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Review: Curt Schilling's Video Game Company Had Many Flaws Before Taking Rhode Island's $75 Million

The Rhode Island Superior Court dropped a whole mess of documents today regarding the agreement between the state and 38 Studios, Curt Schilling’s video game company that went bankrupt in 2012 after developing only one single-player game, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. There’s a lot to sift through, but one particular document shows a 2010 assessment of the second project, a massively multiplayer online game—known at the time as “Project Copernicus”—which laid out all the company’s strengths and flaws.

While 38 Studios was still in Massachusetts, the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation contracted IBM for an assessment to determine if the company would be a good investment for the $75 million loan. From Jan. 24 to Feb. 18 of 2010, IBM conducted 15 interviews with various employees working on “Project Copernicus,” with the help of 38 Studios project manager Scott Abate. The strengths include factors such as “excellent morale,” a “highly progressive work environment,” and “no pressure for premature release date from an external publisher.”


The observations regarding the studio’s talent were accurate. KoA:R, which was developed by 38 Studios, Big Huge Games, and published by Electronic Arts, was released in 2012 and received generally favorable reviews, with the PC version earning a score of 81 on Metacritic. The other departments of 38 Studios weren’t as competent, however.

The assessment team also listed the weaknesses under the euphemistic heading of “opportunities.” The summary noted a lack of harmony between different teams within the studio, “opaque financial communications,” “prioritization issues,” and a refusal to approach the company’s move to Rhode Island as a hindrance to the project. One notable red flag on the second page: “Major functional requirements are being deferred to non-existent organizations within 38 Studios.”


Correction (5:32 p.m.): The post originally referred to Project Copernicus as the eventually released game Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, when the two were actually separate projects. KoA:R was single-player, while Project Copernicus was a canceled massively multiplayer online role-playing game. The post has been corrected.


The full document, with IBM’s recommendations, can be found below.


Photo: AP

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