Interviews

THQ's Danny Bilson Pt. 1

VP of Core Games talks UFC, future titles

Publisher THQ, in its own words, has had a fantastic year. UFC Undisputed broke company sales records, Darksiders and Red Faction have both been well received and Metro 2033 and Chaos Rising are currently doing the business in the shops too.

And with UFC Undisputed 2010, Homefront, Warhammer 40k: Space Marine and Red Faction 4 on the horizon, the future's looking rosy for the on-the-rise games firm.

We were lucky enough to sit down with THQ's core games VP, Danny Bilson in New York City recently to discuss UFC Undisputed and an exciting 2010, '11 and '12...

Zoom

How important has UFC been for THQ?

The brand and last year's game was a key driver in helping us recover. Because what we did was when I got here a couple of years ago like all the other companies we were over extended; too many studios, too much product, the market was changing. So we downsized tremendously - all of that's public - and we honed it down to eight or ten studios.

Right out of the gate as we got all of this contraction the UFC game launched and it was the biggest launch in THQ history - exactly what we needed at the time we needed it. Because we needed one big engine to carry the reorganisation and the rebuilding of the company through last year.

But it wasn't just that; Darksiders had a good launch, Red Faction was well respected... all of our other stuff was good last year and the ones we just shipped - Chaos Rising and Metro - are doing really well. But I'm not going to deny for one second that UFC wasn't a key lynchpin in essentially getting us a platform to rebuild from, and it absolutely is.

You see this year's game is way better than last year's. Now it's full featured with all the sports modes you usually get and next year there will be even more. But I'm really excited about software this year and if we did almost four million last year then I'm really excited about how the fans might gather around this one this year.

It's obvious from events like this one that UFC is going to be a big part of THQ's plans going forward, right?

Well honestly, the fighting group... I want to grow this business and make it a much smaller percentage of my business. I want to get my original IPs kicking and firing and have all that growth happen so that there isn't all that pressure on the UFC. UFC is an awesome game we release every year, it kicks ass, it's like our Madden.

We have that in the portfolio and it's absolutely one of everybody's favourites, but really for us to do awesome we have to grow the rest of our business around it with our other stuff. That's what I'm really looking forward to and I'm working really hard on that.

Zoom

THQ really seems to have stamped its ownership on this genre with WWE as well. How exactly do you intend to grow the fighting business?

With these two brands - UFC and WWE - we have everything but boxing and sword fighting games, right? I'm pretty happy with the sport and the entertainment games. We're growing a bunch of other stuff.

The fighting group is actually taking on the management of another game that we're going to announce at E3 that has a certain amount of melee combat in it but it's... we'll announce it at E3. It's a major developer and you'll get exactly what I'm talking about when I'm able to talk about it. It's really cool, it's another one of the things I'm doing to rebuild everything around the core division of THQ.

And that's getting involved with some developers that you'll know and when we announce it you'll go, 'oh they're going with THQ, cool'. I'm excited about that stuff.

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