APB creator Realtime Worlds be leavin’ the hizzle, dawg. Various outlets report that the company has entered administration, which I guess is kind of like bankruptcy but politely British. Despite a reasonable amount of pre-release interest in the gang-banger MMO, the game imploded almost immediately upon hitting shelves, thanks to a disastrous public beta and lukewarm reviews.
It’s sad that Realtime Worlds is likely going away (no word yet on what’s going to happen to the eleven people currently subscribed to APB), because that company also created Crackdown, one of the pure joys of 360 gaming. Unfortunately, the firm’s apparently ill-advised decision to move into the MMO space, plus the fact that it appears to have spent more on concept art than actually making the game, have dealt what appears to be a fatal blow.
In many ways this is surprising. I wasn’t sure what to expect of APB. No one thought it would topple World of Warcraft or anything like that, but as a team-based shooter I honestly thought it might do okay. Unfortunately the game was not very good – as evidenced by the public beta. One danger of a huge public beta is that the world will realize your game is bad before they buy it, and then they… won’t.
But in a time when various MMOs are struggling but surprising, the supernova speed of this collapse is unexpected. Aion, Warhammer Online, D&D Online, Age of Conan, they’re all trudging on; some are even profitable. At the very least I expected the same fate for APB.
But it’s not to APbe, alas. Ave atque vale, Realtime Worlds. Crackdown will never be forgotten.
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*throws the article he wrote at lunch time onto the fire*
Get your filthy mits off MMOG news! 😉
Sorry Lewis! I was thinking that our MMOG Special Correspondent might be on this one. -6 karma points for me!
These guys made Crackdown? Eh. I tried Crackdown 2 and I can’t say I was terribly intrigued, although the disembodied voice giving me tips was very amusing.
“That’s it, you show those Freaks!”
This was inevitable.
I think I mentioned on the FFC side that Steam had gifting the game turned off “by request of the publisher” or I’d be #12. The team was hand approving trial invites sent from players, another bad sign. EA had obviously yanked the rug soon after release.
Too bad. While APB is limited (and it’s not an MMO) with a friend or two it’s fun in the same glorious whee! is silly! ways as the first Crackdown.
Not worth playing solo.
APB could have been incredible, but yet again this reminds us that MMOGs should only be developed by the big boys, if they truely want commercial success. It’s just such a hard mountain to climb.
It’s strange because the best MMOG I’ve ever played was Neocron, which survived on less than 10,000 players. Startling really (it’s still going, but has been ruined several times over) while Eve Online had as little as 100,000 at some points but has continued to grow and grow.
In reality, APB needed another 12 months development time and bug squashing, which it simply wasn’t allowed.
It’s catch 22 really, the publisher won’t give extra time to test, and bug fix, yet when it’s launched early as a result people don’t play because it’s not been tested and it has too many bugs!
It’s madness and whoever was writing the cheques, and demanded it released has just lost $100,000,000 according to the costs of development.
Realtime Worlds made a few mistakes in hindsight – like many companies, they announced the game far too early; they spent WAAAAAYY too much on concept art; their revenue model was poorly understood; and they focused too much media attention on the character generator and not enough on gameplay. In some ways their mistakes are similar to those made by Hellgate: London, though of course H:L was a crime against humanity while APB just didn’t live up to its potential.
Poor Realtime Worlds. I’d have liked to see more work from them. Why is it that everyone wants to jump into the shark-infested MMO waters?
One word why;
The only people capable of surpassing WoW are Blizzard. Can you imagine the sales of a new Blizzard MMOG on launch day?
Fuck me it’d make your eyes water.
It’s true what you say, Lewis.
But still, no one “gets” it. There is no such game as a WoW-killer. You won’t kill WoW by trying to make a better WoW. WoW will die a natural death, and it will be at Blizzard’s hands when they replace it with a new one.
In the meantime, the way to approach MMOs, in my somewhat humble opinion, is to go the route of EVE: there’s no way you’re going to live up to the expectations of grandma’s apple pie, so don’t make apple pie. Give them a different taste to savor all together: make pineapple upside-down cake.
What we need in the MMO industry is for Blizzard to attempt make a game like Mortal Online. Totally people controlled, little rules, anything is possible, with a true player driven economy (lessons could be learnt here from CCP). The graphics policy of Blizzard would also work well, allowing for ease of implementation.
Mind, Blizzard could make anything and it’d sell. I’m ready to sell my soul for Diablo 3, that’s almost an MMOG in principal…
Exactly, xtal. I tell companies this all the time. If you set out to kill WoW you’ve already killed yourself. You must develop the next generation of MMO to surpass it (and frankly, even then you might not succeed). Small, niche MMOs like EVE are very profitable and have loyal fanbases – because they have unique mechanics and some differentiator between them and the mainstream. If you insist on breaking into the MMO market, that’s how you do it.
And, to be honest, I thought APB might qualify. Clearly I was mistaken!
On a side note I’ve played Eve Online many times, and it’s so dull it’s unreal. There actually is nothing to it: it’s a glorified trade chat room and nothing more.
I agree with Matt’s comments with the caveat APB is not an MMO (you can see all the baked in content in ten minutes) but more akin to GTA4 multiplayer. Which is great fun, but you can’t use MMO dev money to make the ultimate gankfest goof off sandbox. The APB team deserves to lose their jobs–and so do those on the publishing side who signed the checks.
One thing EVE and WoW have in common is a deep endgame. Devs keep making MMOs looking at the pot of the gold without realizing its a perpetuity requiring ceaseless reinvestment to upgrade that rainbow.
Most WoW players never reach level 20. Those that do often jump to a new MMO at launch, see everything, and return.
The pseudo-MMO devs keep attempting exists: CoD 4.
The fully open player controlled MMO also exists. Love, I think (though I’ve not played it), Second Life (if we’re willing to call it a game), and A Tale in the Desert before that drove off the rails. ATitD at launch was unique. Still nothing quite like it. I was shocked then and I’m shocked now it’s not studied by designers.
Oops, meant to include xtal’s astute observation: they keep trying to bake the pineapple upside-down cake CoD 4 already cooked.
It’s a bit harsh to say “the APB team deserves to lose their jobs”. Can you say with certainty every single member of that team contributed to APB’s failure?
Refer to comments by exRTW on Rock Paper Shotgun.
See this take by Nicolas Lovell of Gamesbrief: http://www.gamesbrief.com/2010/08/hubris-ambition-and-mismanagement-the-first-post-mortem-of-realtime-worlds/
Good read. (That was the Lemmings guy? Wow.) I meant only the leadership who chewed up eight zillion dollars on an ill-considered market move and should have worded it differently.
It’s terrible news for the larger team and wish them only the best. Hopefully they can bring with them what makes APB fun.
Played the end of my trial yesterday. Two hours of armored van chases and grenade tossing mayhem. Non-stop giggling.
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