Whenever leadership change occurs, you expect that project priorities will shift. In the case of THQ, the departure of Danny Bilson (former Executive Vice President for Core Games) and the introduction of Jason Rubin as the publisher’s new president has already made quite a bit of news. The latest is that the April Fools Joke turned Saints Row expansion reality, Enter the Dominatrix, will no longer be arriving this fall… or at all (at least in its intended format).

THQ announced today that Enter the Dominatrix will now be included in the “full-priced, full-length, high quality, connected experience” of a sequel we already knew was in the works. This means that the company’s biggest franchise will not have the quick cash infusion it was expecting later this year, with a Saints Row sequel not due until calendar 2013. The bigger issue is that between now and the end of the critical holiday season, THQ only has two major titles slated for release: Darksiders II and WWE ’13. The end of the company’s fiscal year is March 31, 2013, though. Before the end of that period, we expect that Company of Heroes 2, Metro: Last Light and South Park: The Stick of Truth will see the light of day.

Put simply, this is a huge gamble. Saints Row: The Third (along with its numerous mini-expansions) was THQ’s best performing title in 2011. It’s not an overstatement to suggest that the title is a huge part of the publisher’s continued existence in the face of the uDraw tablet failure and other underperforming titles. According to the company, the expected financial fallout is a $20 million drop in net sales. The anticipated hit to share price is only $.03, but the market will determine for itself how accurate that is.

The one positive thing that has come out of this, though, is the opportunity for Rubin to clarify his feelings about Volition and the Saints Row property after an interview with Polygon called his support of both into question.

“When I looked at the Enter The Dominatrix expansion in production at Volition, I was blown away by the ideas and desire to expand the fiction of the franchise,” said Jason Rubin, THQ’s President. “I asked the team what it could achieve given more time, more resources, and a broader scope for the project. We all agreed we wanted to play that game. When it comes to Saints Row, it’s clear our fans want bigger, better, and even more over the top, and that’s why Enter The Dominatrix will now be incorporated into a vastly expanded, full-fledged sequel, scheduled for calendar 2013.”

Whether or not this risky move pays of for THQ remains to be seen. We already know that they are ramping up marketing for Darksiders II, which is smartly scheduled for August. Getting it out to the masses before the fall rush hits might be enough to buoy it, but only time will tell.

 

Michael Futter is the Managing Editor of @RipTen. You can follow him on Twitter @mmmfutter.