Farewell 38 Studios

I’ve mentioned a time or two here that I’m a big R.A. Salvatore fan, and I recently wrote about a game, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, that a company he helped form released earlier this year. Frankly, I enjoy the game very much and I had thought it very successful, even if it was being overshadowed by Skyrim. A few days ago, 38 Studios released some footage from what I believed to be the MMO follow up in Amalur, Project Copernicus, and it, too, looks amazing! Possibly the World of Warcraft killer that people have been trying to make for the last 5-6 years…!

But alas, it is not to be apparently… Today, all the staff of 38 Studios and Big Huge Games were laid off, and Rhode Island’s governor has been quoted as having said that the game, Reckoning, failed. It’s possible that Copernicus will eventually see the light of day still, but without the talent to deliver strong and compelling storylines and inspire us with amazing artwork, the game will never be what was once envisioned.

The worst thing is that people will forever claim that Reckoning failed. That’s the part I can’t live with. The game only failed in one area: generating enough revenue to keep the companies afloat. What it did do, however, is manage to be a completed project of a pair or amazing dreamers, Todd MacFarlane and R.A. Salvatore, and a future hall of farmer, Curt Schilling. What it did do was sell hundreds of thousands of copies at a time when Elder Scrolls: Skyrim was still on the tip of many people’s tongue! What it did do was provide steady employment for over 300 people for a period of years during a major recession. What it did do was draw me into the game at a point when I was so stressed out over my final college semester that I didn’t care about gaming at all, barely tried to do any creative writing, did no reading for pleasure, and honestly thought that death would be a sweet release!

No, I don’t see Reckoning as a failure considering that there are so many games that are developed every year that never see the light of day, let alone reach the hands of a consumer… I’m something of an “almost insider” with the game industry. One of my two best friends has worked in the industry for 15+ years at some of the big companies. I’ve talked and eaten with a lot of his coworkers over the years, and I’ve seen first hand  projects that never even got close to being finished, let alone released with a major publisher. Developing games is hard work, but the real work is in the post development phase: finding a publisher and working out a deal, finding a marketing company and working out a deal, getting a deal with a distributor, and ultimately getting the attention of gamers to actually convince them to buy the game. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that despite the vast number of games that do reach consumers, the vast majority never do. If for no other reason than that, Reckoning did not fail.

So to all employees and family members of 38 Studios, I want to say thank you for your work, dedication, and sacrifices that you’ve made to bring me this game, and for working to bring me Copernicus! I wish there was more that I could do to show you my appreciation!