APB: Out of Gas.

In one of the most bizarrely-packed MMO news days I’ve ever seen, one story topped huge announcement after huge announcement after huge announcement: APB has just won the award for “shortest live MMO of all time” and is being shuttered as of tomorrow.  Of course, by now you already know this — it’s blazing through the internet like wildfire.

It’s not particularly stunning that it happened, but mostly because of how fast it did.  After spending gobs of money on both APB and MyWorlds, Realtime Worlds suffered some sort of horrible financial implosion.

I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of people crying tonight, unless they just picked up the game yesterday — after all, players have only had three months to develop any sort of attachment to it.  And from what I’ve heard, APB wasn’t exactly a gamer’s paradise at any point.

It wasn’t ready to launch, that much was clear.  Between a rushed launch, extremely bad word-of-mouth, and a lackluster financial return, a situation for the perfect storm arose.  I’m sure there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes.

When these things happen, I just always think it’s a shame that everyone lets it drop.  Not just because there are players who want to experience the game, but because it’s a significant investment of money and talent and hours that was poured into the creation of this game.  Wouldn’t it be better if someone else took the game off their hands for a loss (but less than a total loss) and run it themselves?  For that matter, wouldn’t the idea of purchasing a canceled MMO and starting it back up under a different studio’s supervision be less risky and expensive than starting from scratch?  I’m sure there are reasons, but it just seems a shame that these extremely expensive MMOs are chucked aside for good.

For the rest of the industry, the lessons here are simple and oft-repeated: don’t launch until your game is ready, and be smart with your money.  Love Cryptic or hate them, that studio does know how to produce MMOs quickly and for a much lower cost than a lot of these other startups, which is why Champions and STO are chugging along just fine.  Love Blizzard or hate them, they set the standard for release polish, yet in 2010 so many studios still ignore this in the mad rush to retail.

Still, this is unsettling and weird.  Huh.

13 thoughts on “APB: Out of Gas.

  1. David September 16, 2010 / 6:16 pm

    Wait, there are people who hate Cryptic?

  2. expostninja September 16, 2010 / 7:36 pm

    I can’t say I honestly found it all that unsettling or surprising. In fact, I was kind of waiting for it for a while now, even prior to the obvious business implosion of RTW.

    I’d like to say I have some sort of natural sense that an MMO is going to die, but I think there’s some unifying theme to the ones that barely get off the launch pad. And APB had all the hallmarks of something that’s not going to hit big after launch. It was EVE without several of EVE’s compelling features and alternatives to all-out PvP warfare – and when EVE launched, it was launched to miniscule numbers. They’ve clawed their way up through patience, sober spending, and calmly measured business expenditures.

    Or maybe I’m just a cynic.

  3. PeterD September 16, 2010 / 7:39 pm

    The thing that’s especially disturbing about APB is the vast amount of money poured into developing it ($100 million, allegedly) compared to how little was actually delivered. One has to wonder if the company foundered because people were buying expensive cars and big houses instead of running their company. I’m not saying they were, I have no clue. But you really have to wonder where $100 million went.

    I’m pretty sure if you gave me $100 million to work with I could create an MMO that would last at LEAST 6 months 😛

    Hey Syp, we need a post of MMO record “worsts” (or, Topics we’ve beaten to death but keep talking about anyway, part 2).

    Worst MMO Launch: Anarchy Online
    Fastest to the Fail Line: All Points Bulletin
    Most Disastrous Cash Shop: Allods Online

    Etc.

    Hmm.

    Note to investors. My $100 million MMO title will not start with the letter “A”.

  4. Benjamin September 16, 2010 / 8:15 pm

    They should sell the assets to someone willing pay attention to the testers not what they are saying but what they are doing. They game had great art and run smoothly, what was missing was weak enemies, as once you figured out things like firing a single shot then running back so you could shoot anyone in the back.
    you leveled fast on people trying to learn and once you got better weapons it wasn’t even fun anymore since some of the net code was screwy. I.e. I’d shoot people, and look like I was hitting them and they not even notice, and the same happened to me at other times. Maybe even have GTA makers buy it and throw in some AI to fight back and it would have lasted longer.

    Then again all you have to do is look at PVP only MMO games and you will see a string of failures, shadowbane, APB, hummm I know their was a couple more, but Co-op trumps free for all when there are levels and learning curves.

  5. Buhallin September 16, 2010 / 9:26 pm

    I’m not sure why this surprises you. I honestly expect to see this a lot more in the future. Only a tiny, tiny percentage of MMOs have continued to add players over time, especially one they end up on the raw end of the player hate. Is it possible to pull it out? Sure, there are some good examples of it, but it’s probably a much harder business case to stick with it and hope to pull it out than to just cut your losses and close it down.

  6. Akasha82 September 16, 2010 / 10:42 pm

    This game was released just a few months ago, such a bad news for those who already invested their money on the game. Well, they should’ve sold it to another company who would be willing to promote the game. This just proves that MMORPGs are way more better than MMOs. So long and goodbye APB!

  7. Thomas September 16, 2010 / 11:55 pm

    I don’t get why MMO’s with shooter elements seem to have problems. Crimecraft, Global Agenda, Fallen Earth, & APB. Some do okay & others die.

  8. spinks September 17, 2010 / 12:44 am

    Thomas, maybe people don’t want their shooters to be MMOs?

  9. Canazza September 17, 2010 / 2:43 am

    FE is hardly a shooter. Guns are really just functional magic in that game.
    I am annoyed that APB died so soon, but then again I really saw it coming. 5 years in development and all they really got from it was a driving game, a shooting game and put it in a multiplayer context.
    The game did feel like it was still in beta. Early beta. All the basics were there, driving, shooting, simple missions, and the big draw, customisation.
    Something tells me they spent more time getting the customisation working properly than they did the rest of the game, as it was the most fleshed out and easiest to use I’ve ever seen.
    It had a lot of potential, but suffered slightly from Feature Decay (I remember the early previews saying that you could capture and hold territory) and a little bit of Duke Nukem Forever Syndrome.
    Lets hope it’s a full blown case of DNF Syndrome and that it get ressurected.
    I thought NCSoft would have picked it up atleast. C’mon, a fully fledged, reposessed MMO. Bargain.

  10. Julie Whitefeather September 17, 2010 / 9:03 am

    They did have a buyout for the My World IP and there was (at least according to Develop-Online) a buyout going on in the “final stages” but in the end, as we all know, the last minute save fell through. Its a shame that the game never had a chance to develop

    Julie

  11. Rivs September 17, 2010 / 2:32 pm

    It’s a shame, I really liked the idea of APB, even though the execution was crap

  12. Marcus May 22, 2011 / 5:35 pm

    This was a huge shame! I love GTA and the thought of this game and it being more of a MMO was sweet. Even after whatever company bought it, it’s still garbage. I thought it had a lot of potential =/

    get ms points free

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s