Q&A with 38 Studios Founder Curt Schilling

Q&A with 38 Studios Founder Curt Schilling

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This week, EA and 38 Studios announced the company’s first title – Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. I had the chance to talk to 38 Studios Founder and Chairman Curt Schilling.

Hooked Gamers: And how active has Todd McFarlane been on the project?

Curt Schilling: Todd is intimately involved. He is the artistic visionary, so to speak. He does a video conference with our art team four times a week and they do a weekly kick-off. “What did you do last week? Where we at? What does it look like?” Todd is an artist at heart. Which is great because, if you think about it, as a startup recruiting people in the industry, [designers and artists] can now forever have on their resumes that they consulted and worked with R.A. Salvatore and Todd McFarlane. That’s a big deal. Most of the artists in our company grew up idolizing Todd McFarlane and Todd McFarlane’s art and all the things he did and now they are getting to work hands-on with him on a daily basis. It is an incredibly powerful recruiting tool for us.

Hooked Gamers: So what’s it like being a start-up game developer?

Curt Schilling: Expensive. [laughs] It is awesome. I’d never ever look at us as a start-up. One of the edicts that I started out with was to never have the people in the company feel like we were a start-up. And I think that, when I look back on that, it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do because we never had that pressure. I funded the company for the first four years and I put about $30-35 million of my own dollars into it to be able to maintain control. Not because I want to be in control or anything but because I want to grow something that’s different. I want to grow something that’s not just life-changing but world-changing from a company perspective. The minute you cease to control the company, that goes out the window. You’re beholden to investors or shareholders or somebody other than yourself.

So, it’s expensive but it is incredibly rewarding to see the things that we set out to do five years ago being validated by the industry now. Everybody talks about the fact that our team is as talented as anything that’s ever been at this position in their life for a product. We’ve got 180 people between two studios that have shipped over 11 billion dollars in product. So, yeah, we’re a start-up but we’ve got a company full of people that have done it for years.

Hooked Gamers: Since you’re designing a MMO, obviously I have to ask about the 800 pound gorilla: World of Warcraft. What are you guys doing to make your project unique and stand out in a crowded market?

Curt Schilling: That’s the question right? When we launch, whatever day we launch, we’re going to be asking people to walk away from the game they’ve got 5-7 years into. We probably wouldn’t have gotten past the first week of this company if we didn’t believe we had something that could get them to do that. So, it really gets into details that we can’t divulge but I believe that we are going to be one of the companies that does come out with the next generation of online entertainment experiences and engages consumers. Because in the first 30 minutes, when you open the box, install the game, create an account, create a character and play, that first 30 minutes... if I don’t give you a reason to want to come back, you aren’t coming back. You’ve got multiple MMOs on your hard drive, if you’re like anybody else, and there’s only 24 hours in a day. So, we have still got to find a way to make you want to spend that hour to four hours that you put aside for gaming everyday in our world with our product. And I can only tell you that I believe we’re doing that and that time will tell.