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APB "plug to be pulled" within 24 hours News

MMO PC News by Johnny Minkley

16 September, 2010

The Realtime Worlds saga is drawing to an abrupt close, with administrator Begbies Traynor this afternoon confirming industry speculation that the "plug is about to be pulled" on its APB title after failing to attract a buyer.

Just as we were publishing this story, the game's closure was publicly confirmed on the game's site by community officer Ben Bateman.

"Today we are sad to announce that despite everyone's best efforts to keep the service running; APB is coming to a close," said Bateman. "The servers are still up, so join the party and say goodbye!"

Despite interest from 300 interested parties, none of a final shortlist of six were "comfortable with buying it as a live operation," Les Able, spokesperson for Begbies Traynor, told our sister site GamesIndustry.biz this afternoon.

Able added that "staff had been told what the position is", and the online multiplayer title is now expected to be shut down within the next 24 hours.

The administrator now intends to begin a new "marketing process" to try and sell on the game assets and IP. An official announcement is expected tomorrow.

The game, whose commercial failure has been blamed for the Dundee studio's demise, had been maintained by a core team since administrators were called in last month.

Speaking to Gamesindustry.biz today, a source close to Realtime Worlds said: "Despite all the talk, no buyer has been found so it looks like the plug is about to be pulled. We've heard that it could go tomorrow".

The rumours were corroborated by a second, independent development source this afternoon, at which point the administrator was contacted.

In anticipation of the move, GamesIndustry.biz has learned that APB has been removed from the Steam online retail service. The product page link now re-routes to the Steam homepage, while Google's webcache shows the game was on sale as recently as 10th September.

Realtime Worlds is also no longer selling the game or 'RTW Points' via its website, the latter used to purchase items within the game.

The studio has continued to issue updates for the game, with the most recent posting on the official website detailing a new patch due to be rolled out today.

Administrator Begnies Traynor stated last month: "APB will continue as a live service in the US and Europe during restructuring with full game and community support continuing during this period."

The restructuring firm further released user data it said showed "healthy numbers" which "reflect positively on APB" as it sought a buyer for the online multiplayer action game.

But it is understood that all negotiations failed to attract a committed investor.

GamesIndustry.biz revealed last month that Realtime World's other major title in development, Project MyWorld, was set to be acquired along with core staff to form a new Dundee studio, in a venture understood to be fronted by Psygnosis co-founder Ian Hetherington.

Asked about this status of this deal, Begbies Traynor said it could not comment as there was a "confidentiality agreement in place".

Got a tip? Email news@eurogamer.net.

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Comments: 1-50 of 59 Next →

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el_pollo_diablo
16/09/10 @ 17:25
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A shame, and a poke in the eye for all concerned.
ChthonicEcho
16/09/10 @ 17:29
#2
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Ultimately predictable.

Still, a shame. I was interested in this before I tried out the beta and later saw that they've went back on their promise regarding monthly fees.
richarddavies
16/09/10 @ 17:29
#3
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That's really bad that. I feel for the people that work there. Pretty crappy for the 130,000 players that play the game aswell.
Malek86
16/09/10 @ 17:30
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Well, that was fast.
Argentlupine
16/09/10 @ 17:32
#5
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Feel sorry for the people who had already bought beyond this; hopefully they can gain a refund.
Hunkyjim
16/09/10 @ 17:32
#6
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So much for that userbase & microtransactions that were going to support you for years and years. Who could have predicted it wouldn't last a month? Oh, everyone? Oh okay then
king_ghidra
16/09/10 @ 17:33
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I'm no accountant but I find it incomprehensible that a business taking (if we believe the 130k subs and $28 avg spend stats) over $3.5m a month in revenue is not attractive to someone, especially the likes of SOE etc. who already have their whole online account and support systems ready to go and could easily absorb a new game.

To my mind the failure to find a buyer means someone is either asking too much for the business, or the above stats are just not true, because i am darn sure there are other MMO's out there with less subscribers and an older product that are happily chugging away making money.
Optyk
16/09/10 @ 17:34
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:(
Retroid moderator
16/09/10 @ 17:41
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:(

Sad day for the customers and those who were still employed to keep it going.
TheDellBingo
16/09/10 @ 17:41
#10
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Someone should have snapped it up and pushed forward with a console iteration. They'd have been laughing their heads off a year from now
riceNpea
16/09/10 @ 17:41
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what a rip-off. should be a law against it
iamian
16/09/10 @ 17:41
#12
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it's a pretty bold statement to say that the average user spend was spending $28 a month when it's only been out 2 months (and weren't the first 50 hours free anyway?).

Perhaps if my maths lessons are remembered correctly then they're using a different kind of average!
Deckard1
16/09/10 @ 17:41
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well.... that went well.
Ryze
16/09/10 @ 17:45
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Unsurprised.
cw-
16/09/10 @ 17:48
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@King_ghidra

That's 130k REGISTERED accounts, NOT 130k ACTIVE accounts
BobsUncle
16/09/10 @ 17:49
#16
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I've only used 3 of the included 50 hours. Do I get a refund?
Machetazo
16/09/10 @ 17:52
#17
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I'm saddened that a more positive outcome could not be found. I hope the paying customer's subs money finds its way back to them.
CaptainQuint
16/09/10 @ 17:55
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Glad I'm not one if those poor suckers who pissed their money down the drain buying this embarrassment of a release.
Goodfella
16/09/10 @ 17:55
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Oh dear, this has all gone so horribly wrong for Realtime Worlds.

Just shows how easy it is for things to fall apart with seemingly the wrong decisions.
cairbre1977
16/09/10 @ 17:55
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I too bought the game but I reckon you will be pissing in the wind looking for a refund from a broke company. Blood and stone spring to mind. When I first heard of this game I was excited then I played the beta and thought surely the full game will be better I still believe. It was not.............. I do feel sorry for all those who lost their jobs I am out of pocket €50 they are out of a job with mortgages and kids to pay for.
Cronan
16/09/10 @ 17:56
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A sad day for everyone, another one in the list of overly-ambitious MMOs that have killed developers.
Whizzo
16/09/10 @ 18:00
#22
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Those average spend figures seemed about as believable as the Iraq Dodgy Dossier, I'm not surprised they couldn't find anyone who wanted to buy it as a going concern.
Ryze
16/09/10 @ 18:06
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@BobsUncle

Quick - use 24 of those hours!

edit: 23...
Edited 1 times, most recently on 16/09/10 @ 18:07
darkmorgado
16/09/10 @ 18:12
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Am I right in thinking that this is the shortest-lived MMO ever released?
ybfelix
16/09/10 @ 18:14
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What an enormous waste of human power. 3 years of work time, down the drain, and to think what Crackdown 2 could have been...
Edited 1 times, most recently on 16/09/10 @ 18:15
EarlBassett
16/09/10 @ 18:17
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Surely those that bought it are entitled to a refund?

The game just doesn't work anymore
Huntcjna
16/09/10 @ 18:18
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Its a very tough sell for an administrator this to be honest with you. Its clear the game was released with a wave of technical problems as a necessity due to Realtime Worlds cash flow being effectively non-existant. They as such most likely released a sub par game due to financial necessity despite it being very close to the dev teams heart and not quite the vision they wanted. Taking into account the negative reviews and low sales on release they must have had huge debts prior to the game coming out to force an insolvency procedure so quickly.

Any administrator has a duty to those creditors to sell that asset as a functioning game/community at as close to its true valuation as possible. Now those other creditors are likely industry related (middleware, mo-cap, engine licensing etc) that are going without payment and HM Revenue & Customs (thanks for taking away the tax breaks new government you are meant to be protecting the creative industry!) and they need the maximum amount of money back to justify the Company being in administration. In administration they cannot sell that asset at an undervalue. As such with the best will in the world in this climate nobody is going to want to purchase a game arguably at the peak of its user base for full market value. It takes a huge leap of faith on any purchasers part to think they can undo all the negative press and attract new users and profit from a purchase this size the risk is too great.

The sad part is the game related creditors, users and staff are the ones that suffer here because its now likely the Company will go into liquidation and APB may get sold in the firesale for possibly a third of what they were trying to sell it for in administration. The truth is it cannot be making anywhere near the monthly revenue they are claiming because if it was the administrator could keep the game running as long as it was covering its month to month costs which it cannot be doing.

Its a real blow to the UK industry as a whole and I for one hope that someone actually takes note of what benefit those tax breaks would have brought to the table to prevent situations like this. I wish the staff well and hope that someone does eventually pick it up, pull it back from the brink and bring those staff back in to run it to support the user base that were enjoying it.

IainMcKenzie
16/09/10 @ 18:36
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The average revenue from each paying user was £28, but the 130k figure is of registered players not active playing ones. There's still an outside chance the game could be bought and resurrected. I imagine the current servers are far too many/expensive for what the game needs, perhaps the company's death means new server hosting can be bought at a more sustainable cost by a third party.
Dr.Mott
16/09/10 @ 18:43
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I sincerely hope that Les Able's middle name is 'Miser'.
butler`
16/09/10 @ 18:47
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Proof that those stats are bullshit and/or rapidly declining.

Their art guys will have no problem finding work that's for sure. "Integral role in the production of the APB character creation system" is an eye catcher on a CV.
Incarta
16/09/10 @ 18:55
#31
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What a waste
Miths
16/09/10 @ 18:57
#32
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That was certainly $100 million well spent :).

I only tried it very briefly in beta a couple of months before it was released, and hated everything about it. Still a shame for those people who did actually enjoy it of course - I'm assuming there must have been some?
kangarootoo
16/09/10 @ 19:03
#33
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That is a shame. Another lesson about mmos learned the hard way.

And there is of course be no refunds. Where would they come from? There is no money - that is what administration is. There will a queue for the few assets that remain, but the banks and investors are always ahead of customers in that queue.
Quixz
16/09/10 @ 19:32
#34
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Hopefully my beloved Bungie wont go the same way..
byakuya83
16/09/10 @ 19:40
#35
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it's true that the administrators must value the asset professionally and try to achieve the best price possible. however, if the highest bid was below that valuation a sale could have been justified. my guess is that nobody made any firm offers.

the only reason to cease trading is that the trading is not producing a profit. if there was a surplus then the administrators would have been happy to continue whilst a buyer was sought.

once the business has ceased to trade the staff will be made redundant and the value of both business/assets will drop significantly. any potentially interested parties would probably prefer to buy the ip etc at a lower price.

how would the tax breaks have worked in this case? corporation tax is only paid on profits and chargeable gains, of which real time worlds clearly made none. is there a break on employer's national insurance?
Stop-gap
16/09/10 @ 19:41
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That sucks. I didn't really like APB but a game should last at least as long as its dev cycle.
They should unlock all items/cars and give all the subs mountains of cash for the last 24 hours so it can go out with a blast.
ginge51
16/09/10 @ 19:57
#37
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Basically laddies.
This is what happens when huge expectation is put on a game that is simply 'a very poor game'.
It was all in the making I'm afraid.
Slipstream
16/09/10 @ 20:02
#38
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Veru sad indeed, my heart goes out to all all those involved in this title, employees and regular customers.

This is also a reality punch in the face to everyone in the industry.
Mkwone
16/09/10 @ 20:07
#39
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I can't see anyone getting refund on the game. Obviously because the company is gone noe, but mainly because you've had the chance to play for 50 hours, over the last two months. If you'd of payed for 50 hours and the next day it got shut down then you'd have a case, but you've had ample time to use your hours.
jimr9999us
16/09/10 @ 20:58
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There goes my dolly...down the crapper.
kangarootoo
16/09/10 @ 21:12
#41
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It's not always the case that a business won't sell 'cos the price is too high. Sometimes a business will sell for £1 (never zero, for accounting reasons), but the buyer is potentially taking on existing debts and running costs. Even if you get a business effectively for free, you might not want it
Doctor_What
16/09/10 @ 21:23
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My feelings go out to the staff. I hope you all find something new soon.
dingo75
16/09/10 @ 21:53
#43
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Hm seems investors didn't get it as well
(after those accusations that the press and players "didn't get it").

I could see a future as F2P for that game.
byakuya83
16/09/10 @ 22:20
#44
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kangarootoo, the administrators likely received offers but nothing concrete and simply ran out of cash to keep it running. it will be sold off far cheaper now as separate elements rather than a business that's up and running.

any potential purchaser will be buying the business and assets, not the company. therefore, they will not be purchasing it for £1 and taking on the liabilities. they won't even have to take on the staff if they are all now made redundant.

it's true that banks are likely secured and will receive monies before anyone else. the investors (shareholders) will be last in the queue. you cannot repay shareholders whilst a company is insolvent and has outstanding creditors.

anyway, i think of the 300 interested parties and dozen or so who were serious there is likely to be a couple of main players who will now buy the assets and start a fresh, having avoided all the costs associated with getting apb to its release date.
mingster
16/09/10 @ 22:40
#45
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Well as the numbers never added up right from the very beginning this was completely inevitable. I called it months ago. Really next time learn to count and work out how many paying customers you need to stay afloat. Or just don't even bother.
SniperZoz
16/09/10 @ 22:48
#46
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They should release the server code...
The Bodybuilder
16/09/10 @ 22:48
#47
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Why didn't Real Time just develop this slowly along with making the proper Crackdown 2 that it deserved? Using that money to keep the company afloat?

They turned the chance for CD2, and put all their eggs into a very crummy basket.
Raining_Upwards
16/09/10 @ 22:51
#48
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It's a shame that it never got the chance to realise it's potential.

gremly
16/09/10 @ 23:06
#49
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......So......I now have a pretty box to play for £30...Oh I am so happy...
Roarster
16/09/10 @ 23:43
#50
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Actually noticed that HMV still had a few copies of this for sale at lunchtime today. Seeing as the game is now unplayable, wonder how long it will take HMV to remove the copies from sale?

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