Time For A Reckoning: 38 Studios In Trouble?

By Jim Rossignol on May 15th, 2012 at 12:00 pm.


Kingdoms of Amalur creators 38 Studios, who are based in Providence, Rhode Island, are apparently in talks with that state about their financial difficulties, as reported by this Providence newspaper. Superbly-named governor Lincoln Chafee said: “We’re always working to keep Rhode Island companies solvent, and that’s what we’re doing with 38 Studios.”

Reportedly, the game sold 410,000 copies across all formats – a figure which cast doubt on the future of the proposed MMO based on the world.

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91 Comments »

  1. rustybroomhandle says:

    Can we blame EA? Even if it makes no sense to, I want to blame EA.

    • Delixe says:

      In this particular case not really. 38 Studios are signed with EA partners program so they don’t belong to EA it’s purely publishing duties. Sure EA probably got the best part of the deal but that’s an industry-wide problem regarding the current publisher model. KoA just wasn’t a very good game. It was ok but it had nothing to make it stand out and the sales figures show that.

      • gravskopan says:

        Being an expat I couldn’t even buy the game. I mean Skyrim is avalible in Japan (yes I know, completely different companies), but looking at Skyrim sales, and, most of the WRPGs they hit the top seller spot. I have no doubt they could’ve sold a couple of extra copies just making it avalible here.

        When I tried to get to the bottom of this region lock it went like; “It’s Valves fault”, “It’s EA’s fault”, “It’s 38 studios fault” etc. So I guess, someone did not want money from here.

    • Blaaaaaaag says:

      EA is *slightly* to blame… I might’ve jumped on it, despite it’s apparently lackluster questing and obnoxious voice acting, if it didn’t require me to financially contribute to EA, but that was the deal-breaker for me. Could’ve been solved with either a different publisher, or a much more attractive product.

    • Metonymy says:

      The real tragedy here is that it’s a better game than Skyrim. That isn’t saying much, but still. Elder Scrolls is really terrible compared to Fallout (opinions!) so I hate to see such a poorly designed game as Skyrim do so well (ensuring more mediocre gameplay) while this game is barely breaking even.

      • CaspianRoach says:

        “poorly designed” means bland; with meaningless mechanics and most generic gameplay/questing. Which KoA is. What’s the point of exploration if 95%, if not more of the loot goes to trash? What’s the point of having 100+ hours of fetch quests if you max your skills out in about 10 hours? What’s the point in asking “white” lines in the conversation selection if they don’t ever lead to anything? What’s the point in professions that max out in 3 hours? What’s the point of exploration when you WILL have to go to that cave later when you will get a quest for it from a nearby village and the quest stuff won’t spawn before you do? What’s the point in “hidden stashes” if you get them marked on a minimap if you invest 3 points in detection? What’s the point in having 5 different mage skills which all do approx. the same damage anyway?

        KoA could have been a good game but heaps of designer choices and errors made it very painful to play without cringing at stupidity of mechanics (at least for me). The only stupid thing in Skyrim in my opinion was the combat. Bethesda’s engine is just shit for that. The rest of the game? Amazing.

        • Metonymy says:

          I’ll allow room for personal taste. Skyrim also had spiky (or nonexistent) difficulty progression, so many design failures that I feel guilty picking something specific, and crafting professions that were ultimately several times better than discovered loot.

          My intent is not so much to compare these two average games, but to point out the injustice of one doing well while the other does poorly.

        • Lord Byte says:

          While I wouldn’t call Skyrim bad, the combat is the worst of its problems. The worst part imho is that everything in the world is in stasis or non-consequential UNTIL you do something. That and the millions of dragons I have to slay every 5 footsteps, interrupting my quests. It’s just a chore now.

          It would be 100 times better if shit just happened in the world, whether you’re there or not and when you fail something, it actually has an effect on the world.

  2. Milky1985 says:

    I think that sales number is 360 copies in the US, not total sales, trying to find a source, only one i have now is vgchartz.

    (before you go “its vgchartz its rubbish, you need to provide me with numbers to disprove this, they are theonly numbers we have on games atm since chart track etc stoped giving out numbers as a thinly veiled attempt to hide the fact that sales that they track are slowing)

    • Shuck says:

      Even if that’s just Xbox sales, and they got equal numbers of sales on all the other platforms (unlikely), they’d still be screwed.

  3. Hoaxfish says:

    410,000 copies across all formats

    I don’t really know the context… is this “400k, but we need 1million to break even with dev costs” or “400k, that’s only just made our money back”? I’m guessing it’s not “400k… wow, we only needed 10k to make profit”

    I think it was a bit of stretch on their part to be planning an MMO before they’d even got KoA out the door.

    • Strazz says:

      The NPD’s figures for February 2012 were 330,000 sold for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. [Source]

      VGChartz says that the game has sold over 1 million copies but I don’t know where they get their figures.

      Edit: Was trying to reply to Milky1985

    • Shuck says:

      Let’s put it this way – a very modestly budgeted and marketed AAA game needs at least a million sales just to break even. This was very much not a modestly budgeted or marketed game.
      Their MMO plans, to me, indicated sheer hubris.

      • mjig says:

        I don’t know that I would have considered it really a AAA game, though. I agreed with the OP, would have been nice to have some context, we don’t even really know the realm of how much was spent on the game.

        Additionally, marketing seems to be a real problem in gaming these days. I suspect that if everyone stopped marketing their games to insane levels (like COD having a marketing budget equal to its development budget), then all the companies would actually end up making more money. Like what happened when they banned cigarette advertisement in the US.

        • Ultra-Humanite says:

          It’s funny because when I saw the title of the article the first thing I was thinking was “I wonder how much they spent on marketing.”

        • Shuck says:

          However it turned out, they certainly spent AAA levels of money on it. What they specifically spent on this game is unknown, as during the last six years they’ve also been working towards developing their MMO (but the technology and assets overlap with KoA). However it divides up, their total operating costs to date must be over $70 million, and they could have spent enough money on marketing this game that half a million sales wouldn’t even pay that back.

          A modestly budgeted console game (generic FPS) might cost about $20 million with $5 million for minimal marketing. The bigger the game budget the more likely the marketing costs are going to exceed dev costs as part of the gamble to recover expenditures. Games like Modern Warfare 2, for example, cost in the ballpark of $50 million with another $200 million in marketing, and Red Dead Redemption cost $70 million with a likely $100 million in marketing costs.

  4. Njordsk says:

    Bought it, but bored me after 15H of so. Gets old quite fast sadly. But I enjoyed the little experience I’ve had.

    • Nallen says:

      Interesting, I rented it and played a couple of hours and had fun. Was thinking about picking up but just so many games right now, so little time.

      • Spoon says:

        It’s got two major problems, really. The first is that for an action game that relies on learning what to expect from your enemies, you’ve seen them all after about hour 10. There’s nothing new to adapt to after a certain point, it’s just the same old same old. The second is that you rapidly outlevel everything if you do sidequests, compounding the no new enemies problem.

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          Morph says:

          Agreed. I was hooked for 10 hours, then bored for the next 10. So then I just stopped.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      Gets old REALLY damned fast. So incredibly repetitive. Much better spending your money on Diablo, this seems incredibly outdated alongside.

      • radioactivez0r says:

        I’m honestly not sure how you managed to imply that Diablo isn’t repetitive, but there it is.

        • Zancrowe says:

          i can not imagine that you will have seen all the different enemys and abilities they use at the end of act 1, so no diablo will be waaay more engaging throughout.

          • lightstriker says:

            Considering that Diablo is reportedly an absolute joke of a game difficulty wise on the first playthrough, by which point you have LITERALLY experienced everything including bosses?

            I’ll withhold judgement :)

  5. DevilSShadoW says:

    410k copies across all platforms. Lets make that 500k for neat math and round numbers. At 60 USD per copy (again rounded up for neat maths) they would have 30million. Now, the state loaned them 76 Million. Now I don’t know what the milestones for that loan was. Maybe 40ish mil from the singleplayer game in profits and the rest from the upcoming mmo? Or were they supposed to make the whole amount from the singleplayer copies alone?

    Bottom line, they took a whole lot more money than they made off the game. That spells trouble whichever way you look at it.

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      Llewyn says:

      That $60 is retail price. Continuing with the sensible simplified maths approach, you can deduct 50% for retailer and physical distributor costs, leaving $30 per copy or $15m total. That $15m is going to EA, not to 38 Studios, so you can deduct another 50% for the publishing contract, leaving $15 per copy or $7.5m total. If those sales figures are genuine then things are even worse than you thought.

      Of course, this really is simplified maths – there are a lot of factors at play which adjust those numbers in both directions – but in general terms assuming 25% of notional retail sales reaching the developer is a decent enough rule of thumb.

      • El_Emmental says:

        The rule-of-thumb of the retail distribution system is 14% for the developers (which is pretty close to the 10%-20% of music bands), it depends on their popularity and expected sales.

        At best they’ve got 20%, (0.2 * 410 000 * 60) that’s 4.92M dollars, that’s (very approximately) enough for 3 years of 20 developers (rather basic) salaries. Then there’s the office lease/electricity bill/technologies licensing.

        Since they also :
        - got their offices in 2006
        - acquired Big Huge Games in 2009
        - were already in financial trouble in 2010 (the “Rhode Island board of Economic Development” gave them a $75 million loan), they’re very likely going down pretty soon.
        - had 300 developers at some point during the project

        So there’s 6 years of development to recoup, 4 with at least 20 developers, 1 with at least 100 developers, 1 with at least 300 developers. That’s 480 year-salaries to pay : with the current sales figures that’s $10 250 per year, less than a waiter (11k).

        It’s gonna be over pretty soon, and they’ll make a new studio developing smartphone-based RPG games.

        • Bhazor says:

          “A fitting punishment”

        • Shuck says:

          4.9 million dollars would cover 3 years of 20 developer salaries, but you’d need to add a few more million dollars to cover costs of benefits, office, software, hardware, etc.
          If they had 480 man-years to pay for and a company purchase, then they could have gone through $75 million dollars without too much problem. Which is completely nuts, as there is no way they could reasonably expect to sell enough copies to recover those costs – they’d need Skyrim-level sales, which they weren’t going to get with a new IP from a new company.

          • Sarre says:

            Well, to be fair it’s not like they started with nothing and built the game entirely on credit and loans. The company has private investors, including a wealthy baseball-star founder (Curt Schilling) – they surely had startup costs that required liquidity. But yes, a $75 million loan does sound very optimistic. I expect RI was trying to get a game development corridor up and running – they probably saw it more as an investment in attracting an industry than in a single company.

      • Skabooga says:

        This deal is getting worse all the time!

  6. Sheng-ji says:

    That’s a shame, KoA was a decent game

  7. Zancrowe says:

    yes i too had hopes for a new interesting ip but the world is just so fucking boring with elves, different looking elves, spiky haired elves and evil bald elves shitty story and nothing new that i just stopped playing after a few hours.

    sorry to say it but its just, well a rehash of typical fantasy with unbalanced gameplay and a dead feel to the world you are in.

  8. Hakkesshu says:

    KoA was a pretty fun game, but was extremely poorly balanced and honestly could’ve benefited from cutting like half the content. 20-ish hours into the game, you’ve seen everything it has to offer, but it then goes on for like 4 times that.

    And then they release a huge DLC pack, which no one in their right mind could’ve possibly asked for.

    Would be interested in a sequel that presents a more tightly paced experience. Zero interest in the MMO.

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    Morlock says:

    I think one problem was that there was too much overlap with Skyrim or Fable to make the game seem unique an worth the time investment, despite the obvious qualities of the title. At the time of release, no one wanted *another* Elder Scrolls type game. Everyone was busy playing the new one.

  10. Gwynor says:

    I’m at level 28, hooked from the first hour on. The world is classic heroic fantasy, with a huge amount of quests, armor and weapons, and different skills. Combat system is awesome, but maybe it lacks monster variety. NPC are mostly anonymous, but if you follow the (great) dialogs and subplots there are some likeable ones. Graphical style is captivating.

    Sad to hear such bad news from the developer, but I would buy any DLC and sequels to come.

  11. thebigJ_A says:

    Man, I remember when the guy from 38 appeared on Giantbomb’s panel at PAX East, and just threw a joking reference to that KoA DLC they did out to the crowd. The silence, and the expression on his face when he realized no one in a huge crowd of avid gamers knew what he was on about, it was really painful to watch. I felt bad for him.

  12. Xan says:

    The game feels like a single player MMO, too much grind, no point in doing more than half the side quests as they give barely any story.

    The main quest has some nice things though.

    Also the game is easy even on hard which is kinda weird.

    It’s a shame they didn’t sell more as this game would make a fine MMO, as a SP game though it’s pretty mediocre besides the combat system.

    Supposedly some acclaimed writer wrote the story for the game, but it all just looks “been there done that” or “seen that already”

    • f1x says:

      Aye, the combat is nice but difficulty is not properly tuned, I played on hard from the very beginning and it felt like very easy, and I’m not even a good player…

      Also regarding quests, the tracking system was bloody annoying, you could only track 1 quest directly (some show on the minimap tho) when you get feed with 10.000 side quests, being able to track only one at a time is kind of crap

      even tho, I have a good memory of it, its a decent game overall and surely deserved some more sales

    • Canuckde says:

      R.A. Salvatore wrote the backstory for the world, the actual story in the game was written by the Studio.

      I found the combat fun… for a while, but then it never developed more and ended up being quite shallow and repetitive. The enemy variety was poor, the story was rather generic and dull, the side quests were tedious, the tracking system/UI as a whole was a terrible consolized mess. I think I played about 10-15 hours of it, and then realised I was bored and waiting to have fun.

      I was drooling and desperate to play the game for ages until it came out and was just “meh”.

  13. Sorbicol says:

    A game to be bought when it’s £7.50 in the steam sale this Christmas. I admire their ambition but to be honest I don’t really think a single player version of World of Warcraft was ever really going to take off the way they wanted it too.

    I enjoyed the demo but not enough to make me want to buy the game at the price they wanted.

  14. Mr. Floppyknickers says:

    If I remember correctly they release KoA because they needed money to further fund the MMO, KoA was all based on the MMO using assets, mechanics etc. I remember the Demo, and while I very much enjoyed the art style and some of the gameplay the game just didn’t have a “hook” to it. I had no real reason to keep playing it. I do plan to get it on a steam sale or when it gets to 30ish dollars in stores, it’s just not a 60 experience to me.

    BPlus the stupidity of their marketing was staggering. What did this game have again? A $60 reg edition, and 3 CE editions ranging from $90-210 buckaroos? Stupid packing like statues and other silliness? Each had a special set up, packaging, yadda yadda.. How much did they blow getting that stuff made? Hopefully other devs will remember that and stop offering stupidly priced and loaded CE editions for new IP’s?

    • Blaaaaaaag says:

      If ever I am to be enticed into buying a CE with a statuette, it’ll have to be something I would want to display in my home, rather than throw in the trash. The dragon statue that came with Skyrim is one of the most hideous, unattractive things I could ever imagine putting on my mantle, and the thing that comes with GW2 is nearly as bad.

      What are these devs thinking? It seems they think I’m a moron, and have no appreciation for pleasing aesthetics.

      clarification edit: I’m a moron who would buy this crap if it were pretty.

  15. lociash says:

    KoA had all the right elements, and great guys involved in it’s creation yet it was so dull. I felt such buyers regret even after trying to force myself to like it.

    • Zancrowe says:

      i got the same problem you have, the story is rehashed dribble seen before, the house of ballads guys with the spiky hair all act like they crawled out of the loony-bin and after i used meteor for the first time i realized i just found the I WIN button and stopped playing. its just a dead and boring ip i feel.

    • trjp says:

      It was a supergroup effort – and like most supergroups, the result was a bland mishmash.

      I bought it and I regret that decision really, it just gets tiresome and dull.

      Biggest issue – for me – is that there are 2 difficulty settings of note. One is “easy as pie” and the other is “harder than you’d probably like”. If you can’t get that right – don’t bother with the rest of the game eh?

      Esp as there’s another setting below those I think – presumably for the blind…

      • Zancrowe says:

        really? i startet off an the hardest setting and besides mages cheapshotting you with undodgable magics (which is a terrible way of doing things) the game was easy as pie and in turn enhanced the inherent boringness of the world and story. not to mention you always fight the same enemies you get in the first couple hours for the rest of the dragged out game.

      • fish99 says:

        Bastion was made by a supergroup.

  16. ceejtank says:

    The gameplay was quite fun. My only problem with it was the names for everything. They wanted to call elfs a fae, and a rabbit a smeerp and all these weird names. But they don’t give you any time to adjust and they don’t explain it. they just throw you in with the new names and expect you to know what it all is. It makes new people who care about the story or what is actually going on lost and confused.

    • marcusfell says:

      Somebody failed the reading comprehension test in grade school.

  17. caddyB says:

    Very interesting. It wasn’t a bad game, so to speak. But I couldn’t find any reason to keep playing it after a couple of hours.

  18. DestructibleEnvironments says:

    Inb4 the inevitable kickstarter for 38 studios.

    Oh, and I found KOA to be dull. Pretty world, but dead inside. Also with MMO-ish design and just un-fun quests/characters.

  19. FreudianTrip says:

    Publishers weren’t willing to finance MechWarrior as a single player game even though they could gurantee 1 million units. Publishers wanted 3 million units or nothing. 400k for a single player game is pretty bad considering how much money they put into their marketing as well.

  20. Blackcompany says:

    I am sorry this studio was so hard hit. But you assembled an expensive, all star team. Planned an overly ambitious game from day 1, which you knew would cost you big money to make. Then you went with the least popular publisher in the industry, to publish a game filled to overflowing with tired fantasy yelped, forgetable environs redundant combat & endless fetch quests. Little late to the party, to be fair.

  21. SexualHarassmentPanda says:

    I’m not surprised by this news. KoA was a dumb idea for a game to begin with. MMO gameplay mechanics exist to make the MMO playable, not because they are particularly unique or fun. I don’t know whose idea it was to pitch an single player MMO, but they pretty much ruined their own game by going with that route. No one wants to grind content in a singleplayer game because there is no one around to show off your loot too. They should have put the engine to better use and made a singleplayer RPG people want to keep playing.

    • fish99 says:

      It doesn’t play like an MMO though, it’s fast action combat style, with dodging and combo attacks, and it’s not hotkey based. It plays more like God of War.

    • Baines says:

      KOA is an idea that has sadly been ignored by developers.

      A Diablo-style game done in an action game engine? With a world approaching MMO design? Developers have only skirted that idea in the past, refusing to properly blend them. You got MMO’s with poor combat systems. You got action games with maybe some random weapons, but fairly restrictive worlds. You got clones of Diablo, with the overhead camera and the action-draining limitations of a Diablo-based keyboard+mouse interface.

      (Yes, I think keyboard+mouse limits what Diablo and its clones can become. I’m not saying that combo should vanish, but it does prevent the game from exploring certain styles of action and locks developers into certain mindsets and restrictions.)

  22. iteyoidar says:

    I can’t think of a more generic video game name than Kingdoms of Amalur. Or Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, it’s even more generic when you add in the subtitle

  23. mehteh says:

    Not surprised one bit. They failed to deliver basic PC features(like FOV) or UI. They listened to PC gamers once their demo came out, but didnt follow through on anything as far as I know. It felt like a console RPG and its world was so dull. I was interested in this with its first trailer, but then as I saw more of its gameplay it started looking more and more shallow like a stiff, bland, dull, same old console RPG.

  24. fish99 says:

    The buggy demo probably didn’t help.

    The game is nowhere near as bad as some people make out though, I’m 50+ hrs in and still enjoying it a great deal. Very fun action combat, nice colourful fairytale world with an interesting Irish mythology thing going on with the Fae (elves), excellent cinematic music, decent enough graphics, lots of British & Irish accents. Has a few downsides too, like the voice acting is very hit and miss, the UI could be better, and the story/quests are obviously quite generic.

    Maybe it’s because I’m playing it in stereo 3D (nvidia 3D Vision) but I’m really immersed in the game and enjoying it, plus I only paid £20 for it. I’ve gone with a faeblades / bow / magic build. There’s definitely been some hard fights as well, so it’s not all easy.

  25. Moraven says:

    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/165340/Report_Kingdoms_of_Amalur_sold_330K_in_the_US_last_month.php

    Sold 330k in Feb. Prob dropped off a bit after that. Numbers above in comments are probably accurate.

  26. Bhazor says:

    So 410,000 copies at lets call an average of $50 (though probably closer to $60 or even $70).
    That would be total revenue of $21,000,000

    If you’re not seeing a decent turnover from that then you seriously need to look at your budgeting. When 400,000 units is a failure then your companies a failure.

    Edit: Basically what DevilShadow said.

    • Vagrant says:

      One you add in the publisher’s cut, the console maker’s cut, and distribution costs, you get a much smaller slice of the pie. If this random google result is to be believed, ( http://unrealitymag.com/index.php/2011/04/29/how-your-60-video-game-is-chopped-up/ ) then the developer only got about $3m out of the game. I’d expect at most $5m.

      I do think there’s something wrong with expectations among developers, though. It’s not hard to do the math and figure out how much your game is likely to sell based off industry statistics. If they honestly expected 1 million units sold, there’s the original problem.

      • Shuck says:

        The problem was that they needed more like 4 million sales. (Which is extremely unlikely for a non-sequel made by a new studio.)
        One million sales is pretty much the minimum required to just break even on a AAA-level game (about 30 people working for 3 years, plus some minimal marketing). You want to do an expansive open-world game with modern graphics? Double, at least, the required sales needed to cover costs.

      • Apolloin says:

        It is, in fact, very hard to do the maths and work out how many units you’re going to sell – especially for Developers who generally focus on solving code problems and not on sales.

        I’m sure they looked at the figures for Skyrim and decided that this is the age of Fantasy Adventure.

        • Baines says:

          That kind of disconnect from reality is a very dangerous thing.

          We see the same thing with companies that try to either beat Call of Duty, or see Call of Duty’s sales as the guidepost for what their FPS can sell. The same thing happened with Halo. It happens with the companies that try to beat WOW. Capcom has probably done it with their fighting games lately (along with trying every DLC trick they can think of that will anger their fans). Which is a particular shame, considering Capcom supposedly learned its dangerous overestimation lesson a decade ago. It is the kind of thinking that drives companies to bankruptcy and gets studios closed down.

          It happens over and over again.

    • Shuck says:

      And as mentioned above, the actual developer only gets a tiny sliver of that. Not to mention that $25 million is a very modest budget for a AAA game these days, so it wouldn’t have been enough even if they’d gotten it all.

    • Apolloin says:

      400,000 units after almost six months are abysmal sales figures for a supposedly AAA game. Skyrim sold 2,500,000 in the US after 2 days, by way of comparison.

      The actual figures that Studio 38 made from 400,000 units is probably calculated by some weird and arcane formula but, in the end, it doesn’t matter. They didn’t make their advance back and whatever money they had off their Publisher at launch is all the money they likely made – depending on how the DLC did.

      This is not a borderline failure. This is catastrophe city and it likely completely eroded whatever confidence that EA had in the studio. They will more than likely have either pulled funding completely or else, if some shred of confidence remains, they will be in buyout talks. Given the large debt to the State that Studio 38 has, it makes more sense to roll up the studio and start again elsewhere, unless EA can pitch a deal for pennies in the dollar to the State as part of buyout talks.

      I’m sure an announcement to either effect is in the pipeline.

  27. Vagrant says:

    THAT NAME. Who wants to play something that sounds so generic? The marketing and art direction (at least what the marketing showed) did zero to help it there, either.

    I’d heard the game was good, and the positive descriptions I heard all resonated perfectly with me. But I still couldn’t get excited about it.

    • Bhazor says:

      Not only is it generic, but it’s really hard to spell/pronounce.

      I have to imagine some sales were lost just because they couldn’t think of the name when they were browsing Amazon.

  28. Sarkhan Lol says:

    No, it’s not bad, nothing about it is bad. If it was bad, at least then some of us could have strong feelings about it either way. As we can plainly see, nobody’s even surprised or particularly moved about this financial revelation. What KoA is, is agonizingly tepid, the sort of thing you get when you think hiring McFarlane to do your designs and Salvatore to do your world building, fifteen years too late, is a good idea. It’s the most stunningly adequate game I’ve ever seen.

  29. Hug_dealer says:

    And nothing of value was lost……………………Terrible RPG, with Terrible art direction, with terrible dialogue, with terrible storyline, and terrible voice acting, along with terrible combat.

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    neofit says:

    A single-player game with WoW graphics and street-fighter combat. It got old after an hour with the demo. I wonder what makes a game AAA, the marketing budget? Next.

  31. Jimbo says:

    That’s what you get for calling your game Kingdom of Mediocrity: Regurgitated.

    Looked like checklist development at its worst to me.

  32. non_entity says:

    Uhm yeah… I was interested in the game when it was in development, when Curt Schilling guest-starred on the Final Score podcast a couple times and he and the host Scott Johnson talked about the game. It sounded very interesting and it still does have its good aspects I think, the basic premise of the story is good (you are dead, come back and are freed from fate) and the combat system apparently is awesome.

    But the whole world, the backstory is just so very, very, very … vanilla. Elves, Elves, Gnomes with wildly colored hair, everybody doing some posh accent. It’s a very, very standard fantasy world. I’m actually not surprised, seeing as R.A. Salvatore wrote the whole thing. I don’t get why people got so excited when it was announced he’d write the game story and background, history etc. He’s a decent writer but nothing spectactular imo, so I’m not surprised the game world is just cliche fantasy.

    As an example for good authors – of course pretty much everybody knows George R.R. Martin by now. I also very much like Steven Erikson for his Malazan Book Of The Fallen series. Yes, his writing may not be quite as good as Martin’s etc. but he’s still very good imo, better than Salvatore. And his Malazan world is utterly unique, it uses pretty much nothing of the standard fantasy repertoire, even his take on magic is very unique afaik.

    All that said – I have not gotten Amalur yet, only read the reviews and played the demo but those confirmed my view on the world and story I feel. However I will still buy the game, sometime, when I’ll get it for … 10-20 bucks, during a Steam sale or whatever. Actually surprised it’s available on Steam and not just Origin.

  33. Xardas Kane says:

    What you guys need to understand is that those figures are for the US and the US alone, and while America still is the biggest market in the world, when it comes to RPG Europe is a major player as well. Not to mention digital sales aren’t tracked by NPD. Still, those numbers are admittedly low, definitely not enough to support the company unless the game becomes a sleeper hit. And since 330k of those 410k were sold in February, I doubt that.

    And the game itself was just a string of stupid decisions as well, starting from the incredibly generic name, on to the release window only several months after Skyrim and finishing it off with a marketing campaign that never managed to show the consumer what, if anything, made KoA unique. The game itself was also just one huge balloon, a solid premise and some good ideas exploded to a size that just couldn’t support it all. They kept adding and adding areas and quests thinking that size makes games like TES popular while forgetting to check if there was anything to keep it fresh and fun.

    ANd in the end of the day I can not for the life of me imagine what they were thinking when they took 75 million?! And that’s not all folks, they were supposed to have 125 FULL-TIME jobs filled in the first year alone, followed by another 175 the next one and rounding it up with another 150 the year after that. That’s a total of 450 people in 3 years, the simple logistics of it are beyond ridiculous. What were they thinking?! Who the hell runs that company??!?!?

    • Joshua Northey says:

      People with big ideas and little actual business know how.

    • Warskull says:

      They are making an MMO and think it will be the WoW killer.

      KOA was an attempt to translate part of that to a single player experience and further fun the MMO. The game isn’t bad, it just isn’t anything phenomenal and didn’t have the hype engine behind it that something like Skyrim did.

      • Xardas Kane says:

        Well that’s not a good design philosophy. When you are doing a certain kind of a game, in this case an open-world single-player RPG, use all the advantages that format offers to their fullest potential. Making a single player version of a MMO means you get neither the social interaction of MMOs nor the more interactive world, varied quests and a world map begging to be explored, traits typically associated with games like TES or the Gothics. And if you look at all the comments you’ll see exactly that is the prevalent complaint. In other words, yet another bad decision.

        A shame really, because I really like Big Huge Games and the game was fun for some 20 hours. I really would like to see more coming out of these guys, but for Christ’s sake, a single player MMO is NOT a good idea.

  34. Joshua Northey says:

    I was pretty sure this would falter. In the interviews I heard regarding it no one was talking about game-play, they were all talking about names. Who was making what, how important they are. Selling the game based on names instead of content. Sometimes that works for selling, but it is always a bad sign as far as the actual game is concerned.

    “Awesome Staff”
    Awesome Story”
    “Awesome Art”
    “Giant World”

    is the pitch of someone who has no gameplay to pitch.

  35. TariqOne says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the MMO plans came first, Schilling allegedly being a major WoW fan. Then, at some point in the process, they shifted gears and announced that they’d be releasing KoA as a sort of teaser first taste of the epic world they’d created.

    If I’m remembering correctly, then it seems they probably at some point realized how much they’d bitten off in trying to develop an MMO, and took a look around at the shoddy state of the MMO market and decided to punt with KoA.

    KoA certainly smelled of MMO, from the graphical choices to the quest design. I’m pretty sure the MMO and the studio have been in the drain-circling process for a while now.

  36. Whiterabbit-uk says:

    Coming from a time when pong was a fascinating game and the original brickbuster Arkanoid and it’s sequel Arkanoid: Revenge of Doh by Taito were all the rage and when I played Dungeons & Dragons and the simplified form Tunnels & Trolls every weekend with a small group of like minded friends using just graph paper and home made drawings of dungeons we’d designed ourselves to say that KofA was a mediocre game just doesn’t fit right in my head. For me the game was a very pleasing experience. It saddens me when I read so many negative comments about a game that has obviously had a lot of work poured into it.

    To be honest I think we are all spoiled rotten with the hundreds of amazing games that are released each year. I find all of these fantasy titles that are released yearly these days fascinating. Of course I do have my favorites and Kof A wasn’t at the top of the list, but it was still a good game from my perspective. I can honestly say I never got bored and thought it was a well constructed game, with excellent graphics and a nice fighting style. Even though I loved Skyrim more I though KofA’s fighting system was a little easier and better.

    Then again I suppose I’m easy to please. As time has passed and game engines have evolved and graphics become more and more hi res, the more I find I enjoy these games. When I see community members complaining of repetition and boring side quests I think isn’t all life like that. not many are blessed with amazingly varied lives. We go through the day following repetitive patterns. I really don’t see how a game cannot be repetitive. I don’t mind swinging an axe or sword at an enemy the same way throughout a game, or fight the same looking monsters. So long as it’s got quests and a good looking world to explore I’m a pretty happy bunny.

    Jeez, when Wolfenstein first hit the stores way back in the late 80′s every enemy looked the same, and Doom wasn’t much better (though it did have several different enemy types) but did you ever see anyone complaining that it was too much the same all the way through. Wake up people, we are getting amazing games with amazing graphics and all I see is a load of spoiled gamers (swapped this word from a less complementary one) expecting every game to step up a notch.

    Please excuse the disjoined comment; I’m full of opiate meds and find it hard to construct a smooth flowing comment these days. I hope I managed to get my point across.

  37. Feriluce says:

    Maybe they should just have skilled to the full blown mmo right away, instead of making a single player mmo first.

  38. tlarn says:

    I honestly feel bad for 38 Studios. From the demo, I had some interest in KoA, but a week after playing it, I stopped paying attention to the game. Now I see it hasn’t even come close to a million sales, for reasons all given in the comments of this section.

    Maybe these “triple-A budget” titles are starting to become very unseemly with how much money is sunk into them? It feels like these sorts of companies are counting their earnings before they actually earn it.

  39. FecesOfDeath says:

    Other reports say it sold 1.2 million across all platforms. Almost there…

  40. neonordnance says:

    I’m baffled why they haven’t put this on steam sale yet. They could shift a 100,000 copies if they dropped the price down to $20 for a few days.