Author RA Salvatore has responded to the situation facing 38 Studios and Big Huge Games, and while didn’t share insight into whether the firms where shutting down, he offered instead some perspective on where things went wrong with the move to Rhode Island.
Responding to a post over on Daily Kos, Salvatore, who has been a consultant on the Amalur IP and its Copernicus MMO since 2006, said 38 “didn’t go begging for a handout from Rhode Island,” and for a new IP with a new engine, KoA: Reckoning’s 1.2 million units sold is “pretty amazing.”
“I’m not going into the details of the publishing contract with EA (don’t really know them), but let me just say that the economics of the video game business are a lot more convoluted than multiplying the MSRP Units and coming up with a cash/cash-flow number,” he said. “I am not an employee, an officer, a stockholder or on the board of directors for 38 Studios. I’ve worked with them since 2006 on a consulting basis and believed in the project (and still do) – so much so that all of my compensation is on the back end.
“Maybe I’ll never see a dime for those hundreds of hours, but I got the chance to work in the most incredible creative environment you can imagine. So be it.
“38 didn’t go begging for a handout from Rhode Island…Rhode Island offered to secure a bond for them when the credit crunch reigned, trying to lure them out of Massachusetts. I’m not trying to be snarky here, but RI was trying to create a game hub in Providence – Hasbro is there (and is the state’s largest employer).
“Take a look at the success that is Austin, TX, or the huge game hub in Eastern Canada, heavily subsidized. Take a look at how much Louisiana is pouring into movies to attract studios to New Orleans. Another risky business – did I just read that Disney wrote off something like $175 million on “John Carter”?
“And here are a couple of other facts – since they’re reported, I can repeat them here: Rhode Island doled out around $49 million of the $75 – the rest is still there, and 38 Studios had already generated nearly $20 million in revenue for the state. Yeah, it’s still going to sting.”
The author’s comments mirror those of Victor Cortis, an environment artist on Project Copernicus, who said last night the million dollar payment 38 Studios made to Rhode Island was “in assurance,” the firm would receive tax credits of $8 million – something he said the state reneged on.
Salvatore also touched upon Copernicus, and MMO which has been pretty much kept in the dark since it was announced. Over the years, slight information and assets on the project have been released, but it wasn’t until 38’s financial issues came to light that a release window, in-game shots, and a fly-through video were shown.
“This game is much further along than is being reported – I wish I could show you some if it – and the environments, the animations and the game-play would blow you away,” Salvatore said regarding Copernicus. “Truth is, most of what you’ve seen is rough compared to what we have. We had zones in WHITE BOX that were prettier than many you’ll find in running, completed, published games. And the combat and animation…super…top-notch all the way around.
“And the music – Look up Aubrey Hodges, Duncan Watt and Gene Rozenberg. The things they were doing with music and ambient sound took the entire concept of sound in a video game to another level…I could go on all night, but I’d probably get sued.”
Salavtore closed out his remarks by admitting the MMO business can be harsh one, and used Star Wars as an example of a “solid game,” which is, by all reports, loosing subs.
“The MMO market is very different now than it was 6 years ago,” he said. “Star Wars is aching, by all reports, and it’s a solid game with groundbreaking voice-over work. EA bought Mythic, and Warhammer crashed. Bioware’s MMO is hurting (they just laid off a bunch of people in their Austin Studio).
“And something else I probably shouldn’t say, but what the hell: Reckoning showed a TINY slice of the world 2,500 years BEFORE the MMO. A TINY slice of a past age that ties to the meta-story of Amalur in the way a tale of the Schism in the Catholic Church might relate to modern day Earth…yes, the world lore was THAT BIG.”
Reports last night stated both 38 Studios and Big Huge Games were on the verge of shuttering, with employees at the former receiving notice and many confirming their dismissals on Twitter. Big Huge Games has stayed rather quiet on the matter.