QQ Rhode Island Noobs: You Paid $75 Million for Failed Game Company

Mighty Curt Schilling has struck out.

The former Red Sox pitcher’s video game company, 38 Studios, laid off all its staff today, shutting down its Rhode Island and Maryland offices, Brian Crecente reports for Polygon.

The company’s failure may well leave Rhode Island taxpayers on the hook for the $75 million loan given to them by the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation to lure them to move there from Massachusetts, even though the company had yet to actually release a game at the time:

The news came as a surprise to nearly everyone involved, including the state of Rhode Island and Governor Lincoln Chafee who during an afternoon press conference said that as of this morning they hadn't heard a word about possible layoffs or a closure.

During the evening press conference Chafee attributed the sudden studio closure and financial plummet to their first game, Age of Amalur: Reckoning, which he said "failed."

"The game failed," he said. "The game failed. That was integral to the success of the company."

He told reporters that experts told them it would have had to sell 3 million copies to break even. Schilling has said that the game sold about 1.2 million copies in its first 90 days.

Chafee said that despite the company layoffs and shutdown, he’s hoping somehow to get it back on its feet (insert gamer joke about not bringing any healers to the party here):

If the 38 Studios remains closed, the state says it has the money to make the first year of payments on the loan from a reserve they set aside pulled out of the loan amount. But after that the state would then have to start making the payments to the bank.

'We do have some time," a state official told reporters during today's press conference. "There wouldn't be a debt service default within the year."

According to Crecente’s report, a number of officials at the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation have either resigned over the disaster or have asked not to be reappointed.

As we reported previously, the loan was not for the game that was actually released. It was for the building of a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) that will now likely never see the light of day. But they did release a video flyover of the world they were creating:

Pretty, but yeah, another fantasy RPG clone corpse (with no loot) littering the videogame landscape, this time paid for with the public's money.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    And Diablo III sold 3.5 million copies in the first 24 hours, 6.5 million copies in the first week. AND IT ROCKS.

    Rhode Island should have courted Blizzard instead. Just kidding; they shouldn't have courted anyone at all.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I never played Diablo. It's basically a DOOM ripoff, right?

  • Pro Libertate||

    You poor, soulless fool.

  • ||

    Don't be retarded, Hugh...I mean any more than usual, of course.

    It's a fantasy RPG but it's much more just KILL KILL KILL with only a minimal storyline. Very little talking, lots of killing. The loot drops are random (like Borderlands), so at any time you could get something awesome. The maps are mostly randomized, so if you want to play through again as a different class, it's at least somewhat different.

    It's just the kind of mindless violence I enjoy so much.

  • Hyperion||

    It is NOT an RPG. It is a hack and slash, it is not even an action RPG. Fallout 3, now there was an action RPG with LOTS more action than RPG, but... Diablo? Not an RPG.

  • Hyperion||

    It is NOT an RPG. It is a hack and slash, it is not even an action RPG. Fallout 3, now there was an action RPG with LOTS more action than RPG, but... Diablo? Not an RPG.

  • Hyperion||

    Yeah, double post...

  • ||

    It has classes, equipment choices, stats, leveling, skill trees and a story...

    If it walks like an RPG and quacks like an RPG it is an RPG.

  • robc||

    I never played 2 or 3, but the original was a clickfest, not an RPG.

  • ||

    RPGs can't be clickfests?

  • Amakudari||

    Defining RPG is an exercise in futility given how far they've moved from their pen-and-paper origins and how many traditional RPG elements are incorporated into other genres.

  • ||

    It's basically a DOOM ripoff, right?

    Pretty much...except terrible.

    Play Max Payne 3 instead.

  • Tman||

    You would think it's pretty stupid for a state to subsidize things like a failing solar panel manufacturer or maybe a farm or something, but to see a state such as Rhode Island -currently approaching Grecian levels of insolvency- hand over $75 million to a FARKING VIDEO GAME COMPANY THAT HADN'T SOLD A SINGLE DAMN GAME YET is at or near the height of government stupidity.

    I still dig Schilling though, bloody sock and whatnot.

  • Voros McCracken||

    I helped the Red Sox win a World Series too, can I get in on this $75 million loan action? I think I could do well for a while with that kind of nest egg and still make the payments on time...

  • Tman||

    You didn't pitch a giant game six with a a piece of a dead guys leg stitched to yours so you could play, so your help might be rated differently.

    But I don't blame a business for trying to get subsidy money. Someone is going to take it, why would you let your competitors swallow up free cash? The government shouldn't write these checks to begin with.

  • Voros McCracken||

    Okay I'll settle for a third $25 million. I'll have to budget a little, but I think I could squeak by...

  • Hyperion||

    And is still getting shit reviews.

  • ||

    And the reviewers are retards. Dioblo III is...a Diablo game. If you liked Diablo I and II, you will like Diablo III. If you want lots of story, don't buy Diablo.

    It's really very simple.

  • Hyperion||

    I didn't hate the first Diablo, Epi, but I didn't really like it either. And I still do not consider it an RPG, just a hack and slash, like Torchlight.

    I do want story, characters, and lots of action, like Fallout 3. IMHO, the most underrated real RPG of all time is 2 Worlds II. Now THAT is a game.

  • JeremyR||

    Fallout 3 (and Two Worlds) were just glorified FPSes

  • Hyperion||

    And so JeremyR, please enlighten us, what are the real RPGs?

    I mean... especially with 2 Worlds II, what are you talking about? The best weapons and magic upgrade system ever...

  • Voros McCracken||

    Well the first two Fallouts certainly were (and its spiritual predecessor from way back in my youth, Wasteland), but that was kind of in the ancient days...

  • gulo gulo||

    " what are the real RPGs?"

    I ask you the same.

    Diablo has everything an RPG has. I can't fathom how someone could think it isn't an RPG. Whatever standard you're using, it's not convention.

  • Voros McCracken||

    The argument goes that if your 85 year old grandfather is at a physical disadvantage when swinging a sword or shooting a gun or whatever in the game, than it's not an RPG. The idea being that the character on screen is representing you clicking a mouse or gamepad rather than the other way around. Some folks buy that line of argument, some don't.

  • Ska||

    It's a dungeon crawler. The focus of the game is killing mobs, and collecting and selling loot. It's central game mechanics are action oriented, not story oriented.

    RPGs focus on story and characters (i.e. roleplaying). FO3 is definitely an RPG - you create a character and you role play them. You select dialogue and interactions with NPCs. That's what makes an RPG. Even JRPGs are less RPG to me than FO3 (JRPGs predefine your character and your character's reactions; RPGs allow you to define your character).

  • gulo gulo||

    "If you liked Diablo I and II, you will like Diablo III. "

    Nah, I grew up.

  • R||

    Let me guess: You play fantasy football?

  • ||

    Current Metacritic rating 89/100, the fuck you on about?

    http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/diablo-iii

  • ||

    The users seem to hate it.

    4.1 out of 10.

  • ||

    Yeah, a bunch of fucksticks who gave it 0 because of the server issues at the beginning and the DRM. The former should have been expected and the latter was known months ago (don't like it don't buy it). Neither of which has anything to do with the quality of the game itself.

  • robc||

    A requirement to connect to a remote server to play single player mode is a quality issue.

  • Ska||

    If you take the user scores on metacritic seriously, it's time to rethink where you get reviews from.

    People that never even played the game will give it 0 because they don't like what the publisher had for breakfast the day the game was released.

  • ||

    hmm critics gave Kingdoms of Amalur an 81/100

  • ||

    It's supposed to be pretty good, haven't played it yet. It just came out at the time when people were still playing skyrim, waiting to play diablo III or both.

  • Amakudari||

    It seems like a good game, but it was released 3 months after Skyrim. Not only does Skyrim have a couple hundred hours of gameplay, but smart fans waited a bit for the patches to come out. It's unfortunate because I love expansive games like that, but the timing just didn't work.

  • ||

    And is still getting shit reviews.

    G4 gave it a 4.5 out of 5.

    There is a lot of pissed off people due to the internet/server problems though.

    Bare in mind that you have to be online to play in single player mode.

  • Sevo||

    "The news came as a surprise to nearly everyone involved, including the state of Rhode Island and Governor Lincoln Chafee who during an afternoon press conference said that as of this morning they hadn't heard a word about possible layoffs or a closure."

    Amusing on many levels....

  • Sudden||

    I had downloaded the demo for Reckoning and tried it out. It was decent, but I actually diliked the gameplay (although I did like the landscape animations). It had one major, and I mean MAJOR flaw: they released it months after Skyrim and months before Diablo. Those two established franchises were bound to crush it.

  • Sudden||

    Of course, had I known at the time it was taxpayer funded, I would've on principle refused to even try out the demo.

  • ||

    "The game failed."

    No Shit, but who could have seen it coming? Who?

    Wait, which game is he referring to? The video game or the gaming of the system?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Why Rhode Island thought it had the expertise to dabble in the gaming industry with taxpayer money, I don't know.

    But I know the biggest market failure in gaming history is the fact that they never made a sequel to Giants: Citizen Kabuto.

    Timmmmyyyy!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Sh_VuxYqBY

  • Hell's Librarian||

    Game companies are some of the most volatile entities around. Bearing that in mind, not sure why they were deemed worthy of a huge govt loan, especially with no track record. I am sorry to hear that the entire staffs of two companies were laid off. I know people at both 38 Studios and Big Huge Games.

  • JeremyR||

    This was just dumb on so many levels.

    Besides that government has no business doing this sort of thing in the first place, the video game market is pretty much boom or bust. When you have to sell 3 million copies to break even, the industry has problems. There's only room for huge games that sell a lot, or small, cheap low budget games. And this was never going to sell 3+ million

  • ||

    government has no business doing this sort of thing in the first place

    I wonder what public benefit they were hoping to achieve. What market failure is there in the video game market?

  • Xerxes||

    Vain dreams of starting a hot little gaming sector in Rhode Island, I'm sure.

    I imagine with large gaming companies each having "North / South / East / West" Divisions, they were probably hoping to atract a couple "Easts" ...

  • datedfuturamareference||

    I would have bet both my kidneys that Episiarch would be the first post in an off hours thread about video games.

  • ||

    the loan was not for the game that was actually released. It was for the building of a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) that will now likely never see the light of day.

    Wait.

    So where is the 75 million?

    Don't tell me it took 75 million to make that flyby.

  • Paul.||

    When you do $75 million in damage to the public coffer, the next obvious event is you aggro every taxpayer in the rhode island instance.

  • ||

    Anyone notice that the movie Act of Valor is a video game.

    There is even a boss fight at the end of it.

    In fact today I confused it with a video game. I kept wondering where and when i played it.

  • Ska||

    I'm 99% convinced that the title was concocted by an avid Call of Duty player.

  • Brutus||

    One thing I dig about Romney: He used private money on shit like this. What do a bunch of poli-sci, history and law grads know about venture capital? Fuck all, and it shows.

  • creech||

    Looks like this project was "shovel ready."

  • Mensan||

    Did anyone else see that picture, and think, 'Diabetics shouldn't be running around without shoes'? No? Just me?

  • Mike M.||

    Rhode Island, you just got Pwned!! All your base are belong to us, and uh, every other video game cliche you can think of.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    This has been all over the Boston sports radio station I listen to.

  • Tonio||

    Rhode Island has a population of about one million, so that's roughly $75 per person. That's a tangible amount of money for many people; this is a good PR oppo. Hope someone takes advantage of that.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement