Columnist: 38 Studios Loan a “High Stakes Gamble”

September 27, 2010 -

“What Government run/funded program in this country’s history has ever been run with an ounce of financial responsibility, prudence, or with the peoples (sic) best interest at the forefront? None, that’s which one.”

Those words were used by ex-Major League Baseball pitcher and current 38 Studios head Curt Schilling earlier this year, and are now being used against him in a searing indictment of the loan agreement between Schilling’s studio and the state of Rhode Island.

Rhode Island’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) lured 38 Studios to the Ocean State from Massachusetts with the promise of a $75 million loan, which was later paired to around $51 million. In a story entitled Curt Schilling’s Rhode Island Hoodwink, columnist Diane Grassi rips the entire deal.

Noting that Rhode Island’s unemployment rate is almost 12 percent, 4th highest in the U.S., Grassi writes that the original EDC program was to have a total budget of $50 million. When Schilling started to make noise about moving and asked Massachusetts for assistance or a loan to keep 38 Studios in Massachusetts, he also approached Rhode Island with a similar request.

Grassi writes:

Rhode Island, unlike its neighbor, Mass., apparently bought it hook line and sinker, because the program's original authorization was increased from $50 million to $125 million, with 60% of it specifically earmarked for Curt Schilling. Quite a feat for a non-resident with no prior allegiance to the state of Rhode Island, nor a commitment to personally move his home there to date, just his company.

If 38 Studios’ business did go south or it failed to live up to its end of the loan agreement, Grassi wonders how the company would be able to repay the loan:

… with intellectual property start-ups, unlike traditional manufacturing, where hard assets are used as collateral, there is little to liquidate with an IP venture. Its soft assets would include intellectual property, licenses, publishing contracts and software, but could be worth very little in the end.

She also estimated that 38 Studios would need to sell 1.75 million copies of its role-playing game Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning in order to break even, though “best estimates” predict that the title would sell in the area of 1 million.

In answer to Schilling’s quote that led off this story, Grazzi wrote:

For now going to one of the most cash-strapped states, not to mention the smallest state, with hand outstretched in search of government subsidized corporate welfare is apparently just fine.


Comments

Re: Columnist: 38 Studios Loan a “High Stakes Gamble”

While I do agree with his statement, one has to admit he stuck his foot in it.   Guess it really doesnt pay (pun maybe) to irk off the people controlling the money . 

 
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Mattsworknameof players, over and over for the last seveal years. Among non RPG games, which make up the vast majority of current games, I think that you still see a large scale disparity between male and female in the AAA industry.07/01/2015 - 1:36am
Mattsworknamewilson. Out of RPG players yes, thats true, and in pc ciricles im not suprised, but RPGS make a small fraction of Console games these days and while pc gaming is seeing a resurgance, MMOs are actually retracting in size , as shown by WOW losing millions07/01/2015 - 1:33am
Matthew Wilsonhere is the study to prove it. http://www.pcgamer.com/researchers-find-that-female-pc-gamers-outnumber-males/07/01/2015 - 1:17am
Matthew Wilson@matt wrong over half of rpg players, both singleplayer and mmos, are female.07/01/2015 - 1:15am
MechaCrashRight, women don't usually play AAA games because none are aimed at them because they don't play them because none are aimed at them because okay you see where I'm going with this.07/01/2015 - 1:11am
MattsworknameI think the better path is this, more games built to give you the Choice of playing as male or female, and give the females good voice actors07/01/2015 - 1:08am
Mattsworknameup more then a fraction of the AAA games industry, but they make up a much larger part of the moble market.07/01/2015 - 1:04am
Mattsworknameandrew is right, to a point, as you are seeing a slow increase of women in games, but the sales shows that the lions share of gaming money comes from a male demo, and while andrew is right that it is changing, it's gonna be a LONG time before women make07/01/2015 - 1:04am
Andrew EisenI think more professional gamblers should get into games publishing. They'll play the odds but they'll also take risks to maximize profits.06/30/2015 - 11:57pm
Andrew EisenAt the end of the day, the ball is rolling and it's rolling in the right direction. Maybe not as fast as we'd like, but it is moving. All we can do is play the games that interest us and make our thoughts known.06/30/2015 - 11:55pm
Matthew Wilsonits unfortunate that the dataset is so tiny for female leads, and is a mixed bag, so money people get the wrong idea.06/30/2015 - 11:54pm
Andrew Eisen"Duke Nukem Forever sold poorly. See? Games staring white guys don't sell!" Pretty silly thing to say.06/30/2015 - 11:50pm
Andrew EisenOr, at the very least, that gamers aren't turned off by female leads.06/30/2015 - 11:49pm
Matthew Wilsonyou would think games like metriod, portal and tomb raider would show that it work, but hopefuly those knew ones will.06/30/2015 - 11:47pm
Andrew EisenBut, luckily strides are being made and the money peoples are slowly learning that diversity -> larger targeted audience -> more potential dollars.06/30/2015 - 11:43pm
Andrew EisenSure does. That's why there should be more than just one or two attempts. (7 games at E3 with female leads and 35 with a gender option. I think it's safe to say that not all of these will fail!)06/30/2015 - 11:42pm
Matthew Wilsonthat puts alot of presure on the early stuff to do well. lets hope games like recode and harizon are good, and sell well.06/30/2015 - 11:38pm
Andrew EisenLuckily, money people also like to follow trends. So, it's a "simple" matter of making proper representation a trend. And wouldn't you know it, we're seeing the beginnings of exactly that!06/30/2015 - 11:34pm
Andrew EisenBut yeah, money people are risk averse. That's why we see so many sequels, reboots, and adaptations. To a lot of money people, "there's no evidence this works because it's rarely ever been tried" is the same as "this doesn't work."06/30/2015 - 11:33pm
Andrew EisenThat's why I think it's worth convincing the money peoples that proper representation (in any of its forms) isn't a financial risk, it's the path to expanding your audience and making even MORE money!06/30/2015 - 11:32pm
 

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