38 Studios’ IP Kingdoms of Amalur up for auction. Will EA or Epic buy?

The disintegration of Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios, the company behind this year’s Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and the cancelled MMO set in the same universe Project Copernicus, is coming to a close. Shut down in May with all employees shown the door, there are survivors emerging from the wreckage. Just today, Epic Games officially announced the opening of Impossible Games, a new studio made up of former staffers from Big Huge Games, the 38 Studios’ subsidiary responsible for Kingdoms of Amalur. With many of those imperiled talented people now in new positions, it’s time to wonder where the intellectual property developed over years by Schillings studio will go.

The current owner of the Kingdoms of Amalur, Project Copernicus, and other intellectual property created by 38 is the state of Rhode Island. The state was one of 38 Studios’ primary creditors and it was the inability to repay taxpayer-funded loans that forced the studio’s closure earlier this year. Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that the Bank of New York Mellon Trust Co. (BNY) and the Rhode Island Economic Development Corp. (RIEDC) were awarded all assets held by 38 Studios by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mary Walrath.

Intellectual property is the only asset of worth left at 38 Studios, and this is why BNY lobbied to gain control of it. Where 38 just dismantled, said court papers followed by both BNY and the RIEDC, “all or substantially all of the intellectual property could be irretrievably lost.” Meaning that the art, game prototypes, everything developed in association with Amalur and Copernicus could be destroyed before being preserved on RIEDC/BNY controlled servers.

The IP will now be sold off to the highest bidder to recoup the $75 million lost in loans given to Schilling’s studio.

Who’s buying? Big Huge Games was said to be working on Kingdoms of Amalur 2 pre-production when 38 Studios was shut down in May. Epic’s Mike Capps said on Thursday that Impossible Games will be working on Epic-owned intellectual property when it finishes its first project, Infinity Blade: Dungeons, later this year. Epic is slowly branching out its stable of IPs with Fortnite being the latest. Provided it could get the IP for cheap, it might pick up Kingdoms of Amalur and allow Impossible Games to finish what it started.

Amalur publishing partner Electronic Arts is also a candidate. EA Labels president Frank Gibeau said in July that his company would love to see a sequel to that game. “I think it’s unfortunate how everything worked out [for 38 Studios],” said Gibeau, “At the end of the day we saw a lot of creativity and vision in the team that Curt put together. We thought the game was terrific. It reviewed well. We built a good business there and hope there’s a sequel someday. We’d love to be a partner for that.”

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