Curt Schilling on Green Monster Games

Red Sox pitcher discusses the philosophy of his new development house in MIT forum, promises to "blow the industry away."

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--Is Curt Schilling the next Mark Cuban? At an intimate game forum at MIT on Monday night, the Boston Red Sox pitcher talked about his new company, Green Monster Games, and the massively multiplayer online game that he said is going to "blow the industry away."

"I decided I would put together my '27 Yankees, my dream team of people," said Schilling at an MIT Enterprise Forum. "I hate to tease, but it's cool. It's exciting. I am trying to get into the space with a group of people passionate about creating something that is epic in every sense of the word."

While they may seem worlds apart, Schilling is essentially doing what avid sports fan billionaire Cuban did when he bought a basketball team with his Yahoo money. Only, Schilling is moving in the opposite direction, going from the sports world to the tech industry as the owner of a video game company.

In deciding what to do upon his retirement, Schilling said, he wanted to do something he was passionate about instead of "just opening a restaurant or something." He has said he plans to honor his Red Sox contract for 2007.

Schilling would not reveal specifics on his first MMO game, but he did offer insight into his approach and business model as the founder and president of Green Monster Games. "I am not getting into this for (fame and money). Those at GMG will operate on a 50-50 profit share with the employees in the company. My goal is to reap the rewards with the people who create it," said Schilling.

Schilling went on to say that poor employee treatment is one of the biggest flaws in game industry business models.

"GMG's team of employees will more closely resemble the pride and respect I experienced in my years as a baseball player," he said.

Schilling, a self-described avid hardcore gamer, said he first got hooked when he played Wizardry on his Apple II in the 1980s. Schilling personally interviewed and hired everyone who works for Green Monster Games and has started the company in Boston against the advice of business advisors, he said. In addition to talent, he said that he looked for passion, something he believes will be the key to coming up with extremely creative content. So far, his roster includes Todd McFarlane, the creator of antihero Spawn, and noted science fiction author R.A. Salvatore.

What Schilling does not have is an entrepreneurial or business background. He made sure to tell attendees at the forum filled with venture capitalists that he is still looking for investors. While none of the veteran game executives on the panel made direct reference to Schilling's situation, many did emphasize the harsh barriers to entry and success in their field.

MMO games "are the most costly to develop and service. These are a service-based business so you can't just serve it and let it go," said game industry veteran Mark Pover, chief financial officer of Utix Group, at the forum. "Development costs average $20 million. WOW [World of Warcraft] experts estimate that the company put in around $50 million over a five-year period. Most insiders say that 50 percent of development is to market. And if you don't get a good hit at launch, it's a problem."

"It's very hard to be innovative when you have a giant team and giant publisher and large amounts of money," said Jason Booth, a technical designer with Harmonix Music Systems, when asked about the chances for independent developers. "The really interesting things are happening at the smaller level, because it's just too risky at the larger level and there is just too much money at stake," he said.

Matthew Bellows, general manager of Floodgate Entertainment, said of the mobile segment of the game industry: "Brands are important because consumers are drowned by choices. Developers are in the weak part of the industry."

But from the questions asked of Schilling by young gamers at the forum, none of this seems to matter. They seem to be hoping that he pulls it off, just like the sports fans who dreamed of owning a team secretly rooted for Cuban to succeed.

Discussion

26 comments
Qiynah
Qiynah

@egoncalo I tend to agree with you, though maybe it's just the cynic in me. All of these names seem to carry a very solid identity -- it's doubtful they can all bend to work around the central vision a solid RPG or especially MMORPG needs. If this game is Elders Scrolls gameplay with "very Todd MacFarlane" art design on a Salvatore story, count me out, because if an RPG's individual elements don't blend coherently, you've lost immersion, which is the soul of the genre for me.

egoncalo
egoncalo

Schilling is just another schmuck that thinks he can make it big in video games. He's like anyone else except he has much more money to toss around. It'll crash even harder, and even worse than small start ups. They are marching around like a bunch of elitists and hiring the "cream of the crop," I can wait to see their so called "savior" of MMOs. You don't need a professional writer or comic book artist to create an MMO. I'd take an art or creative director that works at Ubisoft or EA any day over those two. They are great in their own fields, but not neccessary in this industry. Everyone's a wannabe now adays.

_Sam_
_Sam_

I'm interested to see how this turns out

DGFreak
DGFreak

What kind of mmo game would need a writer of Salvatore's caliber to set a story to? MMO's are typically pretty generic as far as story goes; I'm intrigued to find out more.

Murpheus007
Murpheus007

Ummm... so does he still play baseball? I have no idea what's going on right now.

Gantzfan
Gantzfan

Haha, This guy stole all of the employees from SOE to make his game. Way to go!

Martyr
Martyr

lets go METS!!! oh that's right they lost already, lets go GIANTS!! baseball is dead to me.

LordAndrew
LordAndrew

Good luck with blowing the industry away.

kracken
kracken

"What Schilling does not have is an entrepreneurial or business background." Well, that's not fully accurate as Schilling did found Multi-Man Publishing (MMP), which does, amongst a collection of other wargames, Advanced Squad Leader. MMP has been doing quite well, and have been putting out a regular stream of high quality wargames. He is definitely not a stranger to the games industry, and I'm interested to see what he can offer to video/PC gaming.

cjcr_alexandru
cjcr_alexandru

An MMO? Well, his chances are...not very high, to say the least.

SuperH75mil
SuperH75mil

This project will undoubtedly fail, as God will not tolerate this red, foot-smelling death to befoul the industry for long. ... Go Yanks. ^_~

Aggie1295
Aggie1295

It sounds like he has some good ideas, but I don't think an MMO would be the best way to go, especially for a start-up company.

thekey
thekey

This is very good news I should see if I apply for a job at his development house. It's not too far from where I live. YANKEES SUCK!!!!

joeamis
joeamis

He's off to a good start. Cmon Schilling I know you can do it, you're one of the few who have heart.

Generic_Dude
Generic_Dude

Best of luck to the man who won the Series for the Sox, Curt Schilling. YANKEES SUCK!

JigenD2
JigenD2

He's a genuine gamer, but possibly doesn't have any real better ideas than the average gamer, but he does have money (but not a huge amount). I really hope he does well.

mad_max01
mad_max01

It sounds like he read the "How to become a retarded game-designer" book by John Romero. Hey Curt, do us all a favor, please, don't call your MMO game that is going to "blow the industry away" Daikatana 2.

johncraven
johncraven

lol... will Yankees hate transcend the game of baseball into video games now?

final_cut_hugo
final_cut_hugo

like the part about treating game developers with respect.

MoreCowbell6924
MoreCowbell6924

Seems interesting, wonder what type of universe the game will be set in, I'm assuming Sci-Fi

Moraitheungimp
Moraitheungimp

I'd probably buy the game just because R. A. Salvatore is on the staff. Also the idea of the company is awesome as well, I really like to root for the indie people in the game industry.

AnubanUT2
AnubanUT2

That is really really cool ... I envy the guy. First he's an all-star pitcher now he's opening up his own game studio. And Todd McFarlane is going to be part of his company as well ... cool in every sense of the word.

QualityJeverage
QualityJeverage

Regardless of opinion, this is undisputably interesting...