No Money No Problems: APB Is Sub-Free

By Alec Meer on August 14th, 2009 at 10:15 pm.

Good news everyone! All Points Bulletin, the upcoming cops’n'robbers MMO from Dave Jones, he of GTA and Crackdown fame, will not have a subscription fee. That’s right – it’s doing the Guild Wars thing, or at least something like it.

It’s as fascinating a move as it is welcome, especially given that this is an MMORPG that’s reportedly grind-free too. The classic MMO subscription model hasn’t worked out terribly well for the vast bulk of games seeking a piece of Warcraft pie, and in a few cases it’s even seemed that the pursuit of recurring payments has blinded MMOs to what they should be. Warhammer Online, for instance, would be better if it was solely a combat game, almost a fantasy Counter-Strike, rather than surrounding that with lacklustre PvE to pretend it was a true online world. Tabula Rasa could have been a great singleplayer RPG, but instead swathed itself in dull grind to try and justify monthly fees.

So, this strikes me as a bold statement that APB is about the game, not about the subscriber count. Hopefully it’s the first of many MMOs to discard the desire to WoW and get on with building something fresh.

Of course, it may well yet turn out to be full of nasty micro-payments or something, but I’ve got a good feeling about this. Jones and Real-Time Worlds demonstrated a healthy interest in letting people have fun with Crackdown, and I’m sure that underpinds APB too.

Confirmation of the monthly feelessness is on the new APB faq, first spotted by the eagle eyes at Eurogamer.

Additional: APB is now accepting beta applicants. Though it’s a sort of pre-registering interest thinger, so don’t convince yourself you’re definitely getting a place right off the bat.

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96 Comments »

  1. Radiant says:

    Awesome.
    Maybe they’ll open a marketplace/ebay for world created goods/weapons?
    Hopefully the core game experience will stay the same regardless of what we buy [if they do that].
    I have high hopes for this game; I can’t wait.

  2. Heliocentric says:

    They just gained +2 sales, micropayment shinnanigans or no. The guild wars model means that any grind will be tutorially intended rather than bullshit money grabbing. I honestly don’t care about the micropayment advantage compared to my feelings that most monthly pay games are defective by design.

  3. Random commenter #376788 says:

    Just what I wanted to hear.
    Applied for the beta- hope I get in!

  4. Orange says:

    Micro payments are fine, as long as it’s for things which do not distort pvp balance severely.

  5. Vinraith says:

    And then, suddenly, I was interested in this game.

    The money’s not even the issue, it’s a comment about the design. By nature, fee-based MMO’s waste a LOT of your time. In the absence of a fee, I’ll be playing the game, instead of the other way around. This is superb news.

  6. apnea says:

    Great new. As Heliocentric said, we can now rest assured that filler material will be just that, filler, with none of the nasty feeling of being mugged while playing it.

  7. Wirbelwind says:

    That’s very interesting. I don’t mind paying a sum up front (I do it for every game), but paying monthly for grinding shit out tends to annoy me. They can focus more on having something that is immediately fun and not something you have to grind 30 hours for.

  8. brulleks says:

    Yup, good news. Here’s hoping The Agency follows suit.

  9. KnightOfCydonia says:

    Fucking. SOLD.
    Considering I’m starting university soon, and as such will be living one step above squalor to avoid becoming completely debt-ridden, the fact I’m not going to have to pay a sub for the one MMO I’m actually interested in is awesome.

  10. Moonracer says:

    Not only is this good news, but it makes sense. Especcially since past reports noted that every time you log on you will be placed on a random server, so your character will be persistent, but not so much the population and world around you.

  11. LewieP says:

    Excellent. Now there is a chance of me playing it.

  12. Heliocentric says:

    Truth is, its not even the monthly fee i have a beef with, its games designed to drain that monthly fee from you as long as possible. Eve with skills, WoW with all of its many forms of grinding.

    Stop sharking the fucking playerbase and serve them.

    I hope the few coming indie mmo’s get it. I’d love to invest into a mmo, but they are all designed around parting a fool and their money rather than being fun.

  13. Frosty840 says:

    \o/

  14. Vinraith says:

    @Heliocentric

    “Truth is, its not even the monthly fee i have a beef with, its games designed to drain that monthly fee from you as long as possible.”

    Genuine question, not rhetorical: are there any fee-based MMO’s that don’t do that? I’d pretty much come to the conclusion that designers, whether consciously or not, were simply doomed to generate time wasters in fee-based MMO’s.

  15. Frosty840 says:

    I saw some footage of APB running at the Eurogamer games careers fair last year.

    They’re putting together a system which provides challenge and fun, by giving players on one faction a mission, then giving out missions to the other side to oppose the completion of that mission.

    What was awesome about the demo I saw was that a ram-raid mission had been given to a group of 4 newbie players on the criminals faction, while the mission to stop them had been given to a high-level solo player on the enforcement faction.

    Genius!

  16. Heliocentric says:

    Guild wars would be one mmo like without the bullshit. But no, i think they all do it. I’m excited for Love though. And that mining mmo which was mentioned, but they themselves are not sure on the payment model.

  17. Heliocentric says:

    I just want the spelunkey mmo with mass coop.

    Imagine the carnage. Sorry man, i was just trying to dig up that gold, i didn’t mean to destroy your rope, make you drop your bomb and blow up a shop keeper who proceeded to kill the rest of your party and then accidentally shoot the other shop keeper leading to the only traders for 2 hours from hear being dead and the place littered with unexploded but unsafe bombs.

    And now your mans are all permadead and 2 months of progress is gone. Also, sorry for looting you.

  18. Jules says:

    That makes buying the game a commitment. A commitment to buying all the future expansions so that the original purchase doesn’t become obsolete when the next ‘saga’ is released (e.g. try Guild Wars PvP with just the first campaign). It’s either that or walking into the purchase knowing it has a very finite shelf-life. Neither of which appeal.

  19. kalidanthepalidan says:

    +1 sale. Well done Real-Time Worlds.

  20. apnea says:

    @Jules

    Hadn’t thought about that. And seeing as we can never overestimate the contempt with which companies treat their customers, I’d say you’re probably right.

    The genius about it though is that we won’t be sure until they come out and announce it :

    APB : San Vice Urbaville Expansion*

    *buy it or prepare to leave the boat.

  21. Dominic White says:

    So, it’s bad if it has a subscription, it’s bad if there are expansions, it’s bad if there’s a cash-shop…

    So, are we just writing off anything beyond about 64 players on private servers, or are we going to be grownups here and realise that massively multiplayer games have to be funded somehow?

  22. Vinraith says:

    @Dominic

    Most folks here don’t think expansions are a bad thing. Cash shops… can be done well and can be done badly, but I wouldn’t rule out a game as a result of having one.

    Subscription fees, on the other hand, actively change the way a game is designed and ultimately played. So yes, those are bad.

  23. TCM says:

    Expacks are, in general, good things. Except when they have DLC content at Expack prices (Re: Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor, World in Conflict: Soviet Assault) or ruin everything (Warhammer 40K: DoW: Soulstorm).

    Subscription fees are never good. Ever. For any reason.

    The only MMOs I show any kind of interest in are those with a total lack of subscription fees, and even those fail to hold my interest by maintaining standard MMO tropes, which I detest.

  24. shiggz says:

    Lets hope the new star wars mmo follows suit… though i highly doubt it. Unless ive got money and time to burn i dont think ill be buying it. This game however is now on my radar, ill wait to see if it ends up like alot of asian free to play mmo where the kid with moms credit card is basically invincible.

    Ive played swg, coh, wow, lotro, I realized it was the mmo formula that i didn’t like. Canceled all my subs and tend to keep them at arms length. If a new game looks interesting then i find out its a pay to play mmo i drop it right there. I prefer a single player rpg where ther is other people around you and you can choose to interact with them or not but you aren’t forced,

  25. DarkNoghri says:

    I might actually get this, then. I refuse to play anything with a monthly fee.

  26. Kadayi says:

    Awesome. Probably one of the more exciting games presently in development. Beta application firmly submitted, this is a game that deserves support.

  27. Krondonian says:

    Hell, I’d buy it for the character creator. Excellent news.

  28. Serph says:

    WOO-HOO!

  29. LionsPhil says:

    Add a demo, and they might even get a sale.

    @Heliocentric: Roguelike real-time MMO? Ouch. Were MUDs ever so brutal?

  30. mandrill says:

    OZOM NIOOZ!

    In all seriousness though I’m constantly surprised at how few emulators the guild wars models has. Hopefully this is the signs that things are about to change.

  31. destroy.all.monsters says:

    I hope you said that in your best Professor Farnsworth voice. :)

  32. Feintlocke says:

    An applaudable move! I had my eye on this one already, now I’m twice as keen on it.

    Microtransactions are bound to be included somewhere. This game is ripe for them, I mean look how impressive the character customisation is!

  33. Wooly says:

    This news + awesome character generation = ME SOLD.

  34. Mwalk10 says:

    Wow! I might actually have to buy this now. I can’t stand subscription based games…

  35. Kadayi says:

    http://kotaku.com/5337506/apb-beta-application-a-little-nosey

    Oh noes!! the Kotaku snark police apparently don’t like the beta sign up questions…

    :rolls eyes:

  36. Kadayi says:

    http://kotaku.com/5337506/apb-beta-application-a-little-nosey

    Oh noes!! the Kotaku snark police apparently don’t like the beta sign up questions…

  37. suibhne says:

    Is this actually an MMORPG? It keeps getting that label here, and maybe elsewhere, but all I’ve seen is the “MMO” part – plus a healthy dose of character customization and cosmetic “upgrades”. Aside from gear and bling, it looks like a shooter of some variety. Anyone know?

  38. Shalrath says:

    “Oh noes!! the Kotaku snark police apparently don’t like the beta sign up questions…”

    Come on, I hate kotaku’s bottom-of-the-barrel posters as much as the rest of us, but those questions were flat-out out of line. How many children do you have? Are you married? Do you own a house?! And most of those were mandatory!

  39. Ryx says:

    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

  40. Rinox says:

    Good to hear. I think the monthly fee concept is dying a slow death anyway, with the humungous juggernaut that is WoW towering over the rest of the market.

    Also, I hate the feeling that I ‘have’ to be playing a game on a regular basis because I’m sinking 10-15 bucks in it every month, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. But maybe that is exactly why it makes the concept work for the legions of (respectfully) WoW addicts?

    /needs sleep

  41. Jimbo says:

    Dave Jones already said ‘no subscription model’ in that (excellent) interview posted here a month ago.

  42. JuJuCam says:

    They’re pretty typical demographic survey questions for market research. So much so that in filling it I almost forgot that beta testers were asked to… you know… test the game.

  43. Kadayi says:

    @Shalrath

    Out of line? If it helps them gauge the range of their demographic how is that in any way bad?

  44. Radiant says:

    I’d guess that a lot of those questions are aimed at providing information to sell in game advertising.
    Which is fine; a bunch of half naked ladies on an Axe/Lynx poster never hurt anybody.

  45. nill says:

    Sweet.

    Not really sure what to expect from this, but I’m crossing my fingers.

  46. Wazzle says:

    All I can say to this is: YES! I was really hoping it wouldn’t, as I doubt I will ever be able to afford a full-blown MMO with full-blown sub fees, and my wish has come true. This game is looking better and better.

  47. noerartnoe says:

    @Shalrath: actually, the only obligatory questions when i registered were:
    - full name
    - E-mail
    - gender
    - birthday
    - address
    - various info about your system(s) and gaming habits.

    Either someone (kotaku) are getting their panties in a bunch over nothing, or they changed the application…

  48. noerartnoe says:

    and once again someone nicked the edit button…*grumble*

    anyways, just wanted to add:
    Yay for no subscription! Good to know I will be able to afford at least one study-time killer that semester.

    Also: maybe they’ll actually get somewhat big and make people understand that monthly subs aren’t the only way…

  49. Anthony Damiani says:

    Well, that certainly captures my attention.

  50. Zyzzi says:

    This might actually be the first MMO I jump into. I’ve been toying around with buying Guild Wars but I despise grind of all shapes.