Curt Schilling tried several times to sell Sony Online Entertainment on 38 Studios’ MMO Project Copernicus, president John Smedley has revealed.
“I really wanted to play that game. The quality was undeniable. It was gorgeous. It had smart people working on it. It was just too expensive is all.”
In a series of tweets – some as part of a conversation, others undirected – Smedley revealed that Schilling pitched the game Sony Online Entertainment more than once, and although he appreciated the quality, the project was just too expensive for an online game.
He blamed Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chaffee for scuttling the project, and said 38 Studios is not to be blamed for Rhode Island Economic Council’s “unqualified” poor decision to back the loan.
“I had the good fortune of seeing the game. It looked great. If that idiot Governor Chafee hadn’t trash talked right at the time Curt was trying to get funding you would be playing the game now,” Smedley said.
“Curt is an honest guy with good intentions. Although public money should never have guaranteed a winner or loser. Curt’s only crime was believing in his own ability to will things to be better. He busted ass trying to get funding.
“Funny thing is even though he came to us many times for money and we didn’t do a deal, I really wanted to play that game.
“Dear people of Rhode Island. Look to your elected government for failing to protect you. That 38 studios deal just never should have been. Public funds shouldn’t be backing risky things like online games. If the fact that no other VCs were investing wasn’t enough of a clue then you damn well shouldn’t be surprised by failure.”
“Curt put every dime he had into it. Unqualified people at that Rhode Island economic council should have seen the fact that no one else would get in as a sign and they failed. That’s not Curt’s fault.”
Echoing comments from Schilling and other 38 Studios staff, Smedley expanded on his allegation that Chaffee pissed in the pot by scaring off potential investors at the last minute with pre-emptive public comments.
“The idea of suing someone when Chaffe’s own comments were what poisoned the well at the end is beyond the pale,” he said.
“All he had to do was give Curt another week and we wouldn’t be here today.”
Asked by fans why SOE doesn’t buy the IP and finished the game, Smedley said without 38 Studios there’s no point.
“Not that the IP isn’t awesome. It’s just not strong without the people making it,” he explained.
“At various times we looked at it. Always impressed. But the economics were too tough to make work for us. This is a business where risks are large. We had enough balls in the air. More risk was too much for us.
“I also felt that too much was spent, but the quality was undeniable. It was gorgeous. It had smart people working on it. It was just too expensive is all.”
Smedley ended the discussion by noting that Schilling poured his personal fortune into the project.
“Curt put every dime he had into it. That’s the part that people are missing. He put his own money where his mouth was,” he said.
“All [Chaffee] had to do was give Curt another week and we wouldn’t be here today.”
“But that’s ultimately what undid it. Unqualified people at that Rhode Island economic council should have seen the fact that no one else would get in as a sign and they failed. That’s not Curt’s fault.”
Rhode Island wooed 38 Studios to relocate to the state by signing off on a $75 million loan. Although Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning sold well, 38 Studios – which also encompassed Big Huge Games – collapsed financially in May 2012, leaving Rhode Island to honour the loan. There have been bitter words on both sides. Rhode Island is now suing Schilling, other 38 Studios staff, and various advisors and bands who recommended the investment.
The latest update in this drawn out saga is that Rhode Island is voting on whether to push for out of court settlements in order to reduce costs and expedite resolutions.