THQ Sues EA, UFC's Parent Company over Video Game License Change

Steven Rondina@srondinaFeatured ColumnistOctober 9, 2013

ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 12:  Co-Owners, UFC, Lorenzo Fertitta (L) and Frank Fertitta attend UFC on Fox:  Live Heavyweight Championship at the Honda Center on November 12, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Interesting news is coming out that THQ, the now-defunct publisher of the UFC Undisputed series, is filing suit against both EA and Zuffa. The suit stems from allegations that EA used financial information from THQ's death throes to collude with the UFC against THQ.

For those not in the know, THQ (the folks behind games like Saints Row and the official WWE series) filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. This stems from lingering financial troubles due to middling sales and a serious lack of liquidity. 

THQ's suit largely revolves around a 2011 meeting with EA. Sensing major problems on the horizon, the publisher arranged a series of meetings with EA to discuss a possible buyout of the company, which would include handing over its major licensing rights to WWE and the UFC. Negotiations fell through, and things got very odd from there.

Two weeks later, Zuffa criticized THQ out of the blue using financial information they technically shouldn't have been privy to, according to the court documents. Then, three months later in February 2012, the third and final UFC Undisputed title hit to mediocre sales. This prompted Zuffa to call for an end to the UFC-THQ relationship, which would happen after a $10 million settlement, freeing up EA to lay claim to the UFC license just months later.

THQ's claim is twofold. First, they allege that EA shared secret financial information with Zuffa after the 2011 meeting, and that this prevented them from entering fair negotiations over ceding the UFC license. Second, they believe that the UFC license was worth substantially more than the $10 million they were offered, somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million, but that they were unable to pursue it due to the uneven footing at the bargaining table.

This suit will almost certainly have no impact on EA Sports UFC's release. It also had very little impact on THQ's financial troubles before their bankruptcy (they had outstanding liabilities of over $200 million).

Keep an eye out for more information as it becomes available.