Business: Schilling Had EDC At Hello


Originally Appeared at Rhode Island's Future on 7/28/2010

Members of the RIEDC want us to believe they thought long and hard about bringing Curt Schilling’s video game company to the state. They keep telling us about the extensive conversations and the sleepless nights they had while making the decision. But you know what was really going through their heads Monday morning before they voted 8-to-1 to offer 38 Studios a $75 million loan guarantee to move to Rhode Island?

“How many baseballs can I get Curt to sign before he asks for a few extra mil?”


“Would this be the appropriate time to ask Curt to speak at the Hasbro gala?”

The negotiations may have lasted a couple months but the EDC made its decision long ago. Schilling knew that. That’s why he didn’t need to play Massachusetts against Rhode Island. Schilling treated the EDC like tourists in Los Angeles, smitten with the first star willing to nod in their direction. He was right. They’d give Peter Griffin $50 million if they could add him to their rolodexes.

It’s a state of fan boys, no different from the fanatic gamers and Spiderman wannabees who flooded San Diego last week for Comic-Con. That’s where 38 Studios Art Director Todd McFarlane –creator of Spawn- promised that the company’s first release will “kill some people better in this game than anybody kills anybody.”

Something tells me that’s not how Schilling sold his idea to the EDC. Then again, Schilling was probably so busy rehashing tales from the night Red Sox Nation’s fortunes changed forever that he didn’t really need to sell his idea at all.

In all fairness, 38 Studios will have street cred in the virtual world. McFarlane and author R.A. Salvatore are to fantasy gamers what Schilling is to Red Sox fans. And they’ve got Electronic Arts, the largest brand in all of video gaming, publishing their first project, an RPG titled, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Those names carry a lot of clout.

The problem is that no matter who is attached to the project, and really, no matter how good the game actually is, 38 Studios probably needs to get lucky for the game to become a smash hit. There is no guarantee. And in an election season where everyone and their Virgin Mary statue wants to preach fiscal responsibility, it seems like taking a chance on a video game company ran by a guy whose credentials essentially amount to being really good at World of Warcraft is far too risky.

$75 million for a couple hundred jobs and we’re left to be the mop up men if Schilling can’t deliver. Let’s just hope the EDC holds on to those autographs.

Maybe eBay will help us get some of that money back if 38 Studios goes belly up.


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