38 Studios and Big Huge Games have let go of their entire staffs, an internal memo reveals.
The two studios employed 379 full-time workers combined as of March 15th. The memo, sent to employees, reads as follows:
The Company is experiencing an economic downturn. To avoid further losses and possibility of retrenchment, the Company has decided that a companywide lay off is absolutely necessary. These layoffs are non-voluntary and non-disciplinary. This is your official notice of lay off, effective today, Thursday, May 24th, 2012.”
The bad news arrives a day after 38 Studios’ CEO Jen MacLean and senior VP of product development John Blakely parted ways with the now presumed defunct company.
A press conference held after the layoffs by Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee brought some statistical clarity as to why things have unfolded as such. According to ‘experts’ working with Chafee’s office, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (the studios’ only released title) needed to sell over 3m units ‘just to break even.’
38 Studios head Curt Shilling previously stated that the game had sold 1.22m copies in its first 90 days.
The one bright spot in what has ended up being a nightmare of a situation is the incredible response by the games industry to news of the layoffs.
On Twitter the hashtag #38jobs was trending earlier in the US, with industry vets and random well-wishers alike tweeting general support and informing those out of the job where to find applicable work. A Facebook group titled 38Jobs has been created as well.
Freelance journalist Alex Rubens has even gathered all of the job tips into a Google Doc that currently sports over 80 studios—including Irrational Games, Bungie, Activision, Rockstar, and several indie stuidos—seeking employees.
We’re still waiting for the ultimate word on the fate of 38 Studios as a company and their (as of a few days ago) still in-development MMO Copernicus, but as of right now things look more than bleak.