What does a former MLB star, a 75 million dollar loan and the smallest state in the USA have in common? Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
When designing almost any videogame, art and business need to go hand in hand. While they can only be fashioned when developers sit down and apply their creativity and skill to them, the sheer magnitude of their worlds means that more often than not, they can only be completed when many developers apply their skills in tandem. And in order to get them to apply their skills in tandem on a regular basis, the games they make need to contribute to an economy that continuously supports all of their presences.
Stories of video game studios that trip up on this reality, and are forced to lay off their entire workforce are sadly common across the industry. Yet none are as dramatic – or as unusual – as the circumstances that lead to the downfall of 38 Studios. The brainchild of former baseball star Curt Schilling, 38 Studios attracted considerable attention during its existence for the caliber of talent that was at its helm, which included a host of renowned fantasy authors and Elder Scrolls developers. But after the release of its first and only title in 2012, the studio received even more attention when it revealed that it was secretly mired in financial disorder, and had no choice but to lay off its entire staff.
It’s a tragic story all around, and is made even more so by the fact that this first and only title that 38 Studios released – a high-fantasy role-playing game set within the wondrous land of Amalur – was a surprisingly good game; one that challenged genre conventions in satisfying ways, and found a place for itself in the hearts of many gamers.
This is the history of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.