The "Project Copernicus" MMO is coming next summer, but Rhode Island is done helping.
It's not often that a videogame is dated by a top-ranking state official, but that appears to be what we have in the case of "Project Copernicus," the MMO being developed by the struggling 38 Studios. The game doesn't even have an official title yet, but in a press conference held today, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee said he was told that it's scheduled for release in June of 2013.
That's assuming the studio lasts that long, of course. 38 Studios was given a $75 million loan guarantee in return for relocating to the state and has thus far received more than $49 million of that, all of which has apparently been spent. The Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation is hiring an outside auditor to see if that's actually the case and until that determination is made, the studio will not receive any tax credits. Chafee also said the state is going to change eligibility rules for motion picture tax credits in an effort to avoid giving the company any more money.
"I'll do anything under the law to protect the taxpayer and also not break the law," Chafee said. "My goal is to protect the taxpayer now."
Meanwhile, RIEDC Executive Director Keith Stokes, who headed the agency when the deal with 38 Studios was made, has unsurprisingly resigned from his position, although University of Rhode Island Professor of Economics Leonard Lardaro said Stokes is being unfairly scapegoated for the mess made by the previous administration, which wanted the 38 Studios deal. "He is absolutely first-rate," Lardaro said. "We can't afford to lose really good people like that. We're not going to get anyone better."