Remember All Points Bulletin? Yes that MMO that had you play as either brutal Enforcers or, um, brutaler Criminals? That MMO that was really, really bad? That MMO RealTime Worlds spent $100,000,000 making? Yes, you read that right. A hundred million dollars on a game that was complete hogwash. It sold less than 10,000 units apparently, and is thus one huge and massive failure when it comes to Massively Multiplayer Online Games.
The reason the game tanked was because you had to buy the game and then subscribe to it not because the driving controls were screwy or the game lagged and looked horrible even on a high end computer. People wanted to give the game a chance but in this era of microtransactions, that is not a sustainable business model.
Thus Real Time Worlds had to cut seventy five percent of its staff. That’s 157 people jobless after working on a massive AAA title and dreaming about achieving something that only the likes of Everquest and World of Warcraft have managed to achieve.
As an alleged ex-RTW employee says in a caustic comment on Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s article
The sheer time spent and money it took to make APB is really a product of fairly directionless creative leadership. Certainly Dave J has great, strong, ambitious ideas for his games. But he’s a big believer in letting the details emerge along the way, rather than being planned out beyond even a rudimentary form. For most of the lifetime of APB, he was also CEO of the whole company, as well as Creative Director. His full attention was not there until it late in the day. This has ramifications for how long his projects run many years, on average and the associated cost. This, in turn, means that the business model options were constrained, conspiring to place APB in a really difficult position, commercially. Ultimately, it’s this pairing of a subscription model cost with free to play game play that really did for the game. And many of us saw it coming a mile off. I must admit I’m dismayed about the scale of the failure, however. Many of us thought APB might do OK at retail and sell a few hundred thousand, though struggle on ongoing revenue, and gradually carve a niche. But it absolutely tanked at retail I believe (though I’m not privvy to figures) I think due to the critical mauling it received. It never made the top 20 of the all format UK chart. It’s scraping along the bottom of the PC-only chart, a situation I’m assuming is replicated in its major markets. And being at the bottom of the PC-only chart is not where you want to be as a AAA budget game. God knows what the budget was, but when you account for the 150-odd staff and all the launch hardware and support, it was in the tens of millions of dollars.
However, the gaming industry is quick to respond to capture this massive pool of unused talent. As Joystiq reports, Codemasters alone is looking for quite a lot of employees to fill its UK studio. The Creative Assembly and Activision are also looking for new talent in Europe. With a huge amount of gaming jobs going redundant these days, it’s good to see some heartening news come out of all this mess.
As one commenter says Every once in awhile, humanity doesn’t disappoint me. This is good news.