It’s been a bleak week for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning developer 38 Studios and founder Curt Schilling. The company secured a $75 million loan from the state of Rhode Island in 2010 on the hopes Amalur would turn into to job-creating gold mine. Despite quality reviews it failed to do either, and a very public legal tussling has ensued as Schilling, the former world-champion Red Sox pitcher, tries to squeeze out of his messiest jam yet.
Contrary to initial fears — and as a much-needed glimmer of hope for the company — it was announced by Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee that 38 Studios would not be defaulting on the $1.125 million loan payment that was due May 1st. A check to the state cleared Friday after a string of “emergency meetings” between Schilling and Rhode Island officials. The studio is also eligible for additional tax credits thanks to the terms of the original loan.
But the day’s events were just getting started.
The governor went on to cite upcoming dues for the studio amounting to $2.6 million in November and $12.6 million in 2013 — implying that solvency is, at best, a tenuous condition. And so when prompted on how 38 Studios might raise the necessary capital to foot the rest of the bill (Chafee had already declared that the Commonwealth wouldn’t be chipping in), he casually let slip that the developer’s still-highly-secret Amalur-based MMO, Project Copernicus, was releasing in June of 2013.
For a studio that, according to WPRI, has been unable to pay its own employees this week, we have trouble imagining how a full-scale Kingdoms of Amalur MMO will be releasing any time soon. (It’s been in the works for almost six years, but even if it was finished how would they pay for post-development expenses like marketing and distribution?) That said, it’s entirely possible Chafee caught wind of a tentative date during the meetings and didn’t know he wasn’t supposed to share. It wasn’t long after that the below trailer sprouted up on the Internet, and 38 would later confirm that it was released on their accord.
As our own Jeff Schille noted in Game Rant’s Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning review, the world 38 Studios and subsidiary Big Huge Games has created is nothing short of gorgeous. The disconcerting part about Project Copernicus, however, is that 38 Studios has essentially turned into a house of cards: one more missed payment or failure to raise cash and they could fold — dragging Amalur’s statuesque architecture and luscious scenery down with them.
We wish 38 Studios the best and hope Project Copernicus can live up to our expectations and more. But how much faith gamers can continue having in either one is still up in the air, a hanging breaking ball Schilling was hoping to keep down.
Project Copernicus, according to Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee, is due out in June of 2013.
Follow Brian on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.