In a press conference held earlier today in Rhode Island, the governor of the state discussed gaming for a bit. At issue: the fate of now-defunct development house 38 Studios and its subsidiary Big Huge Games. The studio, founded by baseball great Curt Schilling, laid off all of its workers today.
When asked why the company had such disastrous financial trouble, Lincoln Chafee replied: "The game [Kingdoms of Amalur] failed. The game failed."
Interestingly, Chafee did not confirm the reports of layoffs, saying 38 hasn't told R.I. about them. Chafee also said he doesn't know whether 38 is planning to file for bankruptcy.
Chafee said Amalur would have needed to sell over 3 million copies to make back its investment, a goal the game did not meet. It reportedly sold over a million copies.
When asked if further oversight by the state might have resulted in a more successful company, Chafee doubted it, pointing out that bureaucrats meddling in creative matters would likely not work out. "If I had meddled there wouldn't be all this horrible violence in games. All this sexism," Chafee told reporters.
As reported by WPRI, the employees of 38 Studios recently received an email today that read:
"The Company is experiencing an economic downturn. To avoid further losses and possibility of retrenchment, the Company has decided that a company-wide 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 company had 379 full-time employees at its two studios as of March 15.
Since the company owes Rhode Island nearly $75 million that it looks increasingly like it won't be able to pay back, it's likely that R.I. will end up the owners of Amalur and the rest of 38's intellectual property.
Among that property: "Project Copernicus," 38 Studios' MMO planned for release in June. While it seems pretty likely that it will never be released in the form that it was originally planned for, 38 Studios did release a few screenshots today. Here's a gallery of Project Copernicus screens.
And take a look at the world of Copernicus:
More as the the story develops.