Sad news today.
38 Studios has effectively closed down operations, laying off all employees at Rhode Islands, and at Big Huge Games. (Source: Kotaku)
I made the observation a few days ago that due to 38 Studios not making payroll, the odds were that it would share the fate of other business who did not make payroll. Unfortunately, this fate occurred very quickly after the initial reports. I was hoping that 38 Studios might be given a reprieve by their creditors or find an angel investor. The credit economy isn’t too flash right now with the European debt crisis, so no luck there.
In 38 Studios case it turns out that not only had management failed to make payroll, they had also stopped paying health insurance. Of course the staff had not been informed of any of this. It was only found out when an employee’s pregnant wife was told by her doctor.
None of the blame for any of this should fall on the developers, artists, and ancillary workers. These folks are now without jobs or health insurance. In a tough economy life is about to become more difficult for a lot of people. No, any blame should be laid squarely at the feet of management. It’s quite obvious looking at the screenshots that have come out of the studio in the last few days that the game was progressing well, and looking great. The people who were doing their jobs did so well.
There are a bunch of thoughts circulating in my head at the moment. Things like whether or not studios should attempt a AAA MMO as their first game; will small scale indie MMO’s like Wurm Online or Realm of the Mad God save the genre; the ‘sameness’ of the AAA MMO scene. But I’ll leave that to later.
For now I just want to wish the ex-employees of 38 Studios and Big Huge Games all the best and hope you folks find something else quickly.