In Febuary 2012 Kingdoms of Amalur hit shelves everywhere in North America and Europe. The single player action roleplaying game received critical acclaim and sold over 1.2 million copies worldwide in 90 days. The game itself had some top pedigree behind it, being written by best selling author R.A Salvatore and had the likes of Ken Rolston, Todd Macfarlane, and Grant Kirkhope working on the game.
In May of 2012 the developer 38 Studios was announced closed and bankrupt after missing a loan payment to the state of Rhode island. Shortly after, the state along with the FBI started investigations into the studio which ended up in the state filling a lawsuit against Curt Schilling, Keith Stokes, and other backers of 38 Studios in November of that year.
While the studio created a fantastic game, it was an old-fashioned case of bad business investment, poor project management, and poor decisions across the board. Of course there are a number of other factors involved too, not just those, but it ended up being a classic money pit.
38 Studios were also in development of a Kingdoms of Amalur MMO codenamed project Copernicus, which is now destined to never see the light of day. In the end, what was left was a great RPG that severely undersold.
Going once, going twice.
Fast forward to the winter of discontent, being the winter of 2013. 38 Studios assets including IP rights were up for auction. Then something happened that gob smacked me: no buyer was found for Project Copernicus, the company’s in-development MMORPG, nor sequel rights for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Let’s put aside 38 Studios’ financial controversies aside and Curt Schilling’s less than modest estimate that KOA is a “billion dollar franchise.” What Kingdoms of Amalur is, however, is a strong IP with tons of untapped potential. The KOA universe has a lot going for it: a well written lore in a huge world with plenty of races, magic, wars, and stories to boot.
What Kingdoms of Amalur is, however, is a strong IP with tons of untapped potential.
In my opinion, project Copernicus should stay dead. With huge MMOs on the horizon such as Everquest Next, The Elder Scrolls Online, and the Eternal Crusade to name a few, there’s simply no room in the market for another MMORPG. Thatt would simply end up being a waste of time and money. However, I feel KOA has gotten a rotten deal out of everything that has happened. The universe deserves more, a lot more. As a big fan of the game, I still want more from the KOA universe.
KOA itself was a strong standalone title. It offered a colorful, vibrant fantasy world with rich lore and a well told story. The gameplay itself was very similar to its console competitor, the Fable franchise, and KOA was arguably everything that Fable 3 should have been. Sadly, KOA’s sales did not reflect its quality. While it sold well, it needed to sell over 3 million copies to break even, according to Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee.
I really think it’s time for the franchise to rise from the ashes and I have no doubt that Rhode Island will sell the rights for a good deal with such little interest. Now is the time for a good games developer to take a risk, acquire the rights and bring the franchise back with a boom. I really see a well developed single player RPG selling well in the next couple of years and with the new generation of consoles, Steambox, and crowd funding sources available, it could be a big hit.
Let’s do some rough calculations for a moment. Let’s say you develop the sequel with a strict budget of 50 million dollars. Your game retail price is $60, then let’s say your projected sales forecast over a three year period is 2.5 million sales, that’s $150 million dollars in revenue leaving you with roughly a $100 million in profit. Does that not qualify as a successful game anymore?
So, please! Developers and Rhode Island, don’t let this great IP turn into a faded memory, bring out its potential and create something that is not only a fantastic RPG gaming experience, but also a lucrative one too.