Howdy folks and welcome back to MMO’s Tavern. I hope you’re thirsty because this was a big week.
The biggest news this week has to be 38 Studios. They’ve been in dire straits over the past few weeks with mounting financial issues and reports that they weren’t able to pay their staff. “But Thom, 38 Studios makes single player games,” you might be saying, but you have to remember that their first game, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, was a lead in for their in-development MMO, codenamed ‘Copernicus.’ To be honest, the world of Amalur never really appealed to me, but that’s getting off topic. This week 38 Studios laid off all of their staff, and is rumored to be selling their subsidiary, Big Huge Games. I know sports fans have their own opinions about Curt Schilling, but this isn’t the time for that. Real people are losing real jobs, even though their first game sold very well. I raise my mug to all the people affected by this and wish them all a speedy recovery.
There’s other news I want to talk about, but the apparent closing of 38 Studios is really depressing. I’ve survived and been the victim of mass lay offs at a developer before, hence why I’m in the much more stable fictional bar business, and it can be really rough, and I can only imagine it’s doubly so after just releasing a hit. According to EA, Kingdoms of Amalur sold 1.2 million copies in its first 90 days, well above projections. Let’s be honest here, 1.2 million copies sold is amazing for any game. This whole thing sounds like a mismanaging of funds at the highest level of the company, which happens. I’m not crying foul play or anything, far from it actually. I think what ended up happening is that their desires exceeded their means. If you listen to any episode of The Instance podcast that Curt Schilling appears on you can hear the passion and the love in his voice for this type of gaming. He wants to make the best MMO out there, but MMOs are expensive endeavors, especially when the goal is to compete with the current king of the hill, World of Warcraft. I sincerely hope that everyone involved lands on their feet following these events and, if the stars align, that Copernicus can find a home somewhere, because it would be a shame for all that work to just disappear.
In other equally depressing news, BioWare was also hit with a series of layoffs as well. An undisclosed number of people working on SWTOR were laid off this week, according to the official statement from Greg Zeschuk, which can be found here. It’s a tough time to be making and releasing new MMOs, with much of the country still feeling the effects of the recession. Rumors are swirling around the gaming community that the BioWare layoffs were likely related to the pre-release swell that developers are known to do to help get a game out on time. Others are blaming the drop in subscriber numbers, and some are even going so far as to say that SWTOR is dead and that EA is biding its time before it takes BioWare out behind the shed Old Yeller style. Whatever the truth is, there is one thing I’m going to say on the matter and it’s the same thing that I said about 38 Studios. These are human beings, people just like you or me, that have lost their jobs. They deserve respect and compassion, because we’ve all been affected by something like this in the last few years. I hope everyone laid off finds work soon, and in the meantime, this round’s on me.
Sorry for the extra sad week, but I just wanted to give my two cents on the matter. I think that’s about enough for this week. I’ll be back with more news from MMO’s Tavern next week, so until then keep them vorpal blades swinging, but not in here. I don’t like fights in my tavern.