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Copernicus Looks to the Stars

Curt Schilling pitches his latest venture to investors on The Boston Globe is an article discussing Curt Schilling's new role as chairman of 38 Studios, the game developer founded by the former major-league baseball pitcher. They introduce the paper's audience to Project Copernicus, the working title for 38 Studios' upcoming MMORPG, and outline the financial realities of developing a game to compete with the 800 lb World of Warcraft gorilla. Word is Schilling has sunk over $5 million into the project out of his own pocket, and while he made cash by the boatload in baseball, his main role these days is to find investors to supply funding for the game, which will take at least $50 million to complete, and possibly more than $100 million. It probably doesn't help that this means he has to meet with fanboys that aren't even interested in his project: "At first, the only reason I was meeting with Curt is because I was a fan," says Boston venture capitalist Jeffrey Bussgang. "But when we met, you couldn’t shut him up about building a great game. He is a compelling entrepreneur, and he has recruited a great team" (none of which was enough to get him to invest). Complicating the financial picture is the company's acquisition of Big Huge Games, which doubled their headcount to about 140, and industry insiders guesstimate this puts their annual operating expenses in the $15-20 million range. The studio obviously believes there are potential rewards commensurate with the considerable risks involved in creating a game to compete with WoW: "You don’t see very many markets where there is a Coke and no Pepsi." says 38 Studios' Brett Close, using the ever-popular soft-drink analogy. "That’s what you have with WoW. Other products have been successful, but they’re not the massive competitor that I know will exist."

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4. Re: Copernicus Looks to the Stars Jul 26, 2009, 17:06 Cutter
This is everything that is wrong with computer games right now. Instead of spending $100 million making another awful wowclone that’ll probably end up with 100k subscribers after a few months, they should just try to make interesting games. A game is not required to be set in a “Tolkien-esque fantasy realm”, nor is it required to be an MMO.

Exactly. It's not like Blizzard set out to make a game with 10+million players. It grew organically because they made a great game. It wasn't about trying to beat EQ or anything else. This is something Blizzard has always understood, build it (great games) and they will come. It's why they don't need to spend a bazillion dollars to build a game, they just take their sweet time doing it and re-doing it where necessary untill they have it right.

Unless you already have the IP designed top to bottom with thousands and thousands of quests, the art direction, the audio style, etc. just waiting to be implemented why the hell would you need more than a few dozen people working on the game, nevermind 140.

Add to which, Zadig is totally right. Why don't these guys start by establishing a pedigree and building some cash reserves by creating some good original IPs in the first place - same as Blizzard did.

Curt reminds me of why most restauranteurs fail in the first place. They have the money to start one, but no experience in the industry and think to themselves' Well, gee, how hard can it be?'. Well the rate of failure shows just how hard it really is. It's why most successful restauranteurs are like Blizzard, they start small, and through refinement, trial and error, they get one successful place under way. Than another, and after a while if that goes well, another, and so on. But the guys who just show up on the scene with a fistfull of cash from some other industry and blow a ton of it on some monstrosity thinking it'll be the new 800lb gorilla fail most all of the time. I wouldn't give him a dime either.

I wish him all the luck in the world, but he really is going about it all wrong.
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