After failing to sell at auction last week, 38 Studios’ Amalur MMO Copernicus is now nothing more than “a lot of junk,” Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee said Thursday on a public affairs show on WJAR-TV. As reported by The Associated Press, Chafee explained that he had hoped the game would sell at auction, but wasn’t surprised by the fact that no acceptable offers for the property were made.
38 Studios was working on the game, helped in part from a controversial 2010 $ 75 million loan guarantee, when the company went bankrupt last year. Rhode Island taxpayers are now left with millions in debt, and the state hoped the auction would help recoup some of that debt.
However, only 38 Studios subsidiary Big Huge Games properties like Rise of Nations and Rise of Legends sold during the auction, bringing in just $ 320,000. The state will continue its efforts to sell Copernicus, but it is not clear how much interest there is for the property.
Governor Chafee has long been an outspoken critic of the loan, which was approved in 2010 when he was running for office. The loan was designed to entice 38 Studios to move from Massachusetts to Rhode Island, with the promise of job creation and various other economic stimulation benefits.
On Thursday, governor Chafee recalled this loan guarantee, calling it “insane” and a “historically bad” decision that may have been driven by panic.
“People just panicked and gave a retired baseball player a huge amount of taxpayer money with no experience in this industry or any other businesses,” Chafee said. “There was this whole groupthink across the business communities.”
In addition to the auction, Rhode Island is attempting to recover some of its debt by suing Schilling and other architects of the loan. This case is ongoing.
Schilling, a former Boston Red Sox pitcher who is now a commentator at ESPN, responded to Chafee’s comments on Twitter.
“Any decision that loses is ‘bad’ in hindsight. Bet RI would like a ‘redo’ on Gov election too,” he wrote, calling out Chafee’s reported 11 percent approval rating. “He has no clue what he’s talking about. Never did.”
Schilling further explained that he informed state officials that it would be impossible for Rhode Island to recoup its investment if 38 Studios folded. He previously called Chafee a “dunce of epic proportions.”