Can Jason Rubin Turn THQ Around?

There’s no escaping the fact that THQ has seen better days.  Though it’s reported some great sales from franchises like UFC Undisputed 3 and Saints Row the Third, the company also took quite the bath on its uDraw game tablet, which generated little interest yet cost a bundle to manufacture.  Throw in trouble with certain licenses and delays on big projects like Darksiders II and South Park: The Game, and, well, you can guess just how much help the company needed.

But today, some interesting news trickled down the wire.  Danny Bilson, the company’s long-time president, stepped out of the picture for undisclosed reasons, and guess who stepped in?  Jason Rubin.

Now, if you’re not familiar with Jason Rubin, he’s been in the industry for some time.  He was one of the driving forces behind the cult game Rings of Power, one that got him noticed by Electronic Arts.  Since that time, he’s moved on to work on other projects, but his most notable is the founding of a company called Naughty Dog – yep, the makers of Uncharted.

Before Nathan Drake was even a twinkle in their eye, however, Naughty Dog was responsible for a number of other hit games.  Crash Bandicoot got his start in 1996, giving Sony a platforming hero they needed – along with a cute advertising campaign where a guy in a Crash suit taunted folks at Nintendo Headquarters.  The company has since moved on to make other games, including Way of the Warrior for 3DO, the Jak and Daxter series, and more Crash titles, including Crash Team Racing.  Jason departed the company in 2004.

Jason is well regarded in the video game community.  In fact, when word came down about his promotion to THQ president, it was trending on Twitter for quite some time, with some people showing praise and feeling the company was saved, while others weren’t sure what to make of the news.

This comes on the news regarding a huge THQ property being announced this week on WWE Monday Night Raw.  WWE 13, the latest in the company’s popular wrestling games, was revealed, along with the official cover, which features WWE Champion CM Punk, a popular wrestler in the ranks.  Since that time, news about the game has been popping up, giving THQ just the kind of attention it needs leading into E3.  And even though it won’t have the big showcase as it did last year (anyone remember the Saints Row car wash?), it’ll still have presence at the event.

With Rubin in charge, I think things are only going to get better for the company.  Sure, they’re not at their financial best, but they are slowly bouncing back with UFC and Saints Row sales, and several projects are on the way, including Darksiders II (despite the delay to August, it’s quite popular with pre-orders), WWE 13, and the spin-off Saints Row the Third project, Enter the Dominatrix, which is coming sometime this fall.  And let’s not forget its 2013 projects, including Metro: Last Light, which is getting tremendous buzz right now, along with Devil’s Third (from Tomonobu Itagaki, the creator of Ninja Gaiden and Dead Or Alive), South Park and the upcoming Homefront 2, with Crytek at the helm.

It’s always darkest before the dawn, or so it seems, but with Rubin’s leadership and dedicated teams looking to make good projects, no matter what length of time is going into them, THQ looks like it could very well bounce back.  Here’s hoping for nothing but the best from this new partnership.

Oh, and Rubin, if we spot you at E3, first drink’s on us.

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Robert Workman
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