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38 Studios And Big Huge Games Lay Off All Staff

In incredibly bad news, it's been announced tonight that 38 Studios, and its wholly owned subsidiary Big Huge Games (Age Of Empires III, Rise Of Nations), are laying off their entire workforce. The Curt Schilling-owned enterprise was in a noticeably shaky state earlier this month when it was unable to make a repayment for a massive $75m loan it had taken from Rhode Island state in 2010, despite decent sales of Kingdoms Of Amular, and great promises of an MMO to come. Having just managed to make this repayment, staff began to notice that something was still up as paychecks failed to arrive in bank accounts, and health insurances were running out. And now, in a rather unpleasantly brisk email, they've learned that all 379 of them are immediately out of a job.

The email, as revealed by Gamasutra, reads,

"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 use of "economic downturn" strikes as particularly egregious, perhaps even disingenuous. The company in fact was experiencing an enormous lack of money having accepted a massive loan by relocating to Rhode Island and getting into massive debt with the state.

A press conference taking place as I type had Rhode Island governors explaining that they saw no reason to be confident that the company would go on to become profitable. And Rhode Island have just published a lot of related paperwork here.

A Rhode Island governor has said that Amular would have needed to sell 3 million units to break even.

We wish the very best to all those affected by the lay offs, and hope everyone is quickly able to find work. Twitter is currently alive with job offers via the #38jobs hashtag.

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John Walker


Once one of the original co-founders of Rock Paper Shotgun, we killed John out of jealousy. He now runs buried-treasure.org