Why THQ Nordic was the surprise star of Gamescom 2019

Gamescom 2019 is in the books. Plenty of games had splashy showcases and we got new information about huge hits coming down the pipe. Then, in the background, THQ Nordic was making moves. It’s a position the publisher has grown accustomed to and the perfect place for it. Despite its size, THQ Nordic does business the old fashioned way, finding holes in the market and filling them rather than going for the AAA crown. Unless you’re a member of a specific niche, you may not have heard of THQ Nordic’s latest announcements, and that’s the exact reason why it has so much money to throw around.

THQ Nordic Gamescom | The Novalogic Equation

Flight sims are one of those genres that just got too complex for their own good. It’s a similar trajectory to football games. Madden NFL used to be approachable and one of many entries. Now, Madden is one of the only games in town and expects a lot more effort. Sure, you can strap on your SimHat and grab your HOTAS flight stick, but the average gamer just is not going to have that hardware. While Microsoft is entering the space with a new Flight Simulator soon, but that leans towards the “software” side of gaming. THQ is ready to go with something that sits comfortably on the other end of the spectrum: a new entry in the fabled Comanche series.

Developed alongside the now-canceled military project, Comanche is a set of four classic PC games that put players into this infamously expensive chopper. The first three of these were some of the first to take advantage of voxel graphics, giving it a unique look that gamers of the era couldn’t get enough of. All four of the games focused in on action scenarios and its that aspect that developers Nukklear are honing in on with their modern take.

Yes, the game looks to be a multiplayer-only shooter with modern bells and whistles. It’s not going to attract the same fanbase as the original games, but it will get the name back out there. If the multiplayer does well in Early Access, who’s to say that a single-player campaign won’t follow? With all the weird futuristic bells and whistles, you could probably have some fun with standalone missions. Just the addition of drones is enough. Speaking of drones…

THQ Nordic Gamescom | We are the Drone Champions

A classic category of the AA game space is the obscure sports title. You know the ones like Electronic Arts’ venture into Arena Football, the various Tony Hawk clones that found everything similar to a skateboard, even the Wii’s licensed bull riding title. Being the kings of AA in 2019, THQ Nordic already has these types of games covered. One of the first actions of the new company was spinning back up one of old THQ’s most stalwart franchises, MX vs. ATV. It has also just released a great game based on Monster Jam and covered demo derby via Wreckfest. THQ Nordic will continue that grand tradition with DCL, also known as Drone Champions League.

Developed by Climax Studios, DCL brings another rising sport into gaming, something that hasn’t been as common as of late. However, looking at the trailer THQ Nordic put out, it seems like a perfect fit. You’ve got the cosmetic skins that every other game seems to have in 2019 and weird complex tracks to venture through. On top of everything, you’ll have licensed drones and drivers that only fans will know. It provides a rush for people who follow the sport and a fun novelty for those just in it for the racing.

THQ Nordic Gamescom | Unveiling the Grand Strategy

The final of THQ Nordic’s three reveals is Knights of Honor 2: Sovereign. The long-anticipated sequel to a 2004 PC release, Knights of Honor 2 brings THQ Nordic into the arena of another underserved genre. True, this type of Grand Strategy is a bit more crowded nowadays, with Sega also getting in on the action. However, with THQ Nordic’s vast library of acquired franchises from gaming’s history, it is already a step ahead. It has a built-in fanbase who enjoyed the original, and that hopefully translates into one less barrier for this revival’s success.

That covers just the announcements from one event in THQ Nordic’s calendar. We’ve seen the company ramp up over time as they keep the acquisitions going, and there seems to be no stopping their momentum. While none of its games have been out and out blockbusters as of yet, they really don’t need to be. In an industry where some AAA publishers have one or two new games to announce a year, THQ Nordic is playing the field with releases for all sorts of underserved audiences.

If you don’t like any of these genres, you might be a fan of the new TimeSplitters in development or the Diablo-esque take on Darksiders. You might want to revisit Destroy All Humans or take in the absurdity of a full HD remaster of a SpongeBob game. It’s an respectful approach and one that will pay dividends in the long term. Hopefully more companies will pin their hopes on more than a few top-earning franchises. Some AAA titles can be rather stale so a dose of variety could help balance things out and lead to more long-term success for everyone.