Tuesday, August 2, 2016

38 Studios: no charges filed

This must come as a relief to the concerned parties:
The fallout from 38 Studios’ drastic shutdown in 2012 continues to play out, as Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilman and State Police Colonel Steven O’Donnell announced in a press conference today that no charges would be filed against government officials or former 38 Studios employees after a 4-year investigation.

According to local news station WPRI, the two stated that no criminal activity had been found in the arrangement of a $75 million loan for the production of an MMORPG called Copernicus that was backed by Rhode Island taxpayers. Civil investigations by the State and the SEC are still ongoing, and an 8-page report from the Attorney General’s office states that charges could be brought if new information is brought to light.

However right now, “the quantity and quality of the evidence of any criminal activity fell short of what would be necessary to prove any allegation beyond a reasonable doubt and as such the Rules of Professional Conduct precluded even offering a criminal charge for grand jury consideration,” the report states.

The downfall of 38 Studios was a calamitous event for both the people of Rhode Island and the 200+ developers of 38 Studios and Big Huge Games, who were working on Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and Copernicus. The undying legal action in this case highlights how game developers can become embroiled in local political conflicts when the risks of game financing clash with taxpayer money.
I always felt vaguely bad about the catastrophe that was 38 Studios. Not that it was even remotely my fault or that I had anything to do with it, but I was casually acquainted with its founder, Curt Schilling, through both of us being players of Advanced Squad Leader and subscribers to the ASLML, and when I heard he was founding a game dev studio, I got in touch and told him that I'd be happy to talk to him and answer any questions he might have about the various pitfalls that awaited the unwary developer. He was appreciative, but assured me that he had a top-notch team around him, so I wished him well and promptly ceased to give the matter any further thought. Seeing how things eventually turned out, I rather wish I'd been a bit more pushy.

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