THQ has been long known for serving as the exclusive publisher of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) video games across all console game platforms. However, this partnership would face all the lumps, bumps and bodyslams worthy of any WWE male soap opera spectacle.
The WWE itself had sought to piledrive THQ's license to produce WWE games as far back as 2004, when it slapped the publisher with a lawsuit alleging it had obtained its current license through "commercial bribery". THQ faced further ligitation in 2006 where it was accused of unauthorized sales of WWE-branded titles in Asia (through SmackDown! franchise developer Yuke's) without prior consent from the sports entertainment company.
For all the emnity one may perceive between THQ and the WWE, it appears the two companies were capable of putting aside their differences in the end. Today THQ confirms it was successful in securing a new, eight-year license which once again grants them the exclusive rights to produce and publish WWE video games. The announcement is timely given that THQ's previous WWE license was set to expire this month. So in spite of such bad blood, THQ certainly had no intention of giving up the WWE publishing license to anyone else.
"This agreement ensures that WWE games will continue to be an important cornerstone of THQ's annual release schedule for the long term," said Brian Farrell, THQ President and Chief Executive Officer. "We look forward to working directly with WWE to expand their brand in the video game space through continued game play innovation and increased online delivery of WWE content."
"This year's highly rated WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2010 video game demonstrates the innovation and creativity that THQ brings to WWE," said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "This new licensing agreement will ensure that we continue our tremendous success in the video game industry in the years to come."
THQ won't be walking away unbruised, however. The publisher has agreed to cough up $13.2 million USD payable to the WWE in a settlement. WWE toy licensee Jakks Pacific, which was also dragged into the lawsuits involving THQ due their alleged involvement with bribery, will score a further $20 million USD from THQ as a result of this settlement where all parties involved will ultimately agree to no wrongdoing.