Big Huge Games, the development house behind well-received action role-playing game Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, has been saved from the scrapheap by Epic Games.
Big Huge Games' parent company, the Rhode Island-based 38 Studios, recently hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons when it transpired that it was shutting down in the face of unpayable debts
, despite Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning having sold an estimated 1.2 million copies in its first 90 days on sale. The result: everyone being turfed out and forced to find new employment.
That new employment turns out to have been easier to find than expected, with the news that Epic Games is stepping in to save the company.
'Our heart goes out to the people affected by the unfortunate events surrounding 38 Studios and its subsidiary in Baltimore, Big Huge Games,
' Epic Games president Michael Capps explains in a statement entitled 'Big Problems Need Huge Solutions
. 'Through it all, the team stayed together in a way that’s been really heartwarming to see. The team kept working, hoping that there’d be a way to secure last-minute funding and save the company. People brought extra food into the office to help those unable to pay their bills. And last week, in bittersweet irony, Big Huge Games was named to Game Developer’s Top 30 studios in the world list.
Capps goes on to explain that the former Big Huge Games management team had contacted Epic to see if the company would be interested in licensing intellectual property using which the team could produce a new game using little more than ex-staff's personal savings and the desire to succeed. 'We loved that they all wanted to keep working together,
' Capps explains, 'but it was pretty clear they’d have trouble building a demo and securing funding before their personal savings ran out.
The solution: Epic is to set up a Baltimore-based studio, employing as many former Big Huge Games staff as possible right in their own home town.
'In one of life’s coincidences, Epic's directors had spent the morning discussing how we’d love to build even more successful projects with our growing team, but that we'd need a dramatic infusion of top talent to do so. Which, we all knew, was impossible,
' explains Capps - impossible, that is, unless a massive and talented team of individuals suddenly find themselves desperate for work.
'It’ll take a while to find space, set up desks and PCs, purchase sufficient Nerf weaponry and Dr. Pepper, etc. - nut some of these folks have been going too long without a paycheck to wait for that. So, as soon as we can, we're going to try to get people working down here at Epic headquarters in Cary, NC as contractors.
Sadly, not all of the studio will be granted a reprieve by Epic; Capps has admitted that the new studio will be smaller, and there won't be a place for all staff. Other companies have expressed interest in picking up the excess however, with Capps naming Zynga East, Zenimax Online and 'other southeastern studios
' as looking for staff.
Perhaps things don't seem quite so bleak for the former Big Huge Games staff as they did at the start of last week.