The announcement that Electronic Arts’ “Star Wars: The Old Republic” – which, like defunct 38 Studios’ Project Copernicus, is a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) – will become free-to-play signals a major shift in the game industry. And it also raises a question: Would 38 Studios actually have been able to charge for Project Coperncius when it came out next year?
When I talked to Schilling for my story breaking down 38 Studios’ crash, he told me that the company’s plan was to make Copernicus free to play and to seek revenue from within the game, the same way EA is attempting with Old Republic.
“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 told me. “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.”
• Related: Watch Newsmakers with Boston magazine’s Jason Schwartz (July 29)