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THQ names Naughty Dog co-founder as new president; Danny Bilson out

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

Naughty Dog co-founder Jason Rubin takes over as president of THQ.

Struggling publisher THQ announced today that Jason Rubin, co-founder of Naughty Dog, has been appointed as president of the company, effectively immediately, as part of a major leadership restructuring.

Rubin will be responsible for all of THQ's worldwide product development, marketing, and publishing operations, and will report to Brian Farrell, THQ Chairman and CEO, according to the announcement.

Rubin co-founded Naughty Dog in 1984 with Andy Gavin. The developer gained wider notoriety when it created the Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter series for PlayStation platforms, on which Rubin served as co-creator and game director. Rubin left Naughty Dog in 2004, three years after the studio was acquired by Sony Computer Entertainment America.

Rubin's appointment at THQ comes as the publisher "realigns its focus from a maker of licensed games for broad audiences to a developer of AAA 'Core' games for multiple platforms."

THQ also announced that Danny Bilson, previously the company's executive vice president of core games, will be leaving the company to "pursue other interests." Also leaving will be Dave Davis, senior VP of core games.

Under Bilson, THQ signed marquee talent including movie director Guillermo del Toro, former Assassin's Creed creative director Patrice Desilets and former Ninja Gaiden creator Tomonobu Itagaki in an attempt to establish new franchises.

Joining Rubin as a new THQ employee will be Jason Kay as THQ's chief strategy officer. Kay co-founded the now defunct Flektor, a web app that helped users create multimedia "mash ups," with Rubin and Gavin. He has also served as an executive and advisor to companies such as Activision, Columbia House and HBO.

THQ has found it difficult to transition from a company known for its licensed products, namely Pixar and Nickelodeon licensed video games, to one built on originally created IP. It has found some success with its Darksiders, Saints Row and Red Faction brands, but has struggled to be profitable, with its stock sinking to under a dollar per share over the past year. The company has substantially delayed portions of its 2012 line-up and is looking to unload games it deems unprofitable.

THQ's announced line up includes Darksiders 2, Saints Row: The Third - Enter the Dominatrix, WWE 13, Metro: Last Light, South Park: The Stick of Truth and Company of Heroes 2. THQ also has unannounced titles in the works at THQ Montreal and Turtle Rock.

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