Long read: Who is qualified to make a world?

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SOE looked multiple times at buying Project Copernicus

"I really wanted to play that game."

EverQuest maker Sony Online Entertainment looked more than once at buying Project Copernicus, the MMO follow-up to Kingdoms of Amalur that sunk along with the 38 Studios ship.

SOE president John Smedley said on Twitter (via VG247) that Copernicus had been "gorgeous", its "quality undeniable" and he "really wanted to play that game".

"It was just too expensive is all."

"At various times we looked at it," he revealed. "Always impressed. But the economics were too tough to make work for us. This is a business where risks are large. We had enough balls in the air. More risk was too much for us.

"Funny thing is," he added, "even though he came to us many times for money and we didn't do a deal, I really wanted to play that game."

Copernicus and everything Kingdoms of Amalur recently went up for auction, but no one bit. "Not that the IP isn't awesome," responded Smedley. "It's just not strong without the people making it."


Kingdoms of Amalur and Project Copernicus were the dream projects of enthusiastic former baseball star Curt Schilling, who used his celebrity and fortune to create 38 Studios, buy developer Big Huge Games and secure an unprecedented $75m loan from Rhode Island State.

But Kingdoms of Amalur didn't sell enough copies, although it didn't sell (or review) badly, and Copernicus couldn't secure a publisher (Amalur was an EA Partners game, not an EA game per say) and the coffers ran dry. Schilling couldn't pay staff wages or loan repayments and the whole thing collapsed.

Smedley apparently told Schilling that no one would buy the MMO - an expensive and therefore risky kind of game - and accused Rhode Island State of jeopardising the public's money to fund something it didn't understand.

"That 38 Studios deal just never should have been. Public funds shouldn't be backing risky things like online games.

"Unqualified people at that Rhode Island economic council should have seen the fact that no one else would get in as a sign, and they failed."

Copernicus again.

Curt Schilling, rich from baseball, poured his entire fortune of more than $50 million into his 38 Studios dream. "Curt put every dime he had into it," Smedley said. "That's the part that people are missing. He put his own money where his mouth was." And he lost it.

But for a while it was close; a deal that would have saved 38 Studios was apparently very close at hand. But then Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee publicly denounced 38 Studios, its games, its leader and the loan deal they were granted, and apparently scared investment away.

"If that idiot Governor Chafee hadn't trash talked right at the time Curt was trying to get funding you would be playing the game now," Smedley rued. "All he had to do was give Curt another week and we wouldn't be here today."

Smedley's Twitter outpouring came as news of Curt Schilling's battle with cancer was aired. It's not publicly known what kind of cancer it is, but Schilling is either in surgery now or going into surgery soon. He is 47 years old. Our thoughts are with you, Curt - good luck.