News Blips: THQ CEO halves salary, EA tops App Store, Game Gear on 3DS, and more

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Tomorrow is my religion’s holiest celebration. Groundhog Day is the time each year when all Murrayists, those of us who worship the one and true Bill Murray, relive his movies over and over until we learn a lesson. Yes, we even watch Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, or at least the devout do. May the Venkman be with you. 

News Blips:

THQ President and CEO Brian Farrell implements a temporary 50 percent pay cut to his salary in the wake of recent layoffs at the company. The Saints Row: The Third publisher is suffering financially after a series of poor decisions regarding the casual-game market. To help balance its budget, 240 “selling, general, and administrative personnel” were laid off. In response, the THQ CEO, who seems to have only just realized that selling endless, crappy Nickelodeon and uDraw games is a bad idea, has cut his own salary from $718,500 to $359,250. Don't worry about Farrell — his salary will automatically return to $718,500 next year, regardless of performance.

Electronic Arts announces that it was the top publisher in the Apple App Store for the month of December. I’m old enough to remember when the smartphone-game space was a bastion for new ideas and indie developers. These days, it’s all about big publishers and familiar franchises. For example, EA revealed in its fiscal-third-quarter report that The Sims: FreePlay, the publisher’s first free-to-play mobile title, was the top-grossing game in the App Store for the final month of 2011.

The Entertainment Software Rating Board, an industry-approved parental advisory group, has rated two Game Gear games bound for the 3DS Virtual Console. The Game Gear was a battery-destroying, eye-burning headache machine. The 3DS is a battery-destroying, eye-burning headache machine. Bringing those old Sega handheld games to the new Nintendo portable device is a match made in a factory in China. Website Tiny Cartridge uncovered that the platforming-ninja gameShinobi and the nearly Genesis-quality Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble were both recently rated E for Everyone by the ESRB. Nintendo announced that Game Gear games would eventually come to the Virtual Console last year, but this is the first we’ve heard about specific titles. Nintendo is still hush hush on a date for when these classics will officially populate the eShop. [ShackNews]

EA has ensnared 1.7 million active players in its fully armed and operational Star Wars: The Old Republic. The massively multiplayer online title has sold over 2 million copies in the last month. That’s a decent start, but the more telling numbers will be included in the publisher’s next investor report three months from now. Several recent MMOs have had huge launches, but most quickly lose steam. If BioWare’s Jedi simulator can, at the very least, avoid the slow bleed until the end of EA’s fiscal year, then it will easily become the most successful MMO since World of Warcraft

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