Back in 2012, the video game company 38 Studios closed its doors for good. The video game company started by former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling was going to create a massive MMO that would take on Activision Blizzard’s World of Warcraft. However, the company spent money it didn’t have and quickly drove itself into deep debt. So much debt that, right before the company closed, it stopped paying its employees. They were blindsided.
Nine years later it looks like Schilling and 38 Studios will finally be paying the employees the checks they’re owed. Kind of. According to Bloomberg, for most of them, it will only be a fraction of what they were originally supposed to receive.
Many of the staff who worked for the volatile game developer in either its Rhode Island or Maryland offices will receive payment of about 14% or 20%, respectively, of what the company owed them before it ran out of money and was forced to shut down on May 24, 2012, according to bankruptcy documents.
After nearly a decade of litigation through a Delaware court, final payouts were decided in June and recently began being distributed to staff. One former 38 Studios employee told Bloomberg News they received their check this week. Other employees said their checks had been sent to old addresses, as many of them have moved multiple times for new jobs in the years since 38 Studios closed.
The story behind the closure of 38 Studios is one of the most bizarre in recent memory. When the company was formed it went on a hiring spree of some of the industry’s most talented developers. Employees spoke highly of the work conditions and some still say it’s one of the best places they’ve ever worked. Unfortunately, the environment was masking the fact that Schilling and other executives in the company were spending money they didn’t have in hopes of earning it all back when the MMO launched. When all was said done, 38 Studios launched a single game called Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Most of it was developed in an external studio called Big Huge Games which saw their own fallout from the 38 Studios closure.
Anyone who wants a more detailed look into what happened with 38 Studios should consider reading the book PRESS RESET. Authored by Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier, it has several chapters on both 38 Studios, Big Huge Games, and the hundreds of employees impacted by 38 Studios closure.