Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was a joint venture between 38 Studios and Big Huge Games. Released in 2012, the game was moderately successful. Unfortunately the studio behind it was not. Due to mismanagement and chronic overspending, 38 Studios abruptly closed its doors in 2012 leaving behind a $75 million bill and many employees who were owed wages. According to Bloomberg, those employees are now receiving that final paycheck nine years after the developer closed… or at least part of it.
Following nine years of legal arguments, the latest bankruptcy documents show it has been decided each employee of the company will receive a minimum of 14% of what they were owed while others will get a maximum of 20%. Those paychecks finally started arriving this week, although many have ended up in the wrong hands seeing as their intended recipients have since moved several times for other jobs within the industry.
38 Studios was the creation of baseball player Curt Schilling, who formed the studio with the idea of creating an MMORPG to rival World of Warcraft. In 2011, he agreed a $75 million deal with Rhode Island to relocate the studio from Massachusetts and create 450 jobs. With interest, the loan totalled $112.6 million and this had to be repaid by 2020. Their first and only game was Kingdoms of Amalur, which sold 1.2 million copies within its first 90 days. The problem was it needed to shift 3 million copies to break even and it didn’t reach that total quickly enough. This left the studio struggling to repay the loan.
The first cheque bounced and while the studio did manage to make the first loan repayment, it was late. Despite this, the studio felt confident enough to release a new trailer for an MMO set in the world of Amalur, Project Copernicus. Just days later, the studio laid off all 379 of their staff and closed its doors. None of them had received their last paychecks, due a couple of weeks beforehand. It also left Rhode Island taxpayers with the bill, resulting in allegations of fraud and criminal activity against the studio. No criminal charges were ever brought.
The Kingdoms of Amalur IP later found itself in the hands of THQ Nordic, who remastered the game for PS4 complete with a brand new DLC expansion. While Project Copernicus will never see the light of day, there’s a chance the game will eventually get a sequel although that would surely be a bitter pill to swallow for the game’s original developers at 38 Studios.[Source: Bloomberg]
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