A final wrap-up on All Points Bulletin which is now being cited as the fastest MMO decline ever. The servers where shut down on Wednesday.
Developer Luke Halliwell has done a three-part post on Where Realtime Worlds went wrong
In any case, I don’t think specific design flaws were the root cause of our problems. While it’s true that without them, APB probably could have sold much better and I wouldn’t be writing this piece, it would be a very lazy attempt to explain our failure. It would be tantamount to pointing the finger at a small number of staff and saying “it was all your fault”.
I don’t buy that. There were 300 of us, some of us there for years, and we spent over $100m. The problems had to run deeper than that. I believe our poor decisions (and there were plenty of them, not just in design!) are best explained as patterns of behaviour within the context of a system that was not healthy.
Can’t be bothered to read the whole thing? On Broken Toys, Scott Jennings highlights key points of Halliwell’s posts in his standard sarcastic manner.
APB Closing Today
As my *fair*, *balanced*, and *not at all a pack of wild mongeese* community of readers has already noted, Halliwell’s followups are far less, um, fingerpointery and delve more into structural issues that plague most projects you shovel money into hoping delicious development candy comes out…
Meanwhile, Shamus Young posted an amusing comic in The Escapist and follows it up with a blog post explaining his disappointment in the game.
In case you didn’t play it – which was the game’s biggest problem – you drove around a big sandbox city as either a criminal or an enforcer. You couldn’t normally attack members of the other faction unless you were given a job to do so. Jobs were phoned in from faction leaders. These jobs were things like, “Kill player X” or “Player X is coming to kill you, don’t let them.” No story. No sense of anything happening. Just an eternal firefight against specific foes with the quest givers acting as matchmakers.
Somewhat disturbingly, the APB store still offers to sell you the game and in-game cash and many people have reported that the boxes are still in stores. One person has complained that having bought the game, the shop refused to refund it as the software worked correctly and the online servers were not their issue. As Realtime Worlds has gone bankrupt, I wonder what recourse new customers might have.