Richard J. Land, receiver in the 38 Studios LLC bankruptcy case, is setting out to answer that question this summer.
Unprecedented in Rhode Island economic-development history, the 38 Studios bankruptcy is also relatively unique as a digital-media liquidation thanks to the company’s rapid growth and disintegration.
Although hardly the first American video game shop to go belly up, the size and ambition of 38 Studios was unusual for a startup, as was the type of massively multiplayer online game the company received a $75 million state-backed loan to make.
That’s made finding a blueprint for selling 38 Studios’ intellectual property illusive.
“There were some recent [video game] bankruptcies, but nothing really parallel,” Land said. “The problem we have here is they were in the middle of a single, large project that was shut down. And it was almost as if it was shut down without someone making sure everything in the house was OK. It wasn’t anyone’s fault necessarily. It was just the way this happened.”
The proceeds Land makes from each asset sale go to pay off 38 Studios’ creditors, of which the state of Rhode Island is the largest, with an estimated liability, including principal and interest minus reserves of $89 million.
Land sold 38 Studios’ physical property – the computers, electronics, furniture and memorabilia left in the offices – in two auctions that brought in $830,000, of which $400,000 came from leased equipment that went back to the leasing company.
As for the more valuable intellectual property, Land isn’t making any predictions on how much it might be worth.
“I have no idea, and it would be wrong to guess,” Land said. “It would put an expectation out there that could be too high or low.”
After presiding over a lengthy effort to secure and package the creative work of 38 Studios employees, Land is now getting ready to market it this summer.
The assets fit into a few different categories.
The rights to “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning,” the only game 38 Studios ever released, is also the only asset producing revenue.
“Reckoning,” a role-playing game created by the Baltimore-based Big Huge Games company 38 Studios purchased, has sold 1.6 million copies worldwide, according to game-tracking website vgchartz.com.
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