Who is out there, and available, and is a big enough name for an executive to get excited over?
Well, as we've said, there's Patrice Désilets. The father of Assassin's Creed recently walked away from Ubisoft's Montreal Studio. THQ recently established a studio in...Montreal, which will develop "core" games and which it's hoped will become the publisher's single largest development house.
Having reportedly become burnt out on Assassin's Creed, a new franchise and a new studio sounds like the perfect fit for the man with the gaming industry's most beautiful beard.
Another possibility has popped up since Itagaki's Valhalla Studio signed with THQ. If the Western publisher was able to appeal to one Japanese development house, there's no reason it couldn't appeal to another. Like, say, Platinum Games.
Platinum, comprised of the brains behind Resident Evil, Okami and Devil May Cry, is also the studio responsible for Madworld, Infinite Space, Bayonetta and the upcoming Vanquish. All four of these games have been (or will be) published by Sega, but Platinum's deal with that company was only scheduled to run for four games. After Vanquish, they're done.
Platinum have serious credibility with core gamers, have big names like Atsushi Inaba and Hideki Kamiya on-board and will soon be free agents once again. If THQ are promising more than one noted developer signing, Platinum certainly fits the bill.
And if Platinum isn't enough, former Capcom and Platinum man Shinji Mikami - Resident Evil's creator - has a new studio as well, called Tango. If Tango is looking for a publisher as well...
But hey, what do we know! It could be Will Wright, it could be David Braben, it could be Derek Smart. As far as Platinum is concerned, we're just speculating, and won't know for sure until THQ actually wheels out this "very serious game talent".