Following the number of financial issues has faced by THQ over the last year and promising to restructure, the company has announced that Naughty Dog co-founder Jason Rubin will be appointed to the position of President, reporting directly to THQ CEO and chairman Brian Farell. His role will involve being in charge of the company’s “worldwide product development, marketing and publishing operations.” Rubin is best known for his work on the Crash Bandicoot series before leaving Naughty Dog in 2004.
Rubin has expressed excitement in his new appointment, claiming:
“THQ has incredible internal and external game development teams, and an exciting slate of games in its development pipeline… The recent transformation of THQ into a creator of wholly-owned IP has placed it in a perfect position to leverage future trends in the game business. I look forward to working with the management team and board to realize the company’s goals.”
Brian Farrell also went on to say:
“Jason’s proven track record in the industry speaks for itself, and he is one of the brightest minds in the business… We believe he can be a game changer and can contribute immensely to executing on our strategy of delivering quality connected core game experiences.”
Accompanying this move is the addition of Jason Kay, who co-founded Flektor and Monkey Gods with Jason Rubin, as chief strategy officer. Executive VP of Core Games Danny Bilson and senior BP of Core Studios Dave Davis have also reportedly left the company. Brian Farrell expressed his thoughts on their departure:
“Danny has made significant contributions to THQ, and we thank him for his efforts. Along with Danny, Dave has been instrumental in getting our strong pipeline into production.”
Analysis: These departures are indicative of THQ’s shift from licensed games to core titles and was a move that some expected, but the move to appoint Rubin as President is a massive move. Combined with their stock split, it’s clear the intention was to stave off delisting and raise interest in investors once again.
Personally, I find this to be huge news. Rubin has made some great games in the past, but more importantly, he has a perspective on how to make development work that’s unique in the industry—that is, there will be less bureaucracy and generally more trust in the developers themselves. Compromises that have to be made between publishers and developers could be a potential thing of the past for THQ with this move.
Consider for a moment that Rubin has been put in charge of a big publisher like THQ. A developer was put in charge rather than a businessman, who for all intents and purposes doesn’t know all that much about the game industry. You can see why this could be a big move for THQ if they can turn it around.
I’m most certainly holding out hope that the company can turn itself around, and appointing such a respectable name within the industry definitively won’t hurt—just so long as he’s given enough time and that the move isn’t a case of too little, too late.