38 Studios' late payment to RI clears bank; Copernicus set for 2013 (update)

38 Studios didn't pay employees this week, and delivered a check for the overdue funds to Rhode Island before its CFO warned the state that it had insufficient funds to cover it.

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Update: 10:45 a.m. PST, In a live press conference, Rhode Island Gov. Chafee said that the $1.125 million check from 38 Studios has cleared the bank. A debt service payment of more than $2.5 million is due Nov. 1. The governor also said that the MMO Project Copernicus was set for June of 2013.

Original Story: Troubles continue to mount for 38 Studios. After requesting additional Rhode Island state assistance, the company was unable to pay its employees this week. It also hand-delivered a check for the overdue $1.125 million to the state's Economic Development Corporation, but company CFO Rick Wester told the EDC that there were insufficient funds to cover the check.

Local Rhode Island station WPRI reports that 38 Studios advised the EDC about its inability to pay its workers. Plus, Joystiq reports that temps and contractors working for the company were let go this week. The company was composed of 379 full-time employees as of March 15, 288 in the state of Rhode Island.

Governor Lincoln Chafee's office said the EDC is willing to accept a check for the overdue payment if the company can provide "readily available funds." The board is set to meet again on Monday, but has not given any definite word on whether or not it will offer assistance to the company.

The Rhode Island government is suffering its own blowback. Keith Stokes, EDC executive director and the architect of the $75 million loan guarantee, resigned on Wednesday. Chafee is stressing that he did not favor the initial loan guarantee, but is now supportive of the company to save taxpayer money. The EDC reportedly put aside $12.8 million of the $75 million in case of default.

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  • reply
    May 18, 2012 6:45 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, 38 Studios misses payroll, gives insufficient check to Rhode Island.

    38 Studios didn't pay employees this week, and delivered a check for the overdue funds to Rhode Island before its CFO warned the state that it had insufficient funds to cover it.

    • reply
      May 18, 2012 6:58 AM

      This just isn't going well for them... why doesn't EA help them out in favor of making sure the IP survives? That'd be a drop in the bucket for them. Really hope they don't go under and the state gets takes control of the IP... I really love the first game and want to see more from the universe they created, especially what the MMO would look like.

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        May 18, 2012 7:54 AM

        Shit man 100% this I love Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning man it better not go under I want more added on to the first one and a sequel.

        Shit EA better do something, I wonder how well the game did? I even got both DLCs they are very nice.

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        May 18, 2012 10:04 AM

        EA doesn't hold the IP, they only had the rights for the 1st game.

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        May 18, 2012 10:18 AM

        EA's investment in KoA is minimal. The game was released under EA Partners. All the IP and stuff still belongs to 38 Studios, they're an independant developer.

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      May 18, 2012 7:25 AM

      That is a lot of employees, how do they not have other projects on the go? Just Amalur?

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        May 18, 2012 7:29 AM

        I thought their plan was to go with a Reckoning MMO after the SP game. That would explain the heavy retention.

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          May 18, 2012 9:47 AM

          They have 2 studios. I think the Maryland one did Reckoning, and Rhode Island is doing the MMO.

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        May 18, 2012 1:49 PM

        I agree, it definitely seems like a huge amount for just KoA / Copernicus. But what do I know.

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      May 18, 2012 7:33 AM

      I think Mr. Shilling bit off a bit more than he could chew by trying to make an mmo and still to this day not having anything to show for it other than a spin-off action rpg. Reckoning seemed decent from the demo and they must have thought they could float for a while longer by releasing it. It might not have hit the numbers they were looking for so they didn't have enough to cover the check.

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        May 18, 2012 10:46 AM

        yeah. there was a good discussion about it in the last Bombcast. sad. i really wanted to see them go places, but another pay to play fantasy MMO is not the way to go.

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      May 18, 2012 8:27 AM

      I thought KoA sold well? Did they get fucked by EA?

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        May 18, 2012 8:51 AM

        Sold 410,000. :/

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          May 18, 2012 8:52 AM

          Not horrible, but considering all the praise and Macfarlane I thought it was going to do much better.

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            May 18, 2012 8:57 AM

            Not enough money made especially for that studio size. They probably only made 12 million on it. I also thought it was going to do better. It was generally reviewed really positively, but I guess not a lot of people were moved enough to buy it.

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            May 18, 2012 10:12 AM

            I'm kinda surprised that they had Todd McFarlane and ended up with such a generic looking game. I played only demo but even that was too boring for me to finish.

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              May 18, 2012 10:20 AM

              Have you seen McFarlane's art? It's not really that amazing looking either.

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                May 18, 2012 11:46 AM

                I'm not an expert on comics but I did like some of his Spider-Man issues. I thought he will bring some originality to this game, but it all fell flat.

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                  May 18, 2012 11:49 AM

                  He actually did a pretty good job with Spider-Man, it's just his designs that are really generic

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          May 18, 2012 9:39 AM

          They sold 410,000 the fist month of release.

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        May 18, 2012 8:55 AM

        What they earned from KoA probably just offset the cost to acquire big huge games.

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        May 18, 2012 10:50 AM

        Fucked by EA is harsh. It was a mediocre game with an uninspiring new setting that EA marketed accordingly.

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          May 18, 2012 1:51 PM

          Unfortunately I agree. The game really had nothing special going for it. It was just another RPG. Not sure why the State of RI is so surprised?

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        May 18, 2012 11:37 AM

        I think it got hurt also by coming out the week after Skyrim.

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          May 18, 2012 11:40 AM

          It was a few weeks wasn't it? Skyrim was before Christmas, this was after in a quiet period before ME3.

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            May 18, 2012 1:53 PM

            Looking at wikipedia, Skyrim came out in November I think and KoA came out in February.

            While that's not very close together, Skyrim held a lot of peoples interests for a long time (and still does)- so who would drop $60 on another fantasy RPG when they have the newest title by one of the most successful franchises?

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      May 18, 2012 9:14 AM

      KoA was ok but man it dragged out. I think I had about 100 sidequests when I got near the end, and I just gave up

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        May 18, 2012 9:19 AM

        yeah by time i got to the last zone i just wanted it to be over

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        May 18, 2012 9:32 AM

        So, it's Skyrim Jr.?

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          May 18, 2012 9:44 AM

          More tedius and generic, and less unique areas (world is pretty generic). Combat was also mediocre

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        May 18, 2012 10:15 AM

        i didn't really like it at all

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        May 18, 2012 10:50 AM

        That was pretty obvious from the demo IMO.

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        May 18, 2012 11:40 AM

        After the 2nd area I stopped doing any sidequests at all. Also the combat became easy, there was 1 fight the entire game that was difficult (that elvish witch), other than that it was way to easy. Yeah a sweet combat system is great and all, but when it's not a challenge and you just go through the motions, it's not fun anymore. I found the story lacking as well.

    • reply
      May 18, 2012 11:10 AM

      Just updated the story.

      Update: 10:45 a.m. PST, In a live press conference, Rhode Island Gov. Chafee said that the $1.125 million check from 38 Studios has cleared the bank. A debt service payment of more than $2.5 million is due Nov. 1. The governor also said that the MMO Project Copernicus was set for June of 2013.

      • reply
        May 18, 2012 11:37 AM

        I haven't been following this nonsense. What happened? Rhode Island gave them money or tax breaks to open up a shop and make games there and the game tanked?

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          May 18, 2012 11:52 AM

          Basically. They paid them to move TO Rhode Island. Fuck knows why.

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          May 18, 2012 11:53 AM

          You know how EvE is bigger than Iceland's economy..

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          May 18, 2012 2:18 PM

          RI gave them a monster loan to move their studios there and bring "jobs" to the state.

          KoA wasn't even their game originally, they used a bunch of cash to buyout Big Huge Games and the projects they were working on. One of those was the action RPG Kingdoms of Amalur, they gave it the lore of the MMO they were working on and probably hoped it would have done well.

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      May 18, 2012 2:19 PM

      I played maybe 30 minutes, got very bored, never replayed it.

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      May 20, 2012 12:06 AM

      >379 full-time employees

      Ouch. Thats a shitload of people, think of this: Valve only has 293..

      The average dev eats up about 10k a month in wages, benefits and dev costs/kits/pcs x 379 people = holy shit $3,790,000 a month...

      its hard for a start up to do an MMO, no wait, IMPOSSIBLE. You need time to gel, sort out the good teams/leads and thats costs money, lots of it.

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