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Bilson proud of portfolio his team built "under duress" at THQ
Posted: 13.05.2013 15:15 by Simon Priest Comments: 0
Former EVP of core games at THQ, Danny Bilson, recounts his time at the now extinct publisher, saying it was "brilliant at what it did" from 1991 to 2007 making a fortune for themselves and investors.

There were "legacy issues" which plagued the company, slowing them down. They went from casual and licensed titles to AAA but were "shutting studios the whole time," says Bilson.

His job entailed going out and informing studio teams they were to be shuttered. "It's like the worst thing that... it's the worst. I'll stop right there. Awful" he added.

Bilson said "our finances were difficult the whole time I was there", reports GamesIndustry.biz. "We were shutting studios the whole time, and I was the guy going out there and giving the bad news." The reason THQ's fall was so painful was that such a promising line-up of titles laid ahead that could have saved them, but there just wasn't enough to fall back on.

"Listen, when I left a year ago, we didn't see what eventually happened on the horizon," he said. "I'm not kidding, okay: we knew we were in trouble, but we knew we had a good line-up, and I thought we had enough money put away to support that stuff, finish it, and market it properly. We had a plan to live another day."

"And this is honest, honest, honest: I do not know what happened after I left. No idea. I'm not privy to what went on in there and I didn't try to find out. I needed to move forward. I really wasn't engaged at all, and then the news came in December."

"This was happening to my friends. I felt terrible. I just felt terrible."

Danny Bilson was let go from his position at THQ, with Naughty Dog co-founder Jason Rubin joining as president.

"I just know what I've inherited, and what I've inherited are some pretty darn good titles," Rubin told Joystiq at the time.

"If I look to Danny's past, I don't know what went wrong because I wasn't here, but I can tell you some things went right. Because I can't take any credit for South Park: The Stick of Truth, Darksiders, Company of Heroes 2, or Metro. They're here as I come in."

Bilson has never offered comment on how he was handled by THQ. His job as EVP of core games was to manage production budgets from internal and external to the company, but higher ups ultimately decided how much money he could have.

"Nobody's heard my comment. I went very quiet while other people managed it," he continued. "That's what an executive does. We move on. I have to count on the fact that the industry people and the journalists who know - the public doesn't matter, because they're not going to influence my next job - but that the people who really know understand what I did and didn't do, and what I'm responsible for and what I'm not. I have to count on the truth."

He takes responsibility for whatever part he played in the downfall of THQ.

"I'll tell you exactly what I told my boss when I left: I'm proud of the portfolio my team built under duress; meaning under a company that was constantly re-organising, constantly cutting, cutting, cutting. We made real progress, but we didn't have enough of a cushion to ultimately get through."

"I think that the informed people that were watching the whole thing - press, industry people, engaged fans - had a certain respect for the games that my team was starting to make. That meant a lot to us. My team helped to raise the quality bar at a company that was built on something else entirely."

Despite the flaming wreckage that was THQ's fall, Metro: Last Light, Saints Row 4, Company of Heroes 2 and South Park: The Stick of Truth are still on schedule for release this year.

"Vigil would have found a new home if they were within range of shipping something, but they had just shipped and THQ had cancelled the project the second team was doing," says Bilson. "I'm glad the core team got picked up by Crytek, because that's a really creative, hard-working group of people, but they were just too far away from somebody getting a return on their investment."

Check out the full interview between Danny Bilson and GamesIndustry.biz.
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