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Sparkplay Lays Off Staff, Selling Earth Eternal

Having run out of money to continue operating, Sparkplay Media revealed that it has laid off all but two of its staff, and has put its free-to-play MMORPG Earth Eternal up for auction.
Having run out of money to continue operating, Sparkplay Media revealed that it has laid off all but two of its staff, and has put its free-to-play MMORPG Earth Eternal up for auction. Sparkplay's CEO Matt Mihaly disclosed that the only workers currently at the company are himself and one other employee as of last Friday, admitting that it's unlikely either of them will remain at the firm by next week. Originally worked on by Iron Realms Entertainment and under development since 2006, Earth Eternal launched its open beta less than a year ago on October 2009. The publisher raised some $4.25 million in funding in early 2008 from Redpoint Ventures and Prism Ventureworks to produce the MMORPG. The San Francisco-based company reportedly picked up another $2.8 million, according to an SEC filing submitted in January of this year. Mihaly said Sparkplay has sought further investments for the past two months without success, and confessed that the studio's "last hope crumbled" several days ago. Sparkplay put up an auction for Earth Eternal yesterday and is "reasonably confident" that someone will buy the game and keep it running. If no one buys the online title, though, Earth Eternal will shutter when the firm's internet and hosting provider closes its servers for non-payment. The firm expects Earth Eternal to remain online for at least another week. In the meantime, Sparkplay has turned off the ability to buy credits or earn them through offers, and is giving away all non-permanent items in the PC/browser-based game's credit shop. "I know this comes as a crushing blow to many of you, and believe me, I and the rest of the former Sparkplay staff share those feelings, times ten," said Mihaly in an open letter to Earth Eternal players. "Some of us have been working on Earth Eternal for over four and a half years and have poured our hearts and souls into it and Sparkplay." Mihaly added, "We worked our asses off and through the long hours, frustrating bugs, and occasional problems so bad we had to laugh, we became a very tight team as well as good friends. It is incredibly disappointing to everyone that it’s come to this." "... Things that we planned on happening didn’t, and things we didn’t plan on happening did. I don’t want to go into a lot of detail and I don’t want to try to shift responsibility to anyone but myself. There’s really nothing I can say other than I am very very sorry to have let you down."

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