If the past few years in the gaming industry have shown us anything, it’s that some franchise’s just don’t have what it takes to last. While some publishers manage to hit an idea square on the head, and can turn that game into a decade of profits, just as many struggle to capture the original excitement, and ultimately stall out. After the recent release of Red Faction: Armageddon led to sales numbers far below publisher expectations, THQ confirmed in a recent investor call that they no longer had any plans for the future of the series.
It’s easy to blame the death of the Red Faction series entirely on Armageddon, and the third-person action title may very well have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. While the game itself wasn’t an abomination, the changes that the Red Faction series has experienced in the past few years wasn’t a sign of good things to come.
After finding success as a first-person shooter, the development team at Volition took the property down a different path, letting the Mars Rebellion act as the backdrop to an open-world destruction game with Red Faction: Guerilla. The result was an inspired and unique physics experience, but sadly, wasn’t a direction they would stick with.
When Armageddon seemed to be following the framework of successful titles like Dead Space and Gears of War, many wondered if Volition would be able to truly bring something new to the genre, or run the risk of being lost in the shuffle when it hit shelves.
The launch of Armageddon didn’t do much to help the fiscal position of publisher THQ, who despite claiming to be one of the biggest in the business, posted losses of $38.4 million in their last quarter. That’s $8 million more than the same period last year, and CEO Brian Farrell admitted that things hadn’t gone according to plan:
“We are disappointed in our first quarter financial performance. Sales of Red Faction: Armageddon and our licensed kids titles were below our expectations, and the late release of UFC Personal Trainer also adversely impacted the quarter”
In an investor call, Farrell explained that they weren’t wasting any time in moving forward, with the development team at Volition being moved over to work on Guillermo Del Toro’s inSane. As for the future of Red Faction?
“we do not intend to carry forward with that franchise in any meaningful way.”
Fans of the franchise will be left to shed a tear or two for the tragic end to the Mason family, but if THQ wants to make good on its promise to deliver one of the best years in its company’s history, they’ve got to focus on their most profitable properties. There is certainly no shortage of optimism at THQ, with executives having voiced their belief that Homefront will reach Call of Duty popularity, and also betting that Darksiders 2 will get the attention the first game missed.
We’ve got nothing against a publisher supporting their properties at every turn, but hopefully the tragic end to the Red Faction brand will act as a reminder that gamers don’t always give their money to the games with the most publicity.
What do you think of THQ’s decision to kill the series? Are you surprised to hear that Armageddon failed to meet the sales goals of the publisher? Feel free to sound off in the comments.
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