Article by: Boyd
The write-up in the local Bostonian rag of a periodical was clear: Curt Schilling, famed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, should have stuck to throwing a ball, followed by playing Everquest in his retirement years. 38 Studios is a gaming studio failure, and soon, possibly, the Rhode Island taxpayers’ nightmare.
It’s a sad state of affairs when a small startup game company can’t seem to stay afloat past their first major release. The ambitious Kingdoms of Amalur (review forthcoming) was the company’s initial foray into interactive gaming. It had an all-star creative force working on it with R.A. Salvatore, noted fantasy author, comic book bad boy and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, and the lead game designer of The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. Kingdoms had Skyrim in its sights, being serious competition for what many are calling “RPG of the year,” and was primed to lop its head off in the competition for the golden ring. Yet, the revenue generated is not even enough to keep the company afloat on minimal life support. The entire staff at 38? Laid off.
That said, to add insult to injury, Rhode Island taxpayers could be shelling out $90 million to cover the loan granted by the state… a state which itself has fallen under hard economic times. Unfortunately, we don’t live in times of economic security, and I don’t see how a state could justify spending such a handsome sum of money to a small game studio. It is a reflection of the times; games fall quickly in price within a few months of their initial release, due part and parcel to the struggling economy. If a game is not immediately successful within a month and a half it usually drops fast, especially on online merchants such as Amazon. It makes it very difficult for small game companies to survive in this day and age.
Will the gaming world shrink exponentially in the future? Reading stories like the plight of Schilling’s 38 studios should serve as a cautionary tale. I wonder, hypothetically, if the economy could conceivably destroy a substantial amount of the gaming market. If I was running a state that was suffering from a debased economy, would I want to invest such a significant amount of money in a company that quite possibly would flounder? Making a game is like playing the stock market these days, investing in something that inevitably succeeds or fails miserably. It’s sad, though, when the independent spirit of creativity and such is ripped asunder because of economics and the almighty gaming dollar… oh, and the garbage that is sports game franchises and first person war shooters that corrupt the masses.