The sad tale of 38 Studios appears to have finally reached a conclusion with former Red Sox pitcher and studio head Curt Schilling agreeing to pay a $2.5 million settlement following a longwinded, pretty complex legal dispute.
Back in 2012, 38 Studios' first and only game, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, hit home consoles and PC. The game's sales were only middling, despite high reviews and quite a bit of buzz built around the game. I mean, it's not every day a professional athlete decides to open a game studio, hire folks to develop an ambitious RPG and bring on beloved comic book artists and fantasy novelists to help tell the tale. To top it all off, Reckoning was intended to be an appetizer of sorts, leading into an MMO set within the Amalur world.
Unfortunately, it looks like ambition will only carry you so far, as 38 Studios folded rather quickly, resulting in a doomed game series and quite a few folks out of a job.
What sets this situation apart from the pack is that the studio was largely funded through a bond process between the studio and the state of Rhode Island. In other words, when the studio flopped, that left a large sum of money needing to be repaid. Since a closed studio can't make money to pay debts, that led to the lawsuit.
Said lawsuit has been dragging its feet for several years now, with payments being made here and there along the way. According to earlier reports, Schilling has stated that he lost more than $50 million of his own money in the closure of the studios, but that doesn't exactly excuse him from the funds still owed to Rhode Island tax payers.
According to USA Today, this $2.5 million settlement from Schilling and several other folks tied to the failed studio should just about wrap things up. Judge approval is still needed before anything can move forward but, assuming that's the case, the total settlement will be about $45 million all told. That's still quite a ways off from the original $75 million deal, but that's why they call it a "settlement." The decision was probably sped along by the fact that, if things kept going, the case would end up costing more money than the studio ever made.
We hate to see deals go bad, we especially hate to see employees caught up in the mess, and we're bummed that the Kingdoms of Amalur series never got a real chance to shine. If nothing else, maybe this whole business will serve as a solid cautionary tale moving forward. Then again, it was a pretty unique case to begin with, so here's hoping that it can finally be wrapped up nice and tidy and everyone involved can move on with their lives.