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Interviews

THQ's Danny Bilson Pt. 2

Core boss on Saints Row 3, making movies

This is part two of our interview with THQ core games boss, Danny Bilson.

In part one Bilson discussed UFC, Red Faction 4 and what the next 12 months of the publisher's calendar are going to look like.

This half of the chat is arguably even more interesting, as the exec hints and details THQ's Natal plans, what Volition's up to and THQ's exciting 'trans-media' strategy. Read on...

Saints Row and Red Faction are two of THQ's biggest franchises. Would you say that developer Volition is your Infinity Ward?

Zoom

No. I don't have one of those yet. I don't have an Infinity Ward yet. Volition is my flagship, they are my most experienced, veteran and mature studio.

The next Saints Row is mind-blowing. New tech, mind-blowing. I can't talk about that too much but it's mind-blowing. The PR and the marketing for that is going to start rolling out this year.

Volition is awesome but when I have someone doing 10 million units then I'll have an Infinity Ward. I love them, Relic is an awesome studio, Vigil is an awesome studio - where I just came from. There's a great creative center there; Darksiders was a really cool first game for them and the MMO looks ridiculous.

Darksiders is another game like Red Faction that was well received critically but didn't exactly explode sales-wise. You're sticking with Red Faction, so...

Well it did about twice as much as Red Faction. It's done pretty well. I believe that franchise building isn't about a zillion units out of the gate, it's about building a fan base, building a community of people that dig it, listening to them, doing what you think is good... the second one will be twice as big as the first one and the third one you get to big numbers. That's my strategy.

We've talked a lot about THQ's established franchises but how committed are you to building new IP?

That's what I'm totally committed to. I'm a writer; the blank page doesn't scare me. I've been creating new IP my whole career, that's a comfort zone to me; it's not a scary place. It's also the most important and profitable place to be.

So what you're going to see from us in how we're going to see original IP is going to be different. We're going to be doing the most robust trans-media plays anybody's ever seen in the games business. Other companies are, 'oh, we just license this IP to this studio' and you never see anything, or at the most you see some bad Mario Bros. movie. Nobody has ever made it work.

Zoom

We're soon going to announce some really interesting stuff. My strategy isn't about the movie or whatever; that's a big advert for me. My game is going to get made either way but what I do is I'm giving these movie guys the opportunity to meet me two or three years at the end with a triple-A, awesome game and a triple-A, awesome movie that compliment each other - and certainly don't repeat each other - and start to build a world and a fiction and all of that.

You're going to see some announcements from us soon that are very robust in that area and it's nothing like you've seen before.

Is that in relation to the new stuff you're working on or stuff like Red Faction?

Both. Red Faction.

Microsoft announced its big E3 Natal event this month. Is THQ going to be front and center there?

Let me put it this way: they want us to be. That's really good.

I have a game that they're really excited about that we haven't announced. It's making awesome use of the Natal technology. I won't put it in there unless it's awesome on that date. It will be awesome in the fall, but if it's not awesome for that event, I'm not putting it in there.

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