* Delays "Saints Row 2" to Oct. 14 from Aug. 26
* No impact on fiscal 2009 outlook
* Delay due to product quality, marketing issues
SAN FRANCISCO, May 28 THQ Inc THQI.O said on
Wednesday it will delay release of a key video game, "Saints
Row 2", by nearly two months due to product quality and
The delay to Oct. 14 means the game will be released in
THQ's fiscal third quarter instead of the second quarter, but
will not affect its financial outlook for the 2009 fiscal year,
Bob Aniello, senior vice president of worldwide marketing, told
"Product quality is a huge driver of a game's success and
this move allows us to polish the game. The game is done, it's
about polish," Aniello said in an interview.
THQ has forecast a fiscal 2009 profit of 95 cents to $1.05
per share, on revenue of $1.18 billion to $1.2 billion.
The delay also would let THQ bolster its marketing effort
for "Saints Row 2", which is a key part of THQ's bid to turn
around its business, hit last year by sluggish sales of other
"There is a bigger trend within the industry to build big
marketing events within a bigger time window. This allows us to
lead up to the holiday timeframe," Aniello said.
A criminal action game featuring street gangsters vying for
urban territory, "Saints Row 2" is similar to the blockbuster
"Grand Theft Auto 4" from rival Take-Two Interactive Software
Inc (TTWO.O) that launched in April.
While "Saints Row 2" is not expected to match "Grand Theft
Auto 4's" $500 million in first-week sales, THQ is counting on
its highly customizable characters and ability to play online
with friends to drum up interest.
THQ has been heavily reliant on games based on licensed
properties, particularly Disney/Pixar (DIS.N) animated movies
such as "Cars", "Ratatouille", and next month's "Wall-E".
The company has been trying to develop wholly-owned game
franchises like "Saints Row", which carry higher profit margins
due to not having to pay licensing fees.
"We are introducing a stronger product slate in fiscal year
2009, we are focused on improved product quality, and we are
realigning our cost structure to create operating leverage,"
THQ shares fell 3.8 percent to close at $20.48 on the
Nasdaq. The stock has fallen 37 percent over the past year,
compared to a rise of 75 percent in Activision Inc (ATVI.O) and
of 2.5 percent in Electronic Arts Inc ERTS.O.
(Reporting by Scott Hillis; editing by Carol Bishopric)