Weeks after U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge Mary F. Walrath approved the sale of THQ's assets, the future of Illfonic's arena-based shooter Nexuiz remains shrouded in uncertainty, Chuck Brungardt, the developer's president told Polygon.
"Our deal with THQ was basically a licensing deal through THQ Partners, so we do have a period of time [in which] THQ has the rights to be the exclusive publisher," Brungardt wrote in a recent email correspondence. "Now with them folding we are still trying to figure out what this means and awaiting details from our contacts handling the transitions at THQ."
Nexuiz is part of a group of unsold assets, which includes THQ Partners, Darksiders developer Vigil Games and other unnamed intellectual properties. After bidding on THQ's assets ended in late January, THQ attorneys said that the remaining assets were valued at $29 million.
Announced in May 2010, THQ Partners provided both "developers and publishers access to THQ's global retail and online publishing network." THQ Partners divisions worldwide struck deals with companies like Codemasters to bring games like Dirt 3 and Bodycount to North America, Windsoft to bring Company of Heroes Online to South Korea and CoverGirl for All Star Cheer Squad on Wii and Nintendo 3DS.
Illfonic and THQ Partners revealed their Nexuiz collaboration in Dec. 2011, announcing plans to bring a reimagined version of the previously free-to-play shooter to Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC in 2012. The partnership, which also included Machinima, provided Illfonic with marketing through both entities.
Nexuiz's project founder and co-designer Lee Vermeulen and designer Forest Hale originally developed Nexuiz — now known as Nexuiz Classic — as a multiplatform free-to-play shooter beginning in 2002. Alientrap released the first version in 2005, and several updates, many of which were community-driven, followed through 2009.
Initially licensed as a commercial product, Alientrap eventually modified the content and code to a General Public License, which allowed programming oriented members of the community to direct the game's future development. As Vermeulen and Alientrap began to move on to other projects, he let the project go.
"The thought process was really that I had no plans to expand the series myself - so it's better to leave it in someone else's hands rather than just leave the project stagnant," Vermeulen told Polygon in a recent email. "The entire purpose of making Nexuiz GPL (content + code) originally was that I was hoping it would be forked off to new game development projects."
The open-source fork goes by the name Xonotic. At about the same time as that project was coming together, Alentrap licensed the Nexuiz name to Illfonic.
"Well we still own the Nexuiz trademark, but Illfonic has rights to the series however they wish," Vermeulen wrote. "They can release sequels expansions, whatever they want."
The new studio created a reimagined version of the shooter. Armed with a Victorian-inspired art style and CryEngine 3, Illfonic's Nexuiz launched in Feb. 2012 on Xbox Live and May 2012 for Windows PC.
When we emailed Illfonic's Brungardt shortly after the THQ bankruptcy had been finalized, he said that the studio has plans for the Nexuiz franchise, but that "a lot of it will be up to what happens in the coming weeks."
The contracts with THQ Partners, including the Nexuiz license, are among THQ's remaining assets yet to be finalized. Though Burngardt is "confident we will work everything out," as it stands, Nexuiz remains in a sort of limbo.
"Unfortunately there are still no updates," Brungardt told Polygon this week. "A small transition team at THQ is still working on the next steps with their remaining IPs. It's probably going to take another month until we can figure out how everything will move forward."