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.
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?