IF OFFERING Curt Schilling $75 million in loan guarantees was the only way to keep his fledgling video game company in Massachusetts, the Commonwealth chose wisely in letting him leave. The former
Video game development grew into big business long ago, and Eastern Massachusetts, with its tech-savvy workforce, already plays host to Harmonix, Irrational Games, and other well-regarded firms. If the state is going to cultivate this industry further, officials should do so in a systematic way — perhaps by offering training initiatives, infrastructure improvements, and other lures.
But it’s hard to justify so large an incentive plan for 38 Studios, because the firm has yet to release a game, and state officials are ill positioned to assess its potential. Schilling’s company did agree to pay penalties if it fails to create a certain number of jobs in Rhode Island, and that state would get dibs on the company’s property if it can’t pay back its private loans. But states are bad at holding recipients of economic-development aid to their job-creation promises. And in a scenario in which 38 Studios can’t pay its loans, its intellectual property may be of limited value.
Especially since Governor Patrick’s multimillion-dollar efforts on behalf of