Turbine’s spending mad cheese on free-to-play console MMO

Developer Turbie isn’t hiding the fact that it’s working on a console MMO. The developer has spoken about it several times, often in conjunction with mentions of publishing partnerships. Here’s the reason, we suspect: the game has cost the company a cool 20 million dollars thus far.

Project development VP Craig Alexander dropped that mad fact nugget at GDC Austin. He also dropped a few more. The MMO is slated for a 2011 release and will have a free-to-play structure, which is something that the company is fiddling with right now with MMO Dungeons and Dragons Online.

We’ve always believed this console MMO was a port of Lord of the Rings Online. The massive price tag seems to indicate that it isn’t, but the stars are aligning on two different fronts: our source said Turbine was trying to make it free-to-play and obviously the company is now experienced in turning a subscription-based MMO into some sort of hybrid one.

With 20 million dollars down, we’re guessing Turbine isn’t exactly thrilled with Microsoft, who is, reportedly, still unable to hammer out any sort of deal with publishers and developers regarding MMOs via Xbox LIVE. Looks like Square Enix and SEGA — the two publishers with MMOs on LIVE — lucked out. Somehow.

[via Joystiq, via MCV]

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