38 Studios For Sale

There aren’t many places you can go to pick up office supplies, kitchen appliances, electronics, and, oh yes, swords, battle axes, and armor all in one place, but on Tuesday, 38 Studios’ old office in Providence was one of them. The state of Rhode Island held an auction to sell off the last remains of Curt Schilling’s failed dream studio, and hopefully recoup a little bit (a very little bit) of that $75 million loan the state offered the company to lure it to Providence. Last week, an auction at 38’s office in Baltimore hauled in just $180,000, but the take from yesterday’s affair in Providence is expected to be much larger. For starters, just check out the line to get in, as photographed by Joystiq’s Alexander Sliwinski (who did a great live-tweet of the event):

Boston Globe business reporter Todd Wallack had on his Twitter feed this morning that the affair drew 1,000 registered bidders, including 600 online. Judging by reports, it seems that folks were pretty excited to take home a piece of history, often paying above market price for TVs and monitors. Many of the toys, knickknacks, and, uhm, pieces of medieval weaponry available have drawn a lot of curiosity Which makes sense—just look:

Here are a couple of good galleries of more photos—it all feels a bit surreal. Schilling’s plan for 38 Studios was to make it an entire brand, complete with toys, books, and other games to complement the main property, the massive multiplayer online game (MMO) his developers were working to build. So it’s no surprise there were a lot of figurines and the like available for sale yesterday.

When I was reporting my story on 38 Studios, one former staffer mentioned to me his surprise at the number of prototype models and toys being produced, even in the company’s early Massachusetts days. As for the swords and giant hammers and the like, 38 Studios was never particularly tight-fisted when it came to spending. And if you don’t believe me, you can talk to the folks who bought all the stainless steel appliances yesterday, or the custom engraved game table. The top buy of the day, though, went to former 38 Studios employee Rich Gallup:

Wow. I can’t believe they even made that trophy in the first place (and that nobody chucked it through a wall in the company’s final days). Gallup live-tweeted the event, and his account is wry and bittersweet.

For all the auctioning fun, though, yesterday did have a sad coda. Game maker Zynga announced that it was closing its Cambridge office—home to about 50 employees—and laying off 5 percent of its total workforce. Former 38 Studios CEO Jen MacLean tweeted that there were four 38 Studios refugees who’d been working at Zynga Boston, meaning that it was the second time in almost exactly five months that they’d been laid off and had their office closed. Good grief, what a year.