Schilling’s Video Game Is Readied for the Chop Shop
It’s been about a year since Curt Schilling’s dream venture, 38 Studios, crashed into bankruptcy, and yet the process of unwinding the video game company continues today. This morning, the Providence Journal has the fascinating story of Jeff Easley, the one 38 Studios employee who stayed behind to prepare the company’s intellectual property for sale.
Now working for the defunct company’s state appointed receiver, Easley, a computer systems engineer, is charged with, essentially, packaging 38 Studios’ games for the chop shop. The hope is that other companies will want to buy at least some components of 38’s work to help Rhode Island recover some of the $75 million in loans it dished out to the studio to lure it to Providence. Specifically, Easley is focused on Kingdoms of Amalur, the massively multiplayer online game Schilling had banked his entire business on. “As caretaker of these machines, I couldn’t just walk out,” Easley told the ProJo. The story continues:
“We had to figure out what to do with six floors of computer information that [couldn’t] leave,” Easley said.
He had to “squish” down the software coding for an interactive game with a 10,000-year history and eight “races” of characters to just the essential equipment. That work included rebuilding some equipment from parts left behind after the auctions Land supervised.
“That’s one of those situations where you don’t get a second chance,” said Easley, who wore a green zippered sweatshirt with a 38 Studios logo stitched on its right shoulder. “The faster I was forced to move, [the more likely] I would have been dropping $100 bills all over the place.”
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that Rhode Island will be able to recover much from Easley’s work. One of the (many) concerns surrounding Kingdoms of Amalur while it was in production was that, since the game was taking so long to finish, the technology behind it would be outdated by the time it reached market. After a year of sitting on the shelf, those concerns could only be heightened.
Perhaps more important, nobody’s going to want to buy a large portion of the game without the staff that helped create it (and is now scattered to the wind). When I was covering this whole debacle last summer, a few industry experts told me that, if the game were to be sold off whole in order to be eventually finished, it would have needed to happen almost immediately (and, incidentally, for way cheap), to ensure that the team behind it stayed somewhat in tact. Now, for somebody else to finish it, it would be a bit like entering a maze without a guide. As the ProJo story notes, it’s more likely that some firms may want to pick off small pieces of what 38 Studios was working on. In other words, Schilling’s dream game is being sold for parts.
h/t Ted Nesi for the link.