"Darksiders" is in limbo right now, not entirely unlike its characters, but its salvation may soon be coming from a perfectly likely source: its own creators. At the moment, the not-particularly-popular franchise is dead and buried, but surely its resurrection is at hand. THQ fell apart; the series cannot be sold. Surely some second auction is at hand.
— David Adams (@DadamsDavid) March 27, 2013
Trouble for "Darksiders" started in 2012, with the release of "Darksiders II." The game received relatively solid reviews (ranging from 81 to 85, for the Wii U version) and sold very well for its first month of release, but on the whole performed disappointingly; THQ shipped 1.4 million copies by November, which sounds like a lot - but not compared to the 5 million copies of "Saints Row: The Third," which had admittedly come out a year earlier. The sales did not meet THQ's expectations.
The THQ bankruptcy substantially complicated matters for "Darksiders." The company initially intended to enter chapter 11, liquidate some assets, and emerge from bankruptcy, continuing operations as a leaner company. It didn't work like that, for various reasons, and the company ended up being torn apart at auction in January 2013. Almost all of the brands were sold off and found good homes. A select few, including "Darksiders," did not.
Poor "Darksiders." No bids - zero - were tendered for the brand during the initial auction. There were two reasons for this: first, the most recent game had not done all that well. That doesn't inspire a great deal of confidence. But, more importantly, "Darksiders II" had just come out a few months before, and production on "Darksiders III" had not even begun; at best, it was in the early planning stages. By comparison, other THQ properties were either obviously valuable ("Saints Row") or very close to completion, notably "South Park: The Stick of Truth," which was extremely close to physical production at the time of bankruptcy. Snapping those up simply meant the new company would publish and do some QA, perhaps a bit of development. "Darksiders," on the other hand, was essentially just an IP. It would require a full development process. The franchise, along with the other unsold IPs, is being sold in a separate auction, with final bids due April 15.
Enter Crytek, the developers of "Crysis" and "Far Cry." Specifically Crytek USA. The CEO of Crytek USA, David Adams, tweeted this week that the "Darksiders" IP "belongs in the hands of its creators." That creator was Vigil Games, a now-shuttered THQ subsidiary - but many members of Vigil Games fled THQ to Crytek USA some time ago, including David Adams. And now they want it back.
Will Crytek be a white knight for the "Darksiders" series? It certainly seems likely. The company has the financial resources, relatively little competition, and a darn good reason to buy it - they did, after all, create this franchise, and things like that matter in business - even if everyone pretends they don't. And if it all works out, it can only mean one thing.
Death will ride again.