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Default 38 Studios - The Gamasutra Report

June 4th, 2012, 17:33
Gamasutra writes about the 38 Studios debacle, with input from Big Huge Games' staffers. It definitely offers a different perspective but, like other articles leaning the opposite way, still only provides a limited view:
"We never would have survived to make Reckoning if he hadn't bought us," says a Big Huge Games source. He describes Schilling's "kindest, most generous" intent in the early days of the MMO, and says Schilling "went to lavish personal expense" for his teams, buying customized jerseys and other morale perks.

"But in the end, his optimism turned out to be naivete, and it slowly killed us," the source continues.

Employees never had warning when the company was going to miss its payroll because apparently Schilling had been all but certain another investor was coming through, up to the last minute. Employees say they later learned that on two occasions the threat of being unable to make payroll had been alleviated by savior investors, so on that third occasion, Schilling had just been counting on something to manifest — and that didn't happen in time.

"Even so, for the next seven days, he insisted that they were just about to get a new investor who would solve everything, and we hoped and slowly collapsed," the employee continues. He even says he's worried about Schilling's well-being and how he's taking the failure of 38 Studios.
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June 4th, 2012, 17:33
But the amount of the loan was viewed controversially by Rhode Islanders, amid media scrutiny of the major risk inherent in releasing a major MMO in the crowded fantasy genre. Schilling has claimed current governor Lincoln Chafee used that taxpayer anxiety to his advantage.
This rings true. Especially given some of the things the governor said publically that seemed inappropriate given the timeline of events. When the governor's office announced that the company failed to make its first loan payment, the first thought to my mind was 'even if true, why would they announce this? unless for political motivations that are unclear for the moment.'

They say Chafee centered his re-election platform on criticizing the previous governor for financial decisions, a tactic to which the 38 Studios deal had been central.
So yes, that clears things up a bit…

Employees never had warning when the company was going to miss its payroll because apparently Schilling had been all but certain another investor was coming through, up to the last minute.
That certainly is naivete on the part of Schilling. A business lesson I had to learn myself many times is never count your eggs before they hatch - because when you do they never actually hatch. It isn't a hard message to grasp. But what is difficult to grasp is the millions of different ways you can end up counting your eggs before they hatch - sometimes you don't realize you are doing that, yet again.

an employee who was a cancer survivor was abruptly left with chemotherapy sessions to cover
I find that strange because in the U.S. if you're employer's health insurance is cancelled for any reason you are eligible for 6 months minimum for COBRA healthcare coverage. You still have to pay a premium but it is far lower than what you'd normally pay.

One thing missing from the article that I would like to learn is true or not is if employees really did get stuck with home mortgages they believed were otherwise sold off and not their responsibility. This particular piece of information, if false, would shed further redemption on Schilling and the other executives in charge.

3 years ago, I was personally involved as one of several top decision makers with the selling of a 22 million dollar company. It was quite an experience as M&As are not core to my carreer experiences. As I follow this story about 38 studios, certain pieces of information ring very true while other pieces of information seem very suspect.

Funding, partnerships, M&As… all of those activities bring with it legions of very shrewd and unethical individuals who are very smart in these areas who will absolutley siphon off more than their fair share if you don't know what you're doing - and while they have both hands and feet in your pockets, they also won't give a damn if they destroy your carreer, your company, or your wealth in the process. And typically, all of it will be legal or otherwise cost you a fortune to fight if you feel you got the short end of the stick.

My impression so far is that Schilling and his company are not the bad guys here but rather have associated themselves with a good number of people who took him and this company for a ride and then have manipulated information to make the victim appear to be the 'bad guy.'

But that one nagging thing still tugging at me is did the employees really get stuck with those mortgages…

If I'm right but there is no wife around to acknowledge it, am I still right?
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June 4th, 2012, 20:01
Did you see that Epic are planning on hiring the BHG guys?
http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/20…of-amalur-devs
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June 4th, 2012, 21:03
Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
Did you see that Epic are planning on hiring the BHG guys?
http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/20…of-amalur-devs
Good for them. Not sure what FPS Developer/publisher will do with a ARPG/RTS developer, but this is a rather nice gesture.

I'd play an Unreal RPG by the way.
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June 4th, 2012, 22:08
Originally Posted by jwmeep View Post
Good for them. Not sure what FPS Developer/publisher will do with a ARPG/RTS developer, but this is a rather nice gesture.

I'd play an Unreal RPG by the way.
Isn't this the direction they were going with Infinity blade?
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June 4th, 2012, 22:10
Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
Did you see that Epic are planning on hiring the BHG guys?
http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/20…of-amalur-devs
Good for the workers but I'll be happy when I see what project they develop as epic is mostly a fps maker and console only lately.

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