All Points Bulletin was an expensive commercial flop that brought down with it over 200 jobs and the Dundee studio Realtime Worlds.
But the boss of APB’s new owner believes the game could have survived if the studio had more time before falling into administration.
GamersFirst announced today that it has bought the rights to APB in a deal believed to have cost less than one per cent of the game’s $100 million budget.
The COO of the GamersFirst, Bjorn Book-Larsson, explained why he thought APB ended business for its creators in a new interview with Develop, but added: “I actually think if the studio had more time it could have turned it around.”
Book-Larsson believes the game’s ties with the traditional retail model greatly increased its risk as a commercial entity.
“I think there was this Frankenstein way of reaching out to the users and customers, with an EA distribution model combined with an online MMO and a free-to-play element as well. It just didn’t work,” he said.
GamersFirst will bring the game back as a free-to-play title – a scheme that Book-Larsson believes has the flexibility to fit with MMOs in the way that retail releases don’t.
“APB was sold at retail. The packaged games model offers about 30 days for a title to sell, and then it goes off the radar,” he said.
“But with free-to-play your games are effectively ongoing, where you build a dedicated user-base and communicate with them.
“And as I said, in the retail release model you have thirty days to prove your worth – which APB tried and failed to do – whereas in the online world of free-to-play you have much more time to prove yourself.
“That’s what Realtime Worlds needed, but obviously it was working on a cruel model.”
In the full interview with Develop, Book-Larsson outlined a number of monetisation models his company is considering for the free-to-play APB. He expects around 10-20 per cent of APB players will spend extra on microtransactions for items such as guns, vehicles and insurance.
“In the free-to-play world it’s all about building friendships, building clans, building communities,” he said.
“If they want to get competitive, then they’ll pay.”
Book-Larsson said that, with APB’s new strategy, the firm has more time to build it into a success.
“We expect to build a large fan base for the game over a long period of time. Look at Eve Online – it started out a small title and grew into what it is today,” he explained.