6-time All-Star. 3-time World Series Champion. World Series MVP. Huge nerd. All of these are accurate descriptions of Curt Schilling, whose dominance on the mound during his playing days made the former pitcher synonymous with the word “winner”. Since his retirement from Major League Baseball, Schilling put a lot of his earnings into his other passion- massively multiplayer online role-playing games. Unfortunately for Curt and the 300+ people of 38 Studios that he formerly employed, the man with the bloody sock has been nothing short of a failure when it comes to his business venture.
Schilling, a known “gamer”, founded Green Monster Games in 2006 and later renamed the company 38 Studios. Six years later with only 1 published game, the company has lost millions of dollars, laid off all of its employees, and is now defunct. You don’t have to be Nostradamus to see this coming. 38 Studios was pretty much doomed from the start.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Swinging for the fences right away
Sports and business have a lot in common. In order to succeed, you need to put in time, effort, and have a passion for what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter who you are, you don’t become an All-star right away. You gotta pay your dues. In business, regardless of available capital, you don’t start a company by leasing a 30,000 square foot office space. That was Schilling’s first miscue- not starting off small. Had he leased a more moderate space and started the company with a small contingency of employees, 38 Studios may have had a chance.
Lack of Production Leads to Lack of Revenue
It’s well known in the business world that new companies operate at a loss in their infancy, as it takes money to make money. However, operating at a loss while not generating any revenue at all is a huge red flag. After 6 years of operation, 38 Studios managed to release 1 game in February of 2012 (Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning) considered a mid-level hit, selling just over 1 million copies. That’s not even going to keep the lights on at Schilling’s fancy 30,000 square foot office. I understand today’s complicated games take years to develop, but 1 title in 6 whole years? C’mon, Curt!
Taking Out a Loan That Is Impossible to Pay Back
In July 2010, 38 Studios took out a $75million loan from the state of Rhode Island with the promise of providing 450 jobs to local workers. The much-needed loan kept the company afloat for a couple more years, but with mediocre success it would become clear that Rhode Island had made a bad investment. Sure enough 38 Studios started missing payments, payroll halted and medical benefits to employees were cut off. Now that everyone’s been laid off, it’s safe to say that the loan will come at taxpayers expense, and whatever remains in Curt Schilling’s bank account.
This isn’t your typical athlete gone broke story, although it may be just as predictable as the rest. While Schilling didn’t waste his hard-earned fortune buying spinning rims and making it rain at gentlemen’s clubs, he went all-in on a business venture set up to fail from the start. The console video game industry is a difficult one to break into. In a time where you can download games for free on your smart phone, shelling out $60 for an unproven Play Station game isn’t appealing as it used to be. I admire Schilling for putting his effort toward something he is passionate about, but it’s pretty clear he was better off playing the games instead of making them.
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