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Electronic Arts will publish Schilling game

Video offering will be in fantasy genre and unrelated to sports

By Hiawatha Bray
Globe Staff / March 10, 2010

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Four years after Curt Schilling launched his video game company, 38 Studios LLC of Maynard, the former Red Sox pitching great has yet to bring a product to market. But he’s just landed a deal to have his first game published by one of the biggest companies in the games industry.

Electronic Arts Inc., the Redwood City, Calif., game company best known for its Madden NFL football and Tiger Woods golf games, will distribute a game that is being created by Schilling’s company. The name of the new game is a secret, but it has nothing to do with sports. Instead, it’s a single-player fantasy role playing game, still under development and code-named Project Mercury.

Schilling said he’d been in discussions with EA for two years. “Their global reach is well known,’’ Schilling said. “Having them be partners and assist us is a big boon for us.’’

The game is being created by a team based at Big Huge Games, a Maryland company that was purchased by 38 Studios last year. The action takes place inside a fantasy world being created by two of Schilling’s partners, novelist R. A. Salvatore and comic book artist Todd McFarlane. The same imaginary world will be the setting for a second project from 38 Studios, a multiplayer, Internet-based game being developed in Maynard under the code name Copernicus.

Jennifer MacLean, chief executive of 38 Studios, refused to reveal setting or plot details for either game. “The fate of the world hangs in the balance,’’ MacLean said, “and that’s all we’re prepared to say right now.’’

EA made its name with sports games, but has released popular titles in many genres, including its current best-selling military game, Battlefield: Bad Company 2. But EA has also suffered from last year’s worldwide decline in video game sales. The company was especially hard hit by sluggish sales of the Rock Band music games, developed by Harmonix Music Systems Inc. in Cambridge. EA laid off about 1,500 workers in November. “They’re ailing,’’ said independent video game analyst Billy Pidgeon. “Like other gaming companies, they’re getting hammered.’’

Schilling said despite the downturn, video games rake in billions every year. “This industry is still going nuts,’’ he said.

But 38 Studios has yet to sell a single video game, and Schilling refused to set a firm go-to-market date for its first product. “When the game’s done and finished, to the bar that we set, we’re going to be ready to launch it,’’ he said. “We expect to put out the best-selling game of the year - next year.’’

Hiawatha Bray can be reached at bray@globe.com.

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