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Report – Reckoning was a “flop”, 38 Studios staff unpaid

Thursday, 24th May 2012 01:58 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Both official statements and anonymous whispers suggest Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning developer 38 Studios is seriously on the rocks, with employees going uncompensated and management resignations.

According to Joystiq‘s sources, 38 Studios employees have not been paid since May 1.

Staffers are normally paid twice a month. The source also noted that employee health care is expected to close down at midnight on Thursday.

The source was uncertain as to whether the studio would close but said the outlook is bleak.

At a press conference following an EDC meeting with 38 Studios founder Curt Schilling, as reported by NBC 10′s Brian Crandall, Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee said experts had advised him Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was a “flop” and definitely “not successful“.

The developer’s senior staff are said to be quitting, with former CEO Jennifer MacLean confirming her departure.

Chafee said he’s doing everything possible to prevent the company’s closure.

The Providence Journal reports 38 Studios has applied for “millions of dollars” in film tax credits but has not yet received the funding; it has also drawn a blank with external investment.

38 Studios’ financial difficulties became apparent last week when the government of Rhode Island admitted the developer was in trouble. The company missed a $1 million loan repayment, and bounced a cheque despite lay-offs and payroll stalls.

Should the studio become insolvent, Rhode Island will own its IP, which analysts believe is worth $20 million; the Kingdoms of Amalur IP was originally developed by Big Huge Games, which 38 Studios acquired, and was a joint effort by ken Rolston, R.A. Salvatore, and Todd McFarlane. It is expected to spawn an MMO, code named Copernicus, which Rhode Island believes will launch in mid 2013. A work in progress video was released recently.

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17 Comments

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  1. TMRNetShark

    I bought the game… I really liked it… :(

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Moonwalker1982

    I really didn’t like it at all, and i did give it a chance, i love RPG but this just wasn’t my cup of tea. This news is really sad though. So much hours go into making a game, and these people are unpaid?

    #2 2 years ago
  3. thedude222

    A flop? A flop doesn’t sell 1.2 million copies.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. MegaGeek1

    @1 – Me too!

    I bought the game day one and have since purchased all the DLC and invested 140 hours into it. Don’t I feel like a huge piece of shit now. This game is great!

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Telepathic.Geometry

    /sad clown face

    #5 2 years ago
  6. DSB

    It was alright, but totally forgettable. It had a few good ideas, a weird way of making me want to grind on, but ultimately it was pretty poorly paced, the story was crap, and none of the mechanics were really that stimulating.

    It was like Fable, but without any of the inspired bits, and that’s not super interesting.

    Even so, I certainly wouldn’t peg it as the sort of game that sinks a developer, and they seemed to actually make an effort to stay in touch with their community, so that’s a shame.

    @3 Kinda depends on how much it cost you to make it, and what you got paid.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. TMRNetShark

    @6 You don’t understand when a game you really like gets mediocre reviews and even worse reader reviews. Why? Cause we who liked the game liked it for what it was. By no means was it a perfect game, but it’s really disheartening when you hear that it is being called a flop and the people who made the game aren’t getting paid. :(

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Telepathic.Geometry

    @7: Exactly.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Phoenixblight

    Poor Management is the cause of this studio burning. Thats what happens when people who have no business sense are given a lot of money.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Golden

    I hope its things are better than this. I’m not interested at all in an mmo but I would like to see more KoA single player stuff.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. TheBlackHole

    @3, erm, when it costs as much as it did, yes, 1.2 million is not enough.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Freek

    It’s one of the biggest problems facing modern game development: every game needing to sell CoD-esque numbers just isn’t a sustainable business model.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. OlderGamer

    I can not tell you how much I agree with Freek. I can’t put it into words. Really. You hit the nail right square on the head, and drove it through the wall.

    As for KOA, I liked it better then Skyrim. Not because it was a better, deeper game. But because it was actualy fun to play. The elder scrolls needs a major over haul to its combat mechanics. Fighting in Morrowwind, Oblivion, and Skyrim was just clumsy, slow, and painful.

    I never play a game for its story. Never. Sometimes I play it inspit of one. I always play because of the gameplay. If I want a great story, I will watch TV or a movie, and on rare ocassions even read a book.

    So it boils down to gameplay. KOA takes the cake on that.

    Too bad about their situation.

    In the long run, it is going to become one of those things where only established brand name franchises are going to make it on consoles. No one is going to want to take a chance on something different. Hardware is too expensive to manufacter/buy, dev cycles are too long/expensive. Games will cost too much. I am thinking of next gen of course.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. DrDamn

    I’m playing KoA now after completing the main quest line in Skyrim. Whilst I loved the exploration and world in Skyrim like OG I hated the combat. Clumsy and painful are good words to use to describe it. KoA is so refreshing in comparison.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. OrbitMonkey

    Maybe the problem here was the amount of money sunk into it, plus the expectation of how it would be received.

    After all nobody expected Saints Row or Borderlands to set the world on fire, yet they have both become healthy franchises.

    Both prove their is plenty of room in the games market for new ideas, not trying to be CoD style blockbusters.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. GrimRita

    @15 Thats so true. Developing an MMO is a huge money pit and time sink. Without patient backers, you may as well pack up and go home.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Gadzooks!

    I’m on DrDamns flipside as we traded KOA/Skyrim.

    I’ll echo similar sentiments though, Skyrim has fantastic lore/story/’lived in’ feel, but is one of the worst controlling games I’ve ever played. Constantly frustrating but on balance worth the effort.

    KOA has largely faded from my memory already, but I put in well over 100 hours at the time, and the game just flowed so smoothly. At no point did it feel like a chore.

    Both are equally valid games in my opinion. Just different approaches.

    #17 2 years ago