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Kingdoms of Amalur dev shut down

Kingdoms of Amalur dev shut down

The closure of 38 Studios and Big Huge Games means no patch is to be forthcoming for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.

Rhode Island-based 38 Studios, the company behind the popular action role-playing game (RPG) Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, has closed its doors in the face of claimed debts relating to an apparently unpayable loan.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, the company's most recent title and the product of its subsidiary Big Huge Games, proved popular: in the first 90 days following its launch, it was claimed to sell 1.2 million copies across three platforms - PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 - but that apparently wasn't enough to satiate the company's paymasters.

As a result, the company is being liquidated and its staff sacked.

'Today was a rough day at the studio. After a long stretch of difficult circumstances, things finally came to a head, and this afternoon, we on the Reckoning team down in Maryland began to pack up our offices and say our goodbyes' Big Huge Games lead designer Ian Frazier explained late Friday in a forum post.

Frazier's post comes hot on the heels of an internal email leaked to Gamasutra telling staff that they were no longer required. 'The Company [38 Studios] 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,' the email read.

A press conference by Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee pointed the finger at Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning's apparently unimpressive sales as being at fault. 'The game failed, the governor claimed, while stating that sales of three million had been promised in order for 38 Studios to receive a $75 million loan payment.

Sales of 1.2 million - a figure claimed by company head Curt Schilling on Twitter - in 90 days is, apparently, no longer a success - and without three million copies in homes across the world, the loan was called in and the company found financially wanting.

Unfortunately, this also spells the end of a planned patch for the game. 'We received clearance to do a PC-only patch, which wasn't ideal - we wanted to do a patch on all platforms - but it was better than nothing,' Frazier claimed. 'So we commenced working on that--working on everything from miscellaneous bug fixes to Joe Q's addition of new camera features to Dakota's addition of two new difficulty modes - but before we finished, the company collapsed.

'Now, barring some sort of miracle, it is highly unlikely that any patch for Reckoning will ever see the light of day. I am deeply sorry that we were unable to get a patch out the door sooner, before this catastrophe struck - you supported us, and you deserve the support yourselves. While I consider Reckoning a very strong game and not especially buggy, that's not the same as saying that it's perfectly balanced or bug-free, and it kills me that I'll never get the chance to correct any of its issues.
'

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nightblade628 28th May 2012, 16:20 Quote
Kingdoms of *Amalur.
Gareth Halfacree 28th May 2012, 18:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by nightblade628
Kingdoms of *Amalur.
Bah - that's the trouble with made-up words: you get it wrong once and tell the dictionary to add it, and every other time you blindly accept its 'correction'... Fixed everywhere I can, ta.
fallenphoenix 28th May 2012, 19:56 Quote
Quote:
Sales of 1.2 million - a figure claimed by company head Curt Schilling on Twitter - in 90 days is, apparently, no longer a success

This is a sad reality of the AAA game industry today, but not for the reasons that might first come to mind. 1.2 million copies of a game is a lot of copies, even spread across three platforms, but if Amalur's budget was anything like other recent AAA titles, anything less than a home run would spell big trouble for the company.

So, is the problem that Amalur did not sell well? I would argue that it isn't, because I would be ecstatic about 1.2 million people playing my game. Rather, the problem is developers (let's lump publishers in there as well) thinking that the only definition of success is breaking sales records and reaping profits many times more than what was invested. It's a problem that I believe was a major cause of the recent financial crises, and it seems a less that even today has yet to be learned. Making sound investments, with solid returns is infinitely more sustainable than always needing a massive return in the shortest time possible. The successes may not be as sweet, but the failures are much less likely to result in the downfall of the company, and the loss of hundreds of jobs.
Elton 28th May 2012, 22:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fallenphoenix
This is a sad reality of the AAA game industry today, but not for the reasons that might first come to mind. 1.2 million copies of a game is a lot of copies, even spread across three platforms, but if Amalur's budget was anything like other recent AAA titles, anything less than a home run would spell big trouble for the company.

So, is the problem that Amalur did not sell well? I would argue that it isn't, because I would be ecstatic about 1.2 million people playing my game. Rather, the problem is developers (let's lump publishers in there as well) thinking that the only definition of success is breaking sales records and reaping profits many times more than what was invested. It's a problem that I believe was a major cause of the recent financial crises, and it seems a less that even today has yet to be learned. Making sound investments, with solid returns is infinitely more sustainable than always needing a massive return in the shortest time possible. The successes may not be as sweet, but the failures are much less likely to result in the downfall of the company, and the loss of hundreds of jobs.

Well that's a matter of a constantly expanding industry. It was the same in the past, where ambition got ahead of the developers and made huge costly flops. This isn't just relegated to just the gaming business though it's everywhere and it's rather inherent in capitalism. As they say the larger the risk the larger the payout, that is if there is a payout. In this case it's a company that moved a respectable amount of units, but didn't have the proper amount of infrastructure to support the investment they made. Shame.
silky 29th May 2012, 00:20 Quote
I agree fallenphoenix. I think in the past they would have made an RPG similar to this but with less budget on presentation, and 1 million sales would have been plenty. But nowdays they need to have very good graphics or a lot of people aren't interested, and to make graphics comparable to the big games, it costs a fortune. And then add in top sound/music people and the cost is even higher.

Although this story is actually far more complicated behind the scenes. For those in the hardcore MMO community, there has been a great big drama unfolding the last few weeks with this company. It's possible that their two games were unrelated but I doubt it. And either way, there is a lot more to this story anyway. It's a brand new company (with almost a dream team hired to run it), so purchasing an entire other company and their game, and then needing to sell 3 million copies just to make it worthwhile, seems suspicious or crazy, or something. The truth will hopefully come out eventually though. It's a shame.
fluxtatic 29th May 2012, 04:39 Quote
Maybe if that moron Schilling hadn't been lured to RI by the moron RI legislature, this wouldn't have happened. It's one thing to collapse your own vanity game studio, but to take down a real studio (BHG) with you? Stupid, greedy assholes. Maybe it should have told him something that private investory apparently wouldn't touch 38 Studios. You think the RI legislature has some secret insight into making a retired baseball player into a visionary studio head?
Gareth Halfacree 29th May 2012, 09:08 Quote
Wow - if this is true, then the developers are in bigger trouble than just losing their jobs: Former relocated Studio 38 employees stuck with second mortgages (Gamasutra).
Fizzban 29th May 2012, 16:29 Quote
They had started work on Kingdoms of Amalur 2 as well. What a sad end for them.

Linky
pendragon 29th May 2012, 18:30 Quote
Kotaku has made several posts detailing this fiasco ... it was way more than just "1 game not selling enough copies" ... sad, as the demo I played it seemed like a great game.. I'm just hoping there's a fire sale soon and I can still get the game in some form
GannonDwarf 1st June 2012, 07:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by silky
I agree fallenphoenix. I think in the past they would have made an RPG similar to this but with less budget on presentation, and 1 million sales would have been plenty. But nowdays they need to have very good graphics or a lot of people aren't interested, and to make graphics comparable to the big games, it costs a fortune. And then add in top sound/music people and the cost is even higher.

Although this story is actually far more complicated behind the scenes. For those in the hardcore MMO community, there has been a great big drama unfolding the last few weeks with this company. It's possible that their two games were unrelated but I doubt it. And either way, there is a lot more to this story anyway. It's a brand new company (with almost a dream team hired to run it), so purchasing an entire other company and their game, and then needing to sell 3 million copies just to make it worthwhile, seems suspicious or crazy, or something. The truth will hopefully come out eventually though. It's a shame.

I don't think that the game budget was the issue here. Sure Amalur was the new kid on the block, but I for one was really excited to play it, and I think that heaps of others felt the same way. And honestly, you look, there have been heaps of games that have had far larger budgets and still been successful and made huge profits: Top 10 Most Expensive Video game Budgets

The issue here was that 38 studios had absolutely no income other than investors and loans, and when you spend a couple of years developing a game while falling into debt you know it can't really end well.
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