The project started in 1995 and was shown to the public at E3 in 1996. The development cost was much greater than traditional computer games, it relied on people accessing servers with modems. Ultima Online initial features included persistent player housing, skill-based character progression (without levels or classes), crafting and player-drive economy, C9 Gold and unrestricted player-versus-player combat.
Upon release, Ultima Online proved to be very popular, reaching 100,000 paying subscribers within six months of release, despite severe lag problems. Subscriptions continued to grow for several years, reaching a peak of some 250,000 paid accounts. Origin was able to make a great deal of money from the monthly fees required to play Ultima Online and many other companies took note and began development of their own massively multiplayer games. The most successful games after Ultima Online have been EverQuest (released in March 1999), Asheron's Call (released in November 1999), Dark Age of Camelot (released in October 2001), and World of Warcraft (released in November 2004). The Korean massively multiplayer game Lineage was inspired by Ultima Online, as have many other subsequent online games.