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EA discussed buyout of THQ a year before it went bankrupt, say court docs

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Electronic Arts and THQ discussed a potential buyout of THQ, the former Darksiders, Saints Row and Red Faction publisher, as early as December 2011, a year before the company filed for bankruptcy, according to documents filed in Delaware district court this week.

Those discussions came about after THQ began exploring strategic alternatives, including a sale of the entire company to private equity or industry partner, as the defunct publisher's financial position continued to decline, the document says. THQ allegedly approached Electronic Arts for the sale, based on EA's interest in acquiring the UFC license.

At their meetings, THQ provided EA with internal financial information, including sales data and marketing projections for the company's UFC video games, the complaint reads. After a "high-level meeting" and several discussions, "EA broke off negotiations, professing disinterest," THQ claims.

The complaint later alleges that EA "wanted to acquire only the choicest portions of THQ rather than commit to the company as a whole as a strategic acquirer."

In 2012, EA announced it had acquired the rights to publish UFC video games from THQ.

Electronic Arts was later named as one of five potential buyers interested in acquiring THQ and its assets in the wake of a December 2012 bankruptcy filing. Ultimately, THQ's assets and franchises were sold at auction to rival publishers Take-Two Interactive, Koch Media, Sega, Nordic Games and others.

Information about the proposed sale comes from a complaint filed by THQ Inc. against Zuffa LLC, the company behind the UFC and Pride, and Electronic Arts.

Polygon has reached out to EA seeking confirmation and comment on THQ Inc.'s claims.