From bloody sock to bloody balance sheets: Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios goes under

Gaming websites and the Providence Journal are reporting today that Rhode Island-based 38 Studios has today laid off all employees, as well as those of its Maryland-based subsidiary Big Huge Games.

The Rhode Island studio’s only release was this year’s Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, a fantasy RPG. The studio may be best known however, for the jock-nerd partnership among its “visionaries” (38 Studios’ term) of former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, fantasy author R.A. Salvatore, comic book artist Todd McFarlane and game designer Ken Rolston.

Big Huge Games was probably best known for “Rise of Nations,” a highly-regarded 2003 PC strategy game.

As of today’s developments, 38 Studios will now likely be remembered for the ill-fated financial incentives Rhode Island officials used to entice the game developer from neighboring Massachusetts.

From Polygon:

The news came as a surprise to nearly everyone involved, including
the state of Rhode Island and Governor Lincoln Chafee who during an
afternoon press conference said that as of this morning they hadn’t
heard a word about possible layoffs or a closure.

During the evening press conference Chafee attributed the sudden
studio closure and financial plummet to their fist game: Age of Amalur:
Reckoning, which he said “failed.”

“The game failed,” he said. “The game failed. That was integral to the success of the company.”

He told reporters that experts told them it would have had to sell 3
million copies to break even. Schilling has said that the game sold
about 1.2 million copies in its first 90 days.

“Companies fail over night,” Chafee said, in response to a question about the sudden closure.

The studio’s financial turmoil first came to light earlier this month
when they first missed and then later made a $1.125 million payment to
the state of Rhode Island.

The studio’s failure could result in the Ocean State now owning the Kingdom of Amalur IP, which our reviewer happened to think has a lot of potential, at least from a player’s perspective.

But Joystiq reports the IP rights may be only worth $20 million, and 38 Studios owes some $50 million to Rhode Island taxpayers.

As of this posting, there’s no statement on 38 Studios’ website regarding the layoffs. The company’s most recent release is a video showing assets for Project Copernicus, which is reportedly a World of Warcraft-style MMO based on the Amalur universe.

The studio calls Project Copernicus “a world worth saving,” but will the taxpayers of Rhode Island agree?

Review: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings: Enhanced Edition

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The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings:
Enhanced Edition is many things – some good, some not – but it is
certainly a demanding game.

Indeed, The Witcher 2 is a role-playing
game that demands at least two playthroughs just to make sure one
gets a taste of its entire plot. The idea of offering players a
chance to make meaningful choices is a big one in modern games, and
The Witcher 2 not only challenges players by forcing them to choose
from many tactical options, but also forces them at an early point in
the game to decide which storyline they wish to follow.

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Ghost Recon Alpha

Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier is only a little more than a week away and to celebrate the series’ impending return, they’ve put together a small prequel movie called Ghost Recon Alpha.

It crams more story in the twenty minutes it runs (25 if you count the credits) than some shooters do and it does get bloody, so be warned. This goes to the mat with bad guys and bullets.

Ghost Recon Future Soldier releases on the PS3 and the Xbox 360 on May 22nd. PC is getting its own copy June 12th.

Black Ops 2 Trailer: Blow stuff up in Los Angeles, future style

As an objective writer, I have to say one thing about the new trailer for “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2″:

It looks pretty amazing.

The trailer appears to show, among other things, future special forces operatives fighting drones in Los Angeles. It’s very Terminator-esque, and a nice break from the “Kill Russians!” theme of we’ve seen in recent video games that seem to have been made by people who don’t realize the Cold War ended more than two decades ago. (I’m looking at you, “Bad Company,” “Ace Combat: Assault Horizon” and well, “Call of Duty.”)

Being someone who plays games for their single-player than multi-player modes, I haven’t really been excited about a Call of Duty game since the series was still set in World War II and I played Call of Duty 2’s demo at the Circuit City in Newport Beach. I thought that game, as well as original “Call of Duty and its “United Offensive” expansion pack for the PC did a great job of allowing players to imagine the chaos of a World War 2 battle from American, British and Russian perspectives.

I have yet to even get around to playing “Call of Duty 3″ or “World at War. Regarding the games set in the modern era, I think “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” deserves much of its praise whereas the storyline for “Modern Warfare 2″ didn’t make any sense to me and Black Ops was OK, except I thought the twist at the end was pretty ridiculous. I’ll probably eventually find time to try “Modern Warfare 3″

I know judging recent Call of Duty games for single-player is kind of missing the point, but I don’t have enough time to play multi-player to compete with all the players who take it seriously.

I’m sure Black Ops 2 will continue to emphasize multiplayer, since that’s what the games biggest fans like most. But giving the game a drastically different setting from its predecessors should allow some opportunities for gameplay innovations and wild new weapons. The futuristic setting should give the developers an incentive to be creative, as opposed to “realistic,” and I’m all for it.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Reveal

As if you didn’t know that this was coming out.

It looks like the new Black Ops is going to take place in 2025, the world having survived past 2012 to live in a future wonderland filled with drones and walking tanks.

It’s due out November 13th of this year, just in time to put the crunch on your holiday wallet and dominate your online fun. And that’s also a week after Halo 4 is supposed to come out which will make things very interesting on the Xbox 360. Which side will you pick in this battle? Call of Duty? Master Chief? Or both at the same time?