APB’s Last Bulletin

By Alec Meer on September 16th, 2010 at 5:16 pm.

Perma-troubled MMO APB is preparing to see its last cop shoot its last robber. While bankrupted developer Realtime Worlds’ second project, the social game Project: My World looks to have been rescued by a mystery US firm that may or may not be headed up by former RTW bossmen, All Points Bulletin has not been granted a similar second wind. Its impending closure has just been officially announced.

Quoth the community officer:

APB has been a fantastic journey, but unfortunately that journey has come to a premature end. Today we are sad to announce that despite everyone’s best efforts to keep the service running; APB is coming to a close. It’s been a pleasure working on APB and with all its players. Together we were building an absolutely amazing game, and for that, we thank you. You guys are awesome!
From all of the Realtime World staff we thank you for your continued support.

The servers are still up, so join the party and say goodbye.

Following poor reviews and poor sales, it’s unsurprising. But it’s never a happy day to see an ambitious project that an awful lot of people poured their hearts and souls into be so cruelly crushed. Perhaps, given time, APB could have corrected a lot of its problems. Perhaps it couldn’t. It’s still sad news for its creators, and for those who did enjoy the game.

Best of luck to all those affected by this.

EDIT: I was going to add this to the Sunday Papers, but since it’s relevant now, Ex-RTW-er Luke Haliwell’s blog is going through a multi-stage post about how it all went wrong. It’s just fascinating reading. On a personal note, while I feel for the RTW-ers, I can’t help but think about the consumers. Has an MMO ever burned out this quickly? As in, less than 3 months? This strikes me as one that’s going to be pivotal in terms of how people view MMOs now. Even the life-time subs to Hellgate got over a year of playing. – KG

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218 Comments »

  1. Bald Space Marine says:

    “Together we were building an absolutely amazing game”

    No, not really….

    • SquareWheel says:

      It’s not like it was done. =|

    • Heliocentric says:

      Amazing world? Apb developers play minecraft- confirmed.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      Perhaps if the game was fully built before release they might not have to close shop. I have no sympathy for half assed, rushed games that fail.

    • Heliocentric says:

      How long do you figure before HMV stops trying to sell copies of apb for £30?

    • Howl says:

      It was painfully apparent to anyone that touched the beta for a few seconds that the game handled like it was written in flash. I’m amazed the project wasn’t canned long before release.

  2. Malibu Stacey says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see this or something similar be resurrected in the near future TBH.
    I reckon if they’d tried to make it more like EVE in it’s gameplay it would’ve gotten a better reception. Counter-Strike on huge maps with a handful of people to shoot at isn’t fun. Make a proper open world in the EVE mould where nowhere is truly “safe” & people fight for territory etc & it’ll be a start.

  3. zipdrive says:

    Alec, it’s also never a happy day seeing people who paid for a game get left with a useless box.

    • Forch says:

      I hope they add a final patch that allows you to make characters and mess around with the character customizer all you want with everything unlocked.

      Oh well.

  4. Tei says:

    Very sad news.

    APB is one of the few games that are not about generic tolkien worlds mixed with high fantasy. Is a action MMORPG, I know is a niche too small but one that really make me happy.

    MMORPG games are a unique thing. Wen the server close, is forever. You will never be able to experience APB again. With singleplayer games, theres always abandonwarez versions, emulators, or some happy hacker implementing some gitzmo to enable these games to live again. But wen a MMO dies, everything about it dies forever. You will never experience again his unique features.

    Wen a MMO die, is like something that we will never have again die with it, forever.

    I have player about 400 hours with APB, is the fist MMORPG game that has made me stay long enough to get to “top” and complete a character.

    I salute you, APB.

    o7

    Have a nice night.

    • Howl says:

      MMOFPS is not a small niche. It’s a gigantic market that’s waiting for just one decent game to come along. Someone like Blizzard will do it and will make more money than God.

      Give me a MMOFPS with vehicular and infantry based combat, set post apocalypse, with player run gangs holding territory a la Dark Age of Camelot, in a persistent environment, with AAA shooter mechanics and I will hand over my credit card details faster than you can shout, “kerchiiing!”

    • Harlander says:

      You never know, Tei – you might see a server emulator some time.

  5. protobob says:

    I feel a great disturbance in the internet, as if millions of aim-bot hackers suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.

  6. airtekh says:

    Well bugger it anyway. I thought they might be able to pull through.

    I’m still hoping out for an online GTA-a-thon. Hopefully somebody might pick it up again, like with Hellgate: London.

  7. Vinraith says:

    Whether I care about it or not, there’s never any joy in a bunch of people losing access to a game they’ve invested money, time, and enthusiasm in. One of the worst things about MMO’s and other multiplayer-dependent games, actually, is that other people, actively or passively, can deny you access to fun you already paid for. My sympathies to the fans.

  8. Longrat says:

    How sad, on so many levels.

  9. KindredPhantom says:

    This is odd, it was only yesterday they announced a patch for today which introduce a new server one without upgrades. It is a bit odd for them to announce a patch and then oh wait we’re closing the game kthxbai.

    The server are already down and so are the forums.

    I do wonder if they have sold APB to another company, maybe a korean one that will turn it into a grindfest.

  10. LewieP says:

    Had I bought it, I’d be asking EA for a refund or a free game of my choice.

    • Jockie says:

      EA were only a distribution partner, they had little responsibility for the game, other than to help market and distribute it.

  11. Starky says:

    And this is why any MMO or MMO like game has the following rule for me (a rule I put into force after Warhammer online)…

    Wait 6 months before you even think about buying it – and only do so after playing a trial. No trial, no sale.

    Simple.

    Either that or if it if F2P I’ll give it a shot – subscription MMO’s just require too much investment, in time and money.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      And this is why MMOs are shit.

    • DrGonzo says:

      @Alexander

      You are so very, very wrong.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Alexander

      I find your oversimplification disturbing. MMO’s are shit for lots of reasons.

    • Xercies says:

      Of course with MMO players basically being jump shippers usually playing soemthing for 2 months and then hailing it as shit and moving onto the next MMO or some occasinally staying there. Even if its a great game 6 months down the line theres hardly any players.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      @Vinraith — you’ll note I didn’t say “this is the only reason why MMOs are shit,” or even “MMOs are always shit.”

      The fact that the publisher/developer can just close the servers down X months in and leave you with nothing to show for it is one of the reasons MMOs are shit. None of the other reasons why certain specific MMOs are shit have anything to do with how MMOs actually work on the technical side, and as a result, none of them are universal reasons.

      It wasn’t a particularly a) ambiguous or b) contentious statement, unless you happen to think that all MMOs are shit forever, or something.

    • DrGonzo says:

      That would be true if it was, this is why MMO’s CAN be shit. But I’m just being an arse really.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Alexander

      That was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek agreement. Conveying tone through text is a bitch.

    • Rii says:

      @Vinraith:

      Well, I laughed.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      @Vinraith — I didn’t take it as an insult, either. :D

  12. Freud says:

    My sympathies to all the customers.

  13. Ovno says:

    Such a pity, I was really excited about what this game looked like it was going to be, its a pity it never was…

  14. Maxheadroom says:

    Hats off to them for trying to be different though. I’ve had it up to here *waves hand around neck height* with elves and wizard WoW-alikes.

    Sad thing is the suits will see the failure of things like this and Tabula Rasa and make even more Wow clones

  15. Losty says:

    Not sad to see that rubbish go, so badly balanced and unfinished it was. One of the only few games that REALLY got me worked up while playing it. So obviously broken.

  16. Leelad says:

    That sucks…was on my “once i’ve cleared out all the crap steam sales forced me to buy i’ll give it a go” list

    Kinda felt inclined since I played WoW for a while with a genuinely fucking great guy who worked on the art for the game. (miss you Oom!!) He did some stuff on crackdown too. Sad to think too that He’ll probably be out of a job he enjoyed.

    Sad days!

  17. Cooper says:

    Re: Short lived MMO games

    Spare a moment of rememberance for SeeD:
    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_70/407-Seed-on-the-Road

    An MMO from 2006 which shut down very soon after coming out of Beta. Released too early. But, unlike APB, it really did have something to add to the MMO field – a non-combat (though there was lots of PvP) MMO based entirely around player interaction (NO NPCs at all). It was incredibly promising, and there has been -nothing- like it since.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I think APB really did have something to add to MMO’s. It was actually fun for a start, unlike pretty much any other MMO I’ve played outside of Guild Wars. Yes it was horribly unfinished, but it really could have been something amazing one day. I hope it’s been bought out by a western developer who sees the potential and not a Korean dev who can see the micropayments.

    • Harlander says:

      Oh, man, I remember Seed.. I was actually in the beta.. so.. uh, I guess it was my fault it wasn’t ready for release.

      Sorry about that, folks.

  18. Dean says:

    With that short a time period… I mean the legal waters are murky but surely there’s an argument for returning the thing to whoever you bought it from under the Sale of Goods Act?

    • qrter says:

      There will undoubtedly be something to intercept that in the EULA that people will have had to agree to while installing the game.

    • Starky says:

      EULA’s cannot in any way counter act written law. In the UK at least, any contract or agreement that breaks, or voids laws or rights, is valid. For example you can’t sign a contract to make it okay to physically harm someone – even if it is consensual (not talking about kinky sex here, but actual bodily damage).

      Simply put there is nothing in a EULA that can ever deny you your basic rights as a consumer as detailed in sales of goods acts and consumer protection laws.

      So yeah, there is a serious case to be made for demanding a refund under it being a faulty good or service.

      The problem is where software falls in such a law is very, very muddy – generally it’s assumed a boxed product (the DVD/manual itself) is a product, while a downloadable game is a service – but most online software mixes both.
      There’s not much case law to help clarify it either.

      For example, if a good fails to meet expected quality you have th right to return it for a refund within 6 months of purchase basically automatically – this is mainly for physical goods, any fault developed in the first 6 months is assumed to be a manufacturing fault and so refundable.
      It’s why law required any electrical good to have a 1 year warranty. The law applies though to all goods, a chair you buy from ikea that breaks after 3 months of general use would be something you cold get a refund on.

      This is a game that has broken after 3 months of general use – through no fault of the consumers, the product is broken (it won’t work without servers) and the service is ended.

      Still it isn’t simple, they could argue that your £30 for the game was for your first month only… or your playtime that you get with the game, if you used that you might get nothing.

      If you have playtime left fro that initial purchase though, or any play “hours” left at ALL, you might be able to get a partial refund on that.
      Simply put if you paid for 10 hours, and only used 5, you should be able to get a refund for those 5 you can no longer use.

      I’d be shocked if this the publishers didn’t get a few class action suits in the US over this also.

    • Starky says:

      Bleh I want edit function back, you can proof read a post to yourself and still miss mistakes and then… bleh.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      @Starky — if the contract says “we’re not selling you a game, we’re selling you a license to use a game until we decide we don’t want you to use it anymore” I’m fairly sure pulling the plug isn’t illegal, no matter how soon or late it happens.

      Depends on the language of the EULA and I’d like to hear what an actual lawyer has to say about it, but I don’t really see how this is legally wrong.

    • Starky says:

      The problem is that under UK law at least consumer rights protect a service too – for example if you take a mobile phone on pay as you go, they also have in their terms of service that they can dump you at any time – but if you have credit left on that phone when they cancel your account, you can demand a refund for that mobile phone credit, as they are failing to provide the service (£10 worth of phone calls).

      Or with a year long contract phone, if you end it 6 months in you have to pay the remainder – if they cancel it, you don’t. They might try and bill you for it, but if they cancel your contract they free you from it, simple as that.

      Again people have a claim with this games specific payment model because they might have hours left on their account – which have a £ value which might be reclaimed.

      Same way that if a store cancelled it’s gift certificates as valid, you can put in a claim for a refund (but only if they go against what the gift card itself says, for example if the card says you have a year to use it and they shut down all gift card usage/sales 6 months later – you have the right to a refund.

      Stuff like that doesn’t happen often, but big companies rely on people not having a sodding clue about their consumer rights when it comes to returns and sales. Like so many people will accept a gift card, or accept that jewellery and such cannot be returned. Which is a lie – many stores won’t accept a return of say ear ring because you don’t like them, but if they break due to being faulty you can return them and demand a refund by right.
      Some stores even train their staff to lie about statutory rights when it comes to returns, or teach them “company policy” like it overrides law – which the staff are probably ignorant about anyway.

    • Dean says:

      Yup, plus there’s an entire unfair contracts issue with the EULA too…

      I mean, this is an unfortunate situation, with APB, but if this is legal, and there are no recriminations, then it’s only a matter of time before someone exploits this to rip people off.

  19. mondomau says:

    Son of a-

    I’ve still got 30-40 gametime hours left, having sunk a lot of my playtime into the PTW test server. I wasn’t a massive fan of the game, but I thought it had promise – with a little more care on the balancing and match making, they could probably have maintained a decent sized following.

    Oh, and they announced a new patch this morning. WTF.

  20. Navagon says:

    I wonder if their over-commercialisation of it was due to their desperation to recoup their apparently inescapable debts? I think that’s what went a long way towards killing APB off.

    • Mac says:

      That, and it being shit …

    • Zogtee says:

      I’m sure it had something to do with that and also with being released too early. It’s sad for the people involved, but everyone is so fucking eager to get an MMO up and running, and surprisingly many haven’t figured out yet that the attitude “ship it broken and fix it later” doesn’t hold anymore. Some manage to claw on to a minor user-base (you don’t have to topple WoW to be successful), but APB didn’t even do that.

      But yeah, it’s the shortest run I’ve seen. Even crap like the Star Wars MMO is still running and that was broken as fuck when it was released.

    • Navagon says:

      The better MMOs evolve over time. They could have completely overhauled the whole game a couple of years from now. But of course, now we’ll never know.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I don’t know why all these people keep saying it’s shit. Even in it’s unfinished state it was way more fun than WoW. I’m guessing these people have never actually played the game. But feel it’s okay to say it’s shit anyway, because of the reviews, which you know, actually averaged out at above average. But no, anything that doesn’t score in the 90s is shit.

    • Navagon says:

      I think that reviewers are partly to blame for that. If they score most games highly then give one average score then of course that game is going to be seen as crap. (And for the record I haven’t played APB myself, which is why I’m largely neutral on the matter.)

      But, that said, I think that MMOs are very tricky things to review anyway. Of course they’re going to be much worse at launch than they are going to be 6 months down the line. But you can’t exactly say “well there’s all these problems, but they’ll probably have all those fixed soon enough”. You’ve got to review what you’ve got in front of you.

    • Jimbo says:

      I don’t know which reviews you’re referring to exactly, but APB’s metacritic score is 58, whilst the average metacritic score for a game is ~70. 58 is train wreck territory.

    • Hallgrim says:

      I played it and I think it was shit…

  21. LunchBox says:

    I’ve only subscribed to two MMORPGs, Auto Assault and APB, and they both met an untimely end. Boy, I sure can pick ‘em.

  22. Freud says:

    On another note, another action MMO bites the dust. Planetside, Tabula Rasa, APB. There are some that are going F2P (Firefall). It seems these games perhaps can’t handle the free competition of TF2, CS, MW2 and so on.

    • Film11 says:

      Planetside isn’t dead! Admittedly there is only one server, and the population is in the hundreds, if that. But it isn’t dead! (not yet at least)

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Planetside is better than all of those games, is still running after many, many years (albeit has a very small playerbase) and is getting a sequel. Certainly a step up from the other action MMOs present and past.

    • Freud says:

      I wasn’t claiming they were failures from a gameplay perspective. But from a commercial perspective they absolutely were if if there is a microscopic community still playing them.

      I am glad Planetside is getting a sequel. This kind of MMO, if done right, could result in an amazing gameplay experience.

    • Kdansky says:

      Planetside isn’t a bad game. But it is basically TF2 with monthly fees. MMOs are very big on demanding monthly money, but most of them are really shitty at providing monthly content, even WoW at times (before expansions, such as right now). A “persistent world” (aka Savegames on a server) is really not enough for subscription fees. It’s just that all publishers wanted a piece of Blizzard’s gold-shitting Tauren, and found out the hard way that a game does not become a good MMO by being more expensive.

      Instead of playing one MMO, you can just about buy a game a month (Indie or Steam sales vs fee + game + expansions). The last four games I bought were all cheaper (or at least similar) than 1 month of WoW, and I missed KoToR for 2.50€ on steam yesterday. And they have entertained me way better than WoW ever has.

      APB biting it is quick, but after what I’ve read about that game, it’s hardly surprising.

  23. mondomau says:

    Son of a-

    I’ve still got 30-40 gametime hours left, having sunk a lot of my playtime into the PTW test server. I wasn’t a massive fan of the game, but I thought it had promise – with a little more care on the balancing and match making, they could probably have maintained a decent sized following.

    Oh, and they announced a new patch this morning, now the site has crashed and the forums are down. So I’ll be surprised if the servers are functioning much longer.

    • Starky says:

      Get proof of that time NOW.
      Screen shot, receipt, whatever you can…

      Because you might be able to demand a refund from whoever you buy that through (EA?)…

      That said, if you buy it direct from real time worlds you’re probably boned, as bankruptcy will protect them from most refund claims.

  24. Evernight says:

    I think we will still see non-fantasy MMOs come out, but they need to achieve the addictiveness and polish of WoW; things most MMOs have failed to acquire… even WoW clones.

    • Hallgrim says:

      WoW wasn’t polished when it was released, but it was at least functional, and they worked rapidly to improve/balance/add content.

      If a game twice as good as vanilla wow came out tomorrow, WOTLK wow would kick its ass.

  25. Sagan says:

    I would have eventually bought it had it been patched. I liked it in the beta.

    Still it’s just a shame. Let’s hope they do something else with the customization tools, because they deserve a second chance.

    • KindredPhantom says:

      It had a couple of small patches and one big patch with another scheduled for today.

    • Sagan says:

      What I meant to say is, had it received enough patches that people say “the problems I had at launch are fixed.” So better combat, better driving, more gameplay variety.

    • KindredPhantom says:

      Well the big patch fixed the driving and added recoil to the weapons, two day one problems fixed but the upgrades system wan’t changed. They were planning on adding skill servers today, servers where upgrades aren’t there but instead they announced APB is dead.

  26. Lukasz says:

    Bye.

  27. Stijn says:

    That’s a pity. I had a few fun hours in the game and while lately Starcraft 2 and Borderlands have been claiming my time, I was intending to go back to it after a few patches. I would’ve liked to roam the streets of San Paro once more, but alas.

  28. Robin says:

    Damn shame. I hope this isn’t interpreted by publishers/investors as “non-fantasy MMOs are too risky to attempt”.

    Also, that someone patches the avatar editor to work offline.

  29. Goronmon says:

    I thought it was a fairly enjoyable game. There were definitely some issues, but I’ve seem much worse games last longer.

  30. Vague-rant says:

    You know, I thought they’d try a steam sale before this. Something like 7.50 or 10 pounds would’ve definitely got some sales, at least from people just wanting to give it a go. Even if its not enough to sustain a community, they still get some cash. Or is that just too cynical?

    • Starky says:

      Not a chance, they’re 80 million or more in the hole from this project, there is no coming back from that – better for the company just to go bankrupt and everybody to walk away as fast as they can.

      Sucks for the investors, and I can see some legal action over this whole thing kicking off…

      The bottom line is though that investment might as well have been money burned.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Sparky

      In the hole would imply they are in debt to the sum of $80 million which isn’t the case. An investment is not the same as a loan.

    • Starky says:

      True, so the investors are 80 million in the hole – sucks to be them.

  31. teo says:

    One word: lol

    I have no sympathy. If they can’t make a decent game then why should they keep getting paid to make games?

  32. Solivagant says:

    Now we can go back to discuss the

  33. Solivagant says:

    the REAL APB.. I tried a link but it didn’t let me :( I was talking about the old Spectrum game.

  34. Tupper says:

    @qrtr
    The EULA can state anything it likes, but it doesn’t necessarily mean anything in the real world: the UK Sale of Goods Act (also known as ‘statutory rights’) cannot be superseded if a court determines that a service or purchase has not been fit for purpose.

    • Starky says:

      Indeed, a court could even throw out an entire EULA and declare the whole thing void for attempting to do something such as trick a consumer into thinking their statutory rights do not apply.

      Which I wish they would one day, because it would make an amazingly powerful precedent for shrink wrap contracts.

    • Lukasz says:

      Indeed.

      Read Eulas everyone. They basically say:

      “You have no rights, we don’t own you anything and we are not responsible for anything”
      “Unless:
      You do have rights, we do own you something and we have to be responsible”

      EULAs and similar things are a way for companies to protect themselves in case when a law is not so clear on the issue.
      They are not rules, they are not law. They are just a lavage a company can use in case of some legal troubles.

      So APB eula can say they can close the game anytime and you had to agree to that. Doesn’t matter. Life-time subscription of course does not mean literally life-time. It is reasonably tough to assume that subscription would last longer than 3 months.
      Money are too small to care and it would cost you more than the subscription but if you want to you could fight for a refund in the court and win it no matter what EULA says.

    • bill says:

      It’s true in the UK. It may not be true in the USA anymore. You can’t sell your games because the EULA says you can’t: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/09/first-sale-doctrine/

  35. manveruppd says:

    This game was amazingly unique and a lot of fun. Sure, there was a lot wrong with it, but nothing that wasn’t fixable – nothing unless you were expecting a Counterstrike-style shooter, or GTA Online, or WoW with guns and cars – in short, something which this game wasn’t: a rollicking, silly, fun ride in wonky cars and team-based shooting with paintball guns!

    I was having silly amounts of fun with it, never played another game where there was so much uncontrollable laughter over voice chat, and it’s sad to see it go :(

  36. Unaco says:

    Ratio of Dev Time to Live Time < 1.0

    I'm classing this as a fail. Maybe this will make developers stop and think a while before they try to make the next WoW or EVE… they need to do something different.

    • Starky says:

      This isn’t just a fail, this is probably the biggest fail of the entire gaming industry to date… with possibly only Duke Nukem Forever above it.

    • Unaco says:

      @Starky

      You don’t remember Daikatana then?

    • Starky says:

      Oh I remember it, but Daikatana failed hard, but it didn’t fail 100 million in the hole, company bankrupt, everyone fired hard.
      And apparently it returned it’s investment in the end, maybe didn’t make a profit and the game sucked ass – but it sold 200k copies.

      Hell the history of gaming fails probably ranks…

      DNF
      APB
      then Daikatana.

    • Unaco says:

      Or Psychonauts, or BattleCruiser 3000AD, or The Last Express?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Yeah. And, fundamentally, people can still play Daikatana if they like it.

      KG

    • Starky says:

      None of those were even close – they all failed, but again not 100 million, company bust epic fail.

    • Unaco says:

      Last Express killed it’s devs, and forced Broderbund (devs parent company) to be sold off, closing their recreational games development.

      Psychonauts led to class action lawsuits against Majesco, massive run on it’s stock, forced them to switch to budget/value games, and it’s (ex)CEO spending a lot of time staring down out of a window on the 87th floor.

      BattleCrusier 3000AD was an absolute disaster… but worse, it just made Derek Smart stronger and angrier and even more determined to make games, and persistent!

      Daikatana ruined John Romero’s career and closed Ion Storm Dallas.

      They’re all pretty much Epic Fails. I’m not saying APB isn’t a fail… it is… it’s an Epic Fail, company Bust fail. But so were all of these.

      APB just doesn’t seem, to me at least, the hands down most epic, crushing, fail of a game/dev since DNF. It’s bad, but I think there have been worse.

    • Cyrenic says:

      Of all time? Is everyone forgetting the E.T. game? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E.T._the_Extra-Terrestrial_%28video_game%29

      I don’t think APB is going to cause the entire industry to crash ;).

      That said it’s a pretty spectacular failure.

    • Lukasz says:

      @Unaco
      two of the games you mentioned really saddens me. I knew Psychonauts didn’t sell well at first but i didn’t expect it to flomp so badly. Although I did not yet played it myself (I do own it tough) I hear so much good about this game it is sad to hear that a great game like this was such a monetary waste. Wonder how much digital sales helped.

      the other one is last express. Also I have never played it yet wanted since its release. waiting patiently for it to appear on steam or gog or d2d. Heard about it, how unique and groundbreaking it really is. it also cost a company?

      :(
      Im sad.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Unaco

      They weren’t making the next WoW or Eve, they did make something different.

    • Unaco says:

      @Lukasz

      I think Psychonauts somewhat redeemed itself with the advent of Digital download sites, but too late to really overcome the damage it did.

      As for The Last Express… You’re unlikely to see it rereleased on Digital download sites… when Broderbund where bought up, the buyers were only interested in their educational software, so didn’t buy any of their recreational games, and so it stopped being published. Interplay did pick it up, but, alas, they have also died, so I don’t know who has rights to it, or if anyone is offering it other than used copies.

    • Starky says:

      Again though as Kieron said all those games as hard as they flopped, as much as they sucked, and even though they crashed their companies too are still playable today.
      They might be hard to find, and run, but they can be.

      APB on the other hand is just gone, any disk is a useless bit of plastic – no matter how bad it is you can no longer play it at all.

      It is a game that flopped so hard that it will vanish from existence.

      Some of those games might even have made some of their money back over the years, on the long tail in bargain bins.
      APB never will.

      The only way that APB could have failed harder is if it had the media/industry hype of something like Dai, or DNF.

    • Man Raised By Puffins says:

      @Unaco:

      I think Psychonauts somewhat redeemed itself with the advent of Digital download sites, but too late to really overcome the damage it did.

      Double Fine are still going you know. Lord knows how though, as Brütal legend didn’t sell particularly well either.

    • Kdansky says:

      I didn’t even know Psychonauts failed so hard. I’ve only heard of it through Yatzhee, and immediately afterwards, it was on a Steam sale. Why did it fail? It is a really great game!

    • Xercies says:

      Because Great Game sometimes does not equal sales. Especially if you put it in a season with heavy hitters and it looks a little..weird.

      All that can happen is that it becomes a “cult classic” like al those great movies that weren’t very popular when they came out in the cinema but became popular on home video and the like.

    • Lukasz says:

      http://www.gametap.com/video-games/The-Last-Express-20000245-14.html
      last express is on gametap so i wonder why its not on steam or gog.

  37. myros says:

    I too was fairly excited when I first heard about APB. The more details that came out about how the game systems actualy worked the more I lost intrest. Towards the end of the build-up to release it seemed to me that a classic distraction tactic was taking place … “look a shiney thing” and made me really suspect that the gameplay and world systems were sub-par.

    It’s to bad, the ‘shiney’ stuff in character building, tatoo creating etc were really good … sadly they were attached to poor final product.

  38. The Juice says:

    Hard to stay afloat when the only quality piece of game play is customization.

  39. Simon says:

    What a sha– No, I can’t just be pithy about it. This is pretty fucking unfortunate for everyone involved- the developers who poured their time into it and especially the people who paid good money for what they assumed would be a worthy, lasting MMO. If I’d bought the game I’d be howling for a refund of any unused gametime, but given how deep a financial hole they seem to have dug for themselves, I’m not sure people will even see that much.

    What a crying fucking shame.

  40. Josh says:

    This is why you don’t plan the impossible.
    Both World of Warcraft and EVE planned to have small numbers to start and ramp up over time. EVE has gone according to plan, and, well, WoW exploded. Even if WoW didn’t explode like it did Blizzard would’ve been ok. It wasn’t so much a gamble for them. They planned the reach EQs subscription level over a period of years. MMO developers seem to think that MASSIVE SUCCESS is what’s going to happen with their game. Even mild success isn’t good enough to sustain them with how they’ve gone about development.

    I still think the work part is people who bought the game now have some useless DVDs. Maybe MMO developers should start adding in an escape clause that says “If we fuck up, here’s an unlock code/patch that allows you to host small world servers.” Or “Here’s how to make a world server.” I know this is completely implausible since it would require dev time already spent playing ping pong or making a shitty game.

    The SWGemu project has made great strides to preserve the original iteration of SWG. If WoW failed, there were some “illegal” shards people built. It just sucks that most of that game isn’t even going to be played.

    • Starky says:

      Agreed, MMO developers should be looking at reasonable numbers and then sustained growth.

      Simple off the top of my head would be 100,000 subs for 1 year as a break even point for a bigger MMO (giving roughly a 20 million budget) would be reasonable.
      Then a 10 million budget as “post launch development” for 2 years.

      Good management of that budget would see over the course of 2-3 years the game make a reasonable profit at anything over 100k subs – which lets face it would no be that hard to achieve in NA alone, so long as the game isn’t totally shite.

    • Sobric says:

      Hopefully this will be the last of a generation of MMOs that sought to ape WoW’s phenomenal success. I know that APB is nothing like WoW in terms of game-play, but too many companies over the last few years have rolled out MMOs with little or no thought put into their game-design, and have been left by the wayside because of it.

      Of course, not many other MMOs had that much money poured into them first…

  41. Tyshalle says:

    I still don’t get why anybody thought this game was fun. I mean, I understand that tastes are different and all, and I’m not ragging on that, or even the genre. I think a GTA MMO is an awesome idea, and I was eagerly waiting for this game. But beyond just being utterly, utterly broken, of which all of the key mechanics rode on (driving was awful, shooting was laggy as hell and lame), this was a game where all missions were solved by driving half-way across town and pushing one button.

    There are broken games that are terribly unfinished that still ooze with promise. Bloodlines comes to mind. Or Fallen Earth if you want an MMO example. But this game was just shit on all levels. I’m very surprised anyone found anything to like about it.

  42. K says:

    I was following APB for quite some time during its development, and looking forward to it… right up until shortly before release when they changed the payment model from buy-the-game-and-play, to buy-the-game-and-pay-monthly. They lost my custom when they made that decision. One of my friend’s who was following it also instantly lost interested in it for the exact same reason. Last I checked it wasn’t even a cheap monthly payment.

  43. Deacon Blues says:

    I was really tempted to buy this just a few weeks ago. (Back when they said their financial problems weren’t going to threaten APB, in fact.)) Looks like my new policy of not buying an MMO before playing a trial came in handy. Still, I’m sad to see it go. Even if it wasn’t excellent, at least it wasn’t WOW With Micropayments #456.

  44. Bungle says:

    I have never paid $70 for a video game that simply stopped working. There is nothing I can do to make my video game work again.

    Publishers, pay attention: This is why fewer people will pre-order each year. This is why we no longer buy games sight-unseen. This is why we download your games for free.

    • GHudston says:

      I have a copy of Auto Assault that has never been played. It’s not a nice feeling when this happens.

      Also of note: CAPTCHA = Aaah!

  45. Dean says:

    I imagine the fact that they’re in administration also prevents them from releasing the server code too, which is a shame.

  46. Kadayi says:

    That fact that so many people in this thread (including the KG) continue to erroneously refer to it as an MMO is the real problem here. APB was never in any way shape or form an MMO in terms of what people expect (WoW, AoC, etc). I think Dave Jones referred to it as a (Team based) Persistent Online Shooter, which (unfortunate acronym aside) is exactly what it was. The original concept was open world counterstrike, and that’s kind of what they delivered. The fuck up more than anything else comes down to collective failure by RTW to market the game accurately and get that message across to both the gaming press and the gaming public. They really needed to take a leaf out of Gearbox and Valves approach to promoting Borderlands and Left4Dead. Everyone knew with those games exactly what they were, and what they were buying into at the end of the day, namely a mediocre single player experience but a great team based one.

    • Starky says:

      Sure it was an MMO, it was massively multilayer (more than 64), online and persistent – that is all a game needs to be an MMO. You subscribed to it (by a funky pay as you play system) and it had no single player option.

      It wasn’t an MMORPG sure, but it WAS an MMOG.

      There is a massive difference between Borderlands, and Left4Dead – no subscription, both offer single player also (via bots for CS). And both could still be played if the Developers shut down all servers (even borderlands if Gamespy shutdown can be hacked around, and is). L4D has private servers.

      So, what is required to be an MMO?
      - Lots of players (more than 64 at a time at least)
      - Persistent world
      - Company controlled servers that without them the game no longer exists (unless via illegal clone servers).
      - Some kind of sustained payment method, subscription or micro-payments without which you can no longer play (or are very limited).

      I think it ticks them all.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Starky

      ‘It wasn’t an MMORPG sure, but it WAS an MMOG.’

      Generally when the acronym MMO is thrown around most people readily think of MMORPG.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      It wasn’t an MMORPG? It had levelling up and “character abilities” (in the form of weapon upgrades). It may have been a MMO3PS, but it had quite a few CRPG elements.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Alexander Norris

      One could equally call that merely ‘progression’ and ‘better equipment’. You get exactly the same thing happen in MW2 Multi-player, and I don’t think anyone bandies that around as an MMO do they?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Kad: Give up on the “It wasn’t an MMO” riff. It was. The problem is people’s tendency to define MMOs too narrowly, and APB was part of the movement to try and define MMOs wider than “WoW clone”. Go dig out Dave Jones’ Key Note from Develop 2009. Frankly, it’s one of the reasons anyone cared about it., in terms of “An MMO can be anything! It’s about persistence, etc”. There’s interviews where they talked about it in MMO terms – once again, turn to gamasutra – so are clearly complicit in it – and, frankly, not least in trying to charge for play time.

      They’ve stepped away from the GTA MMO thing, but I do think it’s a little disingenuous. Everyone was saying it ever since it was announced. They had years of interviews. Did they say “We’re nothing like GTA” at any point before they got hammered in the reviews?

      And don’t think they didn’t profit from making people think of it in MMO terms. Would they have got 50 million in investment if they didn’t think there was room for a pay out above and beyond what a “normal” game may earn? Clearly not.

      50 million to develop a counter-strike clone? Of course they thought it was an MMO. It was the only way they’d ever make their money back.

      KG

    • Kadayi says:

      @KG

      “The problem is people’s tendency to define MMOs too narrowly, and APB was part of the movement to try and define MMOs wider than “WoW clone”

      So you’re saying the games press isn’t complicit in perpetuating that lazy definition? Please hooker, hardly any reviewers approached APB from the perspective of it being a team based game at the end of the day. If Left4Dead had been played as a single player game for review purposes do you think it would of garnered such high scores as it did?

      Don’t get me wrong as a title APB had problems, and RTW certainly had issues, but the plain truth of the matter is bad PR and lazy game journalism also played it’s part as well.

    • Starky says:

      Once again team based games don’t charge by the hour for server access…

      L4D was reviewed as a single player game by some – almost ALL the reviews mention that if you don’t want to play it on-line you may as well not bother getting it.

      APB was reviewed as the game it is, lacking.
      It costs too much for a basic “team based shooter” – and isn’t a particularly good one at that.
      It tries to justify that cost by claiming to be an MMOG, persist ant world, customizable and permanent avatar and possessions (gear) – then it utterly failed at that too.

      Sorry but however you look at it as a TBS or an MMO GTA, APB was crap.

      Now maybe if it was a normal TBS as you claim, cost £30 as a one off payment and that is it, with a few MMO trapping to spice it up (guild wars style) it would be forgiveable, and more people would have bought it.
      The pricing model was stupid for the kind of game it was though, and so people avoided it like the plague.

      It was also filled with stupid choices, and money grubbing ALL the time, with their fake points money, and the mini charges from that of almost everything you did.
      It was insanity, and they dropped a few of the charges after announcing them (manufacturing) – but the bad vibe it created in the gaming community ensured the horrible death of the game.

      Hopefully Rockstar will do a proper GTA MMO, 1000 players per server, with gang warfare (guilds) turf, and status.
      Not just style and celebrity but no substance.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      I played both Left 4 Dead 1 & 2 and Borderlands offline by myself. I loved Left 4 Dead, the moody zombie shooting works offline for me very well… Borderlands was kind of boring after a dozen hours, but I still finished it and enjoyed it overall.

      APB I could never even play, as I don’t like multiplayer and it offered nothing else. There’s a big difference there. If Left 4 Dead became unplayable someday I would be very sad, but APB being unplayable… meh.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Starky

      I’m not sure of the relevance of the comment to this particular debate tbh but: -

      “Once again team based games don’t charge by the hour for server access…”

      Says who exactly? The same voices in your head that tell you that Battlefield 2 is an MMO and not just in fact a multi-player shooter?

    • Starky says:

      Says industry standard practice up until this date and the fact that every single PC team based shooter used private dedicated servers or peer to peer, for free.
      So yeah, the “says who” is nothing but 20 years of standard practice and PC gamer expectations.

      They might have been able to get away with a small monthly charge if the number were properly huge (128 per team maybe, so 256 over all) – but 50 a side, isn’t worth paying a monthly fee. Not when so many other games offer close to that for free (after you buy the game) or a much, much lower cost (running your own server splitting it with a few friends).
      They got greedy, and vastly over-valued their product.

      Also please refrain from ad hominem, especially falsely – the urge to insult you back is great but I will simply state at no point did I say battlefield 2 was an MMO, that is something you decided for yourself based on one comment that you took out of context.
      I’ve already cleared up this strawman on page 2, please don’t continue it.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Starky

      There are no standards in a constantly evolving medium.

    • Starky says:

      Kad, that is the dumbest statement I’ve heard in a while about videogames – of course there are standards.
      There are standard practices, standards of quality, expectations of certain standards by gamers, publishers and retailers each.
      There are genre standards (staples) and gameplay standards – usually set by other games in that genre. if you’re making a 3rd person shooter, all your gameplay is judged to the standard of the best games in that genre. You may not have to best it, but you have to try and get close if you want your game to be successful.

      They’re not laws, or rules, but no industry standards are.
      Games that ignore those standards, flop (mostly) – as APB did.

      The gaming medium is not unique in this, all entertainment mediums have soft standards, some even have hard standards too (as in enforceable requirements – ratings for example).

    • Kadayi says:

      @Starky

      LOL. Contrary to what you think, game design isn’t akin to architecture (an industry that does operate to tried and tested universal standards). It’s still very much the Wild West, because the frontiers (technology) are still expanding at an exponential rate. Across game companies I think you’ll find that everyone operates to a different tune from place to place.

      Still RTW principally went into administration over dismal business practices at the end of the day. Even if APB had hit an 80%+ metacritic score and it’s target sales I doubt (as others have that ) it would of sustained RTW for long based on its poor payment model. Attempting to Lay the blame sqat the feet of the game is disingenuous

    • Starky says:

      Well I’ve worked in the games industry briefly (As QA for 2 summers as an intern – unpaid one at that) and I know there are standards – all those I mentioned hold true. Disagree with me if you like, but I know what I know. We were given lists of them to check the builds we were given against. Hell we even had to play competing games to compare them directly, and make sure the game was meeting set goals (or standards).
      It’s not the wild west, not for AAA games (hell even for medium budget 50-100 team games) and hasn’t been for a number of years, small indie studio’s may still operate like this, but big devs are very much an organized and corporate mindset, big budget games just cannot afford to fail – standards are set and standards must be met, and those standards are set based upon what the competition is doing, and what gamers expect.

      Ironically though it seems as if one of the failures of realtime worlds was trying to mindlessly copy that kind of corporate system, when they weren’t suited to it.
      As detailed in that excellent blog.

      Thankfully I realized pretty soon that the games industry was a freaking nightmare, and unless you got very lucky, you’d be working your arse of for crap pay. You’d never have any form of job stability, chances are you’d never get any real career progression, again not unless lucky, or willing to work 100 hour weeks for years, for a wage that you’d beat by working at your local Tesco.

  47. Bascule42 says:

    In my opinion APB is/was crap. Many liked it though and have invested a lot of time and money. Lets hope those who have paid in advance for game time get something back.

    It was a grand idea wich is going to go down as one the great “Epic fail but could have been….”s of gaming.

  48. Pie says:

    Okay this just totally pisses me off. I spent like 40 quid on this game and i’ve still had 50+ hours of gaming time and then this happens! I WANT MY MONEY BACK!

  49. J says:

    That follow up post made you look like an asshole. Thumbsup.

  50. perilisk says:

    I kinda hope they sell the character customization stuff as middleware — I never played APB, but that aspect of it looked pretty good.