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Video game developer THQ quietly announced this week that it will sell its rights to publish video games based on the Ultimate Fighting Championship series of mixed martial arts competitions to competitor Electronic Arts. As a result, the company on Monday also closed its San Diego studios, where the games are developed.

Numerous technology and gaming industry bloggers are speculating that THQ, which has suffered from poor sales and has faced de-listing of its company stock from the Nasdaq exchange since early this year, is attempting to bury the news of its contraction by timing the announcement to coincide with the Electronic Entertainment Expo, a major industry trade show being held this week in Los Angeles.

THQ president Jason Rubin bristles at the suggestion, calling it “a conspiracy theory,” and stating that “it’s simply not the case” that the company tried to bury the news.

“I apologize to everyone who has lost their job. I'm not shying away from the fact that it's a terrible thing to lay people off, but it's essential for THQ to focus on its future. We are doing the things that are necessary to move forward,” Rubin added.

THQ says some of its 50 San Diego staff members may be able to transfer to other positions in the company with the abrupt closure of the San Diego studio, while some designers may be hired on to work in a similar capacity with Electronic Arts.

In exchange for giving up its UFC rights early, THQ received an undisclosed lump sum payment.

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