No charges issued following 4-year investigation into Kingdoms of Amalur dev 38 Studios

State Police Colonel Steven O'Donnell says investigators found 'no probable cause to establish that a crime was committed.'

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Rhode Island State Police Colonel Steven O'Donnell held a press conference this afternoon to disclose that no charges will be filed stemming from the four-year investigation into Kingdoms of Amalur developer 38 Studios (via GameSpot).

O'Donnell explained that facts discovered during the lengthy investigation revealed that no laws were broken that would call for charges to be issued again founder Curt Schilling or other parties involved in 38 Studios' collapse. "In this particular matter," he said, "we have found no probable cause to establish that a crime was committed. It is the investigative opinion of the Rhode Island State Police and the Department of the Attorney General that a bad deal does not always equate to an indictment."

Rhode Island attorney General Peter Kilmartin echoed O'Donnell, saying at the press conference that he and others involved in the investigation "share the frustrations of all Rhode Islanders when it comes to the entire 38 Studios episode."

R.A. Salvatore (left) and Curt Schilling. (Image courtesy of New York Times.)

If you don't know the twists and turns of the "38 Studios episode," as Kilmartin put it, you're in for quite a tale. It began when former MLB pitcher Curt Schilling founded 38 Studios in Massachusetts in 2006. Schilling relocated the company to Rhode Island after the state's Economic Development Corporation (EDC) approved a $75 million loan, which Schilling pledged to use to create over 450 direct jobs and over 1,000 indirect jobs to Rhode Island by the end of 2012.

At the time of the move, 38 Studios was working on two products. One was Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, a single-player RPG released in 2012 co-written by fantasy author R.A. Salvatore, who penned over 10,000 years' worth of backstory for the world. The other was codenamed Project Copernicus, an MMO that was never finished.

Kingdoms of Amalur released in 2012 and became a hit right out of the gate, garnering positive reviews and selling 330,000 copies during its first month. That number rose to 1.2 million copies within its first 90 days of availability.

Unfortunately, Schilling found himself unable to keep up on loan repayments to Rhode Island's EDC. He defaulted on a payment of $1.25 million. When Schilling failed to make payroll, Rhode Island's government swooped in and assumed control of 38 Studios. The studio declared bankruptcy in June 2012, and the investigation began then and came to an end today.

Naturally, the State of Rhode Island wanted to know what had happened to its $75 million and filed a lawsuit against Schilling and other higher-ups at 38. That and other suits are still pending separate from the outcome of this investigation.

I've had the opportunity to speak with R.A. Salvatore on a few occasions, the most recent occurring in the fall of 2014 for The Escapist. We talked extensively about the fate of 38 Studios, and his thoughts on Curt Schilling.

"I remember when [a journalist] called me up and said, 'They owe you $2 million. Why aren't you suing Curt?' Why would I sue Curt? He didn't do anything wrong. He didn't do anything nefarious. Maybe he made a couple of bad business decisions, I don't know. But he didn't do anything nefarious, and he got wiped out. He's lying in the gutter and you want me to kick him in the head? Why would anyone do that?"

Long Reads Editor

David L. Craddock writes fiction, nonfiction, and grocery lists. He is the author of the Stay Awhile and Listen series, and the Gairden Chronicles series of fantasy novels for young adults. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing Mario, Zelda, and Dark Souls games, and will be happy to discuss at length the myriad reasons why Dark Souls 2 is the best in the series. Follow him online at davidlcraddock.com and @davidlcraddock.

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From The Chatty
    • reply
      July 29, 2016 5:44 PM

      Curt Schilling is a colossal asshole and racist and he deserves every bad thing that comes his way. He should go to jail for robbing the people of Rhode Island of all that money.

      • reply
        July 30, 2016 8:12 AM

        I always liked the guy on The Instance podcast... then I learned about his real life behavior

        Also, KoA was garbage

        • reply
          July 30, 2016 8:13 AM

          KoA was an ok game but the XP curve was flawed and it was too generic.

    • reply
      July 29, 2016 5:49 PM

      Why are these investigations so difficult and long? Simply look at the salaries first. If the execs were paying themselves a million dollars a year, then you found the problem. I bet the investigators still don't know. Are any of the details like that public record?

      • reply
        July 29, 2016 6:24 PM

        If you steal a loaf of bread you get a year in jail. Steal 100+million and you get a job at ESPN.

      • reply
        July 30, 2016 4:02 AM

        Because executive pay is not a crime.

        • reply
          July 30, 2016 6:48 AM

          speaks to motive, your honor.

          /watching lots of SUITS lately.

          • reply
            July 30, 2016 6:49 AM

            and you have to prove it, which they could not. so your argument is invalid

    • reply
      July 30, 2016 5:28 AM

      Being bad at business is not fraud, nor a crime. The civil litigation is where the guilty charges will come from.

      • reply
        July 30, 2016 5:48 AM

        I'm sure they spun it as incompetence instead of maliciousness

        • reply
          July 30, 2016 6:50 AM

          when one of the debtors, owed 2 mil, says it was incompetence instead of maliciousness - to use your words - what proof do you have it as otherwise?

    • reply
      July 30, 2016 5:26 PM

      Schilling's mistake was paying his employees too much. Despite the really great pedigree of his top three, and even many of the other employees, 38 Studios was essentially a "start up". A new company with a new game and new franchise. These guys were no longer making a sequal or an add on or an expansion pack, with a built in audience and fan base, like they were all used to. This was a whole new venture, and these guys should have been accepting a much lower pay until the first game was a proven success.

      Its a real shame, too. I played the demo, and this game and it's subsequent online version might have been a very successful venture.

      The state of RI's mistake was not having enough financial oversight privileges to realize this until it was too late.

    • reply
      August 2, 2016 11:36 AM

      Please make another game in the series. I love the first.