It's the bottom of the seventh with the top of the order up to bat and Curt Schilling is on the mound, once again attempting to produce into the late innings.
But this time around, for ol' No. 38 -- one of the Boston Red Sox most lionized pitchmen -- it has nothing to do with a diamond, and everything to do with selling an online platform. Since officially retiring from the majors in March 2009, Schilling, 44, has primarily focused his time and financial assets toward his start-up video game company, 38 Studios.
Schilling, who is the online gaming company's founder and chairman, is trying to acquire private investment to help offset a recent loan from the state of Rhode Island.
In an effort to persuade the famed flamethrower to move the business from its home in Massachusetts to its southern New England neighbor, America's smallest state reportedly allowed Schilling to borrow more than $41 million, a number that could balloon to more than $52 million. Other reports have stated the loan may be for as much as $75 million. To secure the loan, Schilling committed to bringing 450 new jobs to Rhode Island by the end of 2012.
To this point, Schilling -- a noted online gamer from his days as a ballplayer challenging his three sons from afar on the road -- is his own most vested backer, to the tune of nearly $20 million. A 2010 Harvard Business Review case study suggested that at that time, Schilling owned better than 82 percent of the company.
Although 38 Studios has yet to release its first game, according to The Boston Globe's Scott Kirsner, Swiss financial management firm UBS has been emailing investment prospects to potential venture capitalists to assist with a "pre-IPO" fundraising effort. In the past, 38 Studios had said it needed a minimum of $50 million to create the massively-multiplayer online game, or MMO.
The company's first game, a single-player called "Kingdoms of Amalaur: Reckoning" due out in early 2012, will be published by Redwood City, Calif.-based Electronic Arts -- producers of such top-selling titles as the Madden football and Tiger Woods' golf franchises, the Battlefield series and The Sims.
"Reckoning," an action role-playing game, or RPG, that combines the likes of New York Times best-selling science fiction author R.A. Salvatore and artist Todd McFarlane of Spawn comic book fame, has already received acclaim within the industry. Positive sales should set up 38 Studios well to release its second game, already titled "Copernicus," which is the multiplayer online component of "Reckoning" by the close of the same year.
"38 Studios has established itself as the rising star to watch over the next several years in the RPG and MMO space," Kirsner wrote, quoting the UBS investment overview.
Aside from paying back the substantial loan, some in the business world speculate that the added cash flow from outside investment could help to finalize the development of the two games, as well as provide for their respective advertising and marketing campaigns.
From Schill to shill, no one is quite sure whether the three-time World Series winning pitcher can again deliver, but one thing is certain, he'll need a little relief in the form of some capital infusion to walk off the field a winner. Without it, 38 Studios will likely receive its final hook.