38 Studios' Project Copernicus was planned as free-to-play
Schilling's MMO would've been free-to-play at launch
These days, massively multiplayer online games launch with a subscription business model before switching to a free-to-play model when times are hard. According to Boston Magazine's Jason Schwartz, the Project Copernicus MMO coming from the now-defunct 38 Studios would launched as free-to-play from the beginning.
"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 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 was apparently against the idea of free-to-play in the beginning, but he changed his mind during development. Schilling said investors shying away from investing in subscription titles was the impetus for his change.
"You won't find a more ardent opposition to free to play than me, and I went 180 degrees," he said. "Most investors wanted nothing to do with subscription-based products, they were all on the social media, and free-to-play games as a means to revenue."