Curt Schilling – Philadelphia – 1997 Road (Photo credit: BaseballBacks)
An in-depth, completely engaging piece by Jason Schwartz of Boston Magazine about the collapse of 38 Studios, the video game company that Curt Schilling created in order to challenge World of Warcraft in the MMO gamespace.
Curt Schilling set out to build the greatest video-game company the world had ever seen, and to get rich — Bill Gates rich — doing it. Instead, the whole thing exploded in his face. Drawing on exclusive interviews with the Red Sox legend and his former employees, Jason Schwartz takes us inside the chaos, arrogance, and mistakes that led to the destruction of 38 Studios and the loss of $75 million in taxpayer money.
And as the studio started to fall apart, employees did what they could to keep the game alive that they’d been working on for years.
Meanwhile, as the media swarmed outside the 38 Studios office, employees inside began to realize that the company could be done for. Wanting the world to see their work, a few grabbed an old Copernicus trailer and began to brush it up. As they worked, colleagues crammed into a small set of cubicles, packing in 50 to 60 deep. When the video was ready, someone hit play and “Project Copernicus” came up in gold lettering on the screen, followed by a shot of a foreign-looking world. With haunting music in the background, the camera zoomed in, whooshing through a series of distinct, beautifully rendered landscapes — a forest of trees decorated with ornate hanging lamps; a castle with a base of finely detailed sculptures; a palace topped with golden griffin statues. When the two-minute trailer ended, people lost it. “We’re all leaning on each other,” says Jesse Smith, the designer. “A lot of us were crying, a lot of us were happy. And after it happened, there was just an uproar of applause.”
It’s a great read, and shows that Schilling’s total lack of business experience was one of the main (but not only) contributor to the company’s downfall, which also cost Schilling $50 million of his personal fortune.
Thanks to Jim Dalrymple of the Loop–he of the awesome Beard–for the link.