APB’s shutting down after only 2 months or so (and yet Everquest 2 is still going somehow)
After launching only a month and a half ago, Realtime Worlds’ cops and robbers MMO APB will be shutting down. For the moment the servers are still up and running, but that may change soon.
In a rather impressive article over at the Guardian.co.uk, found here, writer Keith Stuart covers not only the collapse of developer Realtime Worlds as they go into administration (ie: going bust, chapter 11, stripping the copper wiring out of the walls for booze money), but the events that lead to this rather unpleasant event. It’s a great article and well worth reading as Mr. Stuart was able to interview some former Realtime Worlds employees about what’s going on (Realtime Worlds started firing off employees right after APB shipped but the real gutting just happened last month).
To summarize it, APB didn’t sell well enough to even begin to cover the $105 million they spent developing it over the last 5 years and it didn’t look like it would start to anytime soon. That’s right; APB cost $105 million to make…WTF?!? Jurassic Park only cost $63 million to make and yeah, I know there’s been some inflation in the 17 years since then but damn! Do you know what I could do with $105 million and 5 years of development time? I could reshoot Jurassic Park, scene by scene and replace everyone in the cast with topless models (real models, no plastic surgery or ex porn stars here) and still come in under budget and with enough time left over to have all the women trained as Shakespearian actors so I could shoot an all topless models version of Hamlet!
Anyway, according to Mr. Stuart’s contacts the problem was that “We got all this money, and it made us relax, when really it should have focused our attention on making sure we had a really good approach to managing the project, to ensuring the design was exact what it needed to be, to focus testing early on, and just proving that we were doing the right thing, rather than taking the old 'it'll be done when it's done' attitude."
It also appears things got a bit heated towards the end. While former staffer Luke Halliwell posted a well written and calm updateon his blog about it all falling apart swiftly and many people going unpaid for a month’s wages, his wife posted something a bit more spirited on the comments section. This segment covers it quite well, though the full version is much more emotional and quite sad (they had to get rid of their pets so they could feed their 4 year old child). It really makes the story a lot more real and much more tragic than any game website has yet to present it.
“Dave Jones and Ian Hetherington have pissed away millions, they are getting away with not paying over 200 employees for the work that they have done ... Moreover these very people have enough personal wealth to pay the money owed to the individuals and families whose lives they have left shattered, heck Dave could probably pay them all just by selling one of his beloved cars."
According to BBC.co.uk, they’re looking for someone “…to sell the intellectual property rights to APB and one of the companies in the frame could be US-based Epic Games.”
So at the moment there may be a ray of hope in the future for current players as another company may buy up the rights and continue to support it. Then again, I wouldn’t exactly hold my breath if I were them. I suppose the lesson of all of this could be taken from Mr. Stuart’s contact in Realtime Worlds. ”One thing I've learned is, you shouldn't confused creative genius with shrewd business sense.”
Personally I feel the moral to this story is “If they had just done Crackdown 2 instead of passing it off for some no name studio to ruin, none of this shit would have happened!”