38 Studios' Project Copernicus would have been free-to-play

Founder Curt Schilling claims fantasy MMO game would have "shocked the world" as the first AAA F2P game with $100 million budget.

38 Studios founder Curt Schilling has opened up on the studio's massively multiplayer game, known only under its working title, Project Copernicus. Speaking to Boston Magazine, Schilling said the plan was for the game to be free-to-play, with revenue expected from in-game microtransactions.

Project Copernicus' F2P model would have "shocked the world," claims Schilling.

"We were going to be the first triple-A, hundred-million-dollar-plus, free-to-play, micro-transaction-based MMO," he 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."

Schilling said he was originally reluctant to embrace a free-to-play model for Project Copernicus, but was later convinced it was the best idea, saying he "went 180 degrees." The former Major League Baseball ace also said free-to-play was helping 38 Studios ink a financing deal for Project Copernicus, claiming investors were reluctant to sign a subscription-based MMO game.

38 Studios publicly crumbled in May, and is now bankrupt. The assets to the studio's Amalur game world, which includes Project Copernicus, now belong to the state of Rhode Island. The only video footage ever released of Project Copernicus--originally intended to ship during June 2013--is below.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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68 comments
Ringx55
Ringx55

GW2 is "F2P" and look at the hype for that. It just goes to show that F2P is viable in this market.

wyan_
wyan_

I was going to make a post that would have shocked the world, but then I took a bankruptcy to the knee.

JimmeyBurrows
JimmeyBurrows

So even if the company didn't die, the game would have lost all the money anyway... Micro-transactions are a terrible thing for games, subscription is expensive, but at least it doesn't bone the economy of the game.

Don't let anyone else this stupid spend other peoples money.

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

Oh, for god's sake not another F2P. Quit pushing it down our throats and start making decent fully-priced games for a change.

SlowMotionKarma
SlowMotionKarma

Is it just me or have there been a lot of these "our next game WOULD HAVE been mind-blowing, if we hadn't have gone bankrupt" this last year. I can't name them, but I remember reading articles like this recently.

I think a big problem all these belly-up studios are making is their quest to make a "AAA title" even though they haven't been around long enough. Sometimes a start-up can get lucky and publish a hit right out of the gate, but most of the time it takes experience. The team needs to work together for a while, release a full product to some manner of success, build up some capital, get a feel for their particular style/audience and THEN go for the big, ambitious title.

In the business world, "would have" and "could have" mean nothing. I "would have" made the best-selling and highest-rated game in the world if I had the staff, facilities, funds, development time, publisher, and idea. I don't, but I would have. That's good enough, right? Right?!

steelmouth
steelmouth

SMDFH its thoughts like that that got you bankrupt

minijeffro
minijeffro

Kingdoms of Amalur wasn't a AAA title, maybe Curt thinks it was but it wasn't. Very derivative gameplay. Played like a lackluster MMO. It had its moments where it shined, like combat, but ultimately could not stand head to head with the best from Bethesda or Bioware.  I doubt Copernicus would have been anything that great. 

cirugo
cirugo

and I would have passed on it...

 

XIntoTheBlue
XIntoTheBlue

Lol.... "Founder Curt Schilling claims fantasy MMO game would have "shocked the world" as the first AAA F2P game with $100 million budget."

 

More like shocked Rhode Island's wallet.

Deckard2323
Deckard2323

Sorry Curt, but you got duped.  Starting a company with an intent to create a $100M free-to-play MMO in an MMO-over-saturated market was completely idiotic.  

jrabbit99
jrabbit99

It's interesting that there are so many MMOs coming out when so many of them are failing. WoW is slowly on the downswing, SWTOR was unsuccessful with a subscription... the MMO market is over saturated. I'm not sure how Copernicus was going to survive. It built off the Amalur universe, but how can it compete with already well known universes like LOTR, Star Wars, Warhammer, and Elder Scrolls?

downloadthefile
downloadthefile

i own amalur and don't even want to play it.  i wish i wanted to, but it really isn't great or even good.  it's the kind of game where if it were the first game i played, i wouldn't understand why people play video games.  its as bland as possible and the character moves around the world as though he's ice skating.

surrealme
surrealme

It was way too soon to be pouring huge sums of money into developing an MMO, f2p or not, based on an IP that hasn't been around long enough to have a large and loyal following. Maybe 5-10 years down the road after releasing several stand-alone KOA games and having some solid, profitable successes under their belt. There seems to have been a whole lot of magical thinking going on at 38.

vochelli
vochelli

I found it interesting that one of the game-changing features he touted was a 100 million dollar budget. More money does not fully equal a better game, a lesson he should have learned with Kingdoms of Amalur. What about having innovative gameplay instead of an unheard of budget for a F2P?

DarkSaber2k
DarkSaber2k

OK, we need to put Curt Shilling into Peter Molyneuxs special "Keep him the hell away from a keyboard" cell.

shantd
shantd

Shoulda Woulda Coulda

Raeldor
Raeldor

If it was just full of bland quests though, it would probably have gone the way of Amalur anyway.  If you're that convinced it would have worked dude, get on kickstarter.

sonicare
sonicare

Free to play doesnt mean you dont have to buy the game.  It's just a somewhat bad descriptive term about a certain business model.  You buy the game and then can spend more on optional microtransactions.  But there is no monthly fee like in other MMOs.

deathknight107
deathknight107

it would have been good if he didn't have so many employees working ont he game for one and 2 spent half that much on it, that way they would have not gone udner so badly. 38 I am disappointed in you...you could have been great but all you gave me was a one good game before dying

WTA2k5
WTA2k5

I don't know how this game entered development in the first place. Recouping $100 million with a generic free-to-play game that isn't based on an existing IP should've sounded as ridiculous before they started as it does now.

thechuck11
thechuck11

If it went free to play, it most likely wouldn't be good anyway. I don't care if they had a 100 million+ budget, free to play just ends up unbalanced and crappy. I still believe that the best way for a game to be sold is the original model of 60 bucks (that could be argued too much but that's a different debate.) 

blackothh
blackothh

thats a hell of alot of money to recoupe in a free to play

thom_maytees
thom_maytees

It is very sad that a gaming studio went under, but I felt that if 38 Studios was managed well, it would have survived today.

starduke
starduke

In other news, the Governor of Rhode Island declared he was going into game development. When asked why, he stated "Well, we got all this Amalur stuff just lyin' around, I figure I aught to do somethin' with it. I figure it'll be something to do when i need a break from playin' golf."

LordRaymond
LordRaymond

This would have indeed shocked the world and taken a long time to recoup that budget.

Sgthombre
Sgthombre

Wow, now I care even less. 

andrewwittmaier
andrewwittmaier

I hope someone picks this game up.  I think something great could be done with it.  Definitely needs a lot of work though.  

servb0ts
servb0ts

F2P or P2P both in MMO are good depending on the games server.

hector530
hector530

"Founder Curt Schilling claims fantasy MMO would have "shocked the world" as the first AAA F2P game with $100 million budget."

 

....guild wars 2

Bozanimal
Bozanimal

Free to play is typically the last resort of AAA MMO developers for good reason. I don't know a single gamer that says, "Microtransactions, yeah!"

 

Many gamers like Free to Play but, if a game is good enough, I believe most have no qualms about paying a fair price up front or even a subscription.

Suaron_x
Suaron_x

What does EA put in their publishers kool-aid I wonder? 

nocoolnamejim
nocoolnamejim moderator

Thank god it crumbled and died then. I liked Kingdoms of Amalur. The next game from the studio being free-to-play would have been very depressing for me. I'd likely have boycotted it.

Freeride1972
Freeride1972

Really? Did you play Amalur? PLayed much better than Skyrim. Better story line. Everything you did was about your character, and building yourself up. I can remember playing Skyrim for over 3 hours to get absolutely nothing accomplished. Is that supposed to be fun? I understand that Bethesda has several followers that think they are the greatest, and they are right, to a point. That doesn't make it the best playing type of game out there.

 

to tgwolf, we all love gaming. We that have played since the golden age of gaming know better than any what makes a good game. We have seen them all come and go. Just because it is a big title, with a huge publisher, doesn't make it good. Some of these big guys need to go back and rethink what they are doing. The same old thing over and over again gets really boring. It was nice to see something new like Amalur. So before you start to talk smack, learn what it is to play a good game and how it is defined.

tgwolf
tgwolf

 @minijeffro Careful, you might hurt his pride and contradict a lot of fans that don't know the difference between good games and big name publishers.

sircyrus
sircyrus

 @downloadthefile

 I agree 100%. I couldn't stand the camera or movement so much that I stopped playing very early on.

DoctorTanaka
DoctorTanaka

LOL! I was thinking the exact same thing! You beat me to the punch!

roganth
roganth

 @Raeldor

 Kingdoms of Amalur didn't fail, it sold over a million copies.  The company failed by trying to make the MMO and KOA and start the company all at the same time.

DarkSaber2k
DarkSaber2k

 @Raeldor Dude already in enough shit for mis-managing funds, don't you think?

leepialong
leepialong

 @hector530 Guild Wars 2 is NOT free to play. it BUY TO PLAY as similar model as D3

Suaron_x
Suaron_x

They were going to sell you some virtual Zoloft or Wellbutrin for only $1.99 per month to help you with that!!!

Deckard2323
Deckard2323

 @roganth  By the way, they didn't make KOA, per se.  They bought the studio that was making it so they can release it and have some cash flow.  

Raeldor
Raeldor

 @roganth It absolutely failed.  It needed to sell 3 million copies to break even.  It was a big budget title that got lukewam reviews and they didn't sell enough to recoup their costs.

hector530
hector530

 @johnked6 yeah forgot about that guess that doesnt make GW2 its just free subscription

ProjektInsanity
ProjektInsanity

 @Raeldor Not true.  That's a claim that gets frequently mentioned, and it's incorrect.  I no longer have the desire to pour through posts on the Amalur forums, but the company did not need 3 million copies to break even as far as KoA was concerned; the financial trouble came from lack of investor support, not because the game underperformed.