By now you’ve heard, WOW is going free to play (at least the first twenty levels..). Love it or hate it, World of Warcraft was (and still is) undoubtedly the most popular MMO in history. World of Warcraft was so popular at one point that it boasted an insane 12 million subscribers. That’s 12 million people paying a MONTHLY fee of $15.00. Blizzard and Activison were making so much money that they could probably feed a hungry 3rd world nation sloppy joes on a regular basis (yum).
Quite possibly the biggest piece of gaming news in recent months was the rise and fall of 38 Studios. Virtually every gaming site on the planet has covered the event which will no doubt go down in gaming history as one gigantic cluster bomb of nasty. We actually talked about it on Rated NA:60 as well as Press to Reset: 45. For those of you that have been busy PLAYING games and not reading about them, 38 Studios the maker of the critically accliamed Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, was shut down after a number of bizarre and baffling financial missteps. Sure, there is a whole lot more to the story, but we’re going to focus a bit on the “silver lining.”
On a positive note it was incredible to see the outcry of support for the 379 employees that found themselves jobless with little to no warning. Very quickly a #38jobs Twitter hashtag surfaced to help guide the lost developers to new work during their time of need. Here comes the good part. Like a chainsaw wielding white knight, North Carolina based Epic Games, creators of Unreal, Gears of War, and the upcoming Fort Night, have stepped into the ring as the heroes of this once awful and depressing tale. Take a look at the latest info straight from Dr. Capps and Epic. This is just awesome.
Our heart goes out to the people affected by the unfortunate events surrounding 38 Studios and its subsidiary in Baltimore, Big Huge Games. Through it all, the team stayed together in a way that’s been really heartwarming to see. The team kept working, hoping that there’d be a way to secure last-minute funding and save the company. People brought extra food into the office to help those unable to pay their bills. And last week, in bittersweet irony, Big Huge Games was named to Game Developer’s Top 30 studios in the world list.
You may be wondering why I’m writing all this – and it’s because Epic is going to do something to help them, and we want people to understand why we think it’s the right thing to do.
On Wednesday, the ex-BHG leadership team contacted us. They wanted to start a new company and keep together some of the key talent displaced by the layoff, and hoped that they could use an Epic IP as a starting point for a new game. We loved that they all wanted to keep working together, but it was pretty clear they’d have trouble building a demo and securing funding before their personal savings ran out.
In one of life’s coincidences, Epic’s directors had spent the morning discussing how we’d love to build even more successful projects with our growing team, but that we’d need a dramatic infusion of top talent to do so. Which, we all knew, was impossible.
So now we’re planning to start an impossible studio in Baltimore.
It’ll take a while to find space, set up desks and PCs, purchase sufficient Nerf weaponry and Dr. Pepper, etc. But some of these folks have been going too long without a paycheck to wait for that. So, as soon as we can, we’re going to try to get people working down here at Epic headquarters in Cary, NC as contractors.
There’s a million things to work out. How many of the team can we hire? What will it be called? What will they be working on? We don’t know all the answers yet. Please give us some time to figure it out; we hope to have more to share soon.
The way we see it, there’s been a big storm in Baltimore, and we’re taking in a few of the refugees — as are the awesome folks at Zynga East, Zenimax Online, and other southeastern studios. Epic’s in a situation where we can do this, and it very clearly fits with our company values, so we’re going to give it a whirl.
Dr. Michael Capps
Much respect to the folks at Epic. Something tells me we’ll be seeing something incredible from their new Baltimore based studio.