Tomonobu Itagakai, Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive designer left his home at Tecmo and started his own studio – Valhalla Knights. Its first game was to be published by the financially troubled THQ, who’d sunk what seems like gajillions of dollars in to its development. In a bit of a shock move, they dropped the game from their line-up, saying it didn’t fit their profile – leaving many to wonder what would become of crazy action game Devil’s Third.
Quite possibly some good news for those keen to see if Itagaki still has “it”; THQ has signed a deal relinquishing rights to Devil’s Third as an intellectual property, handing everything over to Valhalla.
"THQ confirms that the company will not be publishing Devil’s Third," THQ said to Eurogamer. "All of the game’s IP rights have been returned to Itagaki-san and the Valhalla team."
Here’s what Itagaki had to say about the transfer.
"Most important thing is gamers’ happiness. And people in business side like distributers and presses. And developers. It’s a Happy Three. So we can’t thank THQ enough. Anyway, we now own the Devil’s Third IP," he told Famitsu. "Devil’s Third development is in its final stage now, and is most expensive in this term. In the West, we need to spend a great deal for advertisements – as much as development cost – to sell a lot. But it wasn’t fit for [THQ's] mid-term plan.
"They didn’t want to part with this IP, but we all have to see into the future and at last they did, for us. We were anguished and they were really kind to us. Mr. Danny Bilson was searching for a way to work together until the very end. I do appreciate him and THQ managers that signed the transfer contract."
The question is; who’ll be brave enough to pick the game up and pour even more money in to development and marketing? With the poor performance of games from other Japanese luminaries – like Shadows of the Damned (shame on you for not playing, by the way) and the general ambivalence towards new IP, it’d be risky for any publisher.