Massive multiplayer game APB to shut down

By Daniel Emery
Technology reporter, BBC News


Massive multiplayer game APB: All Points Bulletin is to close less than three months after it launched.

It took five years to develop the online role-playing game where players fight each other in the virtual dystopia of San Paro.

The closure of the game comes after developer Real Time Worlds (RTW) went into administration, with the loss of 250 jobs.

RTW was founded by Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto creator Dave Jones.

"I truly wish we had the chance to continue to craft APB into the vision we had for it," wrote Mr Jones on APB's official forums.

"It has been a long & difficult journey but ultimately rewarding to have had the chance to try something bold and different.

"I am so sorry it had to end so quickly but hopefully the good memories will stay with us all for a long time."

Real Time Worlds had been heralded as one of the UK's video game success stories.

It was founded in 2002 by Mr Jones after he left Dma Designs (the firm behind the first Grand Theft Auto that went on to become Rockstar North) and recruited many staff from Rage Software after it went bankrupt in 2003.

However, major commercial success eluded the company and the release of APB in mid-2010 attracted mixed reviews.

A few weeks after the launch of APB, Dundee-based RTW went into administration.

'Sad loss'

Johnny Minkley from gaming website Eurogamer told BBC News that he was not surprised at the closure, although the industry would be "sad to see the loss of RTW in this way".

"When a firm is in administration, you always hold out hope that parts of it will survive," he said.

Earlier this month, RTW's social game Project:My World was bought for an undisclosed sum. However, attempts to sell APB as a going concern appear to have failed.

A source close to the development team at APB told BBC News that administrators were looking to sell the intellectual property rights to APB. One company mentioned as a potential buyer was US-based Epic Games.

image captionAPB was five years in development

"Epic are a smart company... and have a reputation for being shrewd operators," said Mr Minkley.

"They have good brands such as Unreal and Gears of War and a ready-to-go engine that could fit into the APB Brand.

"Since Epic built the technology behind APB, it would certainly require less of a leap to get it up and running again.

"Whether the potential is enough to outweigh the challenges of reviving a failed project is another matter."

Dana Cowley, a spokesperson for Epic Games, declined to comment directly on that issue.

"Mark [Epic Games CEO] absolutely loves APB, and everyone here loved what they saw," she said.

"We've got our hands full of Gears of War 3, Bullet Storm and the recently announced Project Sword, said Ms Cowley. "If any talks like that are going on, then they would be confidential."

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