38 Studios and Big Huge Games have both let go of their entire staffs, a source with knowledge of the situation tells Joystiq. Following reports that 38 Studios stopped paying staff on May 1, and just an hour before a scheduled press conference in Rhode Island addressing the recent 38 Studios financial debacle, both the Providence, RI-based 38 Studios and the Baltimore, MD-based Big Huge Games are no more.
"Big Huge Games was home for my wife and me for our adult lives so far. I'll miss it terribly, but so proud. Good night and good luck," former Big Huge Games lead world designer Colin Campbell said on his Twitter account. Big Huge's latest release was the moderately successful Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. The studio was picked up by 38 Studios back in 2009, and it crafted the first entry in 38's ambitious new universe: Amalur.
The recent financial tumult arose following a defaulted payment from 38 Studios to the Rhode Island state government on May 1, indicating much larger financial issues that could ultimately lead to Rhode Island taxpayers owing up to $112.6 million between 2013 and 2020. It's unclear whether today's layoffs mean 38 Studios is unable to pay back the approximately $50 million its owes Rhode Island of a planed $75 million loan. If that's the case, Rhode Island will take over ownership of the Amalur IP, valued at around $20 million.
We expect to hear more at a scheduled press conference this evening held by Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee.
Update: WPRI got ahold of the internal memo to employees at 38 Studios, which reads: "The Company 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." Big Huge Games and 38 Studios collectively employed 379 full-timers as of March 15, according to the report.