Before 38 Studios pissed away more cash than the spoilt son of an Arab oil sheik, the Kingdoms of Amalur studio had a grand idea to work on after they had finished work on their debut game. Project Copernicus was the name of the game, an MMO based on the KOA architecture that would have combined the fantastic combat of that title with a visually stunning world. And it would have been free as well.
Talking to Boston Magazine, firm founder Curt Schilling says that the idea of a free-to-play MMO was one that didn’t gel well with him initially, but he softened his views towards the project as time went on. “We were going to be the first triple-A, hundred-million-dollar-plus, free-to-play, micro-transaction-based MMO,” Schilling said.
That was one of our big secrets. I think when we eventually showed off the game for the first time, the atom bomb was going to be free-to-play. When we announced that at the end, that was gonna be the thing that, I think, shocked the world.
You won’t find a more ardent opposition to free to play than me, and I went 180 degrees.
Schilling says that the freemium angle was one that would have been used to entice investors in, but after Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee expressed maximum disapproval with the way in which the company was run (And all that rampant bankruptcy as well), those interested parties decided to give the free MMO party a skip.
No one was expecting it, and it was another thing that changed the tenor of conversations with investors late in the game. Most investors wanted nothing to do with subscription-based products, they were all on the social media, and free-to-play games as a means to revenue.
An MMO based on the work from KOA could have really been something to shake up the MMO world, as the first (and only) game from 38 Studios proved itself to be an above average fantasy title with room to grow into something superb. But we’ll never know if Project Copernicus could have been something special, thanks to millions of dollars that 38 Studios still owes in debt.
Last Updated: August 20, 2012