Gears Of War
and Unreal Engine creator Epic Games has announced that it will be building a Baltimore-based studio in association with the ex-leadership of the just-shuttered Big Huge Games.
BHG was a subsidiary of Curt Schilling's Copernicus
MMO company 38 Studios, which recently closed down
after initially defaulting on part of a loan from the state of Rhode Island, then running out of money.
However, having completed the action RPG Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
(pictured) earlier this year, which went on to sell 330,000 copies in the U.S. during its first month, Big Huge Games had a wealth of talent which suddenly became available.
A weblog post from Epic CEO Mike Capps
explains the circumstances of the unexpected plan as follows:
"Our heart goes out to the people affected by the unfortunate events surrounding 38 Studios and its subsidiary in Baltimore, Big Huge Games. Through it all, the team stayed together in a way that’s been really heartwarming to see. The team kept working, hoping that there’d be a way to secure last-minute funding and save the company.
People brought extra food into the office to help those unable to pay their bills. And last week, in bittersweet irony, Big Huge Games was named to Game Developer’s Top 30 studios in the world list.
You may be wondering why I’m writing all this – and it’s because Epic is going to do something to help them, and we want people to understand why we think it’s the right thing to do.
On Wednesday, the ex-BHG leadership team contacted us. They wanted to start a new company and keep together some of the key talent displaced by the layoff, and hoped that they could use an Epic IP as a starting point for a new game. We loved that they all wanted to keep working together, but it was pretty clear they’d have trouble building a demo and securing funding before their personal savings ran out.
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. Which, we all knew, was impossible.
So now we’re planning to start an impossible studio in Baltimore."
As Capps goes on to explain, the company's Baltimore development studio may not be opening on Monday, but Epic is committed to building a team there, utilizing many Big Huge Games veterans. His open letter concludes:
"It’ll take a while to find space, set up desks and PCs, purchase sufficient Nerf weaponry and Dr. Pepper, etc. But some of these folks have been going too long without a paycheck to wait for that. So, as soon as we can, we’re going to try to get people working down here at Epic headquarters in Cary, NC as contractors.
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. Please give us some time to figure it out; we hope to have more to share soon.
The way we see it, there’s been a big storm in Baltimore, and we’re taking in a few of the refugees — as are the awesome folks at Zynga East, Zenimax Online, and other southeastern studios. Epic’s in a situation where we can do this, and it very clearly fits with our company values, so we’re going to give it a whirl."