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Curt Schilling Fires Entire Staff At 38 Studios

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the remembered-the-c-this-time dept.

Businesses 137

redletterdave writes "On Thursday, former Boston Red Sox pitcher and tech entrepreneur Curt Schilling fired his entire staff at 38 Studios, his Rhode Island-based video game company, leaving more than 300 employees without jobs because the company couldn't repay its debt to the state. 38 Studios failed to pay Rhode Island's economic development agency $1.1 million, which was due last week, and also failed to meet payroll for its staff in both its Providence office and its Maryland subsidiary, Big Huge Games." The company's recent action RPG, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, sold 1.2 million copies — which would have been great if they hadn't needed to sell 3 million to break even. An article at Massively goes through some of the lessons the video game industry needs to learn from this situation.

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Who cares! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40113619)

n/t

Aww poop (4, Insightful)

Y2K is bogus (7647) | more than 2 years ago | (#40113687)

I was hoping this would turn around, I'm tired of hearing stories of companies that take gov't money and fold right quick afterwards. That ugly monument to screwing the taxpayers, SolyndraBuilding, irks me every time I drive by it.

Re:Aww poop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40113735)

It's especially disheartening because I really enjoyed this game. I was looking forward to more.

Re:Aww poop (5, Interesting)

DaveInAustin (549058) | more than 2 years ago | (#40113987)

Only slightly different from Curt Shillings first industry, professional sports, where they take [reason.tv] taxpayer [empowertexans.com] money, stay in business, then demand more [forbes.com] . Had the state just given him the money, he could have stuck around for a while, then went back for more a few years later by threatening to take jobs elsewhere.

Re:Aww poop (1, Flamebait)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114665)

This is what's wrong with capitalism. The problem here wasn't bad programming, art, or game design. The problem here was bad management. The staff should be firing Curt Schilling, not the other way around.

Re:Aww poop (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40115133)

Capitalism is about profit and loss. Not government subsidy and bailouts.

Re:Aww poop (2, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115425)

You're thinking of a fictional, idealist form of capitalism that doesn't really exist in the real world. It's just like people complaining about communism in the Soviet Union, and others saying, "but that's not real Communism!", when nothing coming close to their definition of "true communism" has never existed anywhere.

The kind of capitalism practiced in the USA, frequently called "crony capitalism", absolutely IS all about government subsidy and bailouts.

Re:Aww poop (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40115207)

This is what's wrong with capitalism. The problem here wasn't bad programming, art, or game design. The problem here was bad management. The staff should be firing Curt Schilling, not the other way around.

let me guess... you believe a well paying job is an entitlement from birth.

Re:Aww poop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40116051)

Or mebbe private ownership of the means of production is insanely evil.

Re:Aww poop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40116155)

What about "fuckups should lose their jobs"?

Or does that only apply to union workers in your little world?

Re:Aww poop (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#40118307)

Absolutely it is! Why shouldn't it be?

Re:Aww poop (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40118443)

Since "well-paying" is a relative notion, and implicitly above average, what you want is impossible.

Re:Aww poop (0)

happyhamster (134378) | more than 2 years ago | (#40116371)

Who mods this stuff? "troll"? "flamebait"? Really? How about +10 insightful. Choke on a bagel, free-market trash.

Re:Aww poop (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115393)

This instance isn't quite as bad, because it's only the people of Rhode Island who were screwed. Maybe next time they'll elect a better governor. They really don't have a good excuse here; unlike the USA, the people of Rhode Island probably all live a short drive away from their highest (state-level) leaders, and there aren't that many people in the state (only about 1M people).

Re:Aww poop (2)

sarysa (1089739) | more than 2 years ago | (#40117277)

It's still pretty hard on them, especially since they're still picking up the pieces from that big fight a few days ago. [youtube.com] I'm sure the feds will be bailing them out in no time...

Re:Aww poop (3, Informative)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 2 years ago | (#40118081)

This instance isn't quite as bad, because it's only the people of Rhode Island who were screwed. Maybe next time they'll elect a better governor.

They already did - the current governor was against the 38 Studios deal from the get-go. It's one of the reasons he's going to let the studio just die instead of pursue the fallacy of sunk costs.

Unfortunately he's still stuck with the fallout from the idiots who did give $75 million to a company trying to enter a saturated market with no actual shipping products. (The deal predated Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.)

Re:Aww poop (1, Flamebait)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40116059)

The best part is Curt Schilling is a republican douche who believes in small government, low taxes and personal responsibility...

But when he needed money, he ran to the government, and abused government's willingness to invest tax dollars into a fucking bleeding sock hypocrite that should have NEVER been involved with game development at all. FUCK CURT SCHILLING

Re:Aww poop (1)

ourlovecanlastforeve (795111) | more than 2 years ago | (#40116149)

You might be getting angry about the wrong problem. Solyndra didn't fail because they were greedy selfish twats, they failed because a Chinese company invented a superior product at a lower price point just befroe Solyndra was slated to go to market.

Re:Aww poop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40117321)

Actually no, they failed because the Chinese government subsidized the cost of solar panels created in their country and has manipulated their currency to maintain a market advantage, then dumped the solar panels on the market below cost to drive other companies in other countries out of business. Close enough though. It's a major reason China still has severe restrictions on it when joining free markets.

oof (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40113713)

I interviewed at Big Huge Games back when they were independent but ended up turning down the job. I met some nice folks there and had nothing but respect for them. Maybe they're long gone by now, maybe not, but good luck to everybody affected.

Rich

Re:oof (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114945)

I hate when fuckfags sign a /. post like its an email
~~~~AC~~~~

Re:oof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114975)

There are only about three weirdos that do that here. Try not to stress.

Re:oof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40115059)

Sea kelp.

Re:oof (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40115531)

I forgot to mention what happened after the interview. I was walking home though one of the nastier areas when I saw a homeless guy slumped in an alley. I went over to check on him but he was out cold. Figuring he was okay, just drunk, I took down his pants and pounded his ass but good! After that I converted to Mormonism so I could spend the rest of my life dreaming of being a space god. I was kicked out for nailing my scrotum to the door of the temple. After that things went bad for me until I discovered sex tourism. You wouldn't believe how cheap those Thai kids are!!!
Rich

Re:oof (1)

Wandering Voice (2267950) | more than 2 years ago | (#40117333)

It's kind of a bummer to hear this abou Big Huge Games. The only game I play (occasionally) anymore is Rise of Nations. I thought they did good with that game.

Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40113715)

IOW a copy to one out of ever 100 living Americans?

I think I see the problem.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40113849)

>IOW a copy to one out of ever 100 living Americans?

Hello? There is this place called the rest of the world. It's a place where americans don't live. There are lots of us.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (5, Funny)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#40113869)

We know you are there. We just don't care.

+1 informative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114029)

ACs can't gain mod points, so... yeah.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114063)

We know you are there. We just don't care.

And they should be thankful for that. When it comes to foreign countries, we've only got two modes: Apathy and Ass-kicking.
You don't like being ignored? Ok, how about we teach you to know your place? It's ass kicking time.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (2)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114097)

We know you are there. We just don't care.

And they should be thankful for that. When it comes to foreign countries, we've only got two modes: Apathy and Ass-kicking.

You don't like being ignored? Ok, how about we teach you to know your place? It's ass kicking time.

War of 1812, Vietnam war, Bay of Pigs... shall I continue?

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114165)

We know you are there. We just don't care.

And they should be thankful for that. When it comes to foreign countries, we've only got two modes: Apathy and Ass-kicking.

You don't like being ignored? Ok, how about we teach you to know your place? It's ass kicking time.

War of 1812, Vietnam war, Bay of Pigs... shall I continue?

Those all fall under apathy.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (2)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115409)

More like willful ignorance - the most common American trait there is.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40115191)

The US won the War or 1812. Minus having to build a new White House we got everything we wanted at the onset of the war. An end to impressment, shipping rights on the great lakes, the Royal Navy not harassing out trading ships...

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115263)

The US won the War or 1812. Minus having to build a new White House we got everything we wanted at the onset of the war.

You might say the same thing about Viet Nam. Funny thing about wars, they tend to disproportionately kill people willing to die in defense of their country, albeit those who are easily led. As it turns out, that's most people.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115505)

What the heck are you talking about? The USA lost the Vietnam War, there's no question about it. The goal was to stop the spread of (chinese/soviet-backed) communism, by getting involved in a civil war and backing the non-communist side. The USA failed; they finally pulled out, and the communist side took over the country. That conflict bears zero resemblance to the War of 1812.

Finally, the Vietnam conflict didn't just kill Americans "willing to die in defense of their country". In case you don't remember, they had a draft back then. Lots of people had no interest in going to war, but when they got called, they either tried to escape to Canada or they went ahead and went, hoping they'd be OK (and a lot weren't).

Finally, the Vietnam war didn't even have similar motives. The War of 1812 happened because of British actions as the AC above stated. It's pretty bad when a foreign power seizes your merchant ships, kidnaps the sailors, and forces them to fight in their armed services. Vietnam, on the other hand, was no threat at all to the USA, and was really in a civil war (sound familiar?). We got involved there partly because of communism, and partly because our French buddies had their asses kicked there and wanted to preserve their colonial interests there. Vietnam has far more parallels to Cuba and the Bay of Pigs (except in that conflict, we changed our mind at the last minute and didn't show up, much like what happened at the end of Desert Storm in the early 90s, leading to a slaughter).

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40115623)

"n case you don't remember, they had a draft back then. Lots of people had no interest in going to war, but when they got called, they either tried to escape to Canada or they went ahead and went, hoping they'd be OK (and a lot weren't)."

No James Madison was President. And there was not a Draft. He was generally opposed to war. The draft occurred during the Civil War not 1812.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115711)

I'm talking about Vietnam. JFK/LBJ were President, there was a draft, and they were all for war. Heck, the Americans even started the war by fabricating the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40116385)

The goal was to stop the spread of (chinese/soviet-backed) communism, by getting involved in a civil war and backing the non-communist side.

That's what they told you. It's cute that you believe it.

Finally, the Vietnam conflict didn't just kill Americans "willing to die in defense of their country". In case you don't remember, they had a draft back then.

If you open up a dictionary and look up "disproportionately" you'll see what I'm talking about.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40117679)

"Finally, the Vietnam conflict didn't just kill Americans "willing to die in defense of their country".

To paraphrase Muhammad Ali, re: the Vietnam war:

'The white man sending the black and brown people to kill yellow people...'

And more accurately:
"I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong... No Viet Cong ever called me nigger"

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 2 years ago | (#40116067)

"War of 1812, Vietnam war, Bay of Pigs... shall I continue?"

Uhhh...CAN you continue?

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40118419)

We know you are there. We just don't care.

And they should be thankful for that. When it comes to foreign countries, we've only got two modes: Apathy and Ass-kicking.

You don't like being ignored? Ok, how about we teach you to know your place? It's ass kicking time.

War of 1812, Vietnam war, Bay of Pigs... shall I continue?

Aaaand... the US lost territory in... which of those? Oh, please... go on. Just because we haven't won every single conflict we've been in doesn't change things. For good or for ill, the US is the preeminent power on this planet, militarily, socially, and economically. Consider this: for all that all the whiny little bitches in other countries like to cry and piss and moan about imperialist America, if America just ceased to exist at the stroke of midnight, say, tonight... do you have any idea what the fuck would happen to the rest of the world over the next 24-72 hours?

Well, where to start... first, Russia would retake most of it's satellite republics. Anyone who thinks they don't want them back is a fucking idiot, or just doesn't understand the power of addiction and the nature of the relationship between "mother" Russia and her former slave-states. Russia (and their "Soviet" ruling party) fed parasitically off them, and those men who ran that haven't actually gone away.

It's like crack. You don't just get clean and forget about it forever like it never had its hooks in you.

Israel would, along with much of the middle east, (depending on how many nukes Israel actually has,) turn into a smoldering crater.

Germany would call all the loans it's made to everyone, and when everyone couldn't pay, which of course they can't... I hate to speculate, but I suspect they'd send in the Wafen-Repo Guys, I think the company's called "Two Brownshirted Men and a Truck" and take whatever is of value and not nailed down.

China would EAT everything around it, replacing the US, in many respects without the constant haranguing other countries about "human rights" and "voting" on shit. Actually, this is happening very quietly, and in slow motion anyway... but if we disappeared, it would happen in fast-forward.

The Russians and Chinese would probably come to blows eventually, but that would be in the distant far-off future, perhaps months, or even years after the end of the US.

As for what would happen in Canada, Mexico, or any of the other little penny-any countries we suffer to exist in our hemisphere... who the fuck cares?

America is not, I am well aware, always the good-guy. In fact, for most of our history, in which many Americans want to white-wash us, and make us out to be good, the truth is we're bad, but the people we were fighting were mostly worse than bad... they were UGLY. (Get it? The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly?) Our own human rights record sucks ass, and although it could be much, much worse, like many other industrialized countries today, it could also stand to be a lot better, if, for instance, the federal government stopped stripping people of their rights, for crimes they can be railroaded into being found guilty of, or of murdering its own citizens and calling it "capital punishment" and of course, there's all the people in other countries that our country murders... which seems to me to be acts of war... but nobody has the balls anymore to go toe-to-toe with us, openly as a nation. The real reason there is such paranoia in our government about terrorism is that it's irregular AND asymmetric warfare... that is, they're not playing by OUR rules. We pulled the same thing on the British when we rebelled, using tactics they considered cowardly and dishonorable, but that was only because they had a larger, better armed force, which we couldn't fight the way they wanted us to fight. The list goes on and on.

The general global economy would probably collapse, and many other bad things as well. I personally would not want to see that.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40118547)

We know you are there. We just don't care.

And they should be thankful for that. When it comes to foreign countries, we've only got two modes: Apathy and Ass-kicking.

You don't like being ignored? Ok, how about we teach you to know your place? It's ass kicking time.

War of 1812, Vietnam war, Bay of Pigs... shall I continue?

War of 1812... are we British subjects? Then I'd say we WON that one, considering his Dickheadishness the King was trying to retake his former colonies...
Vietnam... are we Vietnamese now? Then I'd say we WON that one. In fact, I have a bunch of clothing made in Vietnam, according to the tags. Think 'bout THAT.
Bay of Pigs... are we Cubans now? The I'd say we WON that one too. Okay, fuck you, yeah, we lost that one, but that was because we had a Democrat trying to start a war, which almost invariably ends badly for us.

If the US weren't always putting it's dick in everyone's faces, sure, we wouldn't be hated (envied) around the world, but the North West Germans and the German Isles people off the coast of western Europe would all be speaking German, now, (not French and English respectively,) as would the South Germans, (who admittedly were already speaking German anyway) the East Germans, the Very East Germans, the South West Germans... basically, Europe would be called "Greater Germany," and maybe there might be a few people left permitted to speak Italian. Maybe.

So sometimes, you have to stick your dick in somebody's face, it's for the greater good.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114737)

>We know you are there. We just don't care.

We really, really, really wish that you didn't

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (1)

million_monkeys (2480792) | more than 2 years ago | (#40113899)

IOW a copy to one out of ever 100 living Americans?

I think I see the problem.

If only they were smart enough to also sell it to non Americans...

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (5, Interesting)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40113931)

Uh... you realize that the market for video games is a hell of a lot bigger than just the US right?

Diablo 3 had 4.7 million sales *on day 1*. And that's without korean cafes.
Skyrim (which was cross platform) is up around 9 and a half million copies in about a week.

The problem with Kingdoms of Amalur:reckoning is that no one has any fucking clue what an Amalur is, and it's not obvious that is the world they were creating, which immediately turns attention away. And as an RPG it's nothing spectacular, run around do quests. It's decent enough, and well executed, but there's nothing in it that you call your friend and say 'you have to play this game to see this' the way skyrim or fallout has.

No one knows what the fuck skyrim is either, but when you're an established series you can build press and momentum for whatever name you want, and people will go for it. Kingdoms of Amalur may have failed in part because they didn't invest enough in press and marketing, released at the wrong time, etc. But it's certainly not a huge barrier for a game at the production quality they had to sell 3 million copies, especially across all 3 platforms. Granted, it has been out for 3 months and is *still* 60 bucks on steam, so that's not helping either. They'd have been well served to do a sale at say 20 bucks and use it as an experiment to see if they can get more sales. At this point, there's nothing else to lose, so it can't hurt to try.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (4, Insightful)

medv4380 (1604309) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114223)

It also didn't help to have single player quests behind a online pass. Fighting with the user-base when you're just beginning is never good.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114903)

In practice that's not an issue. Not enough of the user base has any clue what those things are for it to matter to sales. If you have a PS3 or Xbox that it logs you into their onlines services doesn't even warrant a shoulder shrug, and via steam or origin phoning home isn't a shock either.

ANNO 2070 has one of the more obtrusive login to play your single player game setups possible and it seems to manage quite well.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (2)

medv4380 (1604309) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115219)

You don't get it. This isn't an online pass so you can play online or play the game. It's an online pass so you can play some single player content. It matters to each and every player in the XBox and PS3 market that ether wanted to trade it in or buy it used because it devalued the game. That one little trick caused the price of it used to drop faster which also means less trade in value (47.99 instead of 54.99). Developers and Publishers want to think that these hurt their sales. In truth they are what are driving their sales. Without the economic flow from the used game sales the new game sales would be a smaller pie. And personally I don't buy or play Ubisoft titles like ANNO 2070 because of their always on DRM for single player.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (4, Interesting)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115679)

I understand completely. And it's not an issue. If anything they made more money doing it this way and needed to sell less copies. I know you don't want to hear that because you believe used game sales add value, but frankly, they don't. The huge array of very successful titles through steam should give you a clue as to why this works.

On the other side of this, which is where I am, used game sales have been an unmitigated disaster for the industry as a whole. It has created a perverse adversarial relationship between us, the developers, and gamestop the prime seller of our games (well, 25% of the overall market) as well as the prime purveyor of used games.

Notice how there are no used game sales for diablo? MMO's? Anything on any of the online marketplaces etc? Right. Physical boxes exist to build interest in a brand, and even then it's usually a money pit these days, because who the hell wants to print 40k copies of a game for walmart and gamestop when it probably won't even sell 40k copies. You are far more likely to be successful with a banner ad on steam than boxed copies in stores (where the big brands of maddens, skyrim, etc all pay for the good shelf space).

Preventing used game sales, for example, by only releasing our titles through online distributors (PSN, XBL, Steam, etc.) you make a shit load more money, even if the total number of copies sold is less. Now when you're really big, skyrim big, you can afford used game sales because people will play your game long enough, and enough people will be there day one, that the used market will be lost profit on top of a mountain of profit. For everyone else it has been a giant plague on the industry. Where we could sell 100k units, and make a living before used games were prevalent, now we'll sell 50k units, that are resold 3 times. It shifts the entire industry to an advertising exercise making sure your game is bought on day one, because after that you're basically fucked (and btw, having a game that spends 4x as much on advertising as making the actual game will piss you off too, which is what the big guys do these days). Sure, more people are playing the game, but you're getting half as much money (and actually the numbers are generally dramatically worse than that but I don't have them in front of me at the moment*).

And I don't care that you didn't play ANNO 2070. Really, I don't. They've sold a shitload of copies for what is a crushingly niche game. As in hundreds of thousands of copies. As as ARMA II on the PC. Where there are no used sales via steam. That's the future. Because it has to be. We cannot keep running an industry on 40% government subsidies.

Remember, I'm advocating (perhaps later in this thread) that they cut their price to boost sales. That is a good idea absent used game sales. But you can *never* compete with the identical product for less money used. Ever. People have tried. It fails.

This also ties into another thread from today, about games wrecking kids. The article itself is overblown, but it's decidedly not healthy to have people rush out, buy a game, play it for 8-20-40 hours straight, sell it used. Which is what happens a lot. We can track these things you know.

*I'm sure I've posted it before on here somewhere. But I think for the last big project I worked on it was something like a factor of 6 or 7 x as many players as copies sold, which were down around 50% from the previous title in the series. But don't quote me. It was brutal though.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (2)

medv4380 (1604309) | more than 2 years ago | (#40116057)

Yea, no used game sales for PC titles and have you noticed how PC game sales have been in the toilet for nearly 20 years? Diablo may have broken some PC records, but Its a drop in the bucket to what Consoles expect to make regularly. Million unit sellers on the PC are very rare.
That little trick they did could also be what cost them sales, but you can't actually measure sales lost because the user-base decided that they weren't going to take it. It breads negative sentiment for the brand.
Lets see if you understand even a little bit of economics. Game Stop puts about 1 billion a year into the hands of Gamers. This is based off of their Reported Profits from Used Game Sales. That 1 Billion then goes to ether New games or other Used games. You might think that the Used game sale costs the Developer something, but in Reality it freed up some cash so that the Gamer who traded in the New Game first can buy another New Game. If he didn't that would reduce the Speed of how many games in total that they would be able to buy in a Year. The same logic applies to the Used Car Market. Stopping Used game sales could end up causing the New game sales to contract by 1 to 2 billion dollars since it doesn't just stop the 1 billion from getting into the gamers hands but also puts a stop to the over all flow of games. The overall market would have a contraction of over 5 billion since it would kill the 3 Billion in GameStop Used games and contract the New game market as well. If you're goal is to kill the industry this is exactly how you should do it. I've heard these excuses before. I'm old enough to remember Nintendo complain about Block Buster Rentals. Up until recently they've had a Recession Proof Industry, and the lost Sales the last few years is clearly due to the Recession, and has nothing to do with Used Games. The Profits from used games can also be tied to their price hike. Nintendo Warned them that it was a bad idea to increase the cost of development too much, and look at what it got them. A price hike that has caused Used Games to become preferable and made it so they no longer have a Recession Proof Industry. And this year we're in a flip where People arn't buying much because New Consoles are around the corner and new AAA games are being put onto systems that aren't out yet so supply is contracting. It happens every Console Cycle.

Cry Me A River

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40117459)

Yea, no used game sales for PC titles and have you noticed how PC game sales have been in the toilet for nearly 20 years? Diablo may have broken some PC records, but Its a drop in the bucket to what Consoles expect to make regularly. Million unit sellers on the PC are very rare.

Your bit about diablo is factually not true. 4 million units would be a big hit on any console. 4 million units combined between all the consoles and PC's would be very successful game. Not record breaking successful necessarily, but hugely successful. 5 million units and up is Madden and Call of duty territory (and bundled software like zelda, mario, kinect adventures wii fit). For comparison sake, the uncharted games each are under 4 million units in sales, as were the call of duty titles in 2007. If you sold 4 million units on either the 360 or PS3 you'd be in their top 10 best sellers ever.

And yes, Blizzard can shit virtual gold out their asses that becomes real gold by the time it's in the water in the toilet bowl. But that's not the point.

That little trick they did could also be what cost them sales, but you can't actually measure sales lost because the user-base decided that they weren't going to take it. It breads negative sentiment for the brand.

Again, not true. Our userbase is growing not shrinking. There are a handful of people that refuse to use facebook on privacy grounds too, that doesn't mean their market isn't expanding. Steam and consoles have numbers for how many unique user ID's etc etc. etc. are active. I'm not privy to console information but I know those guys can get reports if they move more than something like 6000 units on how many unique consoles access their games and so on. Why a number like 6000 I have no idea. We also have focus group testing and statistical analysis of surveys of game players and so on. This isn't the tiny little niche industry of 15 years ago. All of the tools every other industry can use to find out why people are (or aren't) buying/viewing/using their product we can use now. The big dogs are big enough to have actually capable analysts for just this sort of thing.

Most of the rest of your wall of text is full of gibberish. Yes gamestop has a shitload of revenue from used game sales, which is used to further used game sales. That's the whole problem. When you buy used you're giving money to gamestop. It inflates the value of the 'industry' but it pulls money away from the full production chain. When you buy from me you're giving money to me to make new games. There's no equivalent to a 'rental copy' with games like there is with movies. This really is not a difficult concept. The 'industry' can be bigger, but when the people who actually create the content for the industry aren't getting paid the industry as a whole is going to have to change. We don't have speaking fees and live performances to monetize the way movie stars and musicians do. Well ok, some of us get speaking and teaching fees, especially if you can speak multiple languages, and can train other game developers in the latest techniques.

The industry as a whole is doing 'badly' if you can call it that, because governments are rightly sick of giving huge kickbacks to developers, because new IP projects (like Kingdoms of Amalur) are tremendously risky bets, so most of the big publishers are not doing that, and because there's haven't been a great many games worth buying. Sure, I can sound off half a dozen or so that most gamers would like, a dozen or so niche titles that are popular. And then what? You know why that is? There's never enough money for big risks. That's party because budgets have shifted to advertising (first day sales), partly because as the industry has grown into a proper business it has to give shareholders value for their money, and neat ideas that might not make any money tend to be frowned upon. Overall the 'industry' is simply manouvring around the used game market and around piracy. Overall that's bad for gamers, now you need to log in to Battle.net to play diablo 3 by yourself, but if the industry wasn't making those moves there would only be a handful of big name developers who can absorb larger losses. That might not actually be a bad thing btw, I'm sure there are a lot of movies you have intentionally not seen because they're horrible, just as there are a lot of horrible games you haven't bought.

Nothing I said about used game sales was a specific reference to this week, or this month, or even the last 6 months in particular. This has been a growing problem for about 7 years. From the looks of things MS and Sony are looking to move much more to a 'disk saves bandwith' rather than 'disk is the game' model. That seems like a stupid plan to me, if nothing else but because people are used to the disk being the game, but who knows.

Video games were never recession proof by the way. We went through a massive slump in the 80's (which was a video game crash more than just a slump). The 'recession' proofing that has been done has been on the back of you, the none game developing tax payer kicking in 40-50% of my salary (depends on where you live of course, but it net works out to more than that when you account for R&D grants as well). Seriously. That's a fucking stupid way to run an industry.

I realize you think you understand this issue. But you don't. Your simply factually untrue assertions don't help your case, but I'll forgive those as perception biases and thinking about the problem from the outside. I appreciate that it's tough sometimes to draw a connection between for example a single business and, a value chain and an entire industry. This is relatively sophisticated stuff. But it doesn't do me any good if you 'spend enough money on the industry', which is really buying one new game and then that one game gets recycled 5 times. Sure that makes the industry look like it's about 4-5x bigger (accounting for some write down in value each time), but if the people who made the game in the first place don't get paid enough, then there isn't another game to be made, which doesn't exist to be resold 5 times. The 'industry' is irrelevant. The people making games create the industry. Without us (or them, or however you prefer I phrase it).

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#40117203)

Bull-fucking-shit. You know who made money on games? iD Software. You know when some of their biggest money makers came about? When they GAVE their software away. I don't know if you remember, but used games used to be the norm, and people made money hand over fist. If anything, used game sales have never been lower than they have been now. And yet, you think it is somehow bad? It's only because you have no idea of history, or even economic theory.

Here's why used games cannot influence your sales:
1) Used games are a different product. Manuals are torn, CDs are scratched, and sometimes fun stuff like maps is missing.
2) You ALREADY got your sale. A used game can never be put into circulation without a first sale having occurred.
3) People who buy a game used are unlikely to have bought the game new. That's just basic economic principle. As a result, a used game sale cannot possibly equate a new game sale.
4) People who sell a game get more money for more games. A used game means that someone got money back to reinvest into a new game.
5) If your game is so shit that people play it once, then put it up for sale within 2 weeks, the problem is your game, not the economic model.

In short: fuck off and die. We are not renters. We are buyers. And a bit of a warning, coming from someone who has probably been gaming for longer than you have been alive: I already have a hard time accepting the always-on principle for games. I'm willing to make an exception for certain exceptional titles, but don't fool yourself for a second that all people will put up with buying a license for $60 or more.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40115937)

So piracy made them lose sales. Butt piracy that is.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114303)

I don't think the name is an issue. You can tell it's fantasy, and that's all you need to know.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115227)

You can tell its fantasy, but not the genre. Is it a hack and slash? RPG? Strategy? Does the box art help? What do the screenshots look like?

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40116601)

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning sounds like a sequel to me. Since I didn't play the "original" Kingdoms of Amalur, I'll skip this one.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114457)

"I used to be a developer like you, but then I took a Skyrim to my sales figures."

The people who didn't know what skyrim was found out what it was through the meme, followed by exploisve word of mouth. The game has been on steam's top 10 sales lists for over 6mo now. Which should tell you something, it's not the $60 barrier, it's the quality + mod barrier that killed KoA.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114877)

my complaint about the 60 dollar price point is specific to this week. Or I suppose the last 2 weeks. At this point they could have (not necessarily needed to but could have) tried anything possible to generate cash.

And yes, that was point about Skryim, it had enough momentum and a few 'holy shit' moments that really helped.

380 people. (2)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114769)

they failed as a company because they had way, way too much staff.
would it really have been that much different with "just" 150 people? don't think so.

oh and an ordered world that wasn't too imaginative. skipped the whole title because of that. they could have lifted their pr right off from wow, didn't seem imaginative.

judging from gameplay videos, you people who compare amalur to skyrim: are you fucking insane? if you have to compare it to something recent compare it to the abortion that was dragon age II or wow - because skyrim, oblivion & morrowind are sandbox virtual 3d world action rpg games with gameplay that goes with it - wow, amalur & dragon age II are mostly 2d hack'n'slash games portrayed with 3d models - apparently not too many people want a nwn-gauntlet hybrid for their xbox, can't blame 'em, not after the abortion that was dragon age II.

but plenty of people wanted skyrim - it's at least different and the world took something else to make than what 38 studios could have made with a staff 10x bigger than what they now had, it took imagination on how to use the tools.

Re:380 people. (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114947)

Keep in mind that a lot of their staff were for other projects that never finished.

And yes, I agree, as I said, it wasn't a particularly awesome RPG. It isn't bad, but it's certainly not spectacular. They executed reasonably well, but it just wasn't a great game.

Re:Needed to sell 3M copies to break even? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40116731)

Those of us who knew what Amalur was also knew it was a failed mmo that got retooled as a single player game, which is enough to keep any sane gamer away.

Lessons learned (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40113717)

Lessons learned, like teaming up with EA and day 1 DLC? I doubt developers/companies will learn...

Re:Lessons learned (1)

sarysa (1089739) | more than 2 years ago | (#40116083)

Or expecting near CoD sales and having giant statues of monsters all over the place when you're a startup -- and this is regardless of whether you're funded by the government or venture capitalists...

Fiscal responsibility is so dead that its tombstone is 6 feet under...

Re:Lessons learned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40117381)

No, fiscal responsibility is so dead that it's tombstone is mortgaged for the (insert latest way to blow money) gimmick of the week.

NOOOO!!!! (4, Interesting)

chaim79 (898507) | more than 2 years ago | (#40113761)

Having played both Skyrim and Kingdoms, I loved the way Kingdoms worked and preferred it over Skyrim and Oblivion. The gameplay was great and the action seamless and fast, being able to switch from ranged to melee to magic and back and forth with the speed that Kingdoms had was amazing. I enjoyed the world, the story, the design, everything.

Hopefully a decent studio will take up the title for future installments, cuz it was a great game.

Re:NOOOO!!!! (1)

Synesthes (1351729) | more than 2 years ago | (#40113925)

I agree completely. Though I do have a couple of nits with Amalur. First, the stealth mechanism was almost non-existent. Even once the stealth skill was maxed out, managing to sneak behind a mob was an exercise in futility. Super fun if they were pointed away from you, but otherwise... Second, the lack of tooltips for the abilities on the hotbar was a bit of a pain. I went through most of the game using nothing but the default lightning blast because I couldn't tell what anything else was, and I was too lazy to try to match the picture to the icon on the skill tree. Much better than both Oblivion and Skyrim though. Comparing combat, Skyrim is just flat out boring. Amalur was way more exciting and over-the-top. Bigass Broadsword of Pwnage? Yes, I think so.

Re:NOOOO!!!! (1)

kwardroid (1466409) | more than 2 years ago | (#40113939)

changing weapons takes time, bow to sword to magic in short time wouldn't be to reallistic now.

Re:NOOOO!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40118025)

Did you realize you just used "magic" and "reallistic" [sic] in the same sentence?

NOOOO ... mods (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40113973)

Meh. No mods. Nuff said.

Re:NOOOO!!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114039)

My biggest (and really, only) problem with KoA was that it was TOO EASY. Pathetically so. I recognize that some games are harder than others but when I feel the game is "ok difficulty" until I suddenly realize at level 25 that I'm still using level 1 gear on the "hard" difficulty... it needs to get stepped up just a little bit.

There was no balance to several stats - worse than the elder scrolls series even. It was easily possible to regen health faster than mobs could damage you.

Re:NOOOO!!!! (1)

Onuma (947856) | more than 2 years ago | (#40116027)

I wholeheartedly agree. I try to select a more difficult setting when I play games, from the start -- usually the hardest available since often the top-tier is unlockable nowadays.

KoA was just ridiculously easy. My guy has 1800 armor, ~50% elemental resists, and enough regeneration to shrug off nearly every attack in the game. It's simply not a challenge! Very fun with smooth combat? Sure. But there is simply no replay value in the sense of "I wonder if I can beat this game on the highest difficulty", because there is no difficulty to begin with.

Re:NOOOO!!!! (1)

dlp211 (1722746) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115493)

It should have been good. It was made by Big Huge Games Studio which was bought by 38 and then rebranded as Kingdom. 38 has never created an original IP.

The 1.2 million sales number is from Schilling (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40113805)

Other estimates are as low as 400,000 [forbes.com] , with mixed reviews to boot.

Lesson one for Shawn Schuster: MMO != ACRPG (2)

TroubleMagnet (529417) | more than 2 years ago | (#40113811)

I fail to see how he confuses a single player game with an MMO. WTF. His eventual goal may have been an MMO but THIS GAME was a single player action CRPG.

Re:Lesson one for Shawn Schuster: MMO != ACRPG (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114237)

I was confused by this at first as well.

It appears that they released Amalur, and were working on Project copernicus [38studios.com] (which is the MMO). As Amalur didn't break even and basically bankrupted them, Copernicus won't likely be completed (unless somebody else buys them out and finishes it).

Re:Lesson one for Shawn Schuster: MMO != ACRPG (2)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114941)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/38_Studios [wikipedia.org]

it's easy to get confused. they were developing the mmorpg for years. since 2006, if they were actually doing anything else than drawing pictures of guys with huge swords is not that anyone knows(or why you need 3000m^2 for that, especially when you're just buying the lore and art design). in 2008(4 years ago) they hired some everquest designer, presumably to twiddle his thumbs since it's unlikely he knew anything about quality mmorpg design or creation(but looked probably nice on paper for investment securing purposes). then couple of years after they started doing that, they bought a game studio that had programmers and an engine and used that for creating kingdoms of amalur.

anyhow, 75 million in two years to produce garbage which is amalur, with the studio running many years before that? one might ask:wtf. many were asking wtf before the collapse though.

Firing memorandum was described as (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40113905)

the '38 special' memo.

no wonder (-1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#40113909)

anyone here ever play KoA:Reckoning? it was garbage. even the demo (not beta, the demo) had gamebreaking bugs. don't forget it was published by EA, who released it at the same time as their other game, mass effect 3. sorry if you're a R.A. Salvatore or Todd McFarlane fan. that game sucked shit.

That is... (1)

shihonage (731699) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114009)

Schilling news.

3 million copies to break even? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114055)

Lets say they assumed the time-adjusted price of $39 rather than the opening $60.. That comes to 117 million dollars to _break even_.

Having played the game, which I must profess I did enjoy, I can't see where 117 million dollars went. Most of the dungeons were cut/paste copies with slight modifications, there's probably less than 100 monster models and no multi-user play.

And it took 300 people to produce it?

If you worked for me I'd have fired you too.

Re:3 million copies to break even? (1)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 2 years ago | (#40117021)

Most of the money goes to publishers. The studio makes a fraction on the sale of the game. It wasn't even getting $39 for each copy sold when the game was selling for $60.

Re:3 million copies to break even? (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 2 years ago | (#40118465)

Most of the money goes to publishers. The studio makes a fraction on the sale of the game. It wasn't even getting $39 for each copy sold when the game was selling for $60.

I'm not sure that statement fits the meaning of "most."

Re:3 million copies to break even? (1)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 2 years ago | (#40118605)

Uh, yes it does. I said the developer wasn't even getting $39 when the retail price was $60.

Studios generally make between $6-8 on a $60 game. The rest goes to the publisher.

Re:3 million copies to break even? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 2 years ago | (#40118705)

I think they were on the EA Partners program which is meant to be a kind of hands-off thing where EA just handles distribution. They got 75M$ in investments and stated that 3M sales would be needed to break even so assuming they used up all that investment on the game that's about 25$ per copy sold.

LOL (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114071)

The game was headed by former SOE staff... the very people that worked on EQ2 disaster. There was only 1 way this was going to end.

Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114095)

well, one would think that Curt Shilling could man up and pay the state back. But, no, that's not how business people work, usually. Fundamentally, they're just like us peons they like to poop on - "it's someone else's problem".

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114213)

He did, the check bounced.

The next check didn't bounce but he just couldn't pay his employees while paying back the loan.

Re:Hmm... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#40117737)

That was the first $1.2 million payment. The loan was for $75 million.

Ho humm (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114125)

Yesterday's news

That sucks and all ... (4, Funny)

WankersRevenge (452399) | more than 2 years ago | (#40114219)

but on the positive side, it looks like they're hiring! [38studios.com] ;)

In light of recent events, I'd advise the site developer to update that page but I'm guessing he or she was just fired :/

Chrono Trigger sold 2.65 million worldwide (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40114333)

And that was a damned good RPG. Needing 3 million sales to break even is insane ......

Re:Chrono Trigger sold 2.65 million worldwide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40117835)

those numbers and that title really puts things in perspective.

Schilling is a coward (2)

ragethehotey (1304253) | more than 2 years ago | (#40115051)

That gladly preaches on behalf of Republican Senator Scott Brown for supposedly smaller government, all the while sticking his greedy hands out for as much government subsidized $$$ as he could muster as a "world series hero"

all government spending is evil in his hypocritical world, unless you're a clown that pissed away $75 million in taxpayer money so he could play video game developer

Poor article linked in summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40115787)

Blah blah graphics blah blah voice actors blah blah costs too much and people only want to have fun. That's like saying ALL books should be written in the style of Harry Potter because that's how you make teh moniez and that's all that matters!!

People will always want something deeper than Harry Potter from time to time. They'll always want something different. For me, gaming is not always about fun -- in fact, if i'm playing a game and not smiling I'm probably having a blast. A lot of the time it's about the experience. Drop me in the middle of a (pretty) category 5 hurricane with some guns and tell me to rescue a princess (with a good voice actor) and I'm set. The experience matters to me and probably to a lot of folks. I will continue to support Studios with many $100s of dollars for producing games that give me the experience I want.

Game industry perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40115807)

Here. [gamasutra.com]

Check out the post from Derek Smart about 2/3 way down the page. (Disclaimer: I don't know any of these people personally).

Lesson 1 (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 2 years ago | (#40116015)

Getting $75 million in no strings attached loans rocks. Lesson 2: Corporate welfare rules.

Lessons never learned (1)

eulernet (1132389) | more than 2 years ago | (#40116021)

An article at Massively goes through some of the lessons the video game industry needs to learn from this situation.

Frankly, these lessons have been discovered 20 years ago in video games.
They are still not learned, and the same problems appear again.
I've been a game developer most of my life, and what I saw is that egos were ruining games.

A single guy has an idea, and is able to attract people to invest in his idea.
The problem is that having the idea and selling it is the easiest part of a project.
After getting money, the boss wants to reduce the risk of his "baby", so he hires a lot of people (who never wrote a game), and a lot of management to handle all these people (perferably with a lot of diplomas, diplomas=less risks).
Only one bad manager can spoil the whole pyramid, and it's probably what happened.

This can be easily avoided with decent people (people knowing how to write games), and less management (to avoid useless effort), but hiring people helps to feel your own power (and self-importance), so the same shit will appear again and again.

I can tell you part of it: (3, Funny)

RMingin (985478) | more than 2 years ago | (#40116245)

I saw Amalur advertised. It looked interesting. I checked Steam, it was 60$. I mentally filed it under "maybe someday if there's a sale". Sale didn't happen before developer tanked.

Maybe now it'll go on sale?

Investigation or not? (1)

J05H (5625) | more than 2 years ago | (#40116911)

"The television station also reported the company isn't incorporated in Rhode Island, but rather Delaware as a limited liability company, which would deem 38 Studios ineligible for tax credits in the state."

This is fraud if anyone but a famous, rich athlete does it.

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