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THQ looking at 'longer development cycle' for next UFC

"We thought based on the preorder trends that we saw and what we were hearing from retailers and consumers alike and we built our plans for growth in UFC this year," THQ CEO Brian Farrell said on an earnings call today. However, with 2.7 million units sold relative to last year's 2.9 million units in the same period, it's clear the sequel didn't show signs of "growth." (Was it Red Dead's fault?)

After reaffirming it as "still a top franchise" Farrell told the call, "What we're thinking about – not to necessarily reinvigorate it because it's a great franchise – but as I said in my prepared remarks, we're considering a longer development cycle. 15-, 18-, 21-months between releases rather than annually." That increased development time will, ostensibly, increase product quality and, with fewer releases, increase consumer demand. That combined with the UFC training and fitness game (not to mention PSP ports), Farrell assures analysts that "We think there's a lot of growth to be had with the UFC franchise over the next several years."

Farrell is quick to declare that there will be a UFC game in the next fiscal year. "We will have a UFC title in fiscal '12," he said directly. "The question is timing, as I said. Could it be 15-, 18-, 21-months? That depends on both the scope of the game, the window, and how we want to release that game. As I said in my prepared remarks, we thought maybe a 12-month cycle might be a little quick but it'll be somewhere around 18-months give or take a few months."

If you consider this year's UFC Undisputed 2010 on a 12-month dev cycle, an 18-month cycle would put its successor somewhere around late November 2011, smack dab in the middle of the busy holiday shopping season. Might be a tough spot for a UFC game to fight its way out of.

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