38 Studios. For the past two weeks, this story has practically overshadowed every other story in the game industry. Even in the mad dash of news released in the weeks prior to E3, which any other year would be all the news in this business, the demise of 38 Studios looms over everything. And it seems to me that over the last couple of weeks everyone has put their own $0.02 in. Most of it from the perspective of passersby staring at the spectacle of a horrific traffic accident on the side of the freeway. But maybe it’s because everyone is in shock (unless you are in New England, then you are outraged – New Englanders love to be outraged by anything people in high places fuck up at; just ask Drew Bledsoe). But everyone else seems to be transfixed, which is probably why some of the most obvious stuff that should be what is being said about this situation, is not.
I’ve been reading everywhere like a madman, and the most obvious things, the stuff that in this particular incident are likely to be reserved for hindsight, no one is saying. And worse still, none of the talking heads in the game business are even speculating on solutions to fix this mess at all. This despite the fact that if 38 Studios goes under, it is going to have a negative impact on every game publisher and developer in North America and the EU. Half of every politician for the next decade will use 38 Studios as the poster child for not handing out tax breaks, and tax credits to game studios under their aegis. For the end gaming consumer, this means that the price of games are about to go up again over the next few years. When you consider that in many places, game companies receive between 30% to 50% of their development costs returned to them via nontaxable revenue earned under tax credit programs, you begin to realize very quickly why the retail price for games is headed upward should 38 Studios tank. And what is most sad, is that 38 Studios can be saved; should be saved even. I’ve already listed several good reasons why, and there are even more.