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THQ developing downloadable games based on 'core' brands

"Very aggressive" is the phrase THQ executive VP of Core Games Danny Bilson used to describe his company's plans for downloadable titles across the Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and PC platforms during a GDC 2010 interview with Joystiq. With two studios dedicated to the downloadable space -- THQ Digital Studios Phoenix (formerly Rainbow Studios) and THQ Digital Studios UK (formerly Juice Games) -- Bilson told us THQ plans to release "up to six" downloadable titles within the next year, some based on the company's biggest brands.

"We're going to be building stuff on some of our core brands," Bilson said, noting the plan is to create downloadable titles within the same universe as THQ's major franchises in order to improve brand awareness. Surprisingly, Bilson's plans include "giving away" some of the upcoming downloadable games, although he did not specify how this idea would be executed.

Bilson's theory is that by getting players "involved" in its franchises via downloadable titles, THQ can help drive pre-orders and awareness for their big-budget (in relation) retail counterparts. While he would not specify which THQ franchises would get downloadable titles, we were told the plan is to roll out this strategy on "two or three" of THQ's biggest franchises (à la Square Enix's upcoming Lara Croft game from developer Crystal Dynamics).

But the plan doesn't end there: Similar to the approach taken by Microsoft's Fable II: Pub Games experiment, downloadable releases based on THQ's major brands will unlock content within the retail releases, teasing players with potential advantages to purchasing related retail titles; retail games will also unlock content in downloadable titles, to help drive players to explore more content within that franchise's universe. "You're going to see some of our core brands built out in different kinds of gameplay to get people involved in the brands and drive awareness towards a launch."

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