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THQ sues EA and UFC over game licence

Bankrupt publisher claims licence changeover was a fraudulent transfer

THQ is suing Electronic Arts and UFC parent company Zuffa over the termination of THQ's UFC video game licence and its subsequent transfer to EA.

According to the bankrupt publisher, EA and Zuffa conspired to bring about the cancellation of THQ's UFC licence for their own financial gain.

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THQ signed a UFC licensing agreement with Zuffa in January 2007 and went on to produce three games, UFC Undisputed 2009, UFC Undisputed 2010 and last year's UFC Undisputed 3.

In its lawsuit (via Polygon), THQ says that by 2011, its deteriorating financial situation led the company to explore the possibility of putting itself up for sale. It claims that it held "several discussions" with EA about a potential sale to the Madden publisher in early December 2011.

During these meetings, THQ says it divulged "internal financial information, including detailed sales and revenue figures for the UFC franchise, and projected marketing expenditures on the next UFC franchise game", with EA. Later that same month, Zuffa is said to have sent THQ a letter informing it that it wanted to terminate the pair's UFC licencing agreement due to THQ's financial difficulties.

THQ's complaint reads: "Prior to the Demand Letter, EA contacted Zuffa, informed Zuffa of THQ's perilous financial condition and expressed interest in acquiring the UFC franchise directly from Zuffa, causing Zuffa to threaten termination of the UFC license."

Zuffa went on to pay THQ $10 million for the termination of their existing agreement and the licence to THQ's UFC-related IP. THQ believes the UFC franchise was worth double that figure, but that its bargaining position had been undermined by Zuffa and EA's collusion.

THQ is seeking the nullification of the UFC licence transfer and damages amounting to at least $10 million. It also wants EA to "turnover [sic] the profits of the UFC franchise" and wants the court to reject Zuffa's bankruptcy claims against THQ totalling $1.96 million.

In June 2012, EA announced a multi-year, multi-product deal with UFC. EA Sports UFC is scheduled for release on Xbox One and PS4 in spring 2014.

An EA spokesperson told Polygon that the company believes THQ's "claims are without merit".

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