The surprise closure of 38 Studios and Big Huge Games back in May came as a shock to many and is still cited as one of 2012’s biggest news stories in the industry. Helmed by former baseball star Curt Schilling, the company was said to have over-estimated the development cost of its flagship project “Copernicus”, an MMORPG set in the same universe as Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning which launched back in February.
Despite mass exposure over the past few months we still know very little about the actual game itself and whether it was destined to become another unsuccessful “cookie cutter” MMO. However, according Schilling in a recent interview with Boston Magazine, Copernicus would have been the first “AAA” MMORPG to go free-to-play at launch:
We were going to be the first AAA, hundred-million-dollar-plus, free-to-play, microtransaction-based MMO. That was one of our big secrets,” Schilling said. “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.
After sinking an estimated $75m into the company as part of an employment drive, the State of Rhode Island is currently trying to recoup taxpayer money by selling off what was left by 38 Studios.
In better news, many of those laid off at Big Huge Games are now working for the recently-opened studio, Epic Baltimore.