Rhode Island Governor: 38 Studios' Copernicus Is Junk

Rhode Island Governor: 38 Studios' Copernicus Is Junk

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Lincoln Chaffee is focused on getting cash back rather than assigning blame.

38 Studios' assets were auctioned off for $320,000, but one item that didn't sell was the studio's MMO Project Copernicus, the game that killed the company and took Rhode Island's cash with it. Now Governor Lincoln Chaffee has stepped forward, saying he isn't surprised Copernicus failed to sell. It's just "a lot of junk," so no wonder no acceptable offers were made at auction.

Chaffee ascribes the disaster to panic over the state's collapsing economy, which prompted the state government to give Schilling a huge amount of taxpayer cash, even though he had no business experience. He may be right, at least about the lack of experience. When Schilling recently claimed Kingdoms of Amalur could be a billion dollar franchise, Cliff Bleszinski stepped forward and stated the obvious: nobody gets that lucky straight out of the gate. Sustainable growth over time, not a sudden leap forward, is how a game becomes a viable franchise.

Few outside the 38 Studios crew really know what Copernicus is. Schilling calls it "breathtaking and awe inspiring" and writer R.A. Salvatore says it would blow you away. Schilling claims Chaffee's really the one to blame for the studio's collapse, scaring off investors when they were most needed. If that were so, you'd think at least one of those investors would have bid on Copernicus when it came up for auction. If anyone knows how much it's potentially worth, it's those unnamed money men.

Chaffee says he's not interested in assigning blame. All he wants is the state's cash back, or as much of it as possible. Clearly he and State Senator Dawson Hodgson have different goals. Hodgson has already filed a motion to establish an independent commission, to determine the role state agencies may have played in 38 Studios' collapse.

Source: Game Politics

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Here's an option: Open up your own development studio. Now Copernicus doesn't have to be a MMO, and I'd advise not to take that route, but with the assets you have there's no doubt in my mind that something fantasy-themed but doesn't use the tired genres it's tied to would gather some interest and make quite a bit of revenue when it is finished. For instance, how much interest would people show in a fantasy city-builder?

Right now I think we are moving more towards the 90s Science Fiction craze again in AAA and Medieval Fantasy is going to be heading into the obscure. The problem is that we had a huge flood of fantasy themed MMOs and games released over the last few years, and much like Modern Military Shooters, the market is just way too saturated. I wouldn't be surprised if we see a flood of space based games, including space sims with RPG elements, hit the market sometime in the next few years.

"I have no interest in assigning blame... but that project was total BS by a guy who couldn't budget."

Stay true to yourself, Rhode Island, stay true.

Colt47:
Right now I think we are moving more towards the 90s Science Fiction craze again in AAA and Medieval Fantasy is going to be heading into the obscure. The problem is that we had a huge flood of fantasy themed MMOs and games released over the last few years, and much like Modern Military Shooters, the market is just way too saturated. I wouldn't be surprised if we see a flood of space based games, including space sims with RPG elements, hit the market sometime in the next few years.

The market is saturated with fantasy themed games? Where are they and why don't I have them? Oh... MMO's, nevermind.

If they actually wanted to get anything at all at auction, they wouldn't be calling the remaining assets "junk". They also wouldn't have waited this long for auction since software ages fast. Of course, openly raising questions about the viability of a studio while actively seeking outside investors isn't a good way to bring in $$$ either.

At this point, I think we can safely assume that 38 Studios has more value to the Rhode Island's politicians as a straw man than it does to the state's treasury as an asset.

"Cliff Bleszinski stepped forward and stated the obvious: nobody gets that lucky straight out of the gate. Sustainable growth over time, not a sudden leap forward, is how a game becomes a viable franchise."

Er, I'm pretty sure MANY developers skyrocketed to instant, and sustainable, success right out of the gate.

Mortal Kombat was made by just 7 guys in their garage. Donkey Kong launched Nintendo into the stratosphere. Angry Birds, Temple Run, Candy Crush, Farmville all blasted into riches that would make most "we'll grow over time" developer envious, and they're still going strong (sometimes unfortunately so).

Granted, most OFTEN that's not the case, but some of the biggest names out there became the huge mega-developers and publishers they are from a single, solitary game that came out at the right time and resonated with the right people.

Sidney Buit:

Colt47:
Right now I think we are moving more towards the 90s Science Fiction craze again in AAA and Medieval Fantasy is going to be heading into the obscure. The problem is that we had a huge flood of fantasy themed MMOs and games released over the last few years, and much like Modern Military Shooters, the market is just way too saturated. I wouldn't be surprised if we see a flood of space based games, including space sims with RPG elements, hit the market sometime in the next few years.

The market is saturated with fantasy themed games? Where are they and why don't I have them? Oh... MMO's, nevermind.

Yeah exactly, which is what 38 studios was trying to make. =P

To be fair, I think I'm probably mistaken on saying fantasy themed MMOs are made by AAA.

This is why government should not dabble in business, your tax dollars should not be making videos games, we can invest money if we want to support games ourselves, bureaucrats typically have no business experience themselves to have any viable opinion on a video game project.

I get wanting to bring business in but tax incentives, not financing an entire game seems reasonable.

A high risk, long term, game development takes years and years theses days, taxpayer money used, constant bickering in the media between both sides.

Why was this even a thing? How was this seen as a good thing for your state? There is zero guarantee of anything in video games, they could have the most amazing story, best art direction seen in the history of man at 38 studios, and in the end create a broken unplayable mess that noone buys because their engine sucks or they do not know how to code properly or they run out of money.

This is why the government should not dabble in anything, one it is your money they are spending. and two they do not know what the fuck they are doing.

AM I the only one that thinks his comment "Load of junk." was unjustified? We never knew how much of the project 38 studios had finished, and maybe it was something fantastic, maybe it would have gotten people excited. Stay classy Rhode Island.

Um, yeah. So the State of Rhode Island made the mistake of giving 38 Studios money, but now are willing to give their opinion that Project Copernicus is "a lot of junk"? I wonder who gave that opinion to the Governor. Experts?

There are around 200 Venture Capital firms in Boston, who all turned Schilling down when he asked them for money[1], but Rhode Island thought they were smarter than them and forked over the cash. Where were the experts then? Oh that's right, there was one running for State Treasurer, Gina Raimondo, who expressed her doubts and was ignored.

Sorry, Governor, but calling something junk after you invest it doesn't make 38 Studios look bad, it makes you look bad. You clearly didn't do your homework before giving over tens of millions of dollars of desperately needed money.

[1] I don't know if he asked all 200

Sarah Kerrigan:
AM I the only one that thinks his comment "Load of junk." was unjustified? We never knew how much of the project 38 studios had finished, and maybe it was something fantastic, maybe it would have gotten people excited. Stay classy Rhode Island.

Your not the only, as per usual, like you said we have no idea how much was done for them to sell. Also we have no idea what a reasonable offer was. Without those two things to compare the fact that it did not sell is meaningless.

zerragonoss:

Sarah Kerrigan:
AM I the only one that thinks his comment "Load of junk." was unjustified? We never knew how much of the project 38 studios had finished, and maybe it was something fantastic, maybe it would have gotten people excited. Stay classy Rhode Island.

Your not the only, as per usual, like you said we have no idea how much was done for them to sell. Also we have no idea what a reasonable offer was. Without those two things to compare the fact that it did not sell is meaningless.

Thank you! Also, what's a government official to judge a game when, as people can guess, he's not justified to say that if he's not a gamer himself!

Sarah Kerrigan:

zerragonoss:

Sarah Kerrigan:
AM I the only one that thinks his comment "Load of junk." was unjustified? We never knew how much of the project 38 studios had finished, and maybe it was something fantastic, maybe it would have gotten people excited. Stay classy Rhode Island.

Your not the only, as per usual, like you said we have no idea how much was done for them to sell. Also we have no idea what a reasonable offer was. Without those two things to compare the fact that it did not sell is meaningless.

Thank you! Also, what's a government official to judge a game when, as people can guess, he's not justified to say that if he's not a gamer himself!

Nobody touched it at auction, the descriptions for the game were vague and didn't actually put it into any context ("Schilling calls it "breathtaking and awe inspiring" and writer R.A. Salvatore says it would blow you away."), and any guesses on it's content could only be supported by KoA.

So yeah, it was probably a load of junk. If the guy trying to prevent his dream game from being lost forever is unwilling to actually provide any reasonable detail about the project, it's a pretty good sign he doesn't have faith in the thing.

This is why you don't ask for government assistance for an game, you get politicians deciding which games you could make, I mean seriously, is Lincoln Chaffee qualified to decide that? once politics got mixed in, it was the final nail in the coffin for 38 studios

FizzyIzze:
Um, yeah. So the State of Rhode Island made the mistake of giving 38 Studios money, but now are willing to give their opinion that Project Copernicus is "a lot of junk"? I wonder who gave that opinion to the Governor. Experts?

There are around 200 Venture Capital firms in Boston, who all turned Schilling down when he asked them for money[1], but Rhode Island thought they were smarter than them and forked over the cash. Where were the experts then? Oh that's right, there was one running for State Treasurer, Gina Raimondo, who expressed her doubts and was ignored.

Sorry, Governor, but calling something junk after you invest it doesn't make 38 Studios look bad, it makes you look bad. You clearly didn't do your homework before giving over tens of millions of dollars of desperately needed money.

There was the part where the current Governor was running for office, in part, by trashing the incumbent administration. So, he was never the one actually backing the deal. It's why the whole "he deliberately sabotaged 38 Studios" claim was credible in the first place.

Sorry, I'm a little sleep deprived at the moment, so I'm not going to cite this right now. But if you've got anything saying I'm wrong, I'd like to hear it.

[1] I don't know if he asked all 200

Starke:

FizzyIzze:
snip

There was the part where the current Governor was running for office, in part, by trashing the incumbent administration. So, he was never the one actually backing the deal. It's why the whole "he deliberately sabotaged 38 Studios" claim was credible in the first place.

Sorry, I'm a little sleep deprived at the moment, so I'm not going to cite this right now. But if you've got anything saying I'm wrong, I'd like to hear it.

The mistake is probably mine. I know the current Governor came on board in 2011, but perhaps the 38 Studios deal happened before that.

Ah, no, you're right. The Governor that it happened under was Don Carcieri, Republican. Still, I don't want my error to reflect badly against the principle that government should stay far away from business. I definitely agree with what Cerebus23 said.

Sidney Buit:

Colt47:
Right now I think we are moving more towards the 90s Science Fiction craze again in AAA and Medieval Fantasy is going to be heading into the obscure. The problem is that we had a huge flood of fantasy themed MMOs and games released over the last few years, and much like Modern Military Shooters, the market is just way too saturated. I wouldn't be surprised if we see a flood of space based games, including space sims with RPG elements, hit the market sometime in the next few years.

The market is saturated with fantasy themed games? Where are they and why don't I have them? Oh... MMO's, nevermind.

Kingdoms of Amular
Dragons Dogma
Witcher 1 & 2
Skyrim
Oblivion
Dragon Age 1 & 2
Dark Souls
White Knight Chronicles...

and those were just what came off the top of my head! I don't think medieval fantasy is disappearing any time soon, especially with the success of Game of Thrones, but I would argue that the market is certainly getting saturated with them. Personally I hope sci-fi games do pick up, I'd love to see more titles like Mass Effect released.

Fox12:

Sidney Buit:

Colt47:
Right now I think we are moving more towards the 90s Science Fiction craze again in AAA and Medieval Fantasy is going to be heading into the obscure. The problem is that we had a huge flood of fantasy themed MMOs and games released over the last few years, and much like Modern Military Shooters, the market is just way too saturated. I wouldn't be surprised if we see a flood of space based games, including space sims with RPG elements, hit the market sometime in the next few years.

The market is saturated with fantasy themed games? Where are they and why don't I have them? Oh... MMO's, nevermind.

Kingdoms of Amular
Dragons Dogma
Witcher 1 & 2
Skyrim
Oblivion
Dragon Age 1 & 2
Dark Souls
White Knight Chronicles...

and those were just what came off the top of my head! I don't think medieval fantasy is disappearing any time soon, especially with the success of Game of Thrones, but I would argue that the market is certainly getting saturated with them. Personally I hope sci-fi games do pick up, I'd love to see more titles like Mass Effect released.

From the looks of it we will be seeing them in spades. We know that another Mass Effect game is coming out of the wood works at some point, Star Citizen is going to be getting a final release in a year, Planetary Annihilation will be heading out the door, and that isn't even getting into the smaller games like Starbound, Space Engineers, etc. It's true that Fantasy isn't going anywhere, it's just that the direction it is taking is more towards the old school titles, with the likes of Dark Souls 2, Shroud of the Avatar, and PlaneScape.

Colt47:
Right now I think we are moving more towards the 90s Science Fiction craze again in AAA and Medieval Fantasy is going to be heading into the obscure. The problem is that we had a huge flood of fantasy themed MMOs and games released over the last few years, and much like Modern Military Shooters, the market is just way too saturated. I wouldn't be surprised if we see a flood of space based games, including space sims with RPG elements, hit the market sometime in the next few years.

The phrase "why don't we have both?" springs to mind. At least i can hope for a future where enough games are being produced on high-quality level to satisfy all demand.

AAA is all about popular demand now though and with a Game of Thrones season under the horizon and the new Hobbit movie out it doesn't seem like society is quite done with fantasy just yet.

This Chaffee guy sounds like the smart cookie. This whole fuck up has happened, stop pointing fingers and try to re-coup some lost cash and move on!

Unless somebody is looking for someone to sue, playing the blame just has people running around a bush, like Jeremy Clarkson and a tank. Just look for ways to get something out of the wreckage and stop going on about it.

Think of it like a burning building, fire fighters are saying "well clearly you started the fire" and the home owners are saying "no, it was just an accident!" while the kitty cat is burning alive, stop arguing and save the kitty!

Ulquiorra4sama:

Colt47:
Right now I think we are moving more towards the 90s Science Fiction craze again in AAA and Medieval Fantasy is going to be heading into the obscure. The problem is that we had a huge flood of fantasy themed MMOs and games released over the last few years, and much like Modern Military Shooters, the market is just way too saturated. I wouldn't be surprised if we see a flood of space based games, including space sims with RPG elements, hit the market sometime in the next few years.

The phrase "why don't we have both?" springs to mind. At least i can hope for a future where enough games are being produced on high-quality level to satisfy all demand.

AAA is all about popular demand now though and with a Game of Thrones season under the horizon and the new Hobbit movie out it doesn't seem like society is quite done with fantasy just yet.

Their still will be Medieval fantasy games, their just wont be as many trying to compete with each other. The one genre that is likely taking a complete nose dive into the back end is the modern military shooter given how CoD and Battlefield 4 have progressed. We still got Dark Souls 2 coming out along with Shroud of the Avatar and the spiritual successor to Plainscape torment.

 

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