Big Huge Cheques

By Kieron Gillen on January 15th, 2008 at 2:58 am.

Just crawling off to bed, and a news story arrives from Gamasutra. Rise of Nations (and Legends) developer Big Huge Games have been purchased by THQ. One quote sticks out from Big Huge Games’ Tim Train.

“We look at the world as dividing into two camps from a publisher perspective – first are the people who view game production as more of an assembly-line process, whereas THQ are a lot more focused on keeping developer culture intact — they think it’s a big engine of creativity, especially when trying to develop original IP. Because they’re not built on big, monolithic single-location studios, they’ve got a very worldwide studio system that was very attractive to us when we were talking to them.”

While they’ve an console RPG in the works, there’s also mention of another (new) game which helped seal the deal – which, from BHG, you may speculate is an RTS or strategy game of some sort. The deal’s an interesting one from a PC perspective. From my perspective, THQ have been heavily supportive of the PC as a platform in recent years (Company of Heroes. Supreme Commander. They even carried on supporting STALKER when many people presumed it was doomed). They now actively own – in the form of Relic and BHG – two of the best RTS developers on the planet. What are they thinking?

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11 Comments »

  1. DigitalSignalX says:

    om nom nom-ish-ism-esque worthy

  2. wiper says:

    “They now actively own – in the form of Relic and BHG – two of the best RTS developers on the planet. What are they thinking?”

    Home of Legends?

    Rise of War?

    Or simply a follow up to Rise of Legends… with Yes soundtrack! \m/

  3. Tim says:

    Engine of creativity? The THQ australian studio is best known for spewing out spongebob and other franchise tie ins. In fact I’ve heard from developers here that the few Australian studios there are, generally just grind out crappy games to formulas. After each release the best talent heads overseas having earned their straps.

    Hopefully that changes slowly over the years and obviously there are exceptions.

    Still I’ve been pleasantly surprised and impressed by some of the titles THQ has been releasing, they seem to be moving towards cred.

  4. Tim says:

    Hmm.. maybe the person I was thinking of is just an old bitter cynic. He did say though when he went for an interview at one of the game studios here, that they told him “Remember we just make expensive toys for rich kids”.

  5. wiper says:

    Hmm.. maybe the person I was thinking of is just an old bitter cynic. He did say though when he went for an interview at one of the game studios here, that they told him “Remember we just make expensive toys for rich kids”.”

    To be fair, that is pretty much what the games industry’s all about (assuming we’re happy to interpret ‘rich kids’ as including all the ‘big kids’ that have jobs who still play games). Just because there are games which it takes an adolescent’s mind to enjoy doesn’t make games anything more than (sometimes mentally challenging, very occasionally morally challenging) toys.

    That being said, it’s still one of the most exciting industries out there (from a gamer’s perspective, at least), and certainly capable of posing questions in ways that no other media can, but they’re still ‘just’ games. Until we see games that are purposefully ‘bad’ games – i.e. designed not as entertainment, but ‘art’, whatever that means – I’m not sure it’s possible to argue otherwise (in the same way that if the only books out there were heroic fantasy books and comedies; if all films were action films and romances; if all music was cock-rock and dance – then we’d have no justification referring to any of them as anything more than simple entertainments. Not that that would necessarily be a bad thing, of course).

    Of course, you could argue that games like Killer 7 have already done exactly what I’m talking about. Which I can’t really argue against, apart from the fact that I think Killer 7 was a little overrated (its narrative and art-style not, actually, all that impressive, and it didn’t really ‘say’ anything beyond simply ‘lookit me! I’m arty!’ – but that could just be me being a philistine). Or you could argue that you can have something which is a good game and still says enough to be classed as more than mere entertainment, and I’d probably agree with you. But that doesn’t stop them being toys – just more complex toys than most, relevant to adults as well as children.

  6. Tim says:

    I actually agree that games are expensive toys for rich kids. In fact when I heard him say that I laughed out loud hysterically while I got dirty looks from all the budding young game developers whose dreams were being put into that perspective (and from the speaker too, I might add).

    The grand epic pretty gaming that the people in the room were thinking of, like the Farcry 2′s and Crysis’s (?:P) and so on aren’t for the common man. Things are opening up though.

    I thinking I was feeling all mathematics snobby towards the lowly comp sci students.

    Gaming has always had a home with the nerd and geeks like me, the techies who can get around financial issues by building things themselves or what not. But in this case they were talking about Spongebob square pants and the sort of kids that would get whatever game or toy their wimsical desires suddenly came up with.

    The good thing is that gaming is also increasingly becoming available to non-rich kids, who deserve to have fun far more. With indy gaming and all.

    Plus toys are essential! Adults need to play too! Screw all those stuffy people that think toys are for kids. If they don’t want to keep on learning through play throughout their life, that’s their problem.

    Whatever I said makes sense to me anyway.

  7. The Sombrero Kid says:

    they’re not built on big, monolithic single-location studios they’re built on big, HUGE, monolithic single-location studios!

  8. WCAYPAHWAT says:

    We (Australia) seem to have a lot of talent, and just no way to broadcast it. But hey, we manage to make some of the better games around. Our lads invented team fortress….and puzzle quest, I do believe. then we got Yahtzee’s stuff…..can we claim him for our own? or do you brits have first call on that?

  9. Nick says:

    Plus toys are essential! Adults need to play too! Screw all those stuffy people that think toys are for kids. If they don’t want to keep on learning through play throughout their life, that’s their problem.

    I agree.. and well put.

    I’m afraid Yahtzee can’t be claimed for Australian talent, he does make some great games though.

  10. hoohoo says:

    there is another story here. what is going on at microsoft? they seem to be shedding game devs like they have the pox or something. microsoft had a 20% stake in bhg. everybody else is grabbing devs left and right. they are either getting out for good, or getting ready to grab ea and take over games like they took over os’s.

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