The Story of How THQ Lost the UFC
While the craziness of E3 was going on last week, an important story was put to the back burner. The story was that EA, one of the biggest publishers in the world, outbid THQ for the UFC license that THQ had for the past 5 years. It was a devastating blow to an already horrible situation that THQ has been in the past year. They have been losing money hand over fist due to some horrendous business decisions. The company had to downsize, closing many studios, and having to reshuffle many components in the company. The reason why losing this license hurts the company more than any other is because the UFC games produced by THQ were critical and commercial successes. They were easily the best MMA games ever produced and had so much details poured in to them that it just showed how much the developer cared about the license.
I bet you can tell that I was a huge fan of the series. I bought each game and played them extensively. I probably created close to 15 character in each game and poured close to 100 hours in each too. It was a thrill and a lot of fun. I was never a huge fighting game fan, but this game added a level of strategy never seen in a fighting game that made it appeal so much to me. It even got me involved in watching the UFC, occasionally buying a PPV. This is sort of the game that just spoke to me, and I am sad to see it gone.
It definitely was a hit to my gaming lifestyle when I read that THQ lost the license, but it killed it even more knowing that EA bought it. EA is to me, how the Yankees are in baseball. They step on the little guys no matter what the cost is. They will outbid and outbid until they have what they want. Look at the Madden series. EA bought the NFL license for high quantity of money and look at it now. Madden is easily the most stagnant franchise. That stagnation has hurt the series as little innovation is ever produced. It is starting to show in the sales too as each iteration is losing a slight amount of sales year after year. I know that in business you have to be cut throat and do what is best for your people, but seeing this just makes me despise the business side of gaming.
THQ now has a huge hole in their gaming library. Now, this isn’t supposed to be a “hate” article by any means. It is supposed to give praise toward what Yuke’s and THQ did. They made one of the most complicated sports into an easily understandable game. It introduced players like me into a sport that I now love to watch. The thrill of building a fighter and having him go from an amateur to a pro was thrilling. You felt irritated when you lost and adulation when you won! It was a great sports game and one I will miss down the road.
Now we look towards the future. Will EA do well with the license? Well they have already made an MMA game titled “MMA”. It was an ok game but didn’t have the roster or features that the Undisputed games have had. The controls felt ok and the graphics were good, but it just didn’t grab me like THQ’s game did.
The UFC is taking a gamble with EA. Sure the money is good and the amount of exposure EA will give the license is immense, but will the game matchup to its predecessor? I can’t answer that, but I will be the first one to tell if it doesn’t live up to standards!