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Bilson Speaks Out At Last On THQ's Demise

Matt Gardner
Danny Bilson, THQ

Bilson Speaks Out At Last On THQ's Demise

Former THQ executive Danny Bilson has reflected on his time at THQ, speaking out in a new interview about his belief in the company during the time that he was there, and discussed the company's fall from grace and his responsibly and role (or lack thereof)  in the THQ story.

When I left there was no talk of going out of business," Bilson told Eurogamer at GameHorizon.

"There was no talk of that whatsoever. There was a lot of talk of living to fight another day. We had a plan my team and I believed in. My team was determined to fight through the year and carry on. So, whatever happened after I left, I absolutely have no idea, because I wasn't involved. I may get some hearsay here and there, but I also wasn't looking. I was regrouping and figuring out what I wanted to do next."

That's not to say Bilson was blind to the troubles at the company. After all, he presided over the release of a peripheral whose name has become something of a curse word in the industry now: uDraw.

"We had hope, okay," Bilson continued, "But it was a very difficult time. I'm not going to lie. Starting in December, after the uDraw disaster, it became very difficult. We were looking for investment. We were looking for any angle to make it work. We also closed off more things. We did narrow our line-up down after December [2011]."

Bilson left the company in May 2012, and the way he tells it, he'd been out of the loop and completely disengaged when the news of THQ's closure came at the end of the year.

"Listen, when I left a year ago, we didn't see what eventually happened on the horizon," he told GamesIndustry. "I'm not kidding, okay: we knew we were in trouble, but we knew we had a good line-up, and I thought we had enough money put away to support that stuff, finish it, and market it properly. We had a plan to live another day.

"And this is honest, honest, honest: I do not know what happened after I left. No idea. I'm not privy to what went on in there and I didn't try to find out. I needed to move forward. I really wasn't engaged at all, and then the news came in December.

"This was happening to my friends. I felt terrible. I just felt terrible."

Bilson's side of the story has never been told before, and when it came t the appropriation of blame, the timely nature of his departure made him an easy target. Does he think he was made a scapegoat by THQ?

"I went very quite while other people managed it," he told GII. "That's what an executive does. We move on. I have to count on the fact that the industry people and the journalists who know - the public doesn't matter, because they're not going to influence my next job - but that the people who really know understand what I did and didn't do, and what I'm responsible for and what I'm not. I have to count on the truth.

"Do I take responsibility for being involved in the decline of a company? Absolutely. Will I tell you candidly that it was the hardest job I've every had in my life? Well, it was. But I gave it my best, and I didn't see the end result coming at all. On my watch, we, meaning my team, took [THQ] from one place and got it to another. We made a lot of improvements, but obviously it wasn't enough; it wasn't fast enough and it wasn't good enough. I take responsibility for that.

"I'll tell you exactly what I told my boss when I left: I'm proud of the portfolio my team built under duress; meaning under a company that was constantly re-organising, constantly cutting, cutting, cutting. We made real progress, but we didn't have enough of a cushion to ultimately get through.

"I think that the informed people that were watching the whole thing - press, industry people, engaged fans - had a certain respect for the games that my team was starting to make. That meant a lot to us. My team helped to raise the quality bar at a company that was built on something else entirely."

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