A "38 Studios Spouse" has written a powerful letter about how the collapse of the Kingdoms of Amalur developer has turned her family's life upside down.
Back in 2004, an anonymous blogger calling herself "EA Spouse," later revealed to be Erin Hoffman, wrote a scathing inside account of life at Electronic Arts, where developers faced crazy hours with little or no overtime compensation. It caused enough of a stink to lead to significant changes at EA and other major publishers, not to mention a handful of lawsuits, and today remains a famous and inspiring example of how anger, properly channeled, can lead to positive change.
In a similar vein, a letter published today expresses outrage with the situation at 38 Studios, the Kingdoms of Amalur developer that officially declared bankruptcy last week. Written by the wife of a former employee, the "38 Studios Spouse" letter tells the tale of the studio's collapse from a ground-level perspective and explains some of the damage done to employees who were kept in the dark until the last possible moment.
The employee in question actually came to the studio fairly late in the game, moving to Rhode Island to join the operation at the end of December 2011. Things were already in disarray at that point, she wrote, but the family put its faith in "laws and safety nets" and apparently hoped for the best.
"On the 15th of May I sat down to pay bills and upon checking our bank account noticed we had not had our direct deposit made by 38 Studios. I called my husband and asked him to check on it when he got to work," the letter says. "When he came home that night he told me that he had to stay for a 5 o'clock meeting to find out they didn't make payroll. He was unhappy, but said that he was promised they were working on the problem and sure they would have it worked out by the next day."
So it went for more than a week, during which time he continued to report for work because if he quit, he'd be stuck with the cost of relocation. Finally, he was officially laid off on May 24, shortly after which another nasty surprise landed: Thanks to a "tiny print" clause in his contract, he was being stuck with the relocation costs anyway.
The Spouse is obviously disappointed with 38 Studios founder Curt Schilling, who she said "should have done better," but has far more vitriol for Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, who opposed the deal prior to his election. "It is a shame that certain politicians couldn't get past the need to prove a point about being against 38 Studios and see they were harming their state in the long run," she wrote.
But ultimately, it's the shady behavior of executives at 38 Studios, presumably excluding Schilling in her estimation, that she fingers as the root cause of the trouble. "I blame a company named 38 Studios and all of their executives for moving so many families while knowing they weren't paying bills, weren't going to hit their dates, and were running out of money," she concluded.
The dissolution of 38 Studios means it won't have the long-term impact of EA Spouse, but this is still a sad and sobering looking at the damage that can be caused by poor planning, overconfidence and high-level duplicity. But maybe it'll do some good, too, even if it's only to convince a few people to pay more attention to what they're getting themselves into when they're considering similar offers in the future.