38 Studios’ Money Trouble and the Price of an MMO

The MMO Blogosphere is abuzz with news about 38 Studios and their recent financial difficulties. I myself tried to write a different post about it but it came out way too political for this blog. Regardless of what one may think of Curt personally, there’s no doubt that he is one of us and is following the dream of making his own game, something many of us would like to do if we had the spare capital lying around. Their proposed MMO, Copernicus, whatever it turns out to be actually called, has potential, and it’s a game I’d like to get to play someday.

Yesterday they released a flythrough for Copernicus that shows off some nice graphics and solid music and, they hope, shows everyone that they’re serious and not just a money pit.

Their situation brings to mind a question I’ve asked before: how much money does it take to make an MMO. Conventional widsom in the industry says an awful lot, but at the same time all of the long term successes in the hobby were made for a lot less than SWTOR’s $200+ million. Why couldn’t 38 Studios build thier MMO plus a single-player standalone that the MMO could borrow assets from for $100+ million? I just don’t see why it has to cost that much unless we’re defining “make an MMO” as “copy WoW.”

This is why I think the Pathfinder Online people Have their heads on straight; one of their stated goals is to make an MMO without running the bill close to eight figures, by starting small and building a game and its audience from there. Their effort, too, might fail, as so many MMOs do in development, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Meanwhile, I wish all the people at 38 Studios the best, and I hope this is a temporary cash flow problem. It would be nice to get to see their game get a release.

4 responses to “38 Studios’ Money Trouble and the Price of an MMO

  1. The scenery in Copernicus is breathtaking, I agree. It would be a shame for all those art assets to get trashed just because the company’s leadership was irresponsible with their budgeting.

    The problem with MMO gamers today is that we’re all spoiled in favor of eyecandy over substance. And AAA games give the best eyecandy. Only problem with pouring so much money and time into graphics is that less thought and development is put into the actual gameplay. And then we complain about all the ‘WoW clones’.

  2. I had a dream last night where I saw on the news that the guy behind 38 studios killed himsellf… didnt remember it till now


    • And I dont see why these studios need hundreds of millions of dollars to make a game when indie companies make MMOs for a fraction of the cost.

      I doubt darkfall cost more than 50m to make, still playing that some… though its playerbase is mostly not playing and waiting for df2.0 (which was originally advertised as DARKFALL 2010)

      • forgot to add that darkfall also has pushed the genre forwards and innovated more than any AAA MMO since… well, WoW I guess