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Project Copernicus, the MMORPG set in the same world as Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, will likely never see the light of day. There's plenty of time to wonder about what might've been, though. Curt Schilling, founder of developer 38 Studios, says Copernicus would have been the first $100 million free-to-play MMO.
"We were going to be the first triple-A, hundred-million-dollar-plus, free-to-play, micro-transaction-based MMO. That was one of our big secrets,” Schilling said in a chat with Boston magazine. “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 says that he was initially opposed to a free-to-play business model. However, he eventually "went 180 degrees." Part of the reason that free-to-play becaming so appealing to him is that potential investors were more interested in it. He said that most investors "wanted nothing to do with" subscription-based games.
It does seem like a subscription MMO is a tougher sell these days. The high-profile failure of Star Wars: The Old Republic has no doubt made a lot of people skittish. Free-to-play with microtransactions has become the hot way to make a buck in that market. I personally don't think subscription MMOs will go extinct anytime soon but until a new game with monthly fees starts kicking ass, investors are going to be gun-shy.
38 Studios ultimately went bankrupt in May. Around that time, the developer released two videos of Project Copernicus: a fly-through video and a brief gameplay trailer. That footage is likely the last we'll ever see of the project.