Reckoning staff unpaid since May 1, health care runs out - Report

Source says 38 Studios employees miss payroll this month, now without health care; company CEO and SVP jump ship; Kingdoms of Amalur outperforms projections, selling 1.2 million.

The tough times at Kingdoms of Amalur and Project Copernicus developer 38 Studios are not getting any better, according to a new report. A source with knowledge of the situation told Joystiq that 38 Studios staffers have not been paid since May 1 and, as of today, no longer have health care. Company employees are paid on the first and 15th of each month.

Copernicus may never see the light of day, says the source.

Asked if 38 Studios will shut down this week amid the trouble, the source would not confirm anything, saying, "Unknown at this time. Outlook is not good."

As for 38 Studios' new massively multiplayer online game Project Copernicus, which Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee recently revealed would ship in June 2013, the source confirmed this date was an internal target, but was not sure it will be met.

"Whether this is realistic or not is up for debate," the source said.

The trouble for 38 Studios does not end there. Rhode Island news outlet WPRI reports that the company's CEO, Jen MacLean, and senior vice president of product development, John Blakely, have left the company. MacLean has been on maternity leave for the past two months and indicated via her LinkedIn page that she left the company in March. Blakely also updated his LinkedIn page to say he left 38 Studios. Prior to joining the company, Blakely held positions at Zynga and Sony Online Entertainment.

It's not all bad news for 38 Studios. Company founder Curt Schilling wrote on Twitter last evening that Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning had outperformed publisher Electronic Arts' projections, selling 1.2 million copies during its first 90 days. He did not clarify if the figure represented sold-in (that is, shipped) or sold-through to consumers. As of press time, neither Schilling nor EA had responded to GameSpot's request for comment.

Asked by a user if he would use the money earned from Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning sales to help 38 Studios amid its ongoing troubles, Schilling said the funds have yet to come through.

"Haven't received a penny of it, and have not asked for any," he said.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning shipped in February to a warm critical reception and sold 330,000 units in the United States alone during the month.

38 Studios' troubles first came to light earlier this month, when reports from the Rhode Island government indicated the company had failed to make a $1.125 million loan payment to the state's Economic Development Corporation. The studio eventually made the payment, but it also enacted a round of unspecified layoffs.

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Discussion

148 comments
Rox-pox
Rox-pox

The second I don't get paid, I'll look for another job.

AceBalls
AceBalls

The worst part is this.... They will get away with it unless someone forces an inquiry.

gmromero
gmromero

So let me get this straight... KOA is out selling their predictions and yet they are still laying people off and withholding pay from current workers? And the 2 ringleaders bailed? Another disgusting example of the people on top running off with all the money while the people who actually work end up jobless and without even access to healthcare. 

AlmityGuitarist
AlmityGuitarist

My friend worked at 38. He said when they didn't get paid the management was really shady about it and didn't really give them any info until they laid everyone off. But he kind of knew it was possible once amalur didn't make the company a profit. 

Institute
Institute

This is what happens when people become greedy.

megakick
megakick

Zomg this is such a big thing Start a FUND GameSpot.

For the price of a cup of coffee you can help feed 38 Studios.

nyran125
nyran125

man these companies with successful games make SO much friggin money, whats wrong with these friggin businessman man, seriously. its a joke.

 

I think there needs to be a new legislation..managers and employers shouldnt get paid until the friggin workers do...its pathetic OR they shouldnt be producing a game they cant afford in the first place. Either or, theyve RIPPED off the people that have worked on the game and should go to prison for it.

EnchantedDaisy
EnchantedDaisy

This is really horrible. It's sad how what I assume is a mismanagement of money will hurt so many who did such a good job.

Andrew1073
Andrew1073

My cousin works for Big Huge Games and I feel horrible for him.  I am wishing him well and hope he can find work elsewhere...

Sturmfuehrer_
Sturmfuehrer_

Tragic management issue.

That's what happens if you think that, because you were good at baseball (and played a bit of WOW...), you're good at everything, namely creating a game!

But he will probably have made his cut with a nice yearly salary plus bonuses, while his 400-or-so ex-employees and the state of Rhode Island are bum-f'*ed.

lowkey254
lowkey254

If they didn't start work on their mmo this wouldn't be an ossue.

servb0ts
servb0ts

Hahaha. Developers of EA got so greedy, now they get screwed for screwing over paying consumers. Can we say Karma.

FinalDuo1886
FinalDuo1886

I will always love video games, but I'll never, EVER, ever, ever. ever, want to be a gaming dev, because of all these hideous stories that happens too these gaming devs. You get more respect working fast-food than working tough shifts working on a video game, that you don't know when, or where you'll get pay, which is just ridiculous!

 

 

ggregd
ggregd

It's starting to sound like Mr. Schilling was so ideologically blinded in his politics that he refused/neglected to let his company renegotiate their loan/finances with the State of RI, even though their MMO was taking longer than expected and the company was in danger.  I doubt the state wanted the company to fail and to lose 350 jobs and any chance that they would be paid back.  They could have worked something out.

 

Maybe everyone will be hired back on if they get any KoA money.  The MMO always sounded promising since I first heard about it 6 years ago.

dre256x
dre256x

Will Ea or Activision please buys these guys out, or even Ubisoft, they can't be that expensive..

s_h_a_d_o
s_h_a_d_o

Something is rotten in the State of Rhode Island.

DeViLzzz
DeViLzzz

money, commerce, etc once again destroy creativity ....

Roger_Smith
Roger_Smith

This is why EA is ranked the worst company. When a game outperforms expectations and you still can't profit from it, something is very wrong. How can you not receive any payment or money from the supposed 1.3 million units shipped?

 

Not even the dead can know peace in this place.

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

This is what happens when people beg for new IPs rather than sequels and then don't support new IPs when they come out... granted there are other factors at play here.  I don't think they should've gone big budget right out of the starting gate, and I don't think they should've made so many wasteful decisions like hiring Todd McFarlane and R. A. Salvatore.  That's something a company like Rockstar Games would be in a position to do, not a start-up.

Gen007
Gen007

yeah i totally would not be going a month without pay and their next project is an MMO? For realz who's smoking that crak pipe i have to know because it must be amazing stuff. Their next project should def have been a follow up to KOA. Much larger companies have tried and failed at MMO and they though they'd just take a shot at it eh? If their current situation dosen't break them then the flopping of that MMO will and its highly likely. If i still worked their i would be trying to find new employment asap. Also KOA isnt the problem here folks it actually sold decent and will probably have good lifetime sales. I just doubt it will help them much. The real problem is awful decision making coming from the top.

aestevenson
aestevenson

Curt Schilling was an avid EQ and WoW player so of course he was qualified to run a video game company.  Shocking that it didn't work out really.

 

The bigger question is why such a hard core tea-partier was ok with taking huge government handouts in RI.

Blitzkrieg129
Blitzkrieg129

 @megakick 400 game developers lost their jobs probably because of someone really greedy or some really poor management, and you're making a joke out of it?

megakick
megakick

 @nyran125

 LOL if EA didn't have the money this game would have never been made. EA took a chance on this game and it failed. Maybe next time don't release a Elder Scrolls Clone so close to Skyrim RELEASE.

 

How well do you think Sleeping Dogs would do if it was released close to Grand Theft Auto V release? My guess probably not well at all.

 

Bad decision making on everybody part who had a say IMO.

EnchantedDaisy
EnchantedDaisy

 @Andrew1073 Every person I have known in the industry has lost his job at some point. It's a shame that jobs that bring pleasure and entertainment to so many are so very unstable. It's got to be hard to work in an environment like that. I hope your cousin finds something soon!

Bozanimal
Bozanimal

 @lowkey254 They started work on the MMO in 2006, long before they acquired Big Huge Games.

 

If they didn't start work on their MMO, there never would have been a 38 Studios in the first place, for better or worse.

Incredible_Bulk
Incredible_Bulk

 @servb0ts This really did not have alot to do with EA, surprisingly. They got in trouble for moving to Rhode Island because they were promised a huge loan from the state that never really happened. So, yes, they were kind of greedy, but no, it had nothing to do with EA. 

emperiox
emperiox

 @FinalDuo1886 Oh give me a break dude...you do realise that the average game designer makes around $80k/year PLUS bonuses for good sales? Seriously, boohoo for those poor wittle game designers don't get much sleep! ITS TRAGIC!

 

ggregd
ggregd

 @mrboone01

 You seem to have an unstated personal axe to grind here, because you're the only one calling KoA a bad game and a sales failure.

Incredible_Bulk
Incredible_Bulk

 @Gen007 The MMO wasn't really their next project. They have been working on it for a lot longer than KoA. KoA just got finished and released before the MMO.

 

toddx77
toddx77

 @aestevenson Why would a tea partier take a huge government hand out?  Because politics make people do stupid things thats why lol.

VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

 @Blitzkrieg129 @megakick Hell yeah he made a joke out of it. and BRAVOSure it sucks these people didn't get paid., it's a legitimate tragedy.But if you can't laugh at the worst of life, then I feel more sorry for you than words can express.   

megakick
megakick

 @Blitzkrieg129

Gaming industry is a joke. I want good games but I don't want to pay for it? WTF. First lesson, It takes money to make money. Many only think about themself and then they cry why is everything is so bad.

lowkey254
lowkey254

 @Incredible_Bulk the loan happened, but they can't pay it back. they bit off more than they could chew in trying to develop an MMO.

secher_nbiw
secher_nbiw

 @emperiox You think the average game designer makes 80k a year?  Would you like to buy this bridge I have for sale?  Perhaps some magic beans...

Runock
Runock

 @emperiox Yeah and if the game your working on does not sell well you have a very real chance of getting fired. Boohoo indeed. Btw, how much does it cost you to not be a jerk?

indicaX
indicaX

 @ggregd  @mrboone01

 Greg I agree. I'm pretty sure Kurt Shilling banged him Mom or something. I've never seen somebody so butt hurt over a failed RPG. You seem like you have a personal issue with this game/studio/pitcher.

aestevenson
aestevenson

 @N0tYrBeezin Yes.  I could throw a stick blindly 100 times and hit 99 people more qualified to run a game company.

shadowysea07
shadowysea07

 @AlmityGuitarist  @HmongXiongBoy that's not really true as you can hate your job but still have to do it. its not like they can just say oh i hate this after probably years of work it took to get it and just go work somewhere else when they don't have any skills besides this field.

AlmityGuitarist
AlmityGuitarist

 @HmongXiongBoy I think they get compensated fairly. They know what the business is like going it. They know they will move around from company to company. Most of them enjoy doing it otherwise they wouldn't be there. I'd say you'd be hard pressed to find someone working in the gaming industry that really hates their job.

HmongXiongBoy
HmongXiongBoy

 @emperiox I agree that they make a pretty good amount of money, most likely good enough to make a living and then some, but I don't think they make enough for what they do. Business/Legal makes more and they're probably not dishing out those extra hours of time with no overtime pay (or maybe so, depends), though maybe I'm wrong, maybe the work they do are long and strenuous and constitutes what they earn, please enlighten me on the matter. Also, considering the high possibilities of layoff, is it worth it? I'm pretty sure that this salary estimate covers more experienced game developers, not considering those that are budding and that do less demanding work, local/indie publishers are what come to mind. Think about it like a business owner, at the start of the company, they are either prone to a miss or success and it requires long hours of work where they basically gamble (in-a-way), hoping that the time they invested is worth it.

hadlee73
hadlee73

 @emperiox I recommend reading the book "All Your Base Are Belong to Us: How Fifty Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture". It shows how the video game industry can be a nasty one, and there is very rarely ever a happy ending for developers (although things can look pretty good while the success is still flowing). It's actually a decent read, too :)

emperiox
emperiox

 @Runock Sure, sucks they got laid off. However, doesn't suck near as much when they made at LEAST 240k in the 3 years it took to make the game. QQ they aren't exactly starving or anything.

 

indicaX
indicaX

 @toddx77

 No disrescpect to non hate mongering republicans.

indicaX
indicaX

 @toddx77

 pretty much...Although I have a special distatse for hate mongerers and inbred rednecks.

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

 @aestevenson Could be worse... my former employer was an investment banker running a game company.  Did not know a damn thing about anything other than finances(which isn't bad for an exec but that's only a portion of what you need to run a game company), and it was fairly obvious that he barely plays games at all.

 

My favorite was him telling me that there are games in development in Hong Kong that surpass anything in the US in graphics and I regret not laughing in his face in front of the whole office.