These should be good times for the video game makers. Console prices have dipped going into the critical holiday shopping season. The wider base of users is seeing a slowly improving economy with more disposable cash to part with. Industry bellwether Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS) is trading a few ticks shy of a new all-time high. But what if EA threw a party and nobody came?

Last night, fellow game publisher THQ (NASDAQ:THQI) posted a dip in quarterly earnings. The drop would have been even worse had the company not won an insurance settlement during the period.

While this isn't news -- THQ had guided analysts lower back in August on the delayed release of two game titles -- let's not assume that the company won't have anything to wear if it does indeed make it to EA's sector party. THQ is now looking to earn $0.85 a share this year on $570 million in revenue. That's well above the $0.32 a share it earned on $481 million in revenue back in 2002.

If the company can be faulted, it's that it has lived off the fat of licensed content. While EA's franchises tend to be organic and smaller competitor Take-Two Interactive (NASDAQ:TTWO) has cashed in big on its Grand Theft Auto series, THQ has been putting out games based on Disney (NYSE:DIS), Pixar (NASDAQ:PIXR), and Viacom (NYSE:VIA) characters. Even its new Tak games, which appear to be original properties, were actually developed alongside Viacom's Nickelodeon.

So while THQ managed to have three titles top the million-unit mark in volume last year, there are outside hands to feed on the way to the bottom line with these licensed brands. But with THQ holding up, maybe those hands also come in handy, if only to lend some applause.

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Who do you think will own the holiday season when it comes to video games? What about the consoles? Can the GameCube survive against the PS2 and Xbox? What would you do if you were THQ? All this and more -- in the Video & PC Games Discussion Board. Only on