With Scottish uber-dev Realtime Worlds (the creator of Crackdown, headed up by original Grand Theft Auto designer Dave Jones,) closing down following the failure of its long-in-development MMO-shooter APB, the news has hit that the game itself is also done and dusted. A message now on the official APB site regretfully announces that "despite everyone's best efforts to keep the service running; APB is coming to a close". That's it. Game over. Server shutting down.
While it's obviously very sad indeed to see such a well-established British game house go under, many will now be turning their thoughts to what the hell happens to the people who bought the game. After all with server support for a purely online game now disappearing, they're essentially in the possesion of nothing but a £40 tea coaster. With a hole in it. Official word from Realtime Worlds is that the developer (who published the game itself) cannot help you.
"Customers should revert to the entity from which they bought the game in respect of their entitlement to any refund", is the advice being given. And thus, our hearts go out to all the game retailers who are going to have a very messy day tomorrow.
In an effort to try to get some more perspective on this saddest of situations, we've today been in touch with one of RTW's ex-employees. He's asked to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, but we promise you he does exist and isn't just some convenient 'source close to the company' that we've just made up.
On why partnering with the mighty EA didn't keep the game alive, he told us,
"APB was published by Realtime Worlds, not EA, they were just the distributors. EA did have some concerns about how ready the game was to be launched in that June/July period, but it was a date that RTW were obliged to hit. The game had been in development for a very long time by that point, and just keeping the company operating was an expensive business"
And on how and why the game failed so hard and fast:
"Before the game launched there was a sense that it could go either way. RTW had never self-published before, never made an MMO before. The business model was very different to most other games. It was always going to be a gamble, but we knew we had incredible customisation tools and a shooter experience that could be a lot of fun"
But while all looks dark and grim, there are possibly a couple of tiny glimmers. The BBC today reported that Gears of War House Epic Games is rumoured to be interested in buying the game. There's no official word from Epic, and we haven't been able to ascertain anything officially or unofficially, but we'll keep you posted. Our source did though, confirm that he'd heard the rumours of Realtime Worlds exec Ian Hetherington quietly buying the rights to the company's other IP, the newly announced social game MyWorld. Realtime has confirmed a sale, but stayed resolutely shtum about the buyer, so all is speculation on that front at the moment.