Curt Schilling, the head of 38 Studios, has taken to his studio's own forums (and also NeoGAF's) to face the music regarding a buggy demo version of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and plans for day-one downloadable content. He's as plain-spoken here as he was on sports radio when he was a Major League Baseball all-star. It's an attribute that got him in trouble in his baseball career, but gamers seem to respond to it little better.
Not that many of them still care for a policy of day-one downloadable content, which everyone shrieked about as some dark evil plot imposed by publisher Electronic Arts. An Amalur community manager explained that this is not locked content already on the disc. It still is walled off behind an Online Pass, which means those who buy the game used will have to pay for it. So a forum thread raged for 48 pages demanding to know if 38 Studios pushed back against EA's Online Pass.
Then Schilling got involved and said, more or less, nope.
"This next part is likely to piss people off, but it's a truth and it's how I feel," Schilling wrote. "You can argue the merits and effectiveness of it, but right now it's how it's done and as someone that's as invested as I am in this company, I stand by what has happened.
DAY 1 DLC, to be extremely and VIVIDLY clear, is FREE, 100% totally FREE, to anyone that buys a new copy of Reckoning, ANYONE.
It's clear the intent right? To promote early adopters and MUCH MORE IMPORTANT TO ME, REWARD fans and gamers who commit to us with their time and money when it benefits the company.
Every single person on the planet could wait and not buy Reckoning, the game would hit the bargain bin at some point and you could get it cheaper. 38 Studios would likely go away."
Now, to be fair, Schilling had earlier replied that he hadn't been privy to any discussion of an online pass, and seemed to misunderstand its purpose. That resulted in some of the forum rage.
"After a day of soul searching I do remember conversations I was on the cusp [regarding an Online Pass] of but I, ME, never followed up and didn't ever pursue them," Schilling admitted.
But then, it doesn't really matter. EA funded half of the game's development. "[I]f EA and EAP don't step in and bet on us it would have never mattered and this game would have never been made," Schilling wrote.
As for the demo, Schilling popped into NeoGAF on Friday to take responsibility for bugs in it, and vow that they will not representative of the final product. He says he was wrong when he argued that the game shouldn't get a demo, and understands its usefulness. "In a partnership there is a lot of give and take, and I believe in my team, they are world class, but when you have a publisher there are things happening you'd rather not choose," he says.
"Shipping old code out 3 months prior to gold master to a 3rd party with no stake in the demo success can be problematic," he said. "I am sure they made the best demo they could but as a studio packed to the gills with gamers, we refuse to believe code has to be unplayably buggy at launch, it doesn't. So to those that have had a horrid demo experience, I'm sorry, it's on us, our name is the name on the box we care about. I promise you, my word, that demo from a bug perspective is in NO WAY representative of the final code or product."
If you want, you can choose to see this as Schilling blaming third parties for things that have outraged Amalur fans. But on the question of online-pass protected DLC, Schilling's unapologetically behind it as someone existentially concerned with his studio's success.
In a bit of a different story, David Jaffe at Eat, Sleep, Play did publicly push back against an online pass for Twisted Metal, but said from the beginning that decision was out of his hands, and totally the call of Sony, the game's publisher, which is probably the situation Schilling and 38 Studios faced. I don't recall Jaffe getting excoriated for that, but he is more familiar to hardcore gamers.