While EA Partners ultimately nabbed the lucrative first deal with the post-Infinty Ward Respawn Entertainment Studio headed by Vince Zampella and Jason West, fellow publisher THQ recently came out in an interview with Industry Gamers to reveal that they too attempted to grab the duo.
“I probably shouldn’t talk about that publicly, but Jason [West] and Vince [Zampella] and I had a lot of very serious conversations during that time when they were ‘shopping around’…We have absolutely hands down the best pitch in the world, the easiest place for artists to come, and you’re going to see a series of announcements of some very serious game talent coming our way.” said Danny Bilson, Executive Vice President of Core Games at THQ, “…the guys that we’re going to announce, are of that caliber coming our way. So as far as competing with the other guys, that’s not an issue at all, because what we have is an absolutely better place to work… because those guys, the creatives, aren’t driven by the marketers.”
Bilson continued, “The marketers are driven by the creatives in our shop. I have a feeling we’re one of the only shops in the entertainment business that’s run that way these days. And what that means to a developer is invaluable. I’m about to leave this meeting to go greet one of these pieces of talent I’m suggesting and over the next six months you’re going to understand exactly what I was saying…Wait till you see our announcements! You’re going to go, ‘oh my God’.”
Given THQ’s policies of having complete ownership of its released IP, it doesn’t seem likely that they will be in discussions with talent the recently acquired Bungie or Insomniac, whose contracts allocate creative ownership of IP to the developers. Danny Bilson doesn’t believe in that model, but is certain that his company’s stance on the issue will not effect its talent acquisitions.
“The only thing we have to have and insist on is ownership of the intellectual property. That’s sort of the deal breaker for me. So, we have to own the IP, but I believe in the Hollywood model, which is that, the bigger the artist, the more important, the more successful they are, the bigger share they get. Just like in Hollywood. But you know, most of the biggest talents in Hollywood don’t own their IPs. It doesn’t work that way. My job coming to this company was to build an IP library, which builds value in THQ. So that means having a developer own the IP becomes a deal-breaker,” he said. “That is fantastic for [developers retaining IP rights] if they can get away with it. They can’t come here with that. And I don’t need them if that’s the deal, and they’re not a business I want to be in.”