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THQ Sees Licensing Potential For uDraw, Teases Saints Row Deal

THQ Executive Vice President and CFO Paul Pucino said he sees the potential for the company to license out game development for their recently released Wii-compatible uDraw tablet to other publishers.
THQ Executive Vice President and CFO Paul Pucino said he sees the potential for the company to license out game development for their recently released Wii-compatible uDraw tablet to other publishers. "We think there may be some other long term revenue and profit opportunities if this is successful," Pucino said during a presentation at the UBS' 39th Annual Media and Communications Conference, which Gamasutra listened in on. "If it is a big hit, we may be able to license out, for the first time in our company's history, the ability to make software." Pucino noted that the uDraw tablet itself made "software-type margins" for THQ, meaning that licensed software that led to additional hardware sales would be beneficial independent of any royalties the company was able to extract from other publishers. THQ itself plans to release four to five new uDraw compatible games in the next fiscal year, Pucino said, including one based on the Spongebob Squarepants property. Released in mid-November, the $69.99 uDraw tablet comes with a drawing program and supports two separately sold, THQ-published games -- Pictionary and Dood's Big Adventure -- both of which retail for $29.99. Strong initial uDraw sales have so far failed to taper off as expected after Black Friday sales, Pucino said, waxing on about the tablet controller's potential to become a significant, continuing part of THQ's business. "Remember there are 70 million Wiis in the world, 35 million alone here in North America, so the attach rate doesn't have to be very high for the numbers to get very interesting for us," he said. Pucino reiterated internal targets for 1.3 million uDraw units sold in the current fiscal year, which ends March 31, but said they are working hard to increase that number by getting more hardware to supply-constrained stores. In his presentation, Pucino also hinted at a "very significant trans-media initiative underway with regards to Saints Row right now," but said he was unable to provide further details at this point. Though not stated, it's likely that this would be in association with Saints Row 3, reportedly currently in development at franchise creator Volition.

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