Madness: THQ Drops Del Toro’s inSANE

By Nathan Grayson on August 7th, 2012 at 11:00 am.

Dear Santa, I know it’s a bit early, but I really, really want bad things to stop happening to THQ. Warhammer 40K Dark Millennium’s not an MMO anymore, Devil’s Third has flown the coop, and if any sort of harm comes to Metro: Last Light, my overburdened heart will go nuclear – leaving the rest of my organs to establish a ramshackle underground society in my legs. And now, we’re looking at the worst news yet from THQ’s ongoing financial crisis: Guillermo del Toro’s inSANE has hit the skids. So please, Santa, I’m on hands and knees here. Only you have the power to end this.

Newly crowned THQ president Jason Rubin explained the decision to pull the plug on the Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth director’s interactive opus during a recent investor call:

“We have stopped development for certain areas that are not productive for our new strategy. Consistent with this vision, THQ has made a few changes to previously announced projects. First, we made the determination not to pursue any casual Facebook games. Second, we will not be publishing casual mobile games, including those with Innovative Leisure. And third, we have decided not to pursue further pre-production on inSANE, and have returned all of our IP rights to Guillermo del Toro.”

“By canceling these explorations outside of our core business, we feel we can improve focus on our core game portfolio, which remains unchanged.”

So that’s pretty miserable. On the upside, though, del Toro can, if he so chooses, continue to develop inSANE elsewhere. Valhalla Game Studios, for instance, recently encountered a similar situation with Devil’s Third and managed to take a (Devil’s) second crack at finishing the madcap actioner elsewhere. For now, however, THQ’s not saying whether or not del Toro retains rights to code as well as IP, so the situation could be a bit more complicated.

If nothing else, we may have minor evidence of Santa’s existence in the form of THQ’s bottom line, which is – contrary to what you might expect – continuing to improve. This quarter, the struggling publisher actually managed to post a profit of $15.4 million, and a certain mega-blockbuster about death and pestilence stands to breathe even more new life into THQ’s ragged bones.

So no more casualties after this one, right? Please?

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73 Comments »

  1. Eukatheude says:

    Damn.

  2. HexagonalBolts says:

    To be honest though, how many really succesful MMOs are there? It’s amazing how many hundreds upon hundreds have been churned out based upon the legacy of perhaps 2 or 3, almost all mindlessly believing that *their* MMO could be the next big thing. I expect THQ realised that this one was looking a little bland and was even less likely to be one of the lucky few.

    • paddymaxson says:

      Depends what you mean by successful.

      10 Million players? 1 Million? 100,000? EVE Chugs along quite nicely with less than 200,000. The key to a successful MMO is not to invest 300 million dollars into developing it, so you don’t need 300 million dollars in returns to break even. There’s a tonne of “successful” MMOs, but only only one WoW.

      • Xardas Kane says:

        almost 400k actually. But yes, the problem all MMOs have is not initial sales, it’s keeping their players around. EVE achieves that because it’s the only high quality graphically pretty sandbox experience around, there’s just no game on quite the same level.

        • paddymaxson says:

          Sorry, guess my figures are grossly outdated, they’ve had a lot of growth, well done to them. I know they were chugging along at 150k a few years back with no problems.

    • f1x says:

      Indeed, it depends on what you consider succesful,

      If we are talking about being financially succesful, hey, there are a lot of them, of course nobody can reach the tops of WoW
      But for example, Runes of Magic is succesful, being a f2p clone of WoW

    • The Random One says:

      Yeah, there are very few if you define “successful” as “relevant”. Financially speaking if a game pays its own bills it’s doing ok.

      But MMO’s require a team to constantly work on it forever. Not to mention the costs in hosting, web security, etc. It’s probably more profitable to have such a team working on traditional games. Until the industry collapses again, anyway.

      Plus you guys remember the last time a famous guy from outside of gaming tried to create an MMO, right?

      • Lev Astov says:

        You guys know inSANE was not an MMO, right?

        I lament it’s passing.

      • f1x says:

        First comment was refering probably to the WH40K MMO, which is not what the article is about but anyway

  3. paddymaxson says:

    I’m glad THQ are making money again, they’ve the rights to a number of franchises that I like, so them not dying makes me happy. If they have to cut Del Toro’s thing, then I really don’t mind at all. I’m always weary of big names in other mediums breaking into games. Clive Barker’s Jericho by Clive Barker was abysmal, and I don’t play Tom Clancy’s: Anything for Tom Clany’s writing,

    I can’t think of many good examples of creators from elsewhere making games.

    • frightlever says:

      Clive Barker’s Undying was decent.

      Oh, and the Riddick games were good.

      • TimEatsApples says:

        The Dig.

        • Skabooga says:

          I second that. Spielberg took what would have been a good premise for a movie and made an even better game out of it.

      • Jason Moyer says:

        Boom Blox looked neat although I haven’t been able to try it.

        Also, Monty Python’s Complete Waste Of Time managed to have the greatest metagame ever.

    • AlwaysRight says:

      Del Toro sounded like he knew what he was on about with this game. I can’t remember what podcast he was on talking about it but he definitely ‘gets’ the difference between games and cinema.

      Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if THQ drop Dark Millenium all together. This big change to a game mid-development can’t be good.

      Edit: That podcast was – IrrationalInterviews s01e09 GuillermoDelToro. I got the link from the Sunday Papers, and would reccomend it.

      • paddymaxson says:

        Heh, Ok I got inundanted with good games from people who don’t normally makes games, fair point. There are more than I believed there to be.

        Edit: You guys will have to excuse me a little bit, it’s not that I necesarily think Del Toro couldn’t make a good game, just that I didn’t expect him to.

        As a long term gamer who’s been dissapointed by most of what I expected to be great (Tabula Rasa anyone?) I have literally given up on looking at games till about a week before release.

        I refuse to have expectations about games, and it’s made me much happier as now I expect everything to be shit and get pleasantly surprised!

        • frightlever says:

          To be fair I found the Del Toro “co-authored” vampire novels to be pretty weak.

      • Xardas Kane says:

        Del Toro IS A GAMER. A real one, real enough to say his favourite game is Shadow of the Colossus and that he loves Ico, Okami and thought Bioshock’s world and story were awesome. He DOES get gaming, he DOES think games are art and he was VERY committed to this project, he wanted to make, I quote, “the Citizen Kane of video gaming”.

        I can not stress how sad I am to hear this. Then again, I have rarely seen a director with such bad luck – first The Hobbit debacle, then the pathetic drama surrounding At The Mountain of Madness, and I will NEVER EVER forgive Universal for that one, now this. Really sad. I hope he can make the game with another studio, I really, really do. The man shits gold, how has it come to this?!

  4. Safewood says:

    You think Santa could exist in such a coldhearthed world, or do you think it snow return?

  5. Maxheadroom says:

    This is getting harder and harder for their maketing department to spin. Pretty soon it’ll be:

    “Going forward, we feel that our refocused business model would be best served by locking up the office and watching Jeremy Kyle till the balifs kick us out”

  6. Shadram says:

    How can you post a $15million profit and still be considered in a ‘financial crisis’? Profit means ‘money left over after paying staff and bills’, right? I don’t think I’d consider myself in any kind of crisis if I had $15million left over after 3 months of work…

    • Arbodnangle Scrulp says:

      Shadram, because in order to raise the money needed to develop the game they would have had to make certain promises to the investors about what kind of return they would get on their investment, and if that falls short the studio will have trouble raising the cash to fund other projects. $15 million might sound like a lot of money to a ‘civilian’ but in big business terms it’s a disappointing result.

  7. subedii says:

    The more I hear about THQ, the more worried I get about Relic.

    I’m having flashbacks to when Interplay sank and took Black Isle with it.

    • Iskariot says:

      I getting the ominous feeling we will never see Homeworld 3.
      Such a shame.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        It’s unlikely we’ll ever see a new Homeworld game even if THQ swam in as much money as Activision does. They’ve buried the franchise deep, just like Freespace.

        What I’m more worried about is Company of Heroes 2.

        • Iskariot says:

          Homeworld is my favorite space RTS of all time. And there is no Space RTS even remotely like it. The spaceship design of the Homeworld franchise is by far superior to everything else.
          That’s why I would really like the IP to live on. I loved it sooooo much.
          -
          But if Relic plans to do the same to Homeworld as they did to the Dawn of War IP it might be better if the Homeworld IP ends with HW2.

          • lessthandan says:

            Have you not played Star Wolves?

          • KillahMate says:

            Wow, Star Wolves does look a lot like Homeword mechanically. Unfortunately it doesn’t have that superb aesthetic touch Homeworld had in its every aspect. Star Wolves looks like competent sci-fi, but HW wasn’t just an RTS in 3D, it was a beautiful epic.

            ETA In fairness re: the Homeworld IP, HW2 was already showing signs of bastardization, with a bunch of story retcons, and going in different creative directions in a number of ways from the first one. It wouldn’t hurt if an eventual HW3 went back to its roots a bit.

  8. Arbodnangle Scrulp says:

    The investors go where the easy money is, which these days means mobile gaming and social games. Triple A titles and MMOS that need intensive (read: expensive) development are likely to become more scarce.

    • lijenstina says:

      “The investors go where the easy money is… ”
      That’s why bubbles explode and the world economy looks like a CoD trailer. :P

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      So you’re saying I should invest in Zynga?

  9. magnus says:

    Well, that’s not the first time Guillermo del Toro’s been shat on; Mimic/At The Mountains Of Madness and various other projects spring to mind..

    • iucounu says:

      Does he keep getting shat on? I’ve always felt – based on the four movies of his I’ve seen, Cronos, Mimic, Blade 2 and Hellboy, probably not the best cross-section – than he’s kind of overrated. Amazing-looking movies that fall apart half way through.

      • Obc says:

        pan’s labyrinth is his masterpiece, and the movie is amazing from the beginning till the end. its “deep” and “allegoric” and not just “fluff” like hellboy.

        del toro is a great poducer and director but not a very good scriptwriter. pans labyrinth is the only movie i saw of his that also had a great narrative.

        but boy can he does some great designs and setpieces. the angel of death or the elves in HB2 were really gorgoues to look at.

        and another thing he has been shat on: The Hobbit. he invested so much time in the movie and what not but it never took a start. even after a year of developing the movie there was no sign of when the production/filming would finally start and had to leave.

        • InternetBatman says:

          I really, really wanted to see Del Toro’s Hobbit. And in the theaters…

      • Xardas Kane says:

        Cronos is his weakest movie, but I can’t agree about the rest. Hellboy specifically is my favourite comic book movie aside from the Dark Knight Trilogy. Funnily enough you haven’t actually seen his best work IMO – The Devil’s Backbone and, of course, Pan’s Labyrinth.

        • CrookedLittleVein says:

          “Cronos is his weakest movie”

          Surely you jest, sir?

          It’s usually considered one of his best!

          • Xardas Kane says:

            Surely YOU jest, sir! Pan’s Labyrinth has always been considered his best! And please do note I never said Cronos is a bad movie, rather that it’s not among his best work. ;)

          • CrookedLittleVein says:

            “Surely YOU jest, sir! Pan’s Labyrinth has always been considered his best! And please do note I never said Cronos is a bad movie, rather that it’s not among his best work.”

            No, I do in fact believe it is YOU that must jest, SIR!

            I do believe you stated Cronos to be “his weakest movie”, which is odd considering it is usually rated at least as highly as Devil’s Backbone and higher than either his Hellboy work (though it is rather acclaimed and I love it) and Blade II (also my favourite in the trilogy). I would also contend that Mimic is a far, far weaker piece of work than Cronos by a very wide margin indeed.

            :3

          • Xardas Kane says:

            Mimic is the only one of his movies I haven’t seen, I barely even remember its existence. Out of all the rest I’ve seen Cronos really doesn’t stand out in any way. I repeat for I don’t know which time that I never said it was a weak movie, rather that it was WEAKER than, say, Backbone or the Labyrinth. You don’t need to get that emotional over my personal opinion now, do you? I personally thought it was gory and stylish, but not much beyond that, and enjoy Blade 2 and Hellboy for the dumb fun they were intended to be.

          • belgand says:

            Mimic is definitely his worst film. It’s also a film that was largely so bad because the Weinsteins got deeply involved in it to the usual detriment of, well, everything.

          • CrookedLittleVein says:

            “You don’t need to get that emotional over my personal opinion now, do you?”

            I thought we were joking around . . .

          • Xardas Kane says:

            Last comment came across kind’a weird, sorry then :D In any case, OK, I take it back, Mimic is I guess his worst. Thing is, many a year ago I checked out all his movies, saw how much Mimic was bashed and never looked at it again. Until a couple of hours ago I had completely forgotten it even exists, hence my previous statement. Maybe I should watch it just to make sure I remember there is such a movie, you know, for future references :D

  10. FlammableD says:

    Not to wish for people to be out of jobs, but I was hoping they’d lose enough cash to have to sell off the WWE licence to someone not terrible at their job.

  11. mouton says:

    On the bright side, he did say they will not develop casual facebook and casual mobile games. I can only applaud that.

  12. f1x says:

    Just… dont… touch….Metro:Last Light….. please?

  13. Iskariot says:

    I did not know what to expect from this Del Toro game anyway. So I do not know what to be sorry about. If he was making a game based on his vampire books I am very sorry, because I would love to see more good games based on the vampire theme (but not Twilight, never, never awful Twilight).
    -
    Personally I feel that to switch from MMO to a SP/MP game in the case of Warhammer 40K Dark Millennium is a very very good idea. I am a bit sick of MMO.
    I love Warhammer 40K and I do not want the typical, rather childish MMO bullshit in a WH40k game. I want a good long single player experience and I want to be immersed in the 40k universe without having to socialize and seeing enemies respawn because they have to be defeated by half a million other players too. To me MMO is not a true submersive gaming experience, it is more like kidsplay in an amusement park.

    I hope this is the start of a trend towards more high quality meaty single player games and a decline in MMO failures.

  14. Subject 706 says:

    Every cloud has a silver lining; Dark Millenium not being an MMO(failure) can only be for good.

    • subedii says:

      Not being an MMO may be to its benefit. Switching from MMO to singleplayer half-way through development… that’s definitely not a good thing.

      Unless the combat is rock solid and they pull off some amazing stuff with reworking the game, I don’t see how it can really end up as anything other than a mish-mashed mess where you see all the hanging gameplay mechanics and bits that were clearly designed with an MMO in mind.

  15. HisMastersVoice says:

    This is actually a good thing. Trying to push through a project that doesn’t have the funding or projected returns is a recipe for disaster both for the game and the publishing company.

  16. televizor says:

    That’s pretty sad news for Del Toro, considering his At The Mountains of Madness movie got canned a couple of months ago as well (because of Prometheus).

    • Xardas Kane says:

      Umm, no?! It was canned almost 2 years ago and that was done by Universal, while Prometheus is by 20th Century Fox?! The two have virtually no connection at all.

      • Bobtree says:

        Del Toro said Prometheus is almost exactly the same story and he didn’t want to duplicate it.

        • Xardas Kane says:

          Mountain was canned MORE THAN TWO YEARS BEFORE PROMETHEUS CAME OUT. He said he doesn’t want to make it NOW, not that he didn’t want to make it back then because of a movie NOBODY knew ANYTHING about o.O

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          To be blunt, that’s bullshit.

    • Davie says:

      No, it wasn’t Prometheus, it was that fucking awful Wolfman movie no one remembers. Since it bombed, the studio execs assumed that of course it had nothing to do with Wolfman being a shit movie, and instead it was because there was no market at all for Gothic horror. It makes about as much sense as removing the “Of Mars” from the title of John Carter because previous movies with Mars in the title did not do well.

      • Xardas Kane says:

        No, again wrong. Wolfman had nothing to do with it, the R rating did. That was the single reason why that movie didn’t happen, they didn’t want to spend 150 million on a R rated movie.

        • belgand says:

          Man, I remember back in the late 90s when not only were movies, at student rate at least, $3.75, but just about everything was R and nobody gave a shit.

  17. Lemming says:

    At least with Del Toro’s game he got to keep all the rights. Hopefully that means another publisher will pick it up.

  18. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Anyone expecting anything other than this outcome was kidding themselves.

    • scatterbrainless says:

      Oh god, you’re right. It’s all my fault. I’m so stupid, so STUPID! Why do I have to look forward to things? I’m so sorry…

      • Diogo Ribeiro says:

        Heh. I’m just surprised people had big hopes for yet another THQ transmedia project. Remember that Red Faction stuff? Main game, downloadable twin-stick shooter, tv series and whatnot. Then abruptly – not as abruptly as people seem to believe – the series was offed with no big fanfare. I remember reading how THQ were head over heels about the guys doing the trans thing, chiefly their “track record”. That’s all that exists in these people’s minds – the numbers, the figures, the track records, keeping the brand “out there”. Even if I did fancy Del Toro, which I don’t (though Pan was cute), it’s the usual “guy outside videogames has raging ideas, we need to hire him to make games”. In how many cases has this worked out without leaving a sour after taste? They didn’t even had a concrete idea about Insane other than immediately calling it “Del Toro’s inSANE”. The ego is right there in the name, much like American McGee’s Old Concept Plus Grungy Textures-styled game names. It was “transmedia” even before it was a game, and that’s a problem right there. At leat RF Armageddon had something at the start to be further developed (if it was worth developing is another issue).

  19. scatterbrainless says:

    This really makes me le sad. Pan’s Labyrinth was the tits. Also, between the interview with Levine and the New Yorker profile of him from last year, Del Toro is officially my favorite connoisseur of all things geeky.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      The extra material in the Ichi the Killer special edition “Bloodbag” DVD contains an interview conducted between del Toro, Takashi Miike, and Eli Roth.

      Total and complete NERDGASM.

  20. Skabooga says:

    On the plus side, they won’t be producing any casual Facebook games, so maybe THQ is smarter than we give them credit for.

  21. Suits says:

    tl;dr go watch Pan’s Labyrinth if you haven’t already

  22. Dave L. says:

    So apparently anticipated new IPs from high profile creative talent are no longer part of THQ’s core business plan. What’s the over/under on Patrice Desilets’s still unannounced project being next on the chopping block?

    I have a feeling that the transition to next generation of consoles is going to kill THQ. They don’t have enough console focused studios with enough talent (Vigil, Volition, and THQ Montreal. Of which the only 100% proven studio is Volition. Darksiders II will decide Vigil’s fate) to produce titles that will release and sell on both generations for a year or so until the previous gen dies off.

    I really do worry for Relic. Best case scenario in the inevitable collapse of THQ is that Relic gets picked up by either EA or Square-Enix (or even is able to scrounge up enough cash to take themselves independent again), but in all likelihood the IPs that they’re best known for will end up being split up between a bunch of different publishers when THQ starts desperately selling those off.