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Curt Schilling Fires Entire Staff At 38 Studios 137

redletterdave writes "On Thursday, former Boston Red Sox pitcher and tech entrepreneur Curt Schilling fired his entire staff at 38 Studios, his Rhode Island-based video game company, leaving more than 300 employees without jobs because the company couldn't repay its debt to the state. 38 Studios failed to pay Rhode Island's economic development agency $1.1 million, which was due last week, and also failed to meet payroll for its staff in both its Providence office and its Maryland subsidiary, Big Huge Games." The company's recent action RPG, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, sold 1.2 million copies — which would have been great if they hadn't needed to sell 3 million to break even. An article at Massively goes through some of the lessons the video game industry needs to learn from this situation.
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Curt Schilling Fires Entire Staff At 38 Studios

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  • oof (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 25, 2012 @05:01PM (#40113713)
    I interviewed at Big Huge Games back when they were independent but ended up turning down the job. I met some nice folks there and had nothing but respect for them. Maybe they're long gone by now, maybe not, but good luck to everybody affected.


  • NOOOO!!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chaim79 ( 898507 ) on Friday May 25, 2012 @05:03PM (#40113761) Homepage

    Having played both Skyrim and Kingdoms, I loved the way Kingdoms worked and preferred it over Skyrim and Oblivion. The gameplay was great and the action seamless and fast, being able to switch from ranged to melee to magic and back and forth with the speed that Kingdoms had was amazing. I enjoyed the world, the story, the design, everything.

    Hopefully a decent studio will take up the title for future installments, cuz it was a great game.

  • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Friday May 25, 2012 @05:15PM (#40113931)

    Uh... you realize that the market for video games is a hell of a lot bigger than just the US right?

    Diablo 3 had 4.7 million sales *on day 1*. And that's without korean cafes.
    Skyrim (which was cross platform) is up around 9 and a half million copies in about a week.

    The problem with Kingdoms of Amalur:reckoning is that no one has any fucking clue what an Amalur is, and it's not obvious that is the world they were creating, which immediately turns attention away. And as an RPG it's nothing spectacular, run around do quests. It's decent enough, and well executed, but there's nothing in it that you call your friend and say 'you have to play this game to see this' the way skyrim or fallout has.

    No one knows what the fuck skyrim is either, but when you're an established series you can build press and momentum for whatever name you want, and people will go for it. Kingdoms of Amalur may have failed in part because they didn't invest enough in press and marketing, released at the wrong time, etc. But it's certainly not a huge barrier for a game at the production quality they had to sell 3 million copies, especially across all 3 platforms. Granted, it has been out for 3 months and is *still* 60 bucks on steam, so that's not helping either. They'd have been well served to do a sale at say 20 bucks and use it as an experiment to see if they can get more sales. At this point, there's nothing else to lose, so it can't hurt to try.

  • Re:Aww poop (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DaveInAustin ( 549058 ) on Friday May 25, 2012 @05:20PM (#40113987) Homepage
    Only slightly different from Curt Shillings first industry, professional sports, where they take [] taxpayer [] money, stay in business, then demand more []. Had the state just given him the money, he could have stuck around for a while, then went back for more a few years later by threatening to take jobs elsewhere.
  • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Friday May 25, 2012 @07:39PM (#40115679)

    I understand completely. And it's not an issue. If anything they made more money doing it this way and needed to sell less copies. I know you don't want to hear that because you believe used game sales add value, but frankly, they don't. The huge array of very successful titles through steam should give you a clue as to why this works.

    On the other side of this, which is where I am, used game sales have been an unmitigated disaster for the industry as a whole. It has created a perverse adversarial relationship between us, the developers, and gamestop the prime seller of our games (well, 25% of the overall market) as well as the prime purveyor of used games.

    Notice how there are no used game sales for diablo? MMO's? Anything on any of the online marketplaces etc? Right. Physical boxes exist to build interest in a brand, and even then it's usually a money pit these days, because who the hell wants to print 40k copies of a game for walmart and gamestop when it probably won't even sell 40k copies. You are far more likely to be successful with a banner ad on steam than boxed copies in stores (where the big brands of maddens, skyrim, etc all pay for the good shelf space).

    Preventing used game sales, for example, by only releasing our titles through online distributors (PSN, XBL, Steam, etc.) you make a shit load more money, even if the total number of copies sold is less. Now when you're really big, skyrim big, you can afford used game sales because people will play your game long enough, and enough people will be there day one, that the used market will be lost profit on top of a mountain of profit. For everyone else it has been a giant plague on the industry. Where we could sell 100k units, and make a living before used games were prevalent, now we'll sell 50k units, that are resold 3 times. It shifts the entire industry to an advertising exercise making sure your game is bought on day one, because after that you're basically fucked (and btw, having a game that spends 4x as much on advertising as making the actual game will piss you off too, which is what the big guys do these days). Sure, more people are playing the game, but you're getting half as much money (and actually the numbers are generally dramatically worse than that but I don't have them in front of me at the moment*).

    And I don't care that you didn't play ANNO 2070. Really, I don't. They've sold a shitload of copies for what is a crushingly niche game. As in hundreds of thousands of copies. As as ARMA II on the PC. Where there are no used sales via steam. That's the future. Because it has to be. We cannot keep running an industry on 40% government subsidies.

    Remember, I'm advocating (perhaps later in this thread) that they cut their price to boost sales. That is a good idea absent used game sales. But you can *never* compete with the identical product for less money used. Ever. People have tried. It fails.

    This also ties into another thread from today, about games wrecking kids. The article itself is overblown, but it's decidedly not healthy to have people rush out, buy a game, play it for 8-20-40 hours straight, sell it used. Which is what happens a lot. We can track these things you know.

    *I'm sure I've posted it before on here somewhere. But I think for the last big project I worked on it was something like a factor of 6 or 7 x as many players as copies sold, which were down around 50% from the previous title in the series. But don't quote me. It was brutal though.

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