Project Copernicus would have been free-to-play

By Steve Watts, Aug 20, 2012 10:30am PDT

Free-to-play is quickly becoming the de facto standard for MMORPGs, as more and more high-profile games either adopt the model from the start or eventually relent. The now-canceled Project Copernicus was in development for a long time, so many of us thought it would have been a subscription game a la World of Warcraft--but 38 Studios founder Curt Schilling says the game was going to be free-to-play after all.

Boston Magazine reports that the game was always planned to be free-to-play and microtransaction-based, but 38 Studios was saving that surprise for when it showed the game off formally.

"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."

He says he was opposed to the idea at first, but went "180 degrees." He also suggested that being free-to-play was appealing to investors, and again accused Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee for spoiling the deal with negative publicity. Chafee has denied the claims. But all of the clever financial models in the world probably couldn't have saved a game that wasn't fun.

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