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.