Laid off Reckoning devs landing at Epic Games

Monday, June 4th 2012. | Games News

Gears of War studio bringing aboard ex-Big Huge Games staffers as contractors first, planning to create “impossible” studio in Baltimore.

Gears of War developer Epic Games plans to hire on staffers recently laid off at Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning studio Big Huge Games. In a letter posted to Epic’s website titled “Big Problems Need Huge Solutions,” company president Mike Capps lamented the situation at the studio, and explained why hiring on the newly displaced developers is “the right thing to do.”

Capps said former Big Huge Games leadership contacted Epic on Wednesday, saying the newly out-of-work developers wished to start a new company with the help of Epic while keeping “key” staffers together.

“In one of life’s coincidences, Epic’s directors had spent the morning discussing how we’d love to build even more successful projects with our growing team, but that we’d need a dramatic infusion of top talent to do so,” he said in the statement. “Which, we all knew, was impossible. So now we’re planning to start an impossible studio in Baltimore.”

According to Capps, setting up an entirely new Baltimore outfit in earnest will take “a while,” but
noted he wants to bring some aboard as quickly as possible as contractors at the company’s Cary, NC headquarters.

“There’s a million things to work out. How many of the team can we hire? What will it be called? What will they be working on? We don’t know all the answers yet,” reads the statement. “Please give us some time to figure it out; we hope to have more to share soon.”

Capps also revealed in his note that some laid off Big Huge Games staffers have found new work at Zynga East, Zenimax Online, and other unnamed southeastern studios.

Big Huge Games and its parent company 38 Studios fell apart in May. The company’s troubles first came to light last month, when reports from the Rhode Island government indicated the company had failed to make a $ 1.125 million loan payment to the state’s Economic Development Corporation. The studio eventually made the payment, but it also enacted a round of unspecified layoffs. Reports also surfaced that 38 Studios could not pay its employees as scheduled twice last month.

Between the original $ 75 million loan and interest, Rhode Island taxpayers could be on the hook for as much as $ 90 million as a result of the deal. The $ 75 million was secured by the Rhode Island EDC as a way to entice 38 Studios to move from Massachusetts to Rhode Island. Last week, EDC executive director Keith Stokes, who helped structure the loan, resigned from his post.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning shipped in February to a warm critical reception and sold 330,000 units in the United States alone during the month. Schilling said it sold 1.2 million copies, but Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee called it “a failure,” saying it would have needed to sell 3 million just to break even.

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