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Final assets of 38 Studios sold to Austrian game publisher for $900K

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Final assets of 38 Studios sold to Austrian game publisher for $900k

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The final remaining assets from defunct video game company 38 Studios have been sold.

Richard Land, the Rhode Island receiver for 38 Studios, said the intellectual property from the games “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” and the unfinished “Copernicus” – including artwork and programming – were sold to Austrian-based developer THQ Nordic for $900,000. Land said the sale effectively marks the end of the Rhode Island receivership case, “and now we’re ready to close the estate.”

“It was considerably difficult [to sell the assets] and there are a lot of reasons for that, but a significant reason was the adverse publicity around 38 Studios,” Land said. “At the very beginning of the case where I was talking with some big players, they didn’t want to have any involvement in the ongoing sale of the assets.”

Land said the state’s lawsuit against the architects of the failed deal was chief among the negative publicity that scared away potential buyers for years. That lawsuit ended in 2017 with a series of settlements and ultimately recouped $49.66 million for taxpayers (after legal fees).

The receivership case Land handled is separate from the ongoing bankruptcy case out of Delaware, where 38 Studios was incorporated; that case is still winding it’s way through federal bankruptcy court.

Land said he intends to file a final report in Providence Superior Court next week and anticipates a hearing before Judge Michael Silverstein by the end of September to close the estate.

In all, Land estimates the proceeds from his liquidation of 38 Studios assets stands at roughly $1.9 million. He said a “significant portion” of that money – more than half – went to legal fees and the cost of maintaining the intellectual property.

“We had several consultants working with us, we had technology – software and hardware – we had to maintain over the course of six years,” Land said. “We have a data center right now in Providence that is going to transition over to THQ.”

Effectively, the sale of the intellectual property for “Kingdoms of Amalur” and “Copernicus” will go to the state of Rhode Island, as the largest secured creditor in the receivership case.

The former CEO of 38 Studios, Jennifer MacLean, tweeted Thursday: “Really happy to see this. I know how much love and care was poured into Reckoning and Amalur, and I hope they have the chance to live on.”

Schilling struck a less positive note, tweeting: “For anyone in RI it will reveal the fact their officials didn’t have a clue what they were doing when we were alive and well. The game sold millions and the state had NO IDEA what they had with 38 growing. The co. would have revitalized the entire tech district in Providence.”

Land said his understanding is THQ plans to produce a sequel to “Kingdoms of Amalur” with the intellectual property it acquired.

It was “Copernicus” that state leaders invested in when in 2010 they decided to have taxpayers guarantee a $75 million loan to lure former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s company from Massachusetts to Providence. In essence, the state pledged to repay bondholders if the company went belly-up, which it did in 2012. Including interest, taxpayers were on the hook for more than $88 million.

Subtracting the proceeds from the civil suit and the funds from the receivership, it’s estimated Rhode Island taxpayers will end up paying back nearly $38 million.

“Copernicus” was expected to be what’s called a massively multiplayer online game (MMO), which uses the internet to connect a large number of players at once.

Land said the improving economy helped move the intellectual property. He also said there is a renewed interest in these types of games thanks to the growing interest in virtual-reality technology.

“Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” is owned by Electronic Arts.

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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