THQ has announced that is to lay off 118 employees across two of its studios as it struggles to find a profitable balance between hardcore and casual gaming franchises.

The job losses, which are made up of 39 staff from Relic Entertainment in Vancouver and 79 at Vigial Games in Texas, come with an added blow for THQ's fans: news that the upcoming Warhammer 40K-based massively multiplayer title is no longer going ahead.

That's not to say the game has been cancelled outright, however. THQ is still developing a title based on the Games Workshop miniature tabletop wargaming franchise, but it will no longer take the form of an MMO. At a time when World of Warcraft, one of the most popular MMOs in history, is hemorrhaging subscribers and its rivals are increasingly switching to free-to-play models, that may well prove a wise move.

As previously announced, we have been actively looking for a business partner for the game as an MMO,' THQ chief executive Brian Farrel explained in a statement to press. 'However, based on changing market dynamics and the additional investment required to complete the game as an MMO, we believe the right direction for us is to shift the title from an MMO to a premium experience with single and multiplayer gameplay, robust digital content and community features.'

Details of exactly what form the 'premium experience' will take have not yet been provided by the company.

THQ has had a rough few years despite some well-received titles. Back in 2009 it laid off 250 staff following a £72 million loss for the quarter, while its losses for the year totalled an eye-watering $430 million. The job losses will come as a blow to the staff affected, naturally, but things could be worse: THQ was forced to close Big Huge Games, developer of Rise of Nations and the Xbox Live Arcade version of Settlers of Catan.

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