When THQ‘s financial issues led to the all-out auction of its properties and studios earlier this month, Volition and their surprise success Saints Row: The Third were on the minds of many. Not only because the franchise was one of the few notable successes for the publisher in recent years, but because the fate of the studio, not just the next installment hung in the balance.

In came Koch Media, parent company of Dead Island publisher Deep Silver, blowing competing bids out of the water and acquiring both studio and IP. According to Volition‘s general manager, they weren’t the only interested publisher, but ended up seeing the most potential – and were willing to pay for the rights to it.

It’s difficult to claim that one studio or franchise was the most coveted in the THQ auction, since the games are ultimately influenced by much more than what name is on the box (at this point, even Crytek is excited about the future of Homefront, so anything’s possible).

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In an interview with The News-Gazette, Volition general manager Dan Cermak revealed that while only two publishers bid on Volition’s development studio (Ubisoft for $5.4M and Koch’s winning offer of $22.3M), more were interested. According to Cermak, representatives from Warner Bros., EA, Take-Two Interactive and others all visited Volition’s Champaign, Illinois-based offices to see the production site up close. When the auction started, only two made offers.

While it was a surprise to see Saints Row, Metro, and Volition be bought by the Austria-based Koch Media and not one of the North American giants, Cermak made the appeal clear. Explaining that Koch’s representatives seemed impressed with “not just what we make, but how we make it,” they obviously saw an opportunity they were willing to pay top-dollar for. But even Cermak, present during the auction, stated that “the bids were all over the place.”

Deep Silver may not have been seen as the frontrunner in the bidding wars beforehand (although they previously distributed THQ games in Europe), the union of Saints Row and the publisher of Dead Island makes some sense. Highlighting the publisher’s fondness for “over-the-top gameplay” it follows that Deep Silver – no strangers to controversy over border-line crude and offensive humor –  would, as Cermak puts it, “love ‘Saints Row’ and the idea behind it.”

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Whatever your feelings toward the compatibility of studio and publisher sense of humor, Cermak points out that Koch Media existing as a privately-held company could mean more freedom in development than, say, a publicly-traded one like THQ. After planned Saints Row: The Third DLC was cancelled and integrated into a sequel, perhaps it’s a good thing to remove as much pressure as possible in the form of rigid milestones.

Past comments about the upcoming S4ints Row 4: The Fourthening (presumed title) had hinted that Volition was developing a game that would appeal to a broader audience. Deep Silver will be pleased if that’s the case, but we’d be happy with anything as fresh and enjoyable as Saints Row: The Third.

Do you think the shift from public to private publisher means good things for the future of Saints Row? Or have Deep Silver’s previous properties left you with concerns? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: The News-Gazette