Kingdoms of Amalur dev's creative director blames RI governor

Copernicus developer says 38 Studios "just needed a little more help," governor "turned his back" on a lot of taxpayers by allowing RPG outfit to fall.

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Every 38 Studios employee was laid off yesterday, but at least one of them is saving his disapproval not for the Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning developer, but for the governor of the state that secured a $75 million loan for the company. In the wake of the layoffs, 38 Studios creative director Steve Danuser told TV station NECN that he had expected more from Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, who called the original loan a bad deal and said the studio wouldn't receive any more aid unless he was convinced it could become profitable.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee has been accused of turning his back on 38 Studios.

"We just needed a little more help, and we thought the state would have our backs on that," Danuser said. "We thought the governor was an ally. It didn't turn out that way… Why did you do it? Why didn't you help us? [Governor Chafee] said a lot of things, he's broken confidentiality. He's done a lot of things to materially hurt us and I don't understand it."

38 Studios' troubles first came to light earlier this month, when reports from the Rhode Island government indicated the company had failed to make a $1.125 million loan payment to the state's Economic Development Corporation. The studio eventually made the payment, but it also enacted a round of unspecified layoffs. Reports also surfaced that 38 Studios could not pay its employees as scheduled twice this month.

Between the original $75 million loan and interest, Rhode Island taxpayers could be on the hook for as much as $90 million as a result of the deal. The $75 million was secured by the Rhode Island EDC as a way to entice 38 Studios to move from Massachusetts to Rhode Island. Last week, EDC executive director Keith Stokes, who helped structure the loan, resigned from his post.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning shipped in February to a warm critical reception and sold 330,000 units in the United States alone during the month. Schilling said it sold 1.2 million copies, but Chafee called it "a failure," saying it would have needed to sell 3 million just to break even.

Discussion

96 comments
VincentX
VincentX

Yeah, it's the Govenor's fault you guys put out a bland game that didn't sell over 3 million copies that you needed because you put all your eggs in one basket...

*head desk*

blackwingzero
blackwingzero

Why couldn't the local government come to them when this issue first came up and say. "Look we know you didn't do well. If you want to continue working on another game come up with a game plan in way that you know for certain that will be profitable. If you can do that don't worry about this month's payment. Instead we'll take a 40% stake in your company."

 

If they had done that and they began turning out games that sell well. Over time the government could have made back their inital investment and possibly additional revenue that they could use while keeping people out of the unemployment line.

csward
csward

Sigh, just another reason why Government should stay out of the private sector. This reeks of Government ineptitude. Choosing to invest a large sum in a risky company with taxpayer money. The people of Rhode Island should be appalled their government is using their money like an investment bank.

 

Shame on Danuser too, saying: [They didn't give us more handouts, so we failed]!

Hiding her failure to budget by blaming the Government. This whole thing is messed up!

assassinshmo
assassinshmo

When your business plan for success relies on government aid, it is a bad business plan to begin with. Grow some common sense people, were short.

maderrin
maderrin

There's a lesson to be learned here, one everyone should already be familiar with: do not trust the government.

Vickman178
Vickman178

Dam too bad Kingdoms of Amaleur is a great game.

ZeRo2545
ZeRo2545

Soooo... When's the MMO?

PStrife
PStrife

That is one pretentious dev right their.  It is not the taxpayers responsibility to constantly take care of poorly managed people within the confines of a business model, that is solely the responsibility of those given responsibility within a company.  

 

Blaming politicians when your livelihood was basically already extend thanks to their clearly awful decision of support in the first place, see the relatively quick bankruptcy, is quite an ungrateful statement to be coming out with.

 

Steve really needs to think this through.  Pretentious devs, your entitlement issues are why you are unemployed.   Figure it out man.   Taxpayer moneys clearly should no longer go to this industry.  Ingrates!!!

LE5LO
LE5LO

@ Brendan Sinclair -

 

Legrieme put it well ;)

 

If "the studio eventually made the payment" why "Rhode Island taxpayers could be on the hook for as much as $90 million as a result of the deal" doesn't make any sense at all.

Slipstream720
Slipstream720

That's a load of horsecrap. THE GAME HAS ALREADY BEEN MADE. 38 STUDIOS HAS NO OTHER SOURCE OF REVENUE. God, it sucks to be in Rhode Island right now. This place is falling apart.

Kiaininja
Kiaininja

I don't think he meant help as in more money but as in he probably thought that the government was at least  overseeing the project to prevent these type of tragedy since it was their investment also. He probably feels that the governor preaches about how he's watching out for the working class but this event suggest  otherwise. I believe Governor Chafee does shares some blame in this because even though he condemns this fiasco now but the fact he let a crook like Schilling run free with tax payers money while he falls asleep at his post does seem a bit incompetent. Bet you that if the company would of came out successful Chafee would of been taking credit instead even if didn't do anything.

stabby_mcgee
stabby_mcgee

But doesn't this conflict with what Schilling said? Schilling said that Amalur was a success. That would suggest they had the money to pay the loan but still failed to make the payment. So what did they do with the money they made?

CptRexKramer
CptRexKramer

I'm just not sure why Mr. Steve Danuser would expect any more monetary help from a Governer who thought the original loan was a bad idea to begin with.  What happens if Mr Danuser got his help, and it still wasn't enough for 38 Studios to continue?  Then RI would have been out even more money.  I think Mr. Dansuer needs to point the fault finger at his own company's management for the reasons of 38 Studio's demise.

jmmijo
jmmijo

Just get everybody over at the Drunken Clam to chip in, this should fix things :p

wilson336
wilson336

This is obviously the type of guy who blames everyone but himself for things. If he was drowning would he blame it on God for not giving him gills?

---Cipher---
---Cipher---

I don't think any one person was responsible...

JimmeyBurrows
JimmeyBurrows

- Why was the loan offered to a new company, when for 75 mil they could have probably started up a new business instead of moving everyone.

-Why did the studio take it if it meant moving + interest (how much would be left for actually making a game to make the money back.

-Why did they spend so much of the money that they needed to sell 3 million copys of a new ip in a short time to break even

-why after everyone knew it was sinking into the shit didn't they replan the loan to give a chance of gettin the money back and keeping some of the 400 people in jobs... They had 2 more games on the go, which had a chance at least to make back the money.

 

How can so many poor decisions be made without someone butting in and just telling they're making a friggin giant mistake.

 

astralislux
astralislux

If a bank wouldn't trust this company, why did the government think it had a clearer view?

strayfies
strayfies

"My game failed to the tune of 1.7 million units short of breaking even, so it's definitely a political office's fault and not mine."  -An Unemployed Creative Director.

XIntoTheBlue
XIntoTheBlue

Is this guy serious? The governor's political career is at jeopardy because RI residents are most likely unhappy with how this turned out. So why would the governor short change 38 and risk his own career at the same time? Makes no sense to me. Anyway, how about Danasur blame his little baseball idol? Schilling obviously has no business in... business.

Drkr_Zen
Drkr_Zen

Its got to be the Rhode Island governor's fault, right? It can't possibly be due to budget mismanagement, failure to communicate effectively and/or developing a mediocre fantasy action RPG... riiiiight? 

rodier3
rodier3

so now US govs will tell u which game is fail and which not?

We need more Breiviks for USA  to awake that guys from idiocy. 

TheFlamingC
TheFlamingC

Rhode Island has been pulling this crap for years, luring business away from Massachusetts with loans and tax breaks, it's good to see it finally bite its government in the ass. I don't really care who is responsible.

maxwell97
maxwell97

This is just disgusting. "We just needed a little more help, and we thought the state would have our backs on that." Danuser, maybe you could have, you know, convinced people to VOLUNTARILY invest in your little project, if your company had any idea what the hell it was doing. Now you're blaming a politician for not screwing the taxpayers out of enough money to keep you going. The most useful thing you can now do for the world is to serve as an example of why it's unethical and stupid for business to get involved with government.

RoadStar1602
RoadStar1602

The disgruntled employee has a serious case of the entitlement mentality that has become so prevalent in the past few years.

LesserAngel
LesserAngel

Let's see here, Rhode Island has a population of apx. 1 million, lets assume only half of them are taxpayers, so that's $180 per person, so it could definitely be worse, for the taxpayers that is. It's pretty much as bad as it can get for the people that worked at 38 Studios... Man, this whole think is one giant cluster**** that never should've happened, I don't know who's fault it is, but I don't like Chafee, and something about Schilling rubs me the wrong way too.

jimbothef
jimbothef

I'm not sure what Chafee was supposed to do, throw more money at a failing company?  Rhode Island is already gonna be stuck paying off the rest of this loan, which ended up being a complete disaster.  The last thing the state needs is more money lost from this debacle.  He should probably be blaming Curt and the other execs running the show, because 38 Studios, from a business standpoint, was horribly mismanaged.

Wedge55
Wedge55

The quotes from Governor Chafee that I've read on Gamespot lead me not to trust him, so I'm more inclined to believe 38 Studios at this point.  Lumping the blame entirely on Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is entirely dishonest as the game did well and was most decidedly not a failure.

 

The majority of the $75 million loan was going towards the MMO that was in development.  The only sane reason that the state of Rhode Island, as the primary investor, would choose to withdraw is if the MMO itself was looking to be a failure.  By instead making a scapegoat of Reckoning, I can only assume that Governor Chafee is attempting to pull the wool over the peoples' eyes.

leimonides
leimonides

@blackwingzero that just makes far too much sense to have been a possibility.

Valtero
Valtero

 @csward You're right. There really needs to be federal regulation in place to prevent a state government from investing massive amounts of revenue in venture capitalism. Pumping millions into an unproven company is completely retarded. It'd be a different story if RI had gone after a studio with a history of profitable titles.

x_hunter00
x_hunter00

 @armorninja49 what does this have to do with EA or Activision? It was 38 Studios and RI's fault for the collapse of the company. In addition, why would you want to work with an indie dev when they would have a higher chance of failing and closing down?? 

Slipstream720
Slipstream720

 @stabby_mcgee It might have to do with the fact Schilling pocketed $50 million of profits from the game. The man is despicable.

Dragon_Nexus
Dragon_Nexus

 @stabby_mcgee Well obviously he'd say it was a success. It was his baby. Wouldn't do to say "Yeah, the whole thing was a failure 8D", especially when you take your cash back out of the project and laugh your way to the bank.

AyatollaofRnR
AyatollaofRnR

Thats true. But surely the possibility of turning it around, perhaps a sequel to Alamur to recoop costs is better than pulling the plug on the whole thing.

Zloth2
Zloth2

 @Legrieme

 I don't trust any website with "truth" in the name.

Seiki_sands
Seiki_sands

 @astralislux No bank would loan GM money a couple years ago either, and government loans turned out to be very important not just for them, but for keeping a big chunk of the midwest from real economic devastation. The devil is in the details. This bet was both stupid and unnecessary. It's hard to successfully launch a new IP in the retail space in this expensive HD era. These guys did it as their debut and as a teaser for a MMO, their "real" project, which on the face of it seems profoundly stupid. Needing 3 Million to break even? That is a ridiculously high number for a new IP. I think Mass Effect 1 barely got there and it took several years to do it, and that was from one of the most, if not the most, well established studios in the genre. Hiring big, expensive names for nearly all aspects of development helped highlight how completely out of their depth was the management of this studio.

Heazie
Heazie

 @Drkr_Zen I live in RI.  Trust me, I am not taking all the blame away from the studio, but RI is so bad that I completely understand how it could be his fault as well.  This state is an absolute joke and more corrupt than anyone outside would like to admit.  No one should ever come here, and I wish I could leave it.

Bercilak
Bercilak

 @rodier3 You're seriously saying that the United States needs more mass murderers?

 

Seriously?

Wedge55
Wedge55

 @jimbothef The problem I have with this whole story is that you can't make a triple A MMO on $75 million.  You're going to need at least twice that.  It seems like a possible combination of 38 Studios failing to secure more investors and a publisher plus an administration that appears to want to score political points by choosing losers in this case.

rxtfo
rxtfo

@Wedge55 I agree here 100%. This company was brand new and sold over a million units for its first ever released game, which to be honest, is pretty damn good for a first effort. Very shady to promise a company X amount of dollars and then take it all away when it's first game is not the next Minecraft (sales wise). As far as the dev cost of a second amalur game (non-mmo), Im sure they would be significantly less due to the fact the game engine is established and they could hash out a more polished version of the first game as it's sequel. 38 Studios was never given a real chance and that's very unfortunate for 400 American workers, as well as many gamers who will no longer be able to enjoy their products.

Zloth2
Zloth2

 @AyatollaofRnRThat would be called "throwing good money after bad."  It looks like this Schilling guy doesn't really know how to run a game company.  Better to sink your money into something that's a lot more likely to work.

 

TruthTellers
TruthTellers

@Heazie It's not that hard to leave. Just start moving in any direction and eventually you'll be free of the nanny state that is RI. I left and my life is a lot better then it was when I left.

Drkr_Zen
Drkr_Zen

 @Heazie Can't say I agree with you, nor dismiss your claim, as I've no experience in or around RI, just making an observation based on 38 Studios. 

myth1485
myth1485

 @tommy_boy9999 "Your an idiot"

 

This is my favorite phrase on the internet.

 

(psst, it's "you're")

N0tYrBeezin
N0tYrBeezin

 @Wedge55 The problem is to even try developing an MMO in the first place from a studio led by a guy with no experience developing games, no track record of successes in the industry. He should have built successes and fanbase with a string of smaller hits first. Jump right into an MMO with zero experience is crazy! 

rodier3
rodier3

 @Wedge55 that is not true. Rift cost around 20$ mils.  Vanguard Saga of Heroes doesn't cost much more.  Only one game that cost more than 50M was SWTOR (and there is no one who really believe it cost 100M)