Reckoning dev lays off entire staff - Report
[UPDATE]: Source says beleaguered 38 Studios and Big Huge Games sent out pink slips to all employees, believed to number close to 400. Rhode Island governor calls Kingdoms of Amalur a "failure."
It appears 38 Studios and its subsidiary Big Huge Games are no more. The Verge and Joystiq heard from sources today that all employees at Curt Schilling's Providence, Rhode Island-based and Maryland-based development studios have been let go. The company put out just one game in its lifetime, February's well-received role-playing game Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
38 Studios employed 379 employees full-time as of mid-March, according to a report from last week. Employees at the company had not been paid since May 1 and lost health care benefits today, according to Joystiq. As of press time, 38 Studios had not responded to GameSpot's request for comment on the matter.
Troubles at 38 Studios first came to light earlier this month, when reports from the Rhode Island government indicated that 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. The company's CEO, Jen MacLean, left the studio in March, with senior vice president of product development John Blakely heading out just this month.
The fate of 38 Studios' massively multiplayer online role-playing game Project Copernicus is unknown. Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee recently revealed the title was being readied to ship in June 2013. If 38 Studios decides to sell its Amalur intellectual property, it can expect to get $20 million for it, according to one industry analyst.
38 Studios purchased Big Huge Games from THQ in 2009. It is unclear what will happen to the Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning sequel that Schilling confirmed was in the works earlier this year. The original sold 1.2 million copies during its first 90 days, outperforming publisher Electronic Arts' estimates, according to Schilling.
[UPDATE]: In a press conference this afternoon, Governor Chafee explained that the state had not been informed of the pending layoff of 38 Studios' entire staff. In explaining how the studio hit the skids seemingly overnight, Chafee explained, "The game failed. The game failed." He added that Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning would have needed to sell 3 million copies just to break even.
Additionally, Rhode Island's WPRI has a copy of the mass layoff email that was sent to 38 Studios employees. It reads:
The Company is experiencing an economic downturn. To avoid further losses and possibility of retrenchment, the Company has decided that a companywide lay off is absolutely necessary.
These layoffs are non-voluntary and non-disciplinary.
This is your official notice of lay off, effective today, Thursday, May 24th, 2012.
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