The THQ aftermath: Why did no-one buy Vigil?

Phil Savage at

Darksiders 2 may not have had the care and attention we like to see of a PC port, but that didn't hold back the game's tough, rewarding combat from making the game an overall enjoyable experience. So when the details of THQ's auction were revealed, it was a surprise to see that no-one had bid for Vigil. What gives?

As it turns out, the lack of interest shown in Vigil may have had nothing to do with the quality of the studio, as much as the timing of the sale. Speaking to Game Informer, THQ's president Jason Rubin touched on the difficulties with finding a home for Vigil. "Having just finished a product, Vigil was farthest from release of their next game, and we were not able to garner any interest from buyers, despite a herculean effort. Additionally, they were working on a new IP, which meant even more risk for a buyer."

Essentially, many of the bidders weren't just buying up a development studio, but also their games which, for the most part, were well into development. Relic were preparing for Company of Heroes 2's launch and Volition were well into development on the next Saints Row. Darksiders 2 released at the end of last August, giving the team less time to gear up and launch into development of their next project.

That project was codenamed Crawler, and it sounds like the team were extremely excited about the direction it was heading. In an emotional post to NeoGAF, made from an empty studio, Vigil's lead combat designer Ben Cureton wrote, "I knew, without a shadow of the doubt, that the project we were working on (Codenamed: Crawler) was going to blow people away. In fact, it DID blow people away. We did, in TWO months, what many companies haven't done in a year. The pride of knowing that no one was doing anything like us was so satisfying, it kept us coming to work and giving 100% every single day, even through the dark times."

Unfortunately funding a studio's development, marketing and staff costs for an untested new IP appears to be a risk that bidders involved in the THQ auction found too great. The situation likely wasn't helped by Darksider's 2 financial performance, which THQ's sales projections, taken from the first day motions, put at a loss.

The studio may have closed, but the Darksiders property, along with Vigil's staff, have attracted some interest. Platinum Games' JP Kellams tweeted at Dearksiders 2's lead designer, asking him, and other staff members, to get in touch if they were interested in working with the Bayonetta developer. And Platinum's head Atsushi Inaba also tweeted his interest in picking up the franchise at the upcoming auction, saying (translated by Kotaku), "In THQ's studio and IP selling off auction, Darksiders is unsold? [We] wanna buy it...on the cheap..."

Here's hoping that both Darksiders and the studio's staff quickly find a home.

Thanks to Eurogamer for the Platinum Games info, and to Distressed Debt Investing's Hunter for the analysis of THQ's first day motions.