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May 18, 2012 8:00 AM   Subscribe

Curt Schilling, a former Major League Baseball pitcher, retired with an eye toward making games. His 38 Studios bought Big Huge Games, some big-name talent, and got started with Kingdoms of Amalur... with the help of a $75 million guaranteed loan from the state of Rhode Island (not without controversy). The game was good but not great and sales were likewise good but not great. Not great enough to cover the payments on a $75 million loan, anyway, not to mention payroll, and Rhode Island is likely on the hook.
posted by gilrain (169 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
posted by yerfatma at 8:03 AM on May 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Hawkish Republican hardliner takes government handout to pick up and move a business to another state, and then teeters close to default while not making payroll. AMERICA!
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:07 AM on May 18, 2012 [58 favorites]


A couple fun facts about this debacle:

1) The $75 million represents more than half of the money Rhode Island budgeted to stimulate job creation.

2) $75 million for the 288 jobs actually created works out to $260,000/job, which I've got to imagine is a terrible return even if the company hadn't collapsed.

It's honestly baffling to me that a state government decided to try its hand at half-assed venture capitalism, and not at all surprising that it ended in disaster.
posted by Copronymus at 8:09 AM on May 18, 2012 [21 favorites]


A right-wing Republican who famously is against "big government" and promotes self reliance is now begging Rhode Island officials for more assistance. How do you spell hypocrisy?
Curt Schilling a hypocrite about smaller government
"There’s a glaring hypocrisy in Curt Schilling’s failing video game venture, the one that Rhode Island state officials giddily backed to the tune of $75 million in loan guarantees, which seems to be a fancy financial term for taking $75 million in hard-earned taxpayer cash and tossing it in the Providence River."
posted by ericb at 8:09 AM on May 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


Can't describe it better than mcstayinskool, though I probably would've used a few expletives.
posted by inigo2 at 8:10 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


“There can be no question our country is in the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes. I also think there can be no question that it falls on us, the individuals, to find a way out of our own personal crisis.” - Curt Schilling
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:10 AM on May 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Curt Shilling also owns part of Multi-Man Publishing, the 4th or 5th biggest wargame publisher, including Advanced Squad Leader. No problems there!
posted by stbalbach at 8:10 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for doing this post! Tongues have been wagging here in the Boston area. RI kind of forgot that fame is fleeting, a big-name celebrity can't bring in the big bucks once the big-name isn't so big anymore. Especially when said big name rubs people the wrong way in many ways (being a conservative in a liberal part of the country is one example).

On preview: what everyone else said.
posted by Melismata at 8:12 AM on May 18, 2012


Curt Shilling also owns part of Multi-Man Publishing, the 4th or 5th biggest wargame publisher, including Advanced Squad Leader. No problems there!

Well, the meetings take weeks to finish, so they may be in horrible financial straits and just not know it yet. ;)
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:13 AM on May 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


And the pile of failed MMOs keeps getting bigger.
posted by the_artificer at 8:14 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


THIS MAN PLAYED [games] WITH A [workforce and the state of Rhode Island, ] BLOODY [hell, what an asshole. What he needs is a proverbial] SOCK [in the 'nads].
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:14 AM on May 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Oh, Curt!
A couple of lines from an old post on Schilling’s blog, 38 pitches, sums it up:

“If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.

“A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.”

Now Schilling is back with his hand out at a time when Rhode Island is dealing with double-digit unemployment and an economy so bad that many of its communities are in grave financial trouble. State officials are facing bigger problems than Schilling’s 38 Studios.

How does that square? Simple: It doesn’t.
posted by ericb at 8:15 AM on May 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


Trying to figure out how to spin this properly. He... used his own bootstraps to earn the money from the government of Rhode Island?

Now get your government out of my tax handouts!
posted by backseatpilot at 8:17 AM on May 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I can't think of a single fellow Rhode Islander who thought this would turn out any differently.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:17 AM on May 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


He's bettering his situation by asking for more money.
posted by the_artificer at 8:17 AM on May 18, 2012


game 6 2004 alcs man has carte blanche
posted by nathancaswell at 8:17 AM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


(At least, I can't think of any that I know personally ... )
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:17 AM on May 18, 2012


This is exactly the kind of thing most progressives, including folks here, would love to have state governments doing for manufacturing industries.
posted by downing street memo at 8:18 AM on May 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's honestly baffling to me that a state government decided to try its hand at half-assed venture capitalism, and not at all surprising that it ended in disaster.

Sycophants!

Thank god Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick passed on "the deal" to keep 38 Studios in state.
posted by ericb at 8:19 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there anyone out there defending him / explaining why this isn't hypocritical? (Or more to the point, I KNOW they're out there, and I'm curious how they rationalize it all.)
posted by inigo2 at 8:19 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder how much money he could raise auctioning off his kidneys?
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:19 AM on May 18, 2012


I wonder how much money he could raise auctioning off his kidneys?

He'd get more for his ankle ligaments.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:23 AM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Great Big Mulp: I can't think of a single fellow Rhode Islander who thought this would turn out any differently.

Nobody in gaming either, really. $75 million is an absurd amount to put into a brand new IP, even more absurd when a vague, future MMO based on that new IP is part of the proposition. I'm not sure you could come up with a riskier investment if you tried.
posted by gilrain at 8:23 AM on May 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


inigo2, this morning on the radio the Providence NPR station was asking some blunt questions about this very point. And no, there really isn't a way to reconcile these two attitudes without some serious cognitive dissonance. Also there's a new bill in the state legislature seeking to limit the Economic Development Authority to no more than $10 million in loan guarantees to "any one entity" (whatever "entity" means...).

For added sweetness, 38 Studios went into a GIANT office space in downcity that was left vacant when BlueCross BlueShield bolted some months before. There's a big metal pergola thing over the doorway where smokers aren't supposed to gather, and contractors spent *months* tearing out the old pergola thing and replacing it with...one that looks pretty much the same. (The new sod is nice, though.)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:25 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there anyone out there defending him / explaining why this isn't hypocritical?

I believe the approach will more along the lines of "liberals would have done the same thing" or "it would have been worse with liberals".

Mark my words.
posted by aramaic at 8:28 AM on May 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, RIPR reported that a 38 Studios employee had to stop by and pick up the latest loan repayment check in person before it could be deposited and, you know, bounce: http://www.theverge.com/2012/5/17/3027327/38-studios-hands-over-1-125m-payment-to-state-cant-pay-its-employees

You can hear the WRNI radio Friday morning "Political Roundtable" here where they talk to one of the only state leg. guys who opposed the original guarantee: http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wrni/news.newsmain/article/0/13/1930569/Top.Stories/Political.Roundtable.Big.Problems.at.38.Studios

*shakes head* Oh, Rhode Island.....
posted by wenestvedt at 8:30 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


obody in gaming either, really. $75 million is an absurd amount to put into a brand new IP, even more absurd when a vague, future MMO based on that new IP is part of the proposition. I'm not sure you could come up with a riskier investment if you tried.

This.

75mil for a game budget is in the realm of Mass Effect and Grand Theft Auto, the absolute top tier of video game development. For a brand new studio with no track record. And a brand new IP that no one has heard on. On a bland hack and slash RPG released on the eve of Diablo 3. Great games are made for a fraction of that.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:32 AM on May 18, 2012


My understanding is Kingdoms of Amalur came out in March and has sold over 300,000 copies at around $50 each is $16 million in revenue in the last few months.. but they can't make payroll of a few hundred thousand dollars, much less $1 million to Rhode Island? So where did that $16 million go? The only answer can be creditors who have a priority on the assets, meaning there is other debt involved here beyond the Rhode Island $75 million.. so the RI debt appears *not* senior, meaning whoever negotiated the deal was likely a bigger fool than Schilling, in how it was done.
posted by stbalbach at 8:33 AM on May 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


A right-wing Republican who famously is against "big government" and promotes self reliance is now begging Rhode Island officials for more assistance. How do you spell hypocrisy?

This is only hypocrisy if you consider what Rhode Island has to be government; it's really more like a badly run crime family that exists to funnel money to the better run crime families.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:35 AM on May 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


It can't possibly help that at first glance, it reads as "Kingdoms of Amateur."
posted by Shepherd at 8:36 AM on May 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


This is exactly the kind of thing most progressives, including folks here, would love to have state governments doing for manufacturing industries.

Betting half of the state's stimulus budget on a single startup in an industry with a high failure rate and little in the way of salable assets in bankruptcy? That's not a progressive position, that's just a stupid position.

Consider, for example, support for GM. GM was not a startup, existed in an industry with a relatively low failure rate (at least compared to the videogame industry), and had a ton of salable assets in case liquidation became the only option. GM was also big enough that, even if it was destined to fail, it was probably worth spending money to ensure that it was a slow, controlled failure rather than an abrupt bankruptcy and liquidation.
posted by jedicus at 8:36 AM on May 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


Schilling is lucky that he has every taxpayer in Rhode Island as a designated debtor.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 8:37 AM on May 18, 2012


$75 million was used to create 450 jobs? That's over $160,000 per job. How much were these alleged jobs supposed to pay that the loan would possibly be worth it?

On the bright side, this makes me feel (comparatively) proud to be a Massachusetts resident. When Schilling needed a 75 million dollar loan, we told him exactly where to go look. (And I don't mean "Rhode Island.")
posted by wolfdreams01 at 8:37 AM on May 18, 2012


Gotta love these tidbits:
[Schilling] had massive ambitions. The company promised each of its original 37 employees a bonus of $1 million if 38 Studios reached $1 billion in value, a huge stretch for a start-up. By comparison, Warner Bros. agreed to pay as much as $160 million for Turbine Inc., one of the Boston area’s largest established video game companies.

... Schilling had originally hoped to launch the game’s first product in 2010. But he immediately hit trouble raising money. He shocked venture capitalists with an audacious pitch for $48 million - far more than gaming companies typically receive in an initial round of funding. In addition, Schilling was reportedly reluctant to give up much stock in exchange for funding. Flybridge Capital Partners and several other Boston area firms passed on 38 Studios.

“More than one VC who has met Schilling has come away with the impression that an investment would require quite a bit of ‘babysitting,’ ’’ noted a trade publication, Private Equity Week, at the time.
posted by ericb at 8:38 AM on May 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


I believe the approach will more along the lines of "liberals would have done the same thing" or "it would have been worse with liberals".

The Germans are usually blamed for the Greek situation. The lender put the lendee in a bad situation they should have never been in, predatory lending. You can look at it two ways.
posted by stbalbach at 8:38 AM on May 18, 2012


So the rumor going around here in RI tech circles is that 38 Studios essentially had set up a deal to somehow purchase film tax credits from *someone* (I heard BCBS of RI) valued at around 4.5 million. Except the deal couldn't go through if 38 Studios was in default.

The plan was then for 38 Studios to deliver a 1.125 million dollar check to the RI EDC, which they wouldn't have had the funds to cover at the time, get their loan taken out of default status, and then turn around and accept 4.5 million in film tax credits. But the EDC threw a wrench in their plan when they returned the check.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 8:43 AM on May 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


During the single player online pass free day one DLC for original buyers debacle I posted on their forums that they had lost my $60 and to enjoy the $10 they got from some sucker's online pass.

Guess they really did need my $60. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Right, Curt?
posted by Talez at 8:44 AM on May 18, 2012


Rhode Island is a center for insurance and banking and small manufacturing automation, and has some really innovative financial transaction services and managed information services (Carousel and Secureworks come immediately to mind.) G-Tech is an immense provider of lottery and casino information technology. RI has the embryonic beginnings of a very powerful tech sector, focusing on financial and security IT services with a lot of tech and management talent in that field already at hand.

So, naturally, the goon the former GOP governor appointed all but shits himself to blow a hundred million the state doesn't have on a video game company, simply because it's owned by a popular baseball player.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:46 AM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Moreover, in the increasingly likely event that Schilling and co can’t muster the necessary funds, Rhode Island will actually assume ownership of their IPs, as 38 used them as collateral when it originally secured the loan.

I see a good outcome here! Rhode Island will, from this series of missteps, end up as the first state in the union to own its own official fantasy roleplaying canon.

The MMO goes forward after all, funded by state taxes as a compulsory one-account-per-citizen with a sliding-scale discount on subscriptions managed as tax credits. The branding gets tweaked a bit; "Kingdoms of Amalur" is renamed "Kingdoms of Rhodilan", Dalentarth becomes Warwickle, Erathel becomes Provedentia, Alabastra becomes Pawtuckastra and so forth; the in-game currency is changed from gold to Schillings.

Other states soon follow; Nebraska launches a Farmville-esque game in which everybody grows corn, Delaware starts up a financial sim where bitcoin finally finds its feet as a currency, Oregon hires up Armisen and Brown to create a co-op comedy platformer based on Portlandia, etc. State MMOs replace state flags; real life sports teams are first supplemented by, then supplanted by, state-regulated sport sims in which enthusiastic citizens compete in massive quarterly intra-state pennant races and national (and even non-ironically-named World) serieses.
posted by cortex at 8:46 AM on May 18, 2012 [62 favorites]


On a bland hack and slash RPG released on the eve of Diablo 3...

As I understand it, Kingdoms of Amular isn't the big project on which 38 Studios was betting Rhode Island's farm. That project, the MMO, is what they've been working on since day one. KoA was the result of the purchase of Big Huge, and was to provide income and IP to complete the MMO. Or something like that, it's all a bit confusing.
posted by schoolgirl report at 8:47 AM on May 18, 2012


Professional athletes. Always wanting more.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:48 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


$75 million was used to create 450 jobs? That's over $160,000 per job.

Only 288 of those jobs are actually in Rhode Island. The rest are at Big Huge Games, which already existed and is in Maryland, so the price per job actually created in Rhode Island is even worse.
posted by Copronymus at 8:49 AM on May 18, 2012


The branding gets tweaked a bit; "Kingdoms of Amalur" is renamed "Kingdoms of Rhodilan", Dalentarth becomes Warwickle, Erathel becomes Provedentia, Alabastra becomes Pawtuckastra and so forth; the in-game currency is changed from gold to Schillings.

Rhode Island without Cranston? That's the escapism of fantasy games for you.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:50 AM on May 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


> game 6 2004 alcs man has carte blanche

No, he has a ring. A nice ring that he should enjoy in good health.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:50 AM on May 18, 2012


Rhode Island without Cranston? That's the escapism of fantasy games for you.

DLC.
posted by cortex at 8:52 AM on May 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


My understanding is Kingdoms of Amalur came out in March and has sold over 300,000 copies at around $50 each is $16 million in revenue in the last few months.. but they can't make payroll of a few hundred thousand dollars, much less $1 million to Rhode Island? So where did that $16 million go? The only answer can be creditors who have a priority on the assets, meaning there is other debt involved here beyond the Rhode Island $75 million.. so the RI debt appears *not* senior, meaning whoever negotiated the deal was likely a bigger fool than Schilling, in how it was done.

I would assume a good chunk of that revenue goes to retailers and the publisher (EA).

Still doesn't excuse anything, of course. They should have known KoA would be a medium seller at best. This is a fuck-up of the highest order. I wonder if Rich Gallup will ever do a tell-all on the Bombcast or something.
posted by kmz at 8:54 AM on May 18, 2012


Hey, cortex, can I stake a proactive claim to be named the Bleak Knight of Diamond Hill (in the crowded flats of Cumberlandoon)?

That'd be pretty sweet when I sign their sheet at the podium for public comment time during the next School Committee meeting. Hook me up, and I will let you know when the video stream is online of the chairman trying to keep a straight face while calling my name.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:54 AM on May 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Is Big Huge Games going to continue on? Because I thought Rise of Nations was fantastic and I'd love to see something else like that come out of them.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:54 AM on May 18, 2012


You still require 1 cabinet, 5 coffee milks, and 3 stuffies to complete this mission.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:56 AM on May 18, 2012 [13 favorites]


Honestly, if you wanted to rebrand the state, two years ago when everything in Warwick & Cranston were flooded hulks would have been the perfect time to slip this through.

FEMA money was everywhere, and people would stop at whatever Red Cross box truck they saw to grab free water & clean-up kits. You could have snuck in with new signs and everyone would have awoken to find they now lived in a feudal state. A feudal state with an online game tie-in, I mean.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:56 AM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey, cortex, can I stake a proactive claim to be named the Bleak Knight of Diamond Hill (in the crowded flats of Cumberlandoon)?


I get to be Lord of Tivertonia, Warden of the East(bay)!
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:57 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Slap, can I still bring my kids down to Fog Pond Beach to collect shells and stuff? Under flag of parley and all that? They really like Gray's Ice Cream.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:00 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


backseatpilot: "Is Big Huge Games going to continue on? Because I thought Rise of Nations was fantastic and I'd love to see something else like that come out of them."

Don't know but Brian Reynolds is long gone and is designing crap for Zynga now.
posted by octothorpe at 9:03 AM on May 18, 2012


You need to be careful down there in Rhode Island. I wouldn't put it bast Curt Schilling to just hold the entire state for ransom. It's happened before.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 9:09 AM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a native Slatersvillnian, if a rebranding of the game would allow me to wage war on Woonsocketonia and send the corpses of its wretched inhabitants floating down the Blackstonium toward Providentia, I would gladly contribute a small sum to Rhode Island's coffers to play.
posted by otters walk among us at 9:11 AM on May 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Your quest is to retrieve the cakes of silvercorn from Kenyon Gristheart, beyond the battlements of Usquepaugh, on the river Queen.
posted by helicomatic at 9:12 AM on May 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thank god Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick passed on "the deal" to keep 38 Studios in state.

Guise, every single VC he approached in Boston and New York passed on "the deal." They thought him insane and wholly unprepared to take on the risk od their clients' money.

Rhode Island needed something big and they needed it fast. Schilling was probably the only answer at the time. That's depressing.
posted by jsavimbi at 9:14 AM on May 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Boston Globe's coverage of this over the past few days has been positively gleeful. Anyone know what, if anything, the Herald has been saying about it?
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:15 AM on May 18, 2012


Geeze, Otter, I don't want those things stuck on the dam in Manville. It's bad enough the way trees hang up after big storms.

Can't you just send them through the dam chutes and make it look like a "boating accident"?
posted by wenestvedt at 9:15 AM on May 18, 2012


Well, considering that he use to work for an industry (pro-sports) notorious for essentially screwing local and State governments for massive amounts of money on projects that many smart people feel don't make much financial sense (stadiums), it's no wonder he felt he could take his entitled rich boy ass and shop around for more public money to piss away. I give you even odd he manages to do it again some point in the future.

The beast known as a fiscal conservative is a near mythological creature, people involved in government (being in, or receiving money from) are not fiscal conservative, they just have different priories they want to spend money on, and hide behind such false names to justify their actions.
posted by edgeways at 9:24 AM on May 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


A few summers ago, it was insanely hot in New England. On a day that hit 104 degrees in Boston, the staff at Fenway confiscated bottles of water that fans tried to carry into the park (where they were on sale for $4 each, IIRC).

When someone explained DLC to Schilling, I bet his eyes lit up and he nodded: he knew exactly what they were talking about.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:29 AM on May 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Is there anyone out there defending him / explaining why this isn't hypocritical?

I don't think Schilling is being hypocritical. He's like a perverted real-life Ron Swanson. If you don't like the government, you should hasten its demise by taking its money and squandering it. Taxpayers will revolt and refuse to pay additional taxes.
posted by mullacc at 9:41 AM on May 18, 2012


A couple of lines from an old post on Schilling’s blog, 38 pitches, sums it up:

“If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.

“A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.”
"I think... I think... I think... I think I'll get the government to take care of me!"
posted by Flunkie at 9:48 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think Schilling is being hypocritical.

Sure, he is. Read those quotes again:

"...it falls on us, the individuals, to find a way out of our own personal crisis."

"If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation."

And he went and did the opposite. That's hypocrisy.
posted by Edison Carter at 9:49 AM on May 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Schilling is an asshole. It's a known fact.

Shame about this though- I found the game cheap (and new, suck it EA) and have actually enjoyed it. Is it comparable to Mass Effect/Dragon Age (1) or the Fallout/Elder Scrolls games? Hell no. But it's a good second tier open world semi-sandbox game that could have spawned a couple of interesting sequels. I kind of hope that RI ends up licensing out the IP for something interesting.

I almost feel bad about buying the game, as two of the people behind it are assholes (McFarlan also counts, although he's not as bad as Schilling). But hell with it, they were getting money anyway, and if my $35 helps keep Buddy Cianci in a comfortable cell next time he goes to jail, I can live wit that.

Finding out Brian Reynolds works for Zynga made me feel dirty, but I guess his kids have the bad habit of eating or something.
posted by Hactar at 9:59 AM on May 18, 2012


I used to be an adventurer like you, but then I took a New York system weiner to the knee.
posted by chinston at 10:02 AM on May 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


chinston, I would be very excited to hear your bard play the rest of that particular epic poem.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:05 AM on May 18, 2012


(As long as it's not just some lame video game filk.)
posted by wenestvedt at 10:06 AM on May 18, 2012


Whoa - I don't know if this is an "update" since the time of this Metafilter post, but it's definitely an update since the time that I first read about all of this:

They just sent a $1.125 million check to the state to cover the payment that they missed earlier this month. But they don't have enough funds to actually cover the check.

Curt Schilling: Deadbeat.
posted by Flunkie at 10:06 AM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Huh. I was just thinking about buying this game. I don't think I will, now. Sorry, Rhode Island.
posted by gurple at 10:07 AM on May 18, 2012


the Herald

The Boston Herald stopped reporting some time ago. Unless it's a local item where their opinion columnists can test market their favorite race-baiting slogans, they just have the newswire pipe the story feed right into the website verbatim.

A good test to see how the story i splaying out is to measure the vitriol in the comments. In the Schilling Case, it's at a low. Nobody on that side of the fence wants to believe that their idols are just as stupid, or even stupider as they are themselves nor do they want to expose their ignorance of basic finance.

All the crowing is being done over at the Globe where they're taking turns bashing Schilling in the newsroom. With much glee.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:09 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the bright side, this makes me feel (comparatively) proud to be a Massachusetts resident. When Schilling needed a 75 million dollar loan, we told him exactly where to go look. (And I don't mean "Rhode Island.")

Mostly we just use the terms interchangeably.
posted by Mayor West at 10:16 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think the issue is Schilling. He was rich idiot dabbling in an industry he knew nothing about, those are a dime a dozen.

The State EDC, and the Republican Governor at the time, and the state legislature, completely and totally missed that they were about to shovel a lot of money they didn't have into a bottomless pit. It's misrule of such shocking proportion, and under the watch of a "fiscally conservative" administration.

Can we have Bruce Sundlin back already? Maybe clone him or something? Barring that, could the dems find someone who isn't a rabid social conservative or obvious mobster to run under their ticket?
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:16 AM on May 18, 2012


All the crowing is being done over at the Globe where they're taking turns bashing Schilling in the newsroom. With much glee.

Guise, every single VC he approached in Boston and New York passed on "the deal." They thought him insane and wholly unprepared to take on the risk od their clients' money.


Back when RI first wooed him away, the Massachusetts media was all "Wait a minute! Puny RI is taking away our beloved man who bled on his sock for us?! Shame on Patrick for letting him and his tax revenue get away! Those poor folks from Mass., now they won't have jobs!" Etc. If there were any print or radio stories saying "yeah, it's a bad deal, good luck to RI," I don't remember them (perhaps they do exist). Funny how hindsight is 20/20.
posted by Melismata at 10:38 AM on May 18, 2012


Here is today's very brief Herald story on the affair.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:38 AM on May 18, 2012


According to my source on the Twitter phone, all $49M disbursed so far to 38 Studios has been spent.

They tried selling tax credits to BC/BS of RI this week as well but failed there. Expect the furniture to be up for auction if in fact they own any of it.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:41 AM on May 18, 2012


Ah, maybe great deals on Aeron chairs, just like when the Dotcom Bubble bursted.
posted by ericb at 10:43 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The branding gets tweaked a bit; "Kingdoms of Amalur" is renamed "Kingdoms of Rhodilan", Dalentarth becomes Warwickle, Erathel becomes Provedentia, Alabastra becomes Pawtuckastra and so forth; the in-game currency is changed from gold to Schillings.

Cortex, Cortex, if a fantasy author can't do something with Sir Westerly and the Knights of Exeter fighting against the army of the Goblin King Apponaug, I don't know what to say. Hell, they could even go for the Star Wars cross-over with the villainous Quonset the Hutt....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:47 AM on May 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Schillingfreude
posted by jeremias at 10:48 AM on May 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


I can't say much as 38 Studios missing payroll affects a family member, but unsurprisingly there are a number of Metafilter members for whom this may be very bad news. I'm sure they can't respond yet, but we may hear more from them at some point in the future.
posted by postel's law at 10:50 AM on May 18, 2012


Ah, maybe great deals on Aeron chairs, just like when the Dotcom Bubble bursted.

Only 288 of them, so they'll go fast.
posted by achrise at 10:58 AM on May 18, 2012


postel's law: "I can't say much as 38 Studios missing payroll affects a family member, but unsurprisingly there are a number of Metafilter members for whom this may be very bad news."

As amusing as it has been to see Schilling's conservativism bite him in the ass, I do keep thinking about the dozens of folks who are really going to get screwed over this. I've been in the position of racing my coworkers to the bank so that my check doesn't bounce, and it sucks. It doesn't seem like a great time to be a game developer looking for work, either. Good luck getting out while the getting is good, to anyone here who works at 38 Studios.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:00 AM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


postel's law: I can't say much as 38 Studios missing payroll affects a family member, but unsurprisingly there are a number of Metafilter members for whom this may be very bad news. I'm sure they can't respond yet, but we may hear more from them at some point in the future.

That's very sad to hear. Even sadder is that the game was really quite decent, from the reports I've heard, and it sold fairly well, too. Any other studio would be celebrating, if not quite raucously. The employees deserved a moment of pride... and instead they must be wondering if they'll even get a last paycheck.

I wonder if we'll learn where all the money went. Most studios would have spent $5 to $10 million on this game.
posted by gilrain at 11:00 AM on May 18, 2012




Actually, I'm thinking of PC-only development, which is sort of my genre. Multiplatform is more, but still not $50 million for anything other than major, established IPs:
The average development budget for a multiplatform next-gen video game is currently around $18-$28 million, according to new data. A study by entertainment analyst group M2 Research also puts development costs for single-platform projects at an averge of $10 million. The figures themselves may not be too surprising, with high-profile games often breaking the $40 million barrier (think Modern Warfare 2, Gran Turismo 5, Mass Effect 2, Final Fantasy XIII, etc.).
posted by gilrain at 11:07 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Back when RI first wooed him away, the Massachusetts media was all "Wait a minute! Puny RI is taking away our beloved man who bled on his sock for us?! Shame on Patrick for letting him and his tax revenue get away! Those poor folks from Mass., now they won't have jobs!" Etc.

There was a lot of talk about how ridiculous the deal was at the time, as I remember it. People were a bit indignant that someone would ditch Greater Boston for Greater Providence, but nothing I read and no one I knew thought that Massachusetts should approach matching the RI deal. Everyone was shocked about how wasteful that offer was.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:08 AM on May 18, 2012


Privatize the gain, socialize the risk. Rinse, repeat. This would be aggravating in any situation but for the public and private sectors to join together in screwing over a state with 11% unemployment, broken roads, broken schools, one bankrupt city and more on the way is beyond the pale.
posted by moammargaret at 11:11 AM on May 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


Kingdoms of Amalur was indeed a good game and fateweaving was a neat way of letting you switch to a completely different type of character at will with only a minor gold penalty. If any of you were affected by this at least know you done good, I wish you the best.
posted by Blue Meanie at 11:14 AM on May 18, 2012


Huh. I was just thinking about buying this game. I don't think I will, now. Sorry, Rhode Island.

Quite the opposite here. I hadn't intended to buy it, but now that's Schilling's out of the picture, I think I will.
posted by Amanojaku at 11:17 AM on May 18, 2012


So was "Kingdoms of Amalur" developed solely by Big Huge Games and bought out by 38 Studios or did they have have a hand in it? Has anyone seen anything from Project Copernicus? They supposedly started working on it around 2007ish there must be some progress.
posted by the_artificer at 11:21 AM on May 18, 2012


It's not over yet. Apparently the 1.125 million dollar check has been cashed, paving the way for 14 million dollars worth of film tax credits, which they're apparently looking to sell to raise VC.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:27 AM on May 18, 2012


the_artificer: So was "Kingdoms of Amalur" developed solely by Big Huge Games and bought out by 38 Studios or did they have have a hand in it?

I believe Kingdoms of Amalur was conceived by 38 Studios, and Big Huge Games was bought out as a sort of ready-made development team to make it reality.
posted by gilrain at 11:27 AM on May 18, 2012


So was "Kingdoms of Amalur" developed solely by Big Huge Games and bought out by 38 Studios or did they have have a hand in it?

Kingdoms of Amalur was developed out of Baltimore, not RI. They had an existing RPG project on-going when they were bought, and re-tooled it for Amalur.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:28 AM on May 18, 2012


This would be aggravating in any situation but for the public and private sectors to join together in screwing over a state with 11% unemployment, broken roads, broken schools, one bankrupt city and more on the way is beyond the pale.

And the fact that it was done for a multi-millionaire tea partier takes it up yet another couple notches for me.
posted by inigo2 at 11:29 AM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fidel Cashflow: It's not over yet. Apparently the 1.125 million dollar check has been cashed, paving the way for 14 million dollars worth of film tax credits, which they're apparently looking to sell to raise VC.

Hmm... earlier today they admitted themselves the check would bounce if cashed. I wonder if someone injected some cash out of their own pocket. In any case, I don't think they're out of the woods. From that same article:
Rhode Island officials believe that the total of the $49 million loaned to 38 has been spent. [Governer Lincoln] Chafee said that until late April, meetings with 38 suggested that they would make their May payment. "I want to make sure we're doing everything possible to make sure 38 doesn't fail," Chafee said. "We're in deep." Everything possible except giving them more money."There's not going to be any money from the state. They're not coming here for easy money."

According to Chafee, "Basically, the access to private capital hasn't materialized."

38 Studios' next payment is a debt service payment due November 1 of $2.6 million, and Rhode Island officials believe the studio will have the capital to cover it.

38 Studios will then owe $12.6 million in full annual debt service in 2013, and "that's on their dime," officials said.
posted by gilrain at 11:30 AM on May 18, 2012


This wouldn't have happened under 'an obvious mobster'. Just sayin'.
posted by newdaddy at 11:31 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


multi-millionaire tea partier

I don't think he's either one of those things at the moment.
posted by moammargaret at 11:36 AM on May 18, 2012


Man, I have been exceedingly dubious about 38 Studios since it was first announced, but I hope they pull something out. I have some very good friends who are depending on that payroll.

Seriously, folks, making an MMO is hard. And expensive. Noobs who scrape up venture capital and flail in the direction of making one do not succeed any more. (Even huge, well-funded projects tend to underperform.) I thought the purchase of Big Huge was an interesting attempt at a stopgap, but clearly it was not enough of one. (And I have friends at Big Huge, too, that I feel kinda bad for.)
posted by restless_nomad at 11:39 AM on May 18, 2012


I can't think of a single fellow Rhode Islander who thought this would turn out any differently.

I lived literally across the street from where the offices of this company reside and when they were doing the building overhaul (which was a big deal and took months) I thought continually "Right... and this is going to work?"

Yeah.

My husband considered applying for a job there and staying in PVD rather than moving on to find better work in his field (computer science/engineering - something something integrated systems? No idea. It involves computers and seems fancy.) and it definitely looks like (as much as I sincerely miss Little Rhody, and man, never thought I'd say THAT) we made the right call.
posted by sonika at 11:46 AM on May 18, 2012


Speaking of "film tax credits," I haven't seen the fleet of silver Haddad trailers (make-up, catering, etc.) clogging up downtown in a long, long time. I think the heady days for Providence film-making of the mid-2000s are over now. :7(
posted by wenestvedt at 11:47 AM on May 18, 2012


I knew there had to be an evil behind the Red Sox winning a World Series. I knew there was some of end-of-level boss monster ready to burst out and attack.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:49 AM on May 18, 2012


I think the heady days for Providence film-making of the mid-2000s are over now.

No more Brotherhood...
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:49 AM on May 18, 2012


RI Promises More Aid To Schilling's Company
Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee announced Friday that the state will allocate millions of dollars in credits to help Curt Schilling's ailing video game company, 38 Studios, after the company made good on its overdue $1.1 million loan payment.

Schilling's company had delivered the loan payment check Thursday, but it was returned later in the day for insufficient funds. Chafee said the check was then cashed on Friday.

Meanwhile, Schilling took to Facebook on Friday to deny that he used Rhode Island funds to repay himself for money he used to support the company.

"That's not true," said Schilling, who has refused media requests to discuss his floundering company.

Thursday night, Schilling wrote a note of thanks to his backers.

"To all the prayers and well wishes to the team and families at 38, God Bless and thank you! We will find a way, and the strength, to endure."
posted by ericb at 11:53 AM on May 18, 2012


RI has the embryonic beginnings of a very powerful tech sector, focusing on financial and security IT services with a lot of tech and management talent in that field already at hand.

My husband's experiences job-hunting for something that would keep us in PVD (in order to keep me happy as I sorely did not want to move and sorely wish we could move back and again, really? I'm saying this?) do not square with this one bit. In order to get a job in exactly the fields you mention, he pretty much has to move back to Boston. Strike that, not "pretty much." He DOES have to move back to Boston.

(Which means I have to move back to Boston and I loathe Boston so very, very much. Loathe. With the very core of my being. GIVE ME COFFEE MILK OR GIVE ME... WELL, MAYBE NOT DEATH.)
posted by sonika at 11:55 AM on May 18, 2012


So the rumor going around here in RI tech circles is that 38 Studios essentially had set up a deal to somehow purchase film tax credits from *someone* (I heard BCBS of RI) valued at around 4.5 million. ... They tried selling tax credits to BC/BS of RI this week as well but failed there.

Blue Cross refuses 38 Studios offer to buy R.I. tax credits.
posted by ericb at 11:56 AM on May 18, 2012


My husband's experiences job-hunting for something that would keep us in PVD (in order to keep me happy as I sorely did not want to move and sorely wish we could move back and again, really? I'm saying this?) do not square with this one bit.

I spent two years trying move from a very established, cushy but poorly managed high tech job down in Newport to *something* in the tech industry in Providence. I had the luxury of being able to pick and choose what I wanted to do, but in the end, I had to take a job in Foxborough because of the lack of Rhode Island options. The problem is there is essentially no high tech industry in Providence, or really anywhere in northern RI.

There are the following companies - GTech, Secureworks, Simula, APC (down south), various defense contractors (Aquidnick Island) and a handful of poorly financed startups. And 38 Studios. That's about it.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 12:25 PM on May 18, 2012


The problem is there is essentially no high tech industry in Providence, or really anywhere in northern RI.

Yeah, this is the situation as I understand it. And it sucks.

I mean, it sucks for me personally that our only option for staying in PVD would be a daily commute to Boston for my husband (which, given the *ahem* reliability of the MBTA commuter rail would mean pretty much never seeing him) but mostly it sucks for RI that the only option for people with skills in that arena is "Sucks to be you. Have you considered moving to Boston?"
posted by sonika at 12:31 PM on May 18, 2012


I just walked past the offices, and there's no obvious chaos: no lines of drones toting out workstations, or broken out windows with guttering smoke, or anything like that. Just one dude in a Max Payne t-shirt, having a smoke ten feet past the property line.

But there is a big, black SUV -- tinted windows, natch -- carrying Mass. plates parked exactly in front of the main doors, with a driver in a suit lounging at the curb. A cute photographer in a purple hat just got chased off by building security as I walked past. So, is Curt in town for a meeting? Hmmmm.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:33 PM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Looks like Rhode Island struck out on a Shilling curve ball.
posted by incandissonance at 12:40 PM on May 18, 2012


Nah, that was a sinker.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:44 PM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


sonika, I was surprised by how much tech there is in PVD right now, but not for game developers. Heck, I work in a small college and we're currently hiring at least half a dozen IT people! I know that Dell bought SecureWorks and left them here in town, and there's a heap of consultants and such around. It's kind of a chicken-and-egg problem, though: we are having trouble finding experienced people.

(And if you're really pining for coffee milk, MeMail me and I will send you some. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 12:44 PM on May 18, 2012


It's kind of a chicken-and-egg problem, though: we are having trouble finding experienced people.

Yeah, and from what I understand, the jobs that do exist aren't commensurate with the specific skill set (whatever THAT is, I honestly have no idea what he does) my husband has. Embedded systems? Integrated whatnots? Stuff with a soldering iron and arduinos and a lot of jibber jabber?

I'm actually not far from RI - I'm in Western, MA at the moment and can stock up on Autocrat on a day trip :) (And no, there are no tech jobs *here* either - Mr. Sonika decided to try his hand at teaching and is SHOCKED! to learn that a lot of students are lazy.)
posted by sonika at 12:53 PM on May 18, 2012


GIVE ME COFFEE MILK OR GIVE ME... WELL, MAYBE NOT DEATH.)

Having tasted coffee milk, I must say that I consider giving someone coffee milk the equivalent of giving them death. Death with a lot of synthetic sweeteners, maybe, but death.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:56 PM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


This wouldn't have happened under 'an obvious mobster'. Just sayin'.

Our Honorable Representative David Cicilline - the son of a mob lawyer - as mayor of Providence, left a broken and bankrupt shell after running it into the ground at speed and squeezing the wreckage dry for his patrons.

Yeah, Buddy was a crook, but he was first and foremost effective. This does not mean all crooks are effective, and Providence needed eight years to get the message.

(Thankfully, the rest of the state has clued in, and it looks like Tony Gemma will be the nomine for 1st District this November.)

Yeah, and from what I understand, the jobs that do exist aren't commensurate with the specific skill set

That's what kills me, absolutely kills me - $78mil would make a very nice incubator fund for embedded systems companies drawing on talent from G-Tech and Hasbro and Textron, aimed at jewelry and other small-piece precision manufacturing. Companies. Plural. Not one lousy video game company that's half in Mayland.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:23 PM on May 18, 2012


(err, maryland)
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:24 PM on May 18, 2012


I honestly have no idea what he does...

Maybe I'm reading the wrong sort of books, but in them, when the wife says something like that, hubby is always a hit man or a spy. Are you sure he's not hit man or a spy?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:21 PM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


our beloved man who bled on his sock
Food coloring.

the truth is out there
posted by Flunkie at 4:05 PM on May 18, 2012


I wonder if we'll learn where all the money went. Most studios would have spent $5 to $10 million on this game.

I thought the $75 million was for the MMO? Those cost tons of money, and have sunk a few studios before.
posted by kmz at 4:40 PM on May 18, 2012


Ooh, ooh, can I play? I'll be the Ice Queen of Route 6...forever screaming "No school in the Land of FosterGlousteria!"
posted by Biblio at 7:21 PM on May 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9nvnrP0j8U

You all might as well have a look at a little piece of what a bunch of talented and dedicated people really want to keep pouring their lives in to.
posted by subtle_squid at 7:34 PM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are you sure he's not hit man or a spy?

Nope. Nor could I imagine him being either. But that's always how it is, isn't it? The guy who just seems so innocent and boring...

I think I'm going to just make a point to stay out of his toolboxes.
posted by sonika at 8:26 PM on May 18, 2012


If Rhode Island gets control of the company maybe we'll get the next MECC
posted by thecjm at 11:24 PM on May 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I thought the $75 million was for the MMO? Those cost tons of money, and have sunk a few studios before.


Anyone who remembers (and i'm sure Curt didn't) the debacle of Hellgate:London, should know this. Not sure how much it cost, but the hype of "being by the creators of Diablo 2!!" had people really looking forward to it. Me being one of them. I bought the collectors edition, signed up for a lifetime sub, and suffered through all the launch troubles. Like random blue screens. Not good times. After that, i know it doesn't matter how much talent, money or ambition people have, making an mmo is not easy. Well, correction, making a good and profitable mmo is hard. I've played more than i care to admit, and the ones i actually like the most are the smaller ones, that tend to try one thing different.

It's kind of depressing seeing so many try to capture the market from World of Warcraft, which i doubt any will, as it was really lightning in a bottle. So many things just went right, that you can't force or buy, and so many companies got greedy. Curt being one of them. I remember listening to the the podcast The Instance when he would guest host, and just kept thinking i could hear him think "I could do this, and make more money than Blizzard." without a clue. They just released a fly through video of some zones in his game, and it is very much what has gone before, sort of a cross between WoW and Tera. If that makes sense.

I'm most hateful at all this for how many people got screwed over greed here. Everyone i know in tech jobs (game, vfx, etc) seem to be treated like crap by companies like this. "Hey! Move here, it will be a great job!" followed by getting fired not long after.
posted by usagizero at 1:39 AM on May 19, 2012 [1 favorite]




Not sure if anyone is still reading this but to rebutt the comments about the Boston Herald they have had extensive coverage of this debacle by their well regarded staff of reporters and photographers and it wasn't even that hard to find:

Boston Herald Article 1

Herald Article 2

Article on Massachusetts Angle

A little searching goes a long way.
posted by WickedPissah at 10:10 AM on May 19, 2012


Another conservative baseball guy, Joe Ricketts, whose family owns the Cubs, had asked the city of Chicago for a few hundred million to renovate Wrigley Field. And now he's been in the spotlight for almost running an anti-Obama Super Pac ad.

It'd be fun to see Joe and Curt behind Mitt at a rally while he rants against government handouts. And of course, Mitt's a big fan of the Red Sox, and the Cubs, and the Phillies, and Diamondbacks, and 26 of the other major league teams!
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 2:47 AM on May 20, 2012


If Rhode Island gets control of the company maybe we'll get the next MECC

Oh, thecjm, you don't know how happy that would make me: a series of 8-bit games about flour mills, and lobster fishing, and turning dog tracks into full-fledged casinos….well, I would play every single one of them!

But later I would be sad: my sister-in-law worked as a programmer for MECC and has told me about the Chronic Wasting Disease that set in as they were bought and bought and bought, and the staff shrank and shrank and shrank, until the only thing left was a pyramid of business card boxes. And then they bought their Macs from the company and it was over. 7:(
posted by wenestvedt at 6:34 AM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Boston Magazine: Curt Schilling, Shilling -- "In the end, Curt 'I'm a job creator' Schilling turns out to be pretty full of it."
posted by ericb at 1:27 PM on May 21, 2012




And breaking: 38 Studios lays off entire staff
posted by restless_nomad at 1:45 PM on May 24, 2012


(Appears that's both in Rhode Island and at Big Huge Games in Maryland, from my FB feed.)
posted by restless_nomad at 1:47 PM on May 24, 2012


Ugh. Freelance Games journalist Alex Rubens has put together a GoogleDoc of game developers currently hiring to help former 38 Studios employees.
posted by the_artificer at 3:10 PM on May 24, 2012


Yeah, for all my bitching about the industry, layoffs bring the rank and file together. The Austin Game Dev Beer Night had an emergency session on Tuesday after the Bioware layoffs, and Facebook is positively buzzing with job postings and offers for referrals. To quote myself, we take care of our fucking people.
posted by restless_nomad at 4:01 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hate this whole situation but it seems darkly fitting that May 24 is the day Copernicus died...
posted by the_artificer at 4:29 PM on May 24, 2012


A friend just sent me the following dark-yet-accurate observation: "When RI made the deal, I said it was essentially buying future unemployment obligations."

TV trucks everywhere today.
posted by wenestvedt at 5:36 AM on May 25, 2012




My buddy Scott has, as usual, an on-point analysis of the situation.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:53 AM on May 25, 2012


From your friend's analysis:
"While all this was happening, 38Studios employees were kept completely in the dark. Their first warning was when payroll checks stopped showing up in their bank accounts. The final warning was a dismissal letter showing all the compassion of Ayn Rand towards welfare recipients.

And that’s just what’s on the public record so far. The rumors that have been surrounding this total collapse/clusterbomb have made the above look like a case study in business management. Insurance plans unpaid for months (and literally uncovered by pregnant women informed by their doctor that their insurance expired) ensuring that the newly laid off employees are disqualified for COBRA and liable for pre-existing conditions with new plans, relocation/home sales packages so badly mismanaged that ‘beneficiaries’ turned out to be liable for two mortgages and back taxes due to lack of payment, the list goes on."
Whoa! That is beyond management incompetence. That's downright immoral and unethical.
posted by ericb at 11:43 AM on May 25, 2012


Immoral and unethical, and hopefully illegal so these f'ers can be further exposed for the f'ers they are.
posted by mcstayinskool at 12:55 PM on May 25, 2012


38 Studios Pitching To Private Investors.

Good luck with that. What VC or angel investors would invest in a company with such an incredibly large debt obligation ... and the risky nature of gaming title success, especially MMOs?
posted by ericb at 1:18 PM on May 25, 2012


Only path ahead, as I see it, is to sell the source code, IP, etc. in a 'fire sale' to another game company -- which, hopefully, would also seek to employ the team behind 'Copernicus.'

Then it's bankruptcy. Talk to Mitt Romney. He might have some tips.

Nonetheless, Curt, you're going to leave the taxpayers of R.I., vendors, creditors and employees on the short end of the 'Fuck You' stick.
posted by ericb at 1:22 PM on May 25, 2012


Nonetheless, Curt, you're going to leave the taxpayers of R.I., vendors, creditors and employees on the short end of the 'Fuck You' stick.

So? He's busy on the "Got Mine" stick.
posted by inigo2 at 1:27 PM on May 25, 2012


And, his 'Got Mine' stick comes from "a lucrative baseball career during which he earned $114 million."
posted by ericb at 1:31 PM on May 25, 2012


WEEI SportsRadio: In The End, Curt Schilling Was Only About Curt Schilling
On Tuesday, Curt Schilling praised the "breathtaking resilience" of the employees of 38 Studios.

On Thursday, he fired them.

All of them.

Curt Schilling -- the champion of small government, the first person to find a microphone (or radio station) and lecture us on individual responsibility -- is now spectacularly, unquestionably and forever a business failure. As great a pitcher as he was -- and he was great -- he's twice as horrific at running a company. And as true conservatives go, he has shown himself to be a terrific liberal.

He took $75 million from the jock-sniffing, bloody-sock-story-craving morons in Rhode Island and pissed it away. And now close to 400 people are out of work and the state of Rhode Island is on the hook for (with interest figured in) about $112 million.

Turns out Schilling is basically the welfare recipient he has told us is responsible for so much of our current economic troubles. He happily and famously accepted money from Rhode Island to help out his business -- which is, of course, perfectly within his rights but spits in the face of everything he has ever said or written when it comes to government -- and when he couldn't make payments on the $75 million loan he got on his hands and knees and begged the state for more money, as all true advocates of small government should. A real Tea Party moment. And when the decision-makers said no, what did Schilling do?

Follow his own words, written two years ago -- "It falls on us, the individuals, to find a way out of our own personal crisis." Sort of, I guess. He sure found a way out, the ol' path of least resistance.

But not before Schilling does what Schilling does best, make sure his own ass is covered. He advanced the company $4 million of his own money months ago but was paid back with funds from the Rhode Island loan.

Now, I'm not about to tell Curt Schilling -- who made $114.1 million during his playing career -- what to do with his own money. That's because I actually believe in limited government. But the $4 million Schilling quickly snatched back would've bought a couple of weeks worth of payroll, no? If he truly felt, as he wrote on Tuesday afternoon, that the people at 38 Studios were "determined to stand together as hard and as long as they can," why not keep the taxpayers and the government out of it and be the picture of personal accountability for a month or two? Better yet, why did Schilling even accept the loan in the first place? A real limited government guy might have punted when he couldn't raise enough private equity, would have paused before going into business with a group as inept as the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation.

The answer to both is this: Because Curt Schilling isn't pro-business, isn't pro-limited government, isn't pro-conservative, isn't even pro-38 Studios. He's pro-Curt Schilling. Whatever's best for Schilling is what will be done. [more...]
posted by ericb at 1:40 PM on May 25, 2012




Timothy M. Loew (Executive Director of the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute): Massachusetts Can Learn From Schilling Episode.
posted by ericb at 1:49 PM on May 25, 2012


R.I. Governor Lincoln Chafee:
"Things are looking grim, I want to be honest with Rhode Islanders," Chafee told reporters at the State House. "It doesn't mean we're going to stop pursuing every lead possible, but, ah, so far things are, they're dire."

"Many of us were saying this a volatile industry with a very, very thin margin of success. It's not an industry the state should be in."
posted by ericb at 1:51 PM on May 25, 2012


Joystiq: "Watching the 38 Studios thing unfold has been like watching a friend stay in an abusive relationship and say, 'Well, he doesn't really mean it when he hits me' and then when he leaves and takes everything, they say, 'Thanks for the good times!"
posted by restless_nomad at 2:09 PM on May 25, 2012




‏@gehrig38:
Thank you to everyone sending prayers and well wishes to the team and families of 38 Studios.


Should someone let Curt know that sending money would likely be more helpful than prayers?
posted by inigo2 at 2:43 PM on May 25, 2012


And as true conservatives go, he has shown himself to be a terrific liberal.
- WEEI SportsRadio: In The End, Curt Schilling Was Only About Curt Schilling - Kirk Minihane

Dear Kirk Minihane -

You have no idea what liberalism is. I'm guessing you think it's a name to put on things you're against, like "Yankee".

Sincerely,
A Liberal

P.S. Fuck you.
posted by benito.strauss at 3:27 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Mystery of 38 Studios Demise
One really puzzling aspect of this for me is how dramatically the company missed. This is the not the case of needed a few more months of runway. 38 Studios was a cash-burning machine — with some back-of-the-envelope stats and assumptions — it appears that the company’s salary and benefit costs alone were close to $3.4 million per month. Given that they had at least another year of development to go, if not more, then you can see the funding challenge. The notion that a few more million in tax credits was the solution is not rational.

There still seems to be a disconnect here — it’s obvious from the financials and timeline that additional funding was needed, but Curt Schilling was reportedly unwilling to part with a substantial equity stake. Something had to give in this scenario, and it finally did.

... Rhode Island stepped in with a loan and demanded a modest return for a dramatic risk. And of course, Schilling took the loan — it preserved his ownership stake at incredibly low cost.
posted by ericb at 10:12 AM on May 26, 2012


Note: with some back-of-the-envelope stats and assumptions link is a to a .xls document.
posted by ericb at 10:13 AM on May 26, 2012


Schilling could lose $50 million in 38 Studios closure
Schilling claimed the Rhode Island Economic Development Committee was partially to blame for 38 Studios current lot for reneging on affording the company a film tax credit. Moreover, he blamed the EDC for not allowing 38 to defer its $1.12 million May 1 payment to the state so the developer could pay its employees
Awful lot of finger pointing from Mr. Personal Accountability.
posted by the_artificer at 3:00 PM on May 29, 2012


As a connoisseur of both Curt Schilling being a hypocritical idiot and other states punishing coporations for incorporating in Delaware, I was particularly fond of the news that 38 Studios will likely be ineligible for millions of dollars Rhode Island tax credits because they're a Delaware corporation and not a Rhode Island corporation.
posted by Copronymus at 3:17 PM on May 29, 2012


Rhode Island Governor Responds To Schilling: "We Didn't Scare Away Investors"
When asked about this by reporters, Governor Chafee said, "I don't believe we scared away investors...An investor is not going to be scared away by some governor's comment."

"Any time there's a chance to make money, investors will be around," He added.

Characterizing Rhode Island's loan to 38 Studios as an "all-in poker hand," Chafee went on to compare the company's quick bust to Enron, and to discuss the video game industry as a whole.

"This industry punishes people who don't know what they're doing," Chafee said. "It's a tough, tough industry.

Chafee used the press event to remind the state of his own opposition to the loan to Schilling's company, while simultaneously saying that he did everything he could while in office to make the deal successful for the state of Rhode Island's tax payers. Chafee says that the sudden implosion of 38 Studios couldn't have been foreseen by the state, and is not unheard of in the rhealm of entertainment companies. He countered accusations that the State should have known earlier that 38 Studios was in trouble.

"When we look back and do our audits, we're going to see the red flags are not there. They were making their benchmarks and adhering to the loan agreement," Chafee said.

When asked if R.I. planned to give more money to video game companies, Chafee offered a flat "no," saying: "Industry experts I have talked to have not been very optimistic. They've been very, very bleak. Should the state put in more money? I think everyone would tell you absolutely not."
posted by ericb at 3:28 PM on May 29, 2012


Job Outlook Bright For 38 Studios Staff
Nicholas Kole just lost his job. Luckily, he is in the video game industry.

Dozens of game companies are lining up to hire castoffs like Kole from 38 Studios LLC, Curt Schilling’s failing video game maker. “They are pulling us out of the fire,’’ Kole said, “and we really appreciate what they are doing.’’

Even as 38 Studios laid off its entire staff of nearly 400 people last week, rival video game makers were holding job fairs just blocks from the company’s offices in Providence. Other game companies reached out to 38 Studios staffers on social networks like Twitter and Facebook, inviting them to apply for jobs. In fact, Kole, a 24-year-old character artist, said he already has some promising leads.
posted by ericb at 3:32 PM on May 29, 2012




38 Studios Ex-staff Seek Pay.
posted by ericb at 7:38 AM on May 31, 2012


Curt Schilling Put Up $5 Million in Gold Coins -- "He posted the booty back in February as collateral for a bank loan."
posted by ericb at 9:21 AM on June 1, 2012


moammargaret: "Privatize the gain, socialize the risk. Rinse, repeat. This would be aggravating in any situation but for the public and private sectors to join together in screwing over a state with 11% unemployment, broken roads, broken schools, one bankrupt city and more on the way is beyond the pale."

The sad thing is that this is just a drop in the bucket. We give away hundreds of billions of dollars, possibly up to a trillion, every year in various schemes to further enrich the already wealthy.
posted by wierdo at 4:37 PM on June 1, 2012


Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios files for bankruptcy
The troubled video game company founded by retired Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, 38 Studios LLC, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy Thursday, leaving behind more than 1,000 unpaid creditors as government officials confirmed they launched criminal investigations this week into the company’s failure.

... In its filing, 38 Studios indicated it has more than 1,000 creditors, including workers, who are owed more than $150 million. The firm estimated its assets are worth only about $22 million, suggesting most creditors have little hope of being repaid. Three of the Providence company’s affiliates also filed for bankruptcy.

... Meanwhile, state and federal authorities launched several investigations into the company this week amid questions about 38 Studios’ attempts to obtain and sell millions of dollars in tax credits, its failure to pay hundreds of workers, and the disposition of tens of millions of dollars in government-backed loans. The head of the Rhode ­Island State Police said his agency launched a joint inquiry on Wednesday with the Rhode Island attorney general, the FBI, and the US attorney’s office.

“We have decided to use our mutual state and federal resources to investigate and ­attempt to ascertain what happened, where the money went, and what it was used for,” said Steven G. O’Donnell, superintendent of the State Police. “We will look at everything.”

Mike Breault, a former narrative designer for the company, said he and other workers have already filed complaints with the state to try to recover unpaid wages. The company reported in its bankruptcy filing that it owed workers more than $2 million in unpaid wages and vacation time.
posted by ericb at 9:11 AM on June 8, 2012




Who Does Curt Schilling Owe $151 Million?
Curt Schilling’s video game company is officially defunct. The proud crusader against big government finds himself in the awkward position of not being able to repay about $116 million he owes Rhode Island taxpayers.

But the beauty of his bankruptcy filing is the bright light it casts on all the people other than the state of Rhode Island to whom 38 Studios owes money. Before getting into the details, let’s look at the bigger picture. Schilling owns 82.9% of 38 Studios and it claims assets of $21.7 million and $150.7 million in liabilities, including $115.9 million owed to Rhode Island, according to Reuters.

Who are the biggest losers besides the state of Rhode Island? The four biggest unsecured creditors among the many who comprise the $34.8 million balance include a vendor of tax credits, two landlords, and a best-selling Massachusetts author.

Here are welfare king Curt Schilling’s four biggest losers, according to the Schedule F in his bankrupcty filing:
Preservation Credit Fund: $11.5 million. Studio 38 owes the most money to this “national consulting/syndication firm focused on structuring transactions for tax-advantaged projects and purchasing state tax incentives. Preservation Credit Fund works closely with developers and advisors to maximize tax credit benefits, advise on tax credit issues and provide syndication services,” according to the LinkedIn page of its Principal, Michael Corso. Now we know why Schilling was so upset that Rhode Island did not extend those tax credits to Studio 38.

Empire Lasalle: $10.8 million. This is the amount Schilling owes on the lease for Studio 38′s offices — at least that’s my guess based on the notation “office lease: total amount contractually due under the lease” in the Schedule F.

R. A. Salvatore: $1.7 million. Studio 38 owes this money to the “New York Times best-selling author beloved for series like The Dark Elf Trilogy, Paths of Darkness, The Hunter’s Blades Trilogy, and The Cleric Quintet. He has written 40 novels which have sold over 15 million copies worldwide,” according to 38 Studios’ web site.

WRMM: $1.5 million. This is the rent that Studio 38 owes on the Maynard, Mass. office that it vacated after it moved to Providence.
The interesting question is whether Studio 38′s assets are really worth $21.7 million. My guess is that the court will not be able to sell them for anywhere near that amount. This means that the tax credit maven, the landlords, and the author will join the taxpayers of Rhode Island in being on the wrong end of Schilling’s ideas about moral obligation.

And in an interesting twist, it looks like this bankruptcy is not being treated as a simple failed business venture. After all, “The state police, the attorney general’s office, the U.S. Attorney’s office and the FBI are opening an investigation into 38 Studios, both the money that came from the state as well as the money that came from Bank Rhode Island,” Rhode Island State Police Col. Steven O’Donnell told WPRI.com
posted by ericb at 10:38 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why in the world is R.A. Salvatore owed $1.7 million? And where on that list is the combined sum owed former employees for unpaid wages, time off, retirement accounts, health insurance, and moving expenses?

I don't think the 38 Studios Spouse letter was posted earlier, so here it is.
posted by postel's law at 9:39 AM on June 15, 2012


RI suspends unpaid wages probe at 38 Studios
The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training has suspended its investigation into unpaid wage claims at former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s video game company.

Department spokeswoman Laura Hart said Thursday that the probe was suspended because 38 Studios has filed for bankruptcy protection.

The company listed owing at least $2.5 million to employees in Rhode Island and Maryland in its bankruptcy filing.
posted by ericb at 9:46 AM on June 15, 2012


I don't think the 38 Studios Spouse letter was posted earlier, so here it is.

Ah, yes; blame the debacle of a failure on "certain politicians" who were "trying to prove a point". They obviously should've continued throwing worse money after bad. I mean, I feel bad for her and her family, but the fault Rhode Island politicians have is merely in doing the deal in the first place.
posted by inigo2 at 2:44 PM on June 15, 2012


Also, thanks for the folks that have been keeping this thread going with news; I appreciate it.
posted by inigo2 at 2:46 PM on June 15, 2012


I don't think the 38 Spouse was saying this was entirely the fault of the politicians, so much as the studio itself. I thought the paragraph about her husband running around trying to bring things to the attention of the executives was particularly interesting. And how they had to get to Providence as fast as possible so that her husband could start, but then when he got there 38 wasn't ready for him.
posted by postel's law at 5:30 AM on June 17, 2012


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