Last December, Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee called Project Copernicus, 38 Studios’ ill-fated MMO, “a lot of junk” after it failed to sell at auction in the wake of the developer’s 2012 shutdown.
On Twitter, Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley said that it was Chafee’s own words during 38 Studios’ financial crisis in May 2012—such as stating that their debut RPG, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning “failed,” despite the fact that it apparently exceeded publisher EA’s expectations—that scared off potential investors right when company founder and chairman Curt Schilling was scrambling to secure funding.
“I had the good fortune of seeing the game,” Smedley said. “It looked great. 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 elaborated that he wasn’t attacking the people of Rhode Island or making excuses for 38 Studios and the $75 million loan from the state’s Economic Development Corporation, but that he wanted to set the record straight on the potential quality of Project Copernicus.
“I’m not defending how 38 Studios was managed,” he said. “Just tired of seeing attacks without the facts. All Chafee had to do was simply say, ‘No comment.’ He didn’t have to agree to a single thing. He just had to not comment and let Curt try to save things. Then, if it failed, pile on away!”
According to Smedley, Schilling came to SOE “many times” in an attempt to secure funding for the project, but a deal never materialized in the end.
“The economics were too tough to make work for us,” he said. “This is a business where risks are large. We had enough balls in the air. More risk was too much for us. It was gorgeous. It had smart people working on it. It was just too expensive, is all.”