Reckoning hit stores and digital distributors last month, and enjoyed strong reviews. The first downloadable content (DLC) pack, "The Legend of Dead Kel," is due on March 20. Schilling spoke with The Atlantic by phone from the 38 Studios office in Providence, R.I.
You've been working on this game for five years, and you push it out at long last. Do you think immediately, "On to the next thing"?
We're building a franchise. This is not a one-and-done. We just announced our first DLC for it [last week], which is huge...[it's] very unconventional from a size and scope perspective. You know, we launched a franchise; that's different than launching a game. Maintaining the awareness, especially in this day and age, is hard. You got Mass Effect 3 coming out in [a few] days, and we need to survive past the launch of Mass Effect 3. We need to continue getting eyeballs on the product, and we have the ability and the desire to patch it and make it a better experience. At the end of the day we're a studio full of gamers who want to make awesome games for gamers, as opposed to being a publicly held company. It's different, and I'm not belittling that, but it's very different in how you look at your players.
A lot of game studios start with a couple guys in a garage. You guys started with a bunch of capital and a bunch of big names.
The garage in this case was Teamspeak. The small group of people who were forming the company were my guildmates in Everquest who worked for Sony Online. We had been friends for a while and we'd been talking for a long time, and it came to the point where the conversation needed to end or I needed to do something about it. And I did something about it.
You took an unusual approach, where you guys built this big, lore-filled world and moved on from there to game design.
I don't want to sound arrogant, but we built from a place of success. We believed we were going to be hugely successful and awesome, and instead of starting small and [hoping for success], we've run the company as if we were. Everything we do is created and manipulated with the thought that this is the most important thing in the world, from an IP (intellectual property) perspective. So we're treating our IP as the Holy Grail from day one, instead of getting validation from other people. We knew two years ago that Reckoning was a phenomenally fun and exciting game.
You've been a gamer your whole life; you know what it's like to be totally immersed in a video game. Do you feel like the design of your company lends itself better to creating that attachment?
Oh, absolutely. We are never going to make games we don't want to play. That's a difference between privately owned and publicly owned. I have no interest right now in owning a publicly traded company. Wanting to create a multi-billion-dollar company is about [keeping] all your focus on things other than the money. In my mind, if we all do things to the best of our abilities, the money will happen. To me, Reckoning was proof-of-concept. We made Reckoning and we got the response we expected to get from Reckoning, but we're realists. We know what we did wrong; our first goal is not to sit around and say what we've done, but to figure out what we can do better next time.