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Default 38 Studios - End Game @ Boston Magazine

July 24th, 2012, 20:54
Boston Magazine has a piece titled End Game that chronicles the demise of 38 Studios. What makes this different is the inside information - including interview comments direct from Curt Schilling:
Most troublesome of all was the unique profit-sharing plan Schilling devised for his first employees. Wasserman, Bussgang, and Gordon write that, since Schilling was bank-rolling the company by himself, he was hesitant to give up equity in it. So instead of luring early prospective hires with stock options, he promised to share all profits 50-50 with them. Upon arriving as CEO, Close recognized that “investors’ heads would explode” when they saw the model, since they’d be bearing all the risk but reaping only half the reward. Close eventually convinced Schilling to scrap the policy and replace it with stock options. […]
Deadlines were frequently missed, something for which staffers say Schilling rarely held anyone accountable. The ex-pitcher had a bigger concern. “The game wasn’t fun,” he says, unprompted, beside the softball field. “It was my biggest gripe for probably the past eight to 12 months.” Visually, Copernicus was stunning, but the actual things you could do in the game weren’t engaging enough. The combat aspects especially lagged. Schilling — who never wavered in his belief that the game would be great — says the MMO was improving, but after six years, it still wasn’t there. When Schilling walked around during lunch hour, he says, nobody was playing Copernicus’s internal demos. They were all on some other game.
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July 24th, 2012, 20:54
That is actually quite an interesting and informative read.

If you take the article at full faith, I'd have to say the blame largely falls on Schilling. I don't think he set out to destroy the company or the financial lives of his employees. But it's pretty clear that at his core he is a big spender and anyone who has successfully run a business knows that lavish spending is something that you plan and execute under very limited and controlled conditions.

It seems that all the spending mis-steps (and wow, according to this article, there were tons of them) became 'chum in the water' for RI politicians and - well, what do you expect. Politicians are wolves that will turn on and kill the weak and the wounded. You don't have to live too many years on this Earth to know that there are no friends and only potential enemies when it comes to politics.

My heart goes out to all the employees who have been left holding their unfair share of 'the bag' through know fault of their own. It is heart wrenching and a complete punch to the gut to hear about some employees healthcare running out when they could have kept prior jobs, stayed where they lived amongst family and friends and kept their incomes and healthcare plans. The loss faced by the regular employees is the real tragedy here.

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July 24th, 2012, 20:54
Fascinating article, thank you for posting.
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July 24th, 2012, 21:49
Great story. Very sad.
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July 24th, 2012, 22:40
Creative people needs people with reality checks (pun intended) to work with them. And by the intended pun I did refer to the pay checks…….There needs to be people who can structure the work, make sure people meet their deadlines and say goodbye to those who can't. In short, management is needed. It sounds fun to be making game, and it probably is, but when all the illusions and visions are cleared, reality needs to set in…

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July 24th, 2012, 22:47
obviously in over his head from the beginning. it must have been a fairy tale ride for the first 3 years, but by then he was out of control. i'm keeping my eye on richard garriott ever since he stiffed NCSoft by shooting himself into space rather then leading the team in austin, i predict portalarium will be next.
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July 24th, 2012, 23:05
Apparently he had a management team that was partially family and partially not. The non-family members of the team say their advice was ignored. BIG EGO + LITTLE EXPERIENCE issues there, I'd imagine.
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July 24th, 2012, 23:51
Delusions of grandeur crushed by mighty reality. Curt wasn't ready for the real business world. He figured his name alone would cause investors to spend millions. He might have done better to auction of his sock to the highest bidder. He lost lots of money, but is still a multi-millionaire. His staff wasn't so lucky. Some of those guys lost nearly everything. Can they sue him from gross stupidity and incompetence?

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July 25th, 2012, 00:14
Originally Posted by crpgnut View Post
Can they sue him from gross stupidity and incompetence?
Well there are a lot of people who launch businesses with earnest intentions and make stupid mistakes. This is part of how we learn to become better businesspeople. Many great companies were started by people who failed many times before.

If we all got sued for this, it would make people less inclined to start new companies. After all, the point of setting up a business entity is so you aren't personally liable. Schilling secured loans with his personal property and lost his own capital contributions, which were tens of millions of dollars. As long as he was keeping his personal and business assets separate, I don't see why he should lose personal assets not tied to the company.
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July 25th, 2012, 00:28
That was a very interesting, well written article.

It's sad - KOA was a decent game and sold fairly well. Under normal circumstances, would have probably been the start of franchise. It seems Shilling bit off more than he could chew, was far too lavish with perks and ultimately didn't manage effectively. It was quite surprising reading about how over the top it all was. I mean, it was common knowledge that they made bad decisions, but wow…

As a baseball player, he should be aware that you need to work your way up to the majors. Now he'll be a cautionary tale for future start-ups.
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July 25th, 2012, 00:59
First time developers should not be ambitious as Curt was. They would of been better off just focusing on another sp Reckoning.

The only silver lining is Take-Two Interactive was interested in a sequel, but they would have to buy it from RI and that's not going to happen.

http://www.vg247.com/2012/07/24/schi…cus-wasnt-fun/

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July 25th, 2012, 02:01
Good read.. it put things in a different perspective for me. I actually feel kinda bad for Schilling now…


The ex-pitcher had a bigger concern. “The game wasn’t fun,” he says
Sorry, Curt… neither was KoA.
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July 25th, 2012, 02:22
It's really too bad, for a first game KoA had a lot going for it. To me at least it was much better then that dreck risen 2. Sold better as well…to bad they overspent on the MMO.

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July 25th, 2012, 03:11
Trolling detected.
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July 25th, 2012, 03:13
Trasher, your detector is working nice! It shows my post before I made it!

Originally Posted by aries100 View Post
Creative people needs people with reality checks (pun intended) to work with them. And by the intended pun I did refer to the pay checks…….There needs to be people who can structure the work, make sure people meet their deadlines and say goodbye to those who can't. In short, management is needed. It sounds fun to be making game, and it probably is, but when all the illusions and visions are cleared, reality needs to set in…
I don't think you refer to paychecks… That sentence, the one with bold letters, is used always by my RL friends when I say I don't want to buy a mobrespawning game. Reality says otherwise, everyone says, noone would buy a game without respawns. So if I want to have fun, I have to adapt. Sure.
And then Kingdoms of Respawnalur happens, Studios "38…6538475234683574 respawns" fails and then everyone is suddenly sad. And unhappy. Whatever. In any case the fuss is turning into a soap opera for whatever reason.
But I'm not sad. Didn't buy that game nor would ever. Why would I buy something "everyone" else adores just because it's a trend? To save the company with reality checks who's market predictions are less real than UFOs? Right…
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July 25th, 2012, 03:34
That's Thrasher not Trasher.
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July 25th, 2012, 04:37
KoA was generic but well executed. I would have loved a sequel that improved on the first game.
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