Um, That Was Quick: SOE’s Bullet Run Done In March

I guess those bullets are running? I'm still not entirely sure how it works, to be honest.

Remember Bullet Run? It was a free-to-play reality TV shooter thing from SOE best known (around these parts) for being announced and going live. The latter occurred a scant few months ago, last August. But now the style-focused punk-buster’s adding another milestone to its extremely brief timeline: complete shutdown. Which, I guess, is kind of fitting in its own way? I mean, Bullet Run? They may as well have called it Fast Fast. So of course it ended in the blink of an eye.

SOE made a statement about the impending closure on Bullet Run’s official bloggotron:

“After much review and consideration, Acony Games and Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) have mutually made the decision to discontinue development on the free-to-play FPS game, Bullet Run. As a result, SOE and Acony will sunset the game and end all game services for Bullet Run on March 8, 2013. We would like to thank the players for their dedication and support of the game.”

As a result, membership billing’s already ground to a halt, and SOE’s issuing a refund to all subscribers who purchased time past January 31st. Beyond that, it’s shutdown business as usual. You don’t have to play another online shooter, but you can’t stay here.

I must confess to having never actually gotten around to playing this one. It struck me as quite unremarkable – at least, on a “judging a book by its cover” basis – so I chose to suffocate under other portions of the 2012 fall game avalanche. Based on SOE’s hasty decision to pull the plug, I’m guessing pretty much everyone else did as well. Did any of you try sinking serious time into it? Was it at least competently made? Were there even bullets? What about running? Because honestly, I’d be so, so, so pleased if it was secretly a subversive art game about pacifism and standing completely still.


  1. drewski says:

    Kind of weird that you would spend all the time, money and effort developing a game, then throw it out without any fanfare and kill it within six months.

    Excellent use of scarce resources, Sony!

    • LionsPhil says:

      No point sending good money after bad, though, if it looks like the only way to fix it up to be profitable is to spend even more in development (and hosting and such) than you can ever realistically hope to get back from it.

      • Biscuitry says:

        Very much what LionsPhil said. It’s very easy to let yourself fall prey to the sunk cost fallacy; from a purely business perspective, if it’s not making any money and doesn’t show any signs of starting to, it makes most sense to pull the plug as soon as possible.

        • Velko says:

          Indeed; this feels like the sort of good, clear-headed business thinking that one would like to see more in the games industry (and various other industries, too!).

      • drewski says:

        My point is that if a game is so bad that it’s “released” by throwing it into the trash when you hope nobody is looking, then ignoring it for six months, then killing it, it’s probably been bad enough for long enough that it should have died before getting close to release.

        Sony did the right thing by not throwing good money after bad, sure; there was almost certainly some point in the past where they could have stopped throwing bad money at it, too.

        • skittles says:

          Well its hardly unique. Tabula Rasa comes to mind, but that one lasted a little longer. Certainly likely cost a hell of a lot more though. Then there was that car one also from NCSoft. The shortest lived MMO type I know of was S.E.E.D. Barely got to play that one at all, not that there was much to ‘play’.

          • RvLeshrac says:

            You shut your filthy whore mouth. Auto Assault was amazing!

          • Koozer says:

            I loved Tabula Rasa :( I will never again see my engineer decked out in Mega Man armour.

          • Spider Jerusalem says:

            tabula rasa was a bit of a different situation. the game was progressing smoothly until the ncsoft ran out of patience with garriott and ultimatums were given, then it was given a hatchet job and released about six months too early.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Kind of weird you would spend real money on a Free game that will likely have it’s servers turned of at some arbitrary point. Oh wait…

      Yeah, this kind of thing puts me off F2P even more!

  2. Triplanetary says:

    Richly deserved. Bullet Run was reasonably fun but one of the more blatant cash-grabs in the non-Korean-or-Chinese-MMORPG corners of the F2P market. It was a game that gave you every reason to say “fuck it” and go back to playing Blacklight Retribution (which was my favorite F2P shooter until Planetside 2 came out). And not because of bad luck, but bad (cash-grabby) design. So good riddance. People expect better from Sony, which is not a phrase I ever expected to utter.

    • MiniMatt says:

      That cash-grabbyness is a tad concerning. Whilst subscription plans purchased after 31st Jan are being refunded I’m going to hazard a guess that items/guns/hats/inventory slots etc purchased just last week are lost money.

      Not concerning enough for me to get on my high horse and proclaim outrage but concerning enough that I’d, for instance, consider when/if putting money into Planetside 2 the question of “how much use do I reasonably expect to get from this cash”?

      • Triplanetary says:

        Always something working keeping in mind with an online-only game, I agree. But given that both EQ1 and EQ2 are both still live, I think Sony has shown more willingness than some (cough EA cough) to keep a game alive as long as it has an active community.

  3. varangian says:

    I hope, though without a great deal of confidence, that PS2 doesn’t follow in its footsteps/bullet trajectory. SOE managed to release a 4GB patch which caused most of the tank and fixed turret guns to fire blanks, something which apparently escaped the attention of whoever did the pre-release testing. That at least has been fixed after a couple of hotfixes but there are numerous other issues, slideshow framerates not the least of them. Seems to me SOE have a lot to learn about how to keep online games in the zone. A trip to Valve to see how to do it properly might be in order.

    • Cross says:

      Because Valve’s F2P shooter is bug free. Christ i used to love TF2 before it became all hats and bugs.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Valve are good game designers and play a good nice guy, possibly sincerely, but good, solid programmers they aren’t. They’re just not quite as bugariffic as, say, Troika.

      • Triplanetary says:

        Starship Troopers has fewer bugs than a Troika game. An ant farm has fewer bugs than a Troika game. Having fewer bugs than a Troika game is easy.

      • capn.lee says:

        I think the point was more their method for updating and patching as mentioned during this talk link to
        Because Valve don’t have a strict structure for patches, they’re able to put out an update 10 minutes after it’s made. They can also roll back to a previous update in another 10 minutes. With Valve’s update policy and infrastructure you would never have had turrets broken for such a long period of time

        • LionsPhil says:

          That same lack of process means they’ll break L4D2 on a Friday evening and not fix it until the following Monday.

          “None” is not a good test-and-release process.

          • Baines says:

            Sometimes that seems like the same effort other companies put into their patches, just with a faster fix time.

            Compare that to the Planetside 2 issue mentioned. The worst may be Infinity Ward with Modern Warfare 3. A monthly schedule for patches, and too often patched things didn’t even work. And these weren’t just hard to see issues, it was things like increasing an overpowered weapon’s fire rate instead of decreasing it. Once, the entire patch didn’t work.

  4. bigjig says:

    With all the hullabaloo about free to play games I honestly expected a little more of a player base. Looking over at the steam stats the only ones going gangbusters are Valve games.

    Planetside 2 peaked at 11K today which is okay I guess, but when you consider that they wanted 2,000 players per continent with 3 continents on a server saying that it’s underperforming would be an understatement. The game will become a ghost town in a couple of months time.

    I can’t even find Tribes Ascend on the top 100 which is pretty pathetic. Maybe they are raking in hundreds of thousands of players outside of Steam but I somehow doubt that.

    The trouble for developers with free to play games is that you can’t just conveniently blame failures on ‘piracy’. I’ll be interested to see if a F2P FPS game besides TF2 can break out and become a success but I’m not holding my breath.

    • GSGregory says:

      Is that 11k steam stats? You do realize you can play planetside 2 without steam?

      • Magnetude says:

        I dunno about anyone else but I launch both those games from the standalone client. PS2 seems healthy to me, long may it live!

        • MiniMatt says:

          I’d hazard there’s life in it for sure, though I’d also guess that server merges are on the horizon. The RPS space giraffes & freedom smurfs on Miller are blessed with what I believe is actually the busiest server worldwide. And whilst it’s a darn fine server for sure, I’d never say it feels overcrowded. Many of the other servers are real ghost towns.

          And as soon as they hotfix the hotfix to the hotfix to the hotfix to the patch that destroyed my already borderline FPS into unplayable territory I’ll likely be back. Unless something else shiny grabs my attention in the meantime naturally.

      • bigjig says:

        Yes I realize that – that’s why I said this “Maybe they are raking in hundreds of thousands of players outside of Steam but I somehow doubt that.”

        Again maybe I’m completely wrong and the vast majority of PS2 players log in outside of steam, I just really doubt that that’s the case.

        • Magnetude says:

          Yeah I know, just weighing in. Another thing to consider is that you can launch a Steam version of the game from the .exe without launching Steam at all, I think a lot of people do that in an effort to get a few more FPS out of an intensely CPU-hungry game. We’ll have to wait until they release some stats, but I really hope it’s doing as well as I think it is.

          • bigjig says:

            I hope so too! :P Even though FPS games aren’t really my cup of tea I’d never wish for a game to fail..

            I was really just thinking aloud. With everyone saying that F2P/freemium is the future of gaming I guess I just expected to see a few more success stories (besides just LoL and Dota 2)

    • Skhalt says:

      PS2 lacks the ten continents of the first one to be interesting – it seriously is just one big arena right now, the fights lack any kind of meaning. That plus, yeah, abysmal framerate. I’m positive the players will flood its servers again when those 2 points are adressed, if they don’t wait too long. That game came out of beta way too early.

      Tribes on the other hand, has reached a situation where it’s too hard for the newcomers to get in and not enough hardcore for the pro-gamers, so yeah it is slowly sinking, although the recent cut in the unlocks ‘costs may have boosted it a bit.

    • Cooper says:

      The RPS Vanu outfit manages at least 20, often 30 people online every single night. Wednesdays this rises to 50-60.

      I don’t care that PS2 isn’t filling it’s dozens of servers. It’s filling MUmble with people to shoot lasers with and it’s filling Miller’s (the server we play on) continents with hundreds of people to shoot.

      From where I’m sitting, PS2 is healthy enough.

      • Armante says:

        Wish Genudine was a busy server.. Never mind the bugs and crashes. I get an okay frame rate, and no hard crashes since using the nvidia 313.95 (?) beta drivers.

        I just want more people to play against! we really need to option of switching our characters from one server to another.

        And as for Bullet Run, never looked at it, barely heard about it. Seeing as SOE is busy with PS2, not sure why they’d want another F2P FPS

    • darkChozo says:

      Moderate correction; they said 2K players per server, not per continent. Players on a continent are hard capped at 600. So 11K peak is 6 server’s worth of people, and that’s not counting people not launching through Steam (I’d imagine that’s a decent number, it’s not like there’s much benefit to using Steam considering patching happens through the launcher), which is far from unreasonable. It’s certainly no WoW or LoL, but it’s probably doing as well as Sony expected.

      • Audiemurphy135 says:

        No, bigjig was right. It’s about 2000 players per continent, not server. Each of the three factions are capped at roughly 650 per continent. This is a well known fact that has been repeated by the developers a gerbajillion times.

        • darkChozo says:

          Ah, whoops. That’s what I get for trying to remember things before drinking enough coffee. It is 2k per continent, just checked.

    • El_Emmental says:

      I tried to use Steam for Tribes Ascend when it was added to the platform, and all I got was serious issues (not resolved by simply uninstalling the thing), corruption of my C++ redistributables and such.

      A lot of people use the normal Tribes Ascend launcher, as it’s working much more smoothly.

      Doesn’t mean Tribes Ascend isn’t slowing down fast (the XP costs /2 is a clear sign), but Steam stats can’t be trusted for non-Steamworks games.

  5. GSGregory says:

    What I never understood is why acony dropped parabellum which was much better in its early beta stages packing better weapon balance, and better gameplay and instead ended up creating almost a stripped down version that ended up as bullet run. Even better were the bugs, and just bad designs left in hedone[the beta name for bullet run] that for all I know left beta into live that during beta they just ignored.

  6. jussipe says:

    I guess the game was born to run.

  7. MiniMatt says:


    You don’t have to play another online shooter, but you can’t stay here.

    Did this phraseology exist prior to Semisonic’s Closing Time or did they pretty much invent it? Nice achievement if they did, twas a top album. Though I don’t think I’ve heard anything of them since.

    • iucounu says:

      Yes, ritual closing-the-pub formula spoken by publicans to pissed patrons since time immemorial.

      • MiniMatt says:

        Yeah I guess so, especially as that was pretty much the surface narrative of the song. Although I don’t recall using the phrase during my stint at bar work – though perhaps ours was a little more lock-in friendly :)

    • Triplanetary says:

      Futurama teaches us that the phrase was used even by the ancient Egyptians.

    • Flint says:

      You’ve not heard much from them since because they’ve not done much. Their last album was sometime in the early 00s (was ok enough) but while Wikipedia lists their status as active, they’ve been doing very little.

    • Antsy says:

      First time I heard it was The Blues Brothers movie. “You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here”.

  8. MeestaNob says:

    First I heard this game was actually out was when I heard it was closing.

  9. neofit says:

    How many competitive online shooters and/or stabbers can planet Earth sustain anyway? You can release 50 more but there will still be 24 hours in a day.