The DeLorean of game developers?

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30 Responses to “The DeLorean of game developers?”

  1. ObstacleMan says:

    Did you research this post or just slap a few links together?  
    http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/kingdoms-of-amalur-reckoning

    • Not the game RI paid them to make, according to the source you apparently did not bother to read: “their upcoming game, paid for by the loan, isn’t close to being ready”

      • Rob Hobson says:

        The previous game was released in February, as I recall. I realise they’ve got 300 employees, but how quickly do you want them to churn the product out?

        I’m also a little thrown by the sentence about the EDC “borrowing the $75m from private investors on behalf of 38 Studios”. I’ve no idea who the EDC are, or whether they’re a public body – you say it’s the state of Rhode Island in your article, but what you’ve linked to doesn’t seem to me to clarify that. I’m struggling a bit to understand why a government / public body would solicit investment for a private company and leave themselves liable to that private company’s defaults, failures, whatever.

        The bit that really does seem to stink is how much of his own money the former baseball chap put into the company. Not what he’d claimed, it seems.

        Anyway, no need to be a dick to your commentors, Mr Beschizza.

        Obviously Rhode, although “Rhose” sounds nicer.

        • Comments get the dick they deserve.

        • internetcontrarian says:

          Ah, the “Sure, I didn’t read the article, but you were mean and it hurt my feelings” argument. 

          • Rob Hobson says:

             Hmmm. I read, and rather enjoyed all the articles attached to Mr Beschizza’s post… none of which he summed up particularly well. I just thought that the original commentor, who made a fairly reasonable point, then got jumped on by the editor, who is presumably having a bad hair day.

            Still, kudos to your abilities to parse a sequence of three posts in a comments section.

        • Halloween_Jack says:

          I’m struggling a bit to understand why a government / public body would solicit investment for a private company and leave themselves liable to that private company’s defaults, failures, whatever.

          Because the politicians whose careers depend on jobs growth/recovery are so desperate for jobs to come to their states, or to keep companies from packing up and leaving, that they sign these incredibly bad deals that are just begging for sharp-eyed grifters to come to town to take advantage of them. Honestly, if this phenomenon is that new to you, this may not be the thread for you to participate in.

  2. VicqRuiz says:

    We get the same thing in our state too.   Some gladhander gets a massive tax break to “bring new jobs” that turn out bupkis.

    Meanwhile our company (in business here since the ’40′s) grows our market and adds twenty new jobs (with benefits, at $45K+ per year).  The reward?  We pay more in business taxes to subsidize the next vaporjobs promoter who comes along.

    • SomeGuyNamedMark says:

      The best part is how Curt Schilling has always positioned himself politically as a true conservative who hates government handouts.  He then turned around, took a handout and made sure to pay himself generously.  He even left Mass to take the deal with RI.

      I remember when Raytheon got a sweat tax deal with MA under the promise to create all these wonderful jobs.  The end result after a few years was that they were laying people off and moving some jobs out of state.  They got to keep the tax break though. 

      Lesson?  Treat all companies the same, don’t try to buy their love.

  3. Robert Drop says:

    Actually, although they haven’t yet finished their MMO, they did release a game, the generically titled “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.” The idea was to use some of the technology and art assets they had developed to build their brand with a single player game to start with.  The problem is, it has supposedly sold poorly enough that it didn’t even begin to recover its development costs, much less provide profits that they had planned to use towards finishing the MMO. 
    Rhode Island was foolish to invest so much in a game company – apparently no one told them the failure rate in the industry.  Starting a game company in an area with no game development just increased the cost of the business – they had to have paid handsomely to relocate their hundreds of employees (there’s no way a significant number of them were locals, and all those poor bastards are now going to have to leave the state to remain employed.)  Not to mention, AAA MMOs, especially a generic fantasy game going head to head with World of Warcraft and any number of free-to-play fantasy MMOs may not even be profitable these days.

  4. If I recall correctly 
    Kingdoms of Amalur was the finished good, as they decided that taking World of Warcraft head on would be suicide. 
    Kingdoms of Amalur is still fairly new, it might yet break even on it. I wouldn’t hold my breath, but 38 might have something up their sleeves.

  5. chrisdag says:

    There are many of us in MA cheerfully watching the collapse; in particular it’s amazing to hear the total silence from GOP apologists who used Curt’s relocation from MA to RI as a reason to shriek nonstop about how our Dem politicians and Governor are “destroying” businesses in Massachusetts.  Not a peep from them in the last 48 hours if you discount the armchair tea enthusiasts who mutter “Solyndra” and move on.

    Curt is an outspoken evangelical “Tea Enthusiast” who has railed against unions while earning millions and benefiting from the protection of the powerful MLB players union.

    He also aligned himself with politicians and candidates who railed against “handouts” and subsidies and then he tries to play MA against RI and relocates his company into the arms of the government willing to give him the largest handout. I guess it ain’t a handout if the recipient is a multimillionaire social conservative, huh?

    And finally, Curt was quoted saying that he had 20-30M of his “own money” wrapped up in the business but financial disclosures seem to indicate that he only put up 4M of his own money WHICH WAS PAID BACK AS THE FIRST STEP IN THE RI HANDOUT.

    So this monster hypocrite does not  even have his own money at risk anymore.

    The fact is, if your game company can’t get VC funded or capital from the usual market sources then something stinks. No government should have put up dollars to subsidize it.

    • ChicagoD says:

      I’m glad that someone pointed out that Curt “Bloody Sock” Schilling is the very wealthy owner of the studio.

    • @chrisdag:disqus This entire scheme was suspicious from the beginning and I’m glad it’s finally coming into the light. Rhode Island apparently only had $125 million for the entire job creation program– and they bet huge on this.  Latest reports are saying that this debacle may cost taxpayers $112M if they have to shut it down — and sadly, with very few jobs created.  The only Schadenfreude I have is that it couldn’t happen to a better tea partier– I hope RI can claw back the $4M.

      • Robert Drop says:

        Oh boy, that’s totally nuts.  For one thing, funding a game company wasn’t going to create any jobs – there’s no game industry there, and a company like that would only be hiring people with experience, i.e. bringing in employees from out of state. (And since there are no other companies, they’ll now all be leaving the state.)  Giving the majority of the funds to a single company was even crazier, as there’s a huge failure rate in the industry, which they should have known.

  6. Guess Schilling’s political aspirations are on hold for the nonce.

  7. internetcontrarian says:

    Personally, I’m just shocked that a massive Conservative Republican businessman was running a shady business. 

    • ChicagoD says:

      But but but . . . he was a pro athlete in the area. How could this have happened? He wore the local team’s colors and performed well. Doesn’t that mean he’s a good guy?

  8. govspy says:

     RI EDC is the Rhode Island Economic Development Counsel. From their website:

      ” RIEDC is a quasi-public organization funded primarily through an appropriation from the Rhode Island General Assembly. ”

    So this was public dollars.The  $75M was from private loans but the loan guarantee was given by the state, so now the residents are on the hook to pay back the loan.

    This smelled funny to many of us when it was signed. It wasn’t discussed publicly as I recall, It was a surprise. Only non-tech people seemed to be happy with it. These were not local jobs, and video games are hard to get right. That’s a bad investment.

  9. IronEdithKidd says:

    To be fair, at least DeLorean managed to assemble several thousand cars.

  10. Gatto says:

    This is a genius setup for the investors: a 6% to 7.75% rate of return, and almost zero risk. ( RI isn’t required to cover the loss if the studio cannot, but if it doesn’t it will hurt the state’s credit rating. ) With the capital gains tax rate so low, that means it’s only the everyday taxpayer at risk, money flowing straight from the 99% to the 1%. Hooray for trickle up economics!

  11. Halloween_Jack says:

    The more appropriate comparison may be to Lenny Dykstra, although that’s somewhat unfair to Dykstra, who at one point actually had a successful business (his chain of car washes) that he could point to. On the other hand, Dykstra is also guilty of defrauding a lot of people who used to work with or for him, whereas even though Schilling has put essentially the whole state of Rhode Island on the hook, he did so apparently completely legally; the EDC wrote a $75 million check to someone on the basis that he likes to play MMORPGs a lot, which is the sort of legal scam that I (and probably millions of others) would sure like to get a piece of.

  12. Zak Steltz says:

    For some background: 

    38 Studios (Originally Green Monster Games) was started in Massachusetts in 2006  in order to create an MMO now known by the code name Copernicus. The MMO has been in development since shortly after the studio’s creation. 

    In 2009 38 Studios purchased Big Huge Games, another developer, who was working on an unannounced single-player RPG. Once in the fold, this RPG was molded to fit into the universe already created for the MMO.

    In 2010 38 Studios secured the loan from RI and in 2011 they relocated from MA to RI. Part of the agreement for the loan was that 38 Studios would be bringing 450 jobs to RI by the end of 2012. Currently, 38 Studios employs approximately 370 employees. However, roughly 70 of those are under the Big Huge Games banner in MD, not RI.

  13. Mann42 says:

    Reckoning: Kingdoms of Amalur was actually developed by Big Huge Games, and was acquired in a semi-finished state when 38 Studios bought them. 38 Studios got Big Huge Games to re-skin their action-rpg into the Amalur setting as a prelude to their upcoming MMO (which they’ve been working on for at least 4 or 5 years now) and as a way to get some cash.

    Unfortunately, Reckoning didn’t sell enough to be considered a big seller, and their profit margin is probably low to non-existent on it. Unfortunately, making a AAA MMO is insanely expensive, and while I know there’s a talented team at 38 Studios, I just don’t see them ever publishing that game if they’re already 100m in debt with no investors or income.

    So yeah, 38 Studios itself has still never finished a game. The only game they’ve released was actually created by another studio (not in Rhode Island) that was bought near the game’s completion. 

  14. Mann42 says:

    Reckoning: Kingdoms of Amalur was actually developed by Big Huge Games, and was acquired in a semi-finished state when 38 Studios bought them. 38 Studios got Big Huge Games to re-skin their action-rpg into the Amalur setting as a prelude to their upcoming MMO (which they’ve been working on for at least 4 or 5 years now) and as a way to get some cash.

    Unfortunately, Reckoning didn’t sell enough to be considered a big seller, and their profit margin is probably low to non-existent on it. Unfortunately, making a AAA MMO is insanely expensive, and while I know there’s a talented team at 38 Studios, I just don’t see them ever publishing that game if they’re already 100m in debt with no investors or income.

    So yeah, 38 Studios itself has still never finished a game. The only game they’ve released was actually created by another studio (not in Rhode Island) that was bought near the game’s completion. 

  15. 38 Studios was working in apprenticeships with students from New England Institute of technology in Warwick. They have a game design and programming degree program.   Now if the studio goes under, no experience building in the North East for game design majors.  NEIT is one of a very few select schools that teach these skills.

    So if you really dislike Schilling because his politics annoy you, think of the ch… I mean, young adults.

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