Auction set for 38 Studios intellectual property

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — About two dozen parties, including some overseas, have expressed interest in bidding on the intellectual property of former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling's bankrupt video game company, an executive at the auction firm said.

Nick Jimenez, executive vice president at Global Heritage Partners, said the would-be bidders in the Dec. 11 telephone auction for 38 Studios' assets are from North America, Europe and Asia. Some have expressed interest in buying all the intellectual property, and some are eyeing parts of it, he said.

All are being screened ahead of time and must sign non-disclosure agreements.

The property includes the unfinished "massively multiplayer" online game, code-named Copernicus, that was under development in Providence with the help of a $75 million loan guarantee from Rhode Island's economic development agency. Also being sold off are the intellectual property rights to titles developed by Big Huge Games, which 38 Studios had acquired, and a range of in-house game technologies.

Jimenez declined to estimate the worth of the property, or say how much he hopes to get.

"There's value here — I'm hoping some people see a tremendous amount of value," he said. "Our objective is to return as much as we can to the stakeholders."

The state Economic Development Corp. approved the massive loan guarantee for 38 Studios in 2010 as a way to lure the startup from Massachusetts. Officials including then-Gov. Don Carcieri held up the deal as a boon for the economically struggling state.

After the company collapsed, the EDC sued Schilling, former 38 Studios officials and some of its own former employees who had crafted the deal. The lawsuit alleges fraud, negligence and breach of fiduciary duty, among other things, and claims the defendants knew the company would run out of money by last year but concealed that from the board. The defendants deny the claims.

Rhode Island is now responsible for some $90 million related to the deal.

Initial bids on the intellectual property are due to Richard Land, the court-appointed receiver in the case, on Dec. 4. The interested parties so far include some well-known industry figures, he said.

While it's not clear if anyone will want to invest the tens of millions of dollars it would likely take to finish Copernicus, developers could make use of parts of it.

"It would be fair to say that there will be some version of the intellectual property out there" on the market, he said.

Some industry analysts have expressed doubt the IP will be sold for very much.