Gaming veteran Jack Friedman, who founded toy companies like Jakk Pacific and major game publisher THQ, has passed away at 70 years old after being hospitalized for several weeks.
Friedman originally entered the game business when he founded toymaker and videogame publisher LJN in 1970, which he left several years later. In 1989, he went on to found Trinity Acquisition Corporation, which merged with Toy Head-Quarters in 1991, and the resulting corporate entity took on its initials: THQ. Friedman invested $1 million of his own money in the fledgling publisher to help it get off the ground.
While not as major a player in the scene as Activision or Electronic Arts, THQ is a large publisher in its own right. It’s best known for publishing the Saints Row series, Relic-developed RTS titles like Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War and Company of Heroes, and official games based on the WWE and UFC franchises.
Friedman was also known as a philanthropist, and set up a program called Jakks Care (run through another Friedman-founded company, the toymaker Jakks Pacific) which has donated over $40 million worth of toys and school supplies to charities like The Special Olympics, Feed the Children, Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
He had retired from his role as chairman and CEO of Jakks Pacific a month ago to spend more time with his family. “Jack was a legendary toymaker and a real titan in our industry,” said current Jakks CEO Stephen Berman in a statement. “He dedicated his talents to Jakks Pacific for 15 years, and he will be sorely missed. On behalf of all JAKKS employees, we send our sincere condolences to his wife Karen and his children for their loss.”
Even if you had never heard of him before today, a man who made his mark on the gaming industry has left us. And for that – and all of the other good work he did – he shall be missed.