38 Studios Goes Bankrupt
Back at PAX 2010, Curt Schilling announced to a packed room of over 1000 people and to every major gaming news organization that his company was building an MMO (code named: Project Copernicus) and a single player RPG (code named: Project Mercury that later was named Reckoning). He also told everyone that he had partnered with The Syndicate to consult with them on that development. It was a very proud day for us.
Fast forward two years later. The Syndicate had sent numerous teams to the Big Huge Games offices in Baltimore to work with them on Reckoning. Reckoning came out and sold about 1.5million copies far exceeding the expactations of the publisher, Electronic Arts. The game was very fun and very successful and there were lots of aspects in the game that we could point to and say: That was our advice. Reckoning 2 was in pre-prodution and there was already DLC for Reckoning released.
The sister game, Copernicus, was also well under way in its development. The Syndicate had sent many teams to the Maynard and then Providence offices of 38 Studios to work on that game. It was a very beautiful game that had visceral combat; unique races and classes and a very rich storyline. It had a very passionate team of people working on it and we were really proud to have been a part of that team. From visit to visit we could see the game evolving and the potential for it to be a first class MMO was definitely there. There was still about a year's worth of development; testing and tweaking but the game was in the home stretch.
And then disaster struck. You can certainly Google articles on the topic but the nut-shell version is that the Governor of Rhode Island made some very profound mistakes and some very destructive statements that set in motion a chain of events that caused 38 Studios to go out of business.
The folks at 38 Studios, from Curt to his management team to his development team were all first class people. They treated us with respect and as partners in the process. More than that though, they had an intense passion and love for their game and a sense of team/community within their organization that is rarely seen in business. We were very sad to see all of our friends displaced by mis-guided politics. The only silver lining, if such a thing can exist in a tragedy such as this, is that our friends did seem to find new jobs fairly rapidly and that, in turn, opened doors to future Syndicate projects working with them on other titles. As of the writing of this history article, the Copernicus IP is still collecting dust on a shelf but we hope that one day we will have a history article added to our site talking about its launch and success in the MMO space.