Epic Games Is Hiring Most Of Big Huge Games For New Studio

While it’s likely the people who made the collapse of 38 Studios possible will escape their mistakes with their fortunes intact (with the probable exception of poor Curt Schilling, who increasingly looks like a well-meaning chump who got grifted by business associates), the regular staff were all well and truly screwed. Particularly sad is the fate 38 Studios subsidiary Big Huge Games, who did all the heavy lifting on Kingdoms of Amalur. That they were sacrificed on the altar of bad business decisions after years of good work is kind of galling, particularly when you take into account the fact that the economy is so nightmarish. But in a rare happy outcome for situations like this, it looks like they’ve been saved.

The heroes coming to the rescue? Gears of War developer Epic Games. Epic announced today that they’ve decided to create a new subsidiary studio based out of Baltimore (where Big Huge Games operated), to be staffed mostly by former BHG employees. The move came about when former BHG management contacted Epic to propose starting a new company that would contract to work on Epic IP as its first project. The idea would be to salvage the talent and keep them in Baltimore. As it turns out, so Epic says, the Gears of War devs were already considering the creation of a studio within Epic in order to increase the number of projects the company can produce. They quickly – this conversation happened last week – decided to build it in Baltimore around the former employees of Big huge Games.

Epic is still determining how many former Big Huge Games employees will be part of the new studio. While this studio is being created, many of the new staffers will be flown from Baltimore to Epic’s Cary, NC HQ to work as contractors. Even if it ends up being a small number, it’s a great outcome to a company that suffered an undeserved early death. Good looking out, Epic.

Here’s the announcement in full:

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.

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.

Dr. Michael Capps

President, Epic Games

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