APB cost 100 million dollars to make

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#1 Posted by Thordain (980 posts) -

Broken Toys has the story about how APB accrued a massive debt.  
 
So wow. How in the world did Real Time Worlds get people to invest a hundred million dollars in this project? And how do they not manage to make a spectacular game with that kind of backing?

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#2 Posted by Hailinel (25785 posts) -

APB is a textbook example of how unfocused game design will sink your project faster than the Titanic.  From a distance, the idea behind APB, an open-world MMO with a heavy focus on PvP and character customization, sounds like a great idea.  It's just that aside from the character customization system, nothing about the game was particularly well done or meshed well together.  Just watching the Quick Look was like watching a train wreck.  A train wreck that Real Time World wanted people to pay monthly fees in order to play.

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#3 Posted by LordXavierBritish (6651 posts) -

Sucks shit that Realtime Worlds went out of business because of all this nonsense. 
  
I can't believe they were that deep in the hole though, wow.

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#4 Posted by Diamond (8678 posts) -

I feel APB was a failure on all levels.  They didn't think about what product they were making, they didn't think about who would buy their product, they didn't think about design, they didn't think about anything.  Noone thought of anything or did anything to stop the train wreck.  It sucks, but they're all personally responsible for the colossal failure.  They need to stop passing the blame around and instead blame themselves.
 
But whatever, they'll all get new jobs and fuck up other projects, right?

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#5 Posted by zityz (2366 posts) -
@Diamond said:
"I feel APB was a failure on all levels.  They didn't think about what product they were making, they didn't think about who would buy their product, they didn't think about design, they didn't think about anything.  Noone thought of anything or did anything to stop the train wreck.  It sucks, but they're all personally responsible for the colossal failure.  They need to stop passing the blame around and instead blame themselves.  But whatever, they'll all get new jobs and fuck up other projects, right? "

Basically Real Time Worlds pulled a Bill Roper! BAM!
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#6 Posted by CL60 (17117 posts) -

They spent 100 million dollars and the game was still that bad? How did that even happen?

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#7 Posted by Scooper (7920 posts) -

I have no sympathy for RTW. They made a shitty fucking game and had every chance/money to make a great one.

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#8 Posted by Bones8677 (3535 posts) -
@CL60 said:
" They spent 100 million dollars and the game was still that bad? How did that even happen? "
I think that would be the case of the development team just didn't have the talent.
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#9 Posted by jim_dandy (885 posts) -

 Lovell analyzes APB’s sales numbers and comes to the jarring conclusion that APB sold less than 10,000 units, which would, given its budget, easily make it the most ridiculously disastrous MMO launch of all time.

 
Daaaaaaaaang.
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#10 Posted by IBurningStar (2275 posts) -
@CL60 said:
" They spent 100 million dollars and the game was still that bad? How did that even happen? "
They spent 90 million of it on hookers and beer. Yes, 90 million dollars worth of hookers and beer. Working there was awesome.
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#11 Posted by TheMustacheHero (6649 posts) -
@CL60 said:
" They spent 100 million dollars and the game was still that bad? How did that even happen? "
No one had a clue what they were doing or what to do. According to an Ex-RTW employee the whole dev team had no direction and no one to tell them what to work on, no focus and it turned out to be crap.
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#12 Posted by FunExplosions (5534 posts) -

Fucking idiots...
 
...my anger is indescribable.

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#13 Posted by JoelTGM (5784 posts) -

Ugh.  I feel bad for them.  Don't try to be World of Warcraft.  They could have just made a much cheaper game that was an open world GTA style game, but with a strong multiplayer focus.  It could have kept the customization and persistent unlocks, but without all the needless MMO crap.

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#14 Posted by jakob187 (22947 posts) -

When someone refers to your game as "the game industry's own Heaven's Gate", then you KNOW your game is a pile of shit.

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#15 Posted by Brunchies (2501 posts) -

With that kind of budget you at least expect the game to be decent. Oh well, APB is the biggest missed opportunity in a WHILE.

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#16 Posted by Th3_James (2616 posts) -
@DOUBLESHOCK said:
" Ugh.  I feel bad for them.  Don't try to be World of Warcraft.  They could have just made a much cheaper game that was an open world GTA style game, but with a strong multiplayer focus.  It could have kept the customization and persistent unlocks, but without all the needless MMO crap. "
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#17 Edited by jonnyboy (2867 posts) -

You could rent a corner of the Staples Center for that.

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#18 Posted by jlev880 (212 posts) -

how did they ever think they would make that back 
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#19 Posted by Thordain (980 posts) -
@Brunchies said:
" With that kind of budget you at least expect the game to be decent. Oh well, APB is the biggest missed opportunity in a WHILE. "
The only other game I can think of that ended up like this was Stranglehold. But I dont think that game had 100 MILLION dollars behind it.
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#20 Posted by superfoot (52 posts) -
@Bones8677 said:
" @CL60 said:
" They spent 100 million dollars and the game was still that bad? How did that even happen? "
I think that would be the case of the development team just didn't have the talent. "

From my experience it's not always that simple when working on something like that. 
Decisions about what the game should be can come from a lot of different directions and the team ends up just trying to make it work. 
Sometimes thats never going to happen but it doesn't mean the team couldn't  make a good game. 
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#21 Posted by scarace360 (4813 posts) -

i can understand how rockstar spent 100 million on gta 4 i dont get how they spent 100 million on apb? How much did they spend on duke nukem forever?

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#22 Posted by ZombiePie (7336 posts) -

The APB quick look was one of the most boring and difficult things to watch on the site, but it was in no way Jeff's fault the game just looked dull.

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#23 Posted by ArchScabby (5877 posts) -

Man, I don't think anybody got their moneys worth with that game.

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#24 Posted by Claude (16667 posts) -

They could have made a hundred party games on the Wii and saw a better return.

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#25 Posted by bacongames (4008 posts) -

I will say that the article does state that the number can be between 10,000 and a 100,000 copies which I feel is more accurate.  However that budget is insane and is a textbook example of games getting away from developers for the many reasons it could and did.  Sad but in the end that's the entire "game" of game development.  If you can't have that balancing act of technology, creativity, and logistics, then you don't eat.
 
They made a game no one wanted to play that wasn't very great anyway.  It makes every sense no?

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#26 Posted by empfeix (794 posts) -
@Tuffgong said:
" I will say that the article does state that the number can be between 10,000 and a 100,000 copies which I feel is more accurate.  However that budget is insane and is a textbook example of games getting away from developers for the many reasons it could and did.  Sad but in the end that's the entire "game" of game development.  If you can't have that balancing act of technology, creativity, and logistics, then you don't eat.  They made a game no one wanted to play that wasn't very great anyway.  It makes every sense no? "
No.  You make no sense.
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#27 Posted by Mcfart (2064 posts) -

Ha...some developers couldve made a great game with 100 mil.

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#28 Posted by Apathylad (3234 posts) -
@jonnyboy said:
" You could rent a corner of the Staples Center for that. "
A $775 million reference? Boom!
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#29 Posted by trophyhunter (6038 posts) -

So did they spend $9,999,99 on blow during the game's development or what?

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#30 Edited by bacongames (4008 posts) -
@Claude said:

" They could have made a hundred party games on the Wii and saw a better return. "

That would be the most brilliant way to fuck with Nintendo and the Wii's library.  Have one developer release 100 party games all at the time across retail, WiiWare, DSiWare etc.  It would be an artificial recreation of the 1983 creash lol.
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#31 Posted by Lemoncookie01 (1663 posts) -

So can we call this the biggest gaming flop in recent history?

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#32 Posted by Cramsy (1289 posts) -

100 Million? That's rough for those guys

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#33 Posted by Claude (16667 posts) -
@Tuffgong said:
" @Claude said:

" They could have made a hundred party games on the Wii and saw a better return. "

That would be the most brilliant way to fuck with Nintendo and the Wii's library.  Have one developer release 100 party games all at the time across retail, WiiWare, DSiWare etc.  It would be an artificial recreation of the 1983 creash lol. "
Good thing I'm not in the video game business.
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#34 Edited by MajorToms (493 posts) -

Part of the problem with ambitious projects like this is that there is a lot of different things that need to be done by a lot of different people, all at the same time. That's all pretty easy, the problem arises when you're not working together as a team. If you don't have people managing the project correctly, the entire project just falls apart on so many levels. 
 
When you're constantly waiting for people to finish things that should have been done days or weeks before. Sometimes you come to find that they were done days or weeks before, but they were lost with everything else. Communication break downs don't really work out well in an industry such as this. Especially for MMOs. lol

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#35 Posted by Guyzea (801 posts) -

Too bad, I was hoping for a Crackdown Infinite.

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#36 Posted by Destroyeron (390 posts) -

I hope you're being  facetious.

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#37 Posted by Animasta (14944 posts) -

last I heard it was 50 mil, not 100

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#38 Edited by zudthespud (3325 posts) -

Gran Turismo 5 has a budget of $60 million.... It's insane that they spent $100 million and it ended up like this.

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#39 Posted by Geno (6767 posts) -

So many things that could've been done with $100 million and they decided to make APB with it? 
 
 
:/ 
 
 
 
>.>  
 
 
 
*facepalm*

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#40 Posted by thehexeditor (1436 posts) -

I agree with everyone who has no sympathy for RTW.
NO SYMPATHY GRRRRRRR t(>_<)

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#41 Posted by Skullo (689 posts) -

What a surprise. APB looked like shit and from the QL, it looked like shit, and now it sold like shit. Too bad RTW got  it's ass kicked because of it.

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#42 Edited by Sweep (10536 posts) -

Some really interesting quotes in there. 

But the real killer, IMO, is the business model. This was out of the team’s hands. The game has issues, but I think if you separate the business model from the game itself, it holds up at least a little better. A large scale team based shooter, in big urban environments, with unprecedented customisation and some really cool, original features. The problem was that management looked at the revenue they wanted to generate and priced accordingly, failing to realise (or care) that there are literally a dozen top quality, subscription free team based shooters. Many of which, now, have progression and persistence of some sort – for free.     


 
One would have thought that, having invested 100 mil into the project, the end quality would actually be worth it. I mean, look at avatar - a classic example of just throwing money at the entertainment industry.
 
I'm now super interested in finding out what happened to all that money.
 
 

 Apparently the whole budget went on matchsticks!!  
 Apparently the whole budget went on matchsticks!!  
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#43 Posted by Sweep (10536 posts) -

There's a post on RockPaperShotgun from an ex RTW employee that spells out the mess pretty nicely. 
 


"What a fucking mess. I’m ex-RTW.

An outcome like this wasn’t desired by anyone at RTW, but game development is a weird business. A game can play poorly right up until only a few months before release, for a variety of reasons – Crackdown was awful right up until a month or two before it came out (some would say awful afterwards, too, but I’m trying to make a point :). Knowing this, it can blind you to a game’s imperfections – or lead you to think it’s going to come right by release. You end up in this situation where you’re heads down working your ass off, not well able to critically assess your own product. APB itself only really came together technically relatively late in its development cycle (and it still obviously has problems), leaving too little time for content production and polish, and lacking any real quality in some of its core mechanics (shooting / driving). It’s not that the team was unaware of these huge issues, but a million little things conspire to prevent you from being able to do anything about them. It can seem difficult to comprehend, it certainly was for me before entering the industry – ‘How did those idiots get X wrong in game Y?’. No team sets out to ship something anything less than perfection, but projects can evolve in ways that no one seems to be in total control of. All that said, it was pretty clear to me that the game was going to get a kicking at review – the gap between expectation and the reality was huge. I wasn’t on the APB team, so I played it infrequently, during internal test days etc. I was genuinely shocked when I played the release candidate – I couldn’t believe Dave J would be willing to release this. All the issues that had driven me nuts about it were still there – the driving was poor (server-authoritative with no apparent client prediction, ergo horrendously lag intolerant), combat impact-less, and I found the performance of the game sub-par on what was a high-spec dev machine.

But the real killer, IMO, is the business model. This was out of the team’s hands. The game has issues, but I think if you separate the business model from the game itself, it holds up at least a little better. A large scale team based shooter, in big urban environments, with unprecedented customisation and some really cool, original features. The problem was that management looked at the revenue they wanted to generate and priced accordingly, failing to realise (or care) that there are literally a dozen top quality, subscription free team based shooters. Many of which, now, have progression and persistence of some sort – for free. The game would have been immeasurably better received it had simply been a boxed product, with paid-for in-game items, IMO. This may not have been possible, given what was spent on the game and the running costs, but the market is tough. You can’t simply charge what you feel like earning and hope the paying public will agree with your judgement of value. Many of us within RTW were extremely nervous at APB’s prospects long before launch, and with good reason, as it turns out.

They also failed spectacularly to manage expectations. When Dave J spoke out saying there would ‘not be a standard subscription model’, he unwittingly set expectations at ‘free to play’. When it’s announced that we’re essentially pay-per-hour, we get absolutely killed in the press, somewhat understandably. The game also announced far too early (though it kept being delayed), and had little to show but customisation for what seemed like years, largely because internally we (correctly) judged it to be the stand out part of the game. But we should have kept our powder dry. Our PR felt tired and dragged on and on, rather than building a short, sharp crescendo of excitement pre-release. We also went to beta far too early, wiser heads were ignored when it was pointed out that any kind of beta, even very early beta, might as well be public as far as generating word of mouth. The real purpose of beta is publicity, not bug fixing. We never took that lesson on board. We also made the error of not releasing fixes externally to many of the issues early beta testers were picking up, keeping the fixes on internal builds, I presume to lessen the load on QA. This simply meant that to early beta testers, it looked as though we were never bothering to fix the issues they found, when in fact, they were being fixed, simply being deployed back into beta very infrequently. This lesson was eventually learnt, but only after we’d pissed off a large number of early-adopters.

The sheer time spent and money it took to make APB is really a product of fairly directionless creative leadership. Certainly Dave J has great, strong, ambitious ideas for his games. But he’s a big believer in letting the details emerge along the way, rather than being planned out beyond even a rudimentary form. For most of the lifetime of APB, he was also CEO of the whole company, as well as Creative Director. His full attention was not there until it late in the day. This has ramifications for how long his projects run – many years, on average – and the associated cost. This, in turn, means that the business model options were constrained, conspiring to place APB in a really difficult position, commercially. Ultimately, it’s this pairing of a subscription model cost with free to play game play that really did for the game. And many of us saw it coming a mile off. I must admit I’m dismayed about the scale of the failure, however. Many of us thought APB might do OK at retail and sell a few hundred thousand, though struggle on ongoing revenue, and gradually carve a niche. But it absolutely tanked at retail I believe (though I’m not privvy to figures) I think due to the critical mauling it received. It never made the top 20 of the all format UK chart. It’s scraping along the bottom of the PC-only chart, a situation I’m assuming is replicated in its major markets. And being at the bottom of the PC-only chart is not where you want to be as a AAA budget game. God knows what the budget was, but when you account for the 150-odd staff and all the launch hardware and support, it was in the tens of millions of dollars.

MyWorld is an innocent bystander caught up in the demise of APB. Which is a real shame, because it is genuinely ground breaking, though not aimed at the traditional gamer audience. It was going great guns over the last year or so, coming on leaps and bounds, impressing everyone who saw it. MyWorld might as well have been a different company – there was very little staff overlap on the two projects, they worked under entirely different production methodologies, and because we were not the next in line for release we received very little attention from the execs (which was a good thing, to be honest). We knew that time was limited, and tried to encourage management to go the ‘google-style beta route – release a limited, but polished core feature set early, and iterate. What happens to it from here on out is not clear, but without the people who wrote it, the code isn’t worth a damn, so I can’t see the project being picked up. Management tried to get a publisher onboard to fund continued development, but the time scales involved meant that was always unlikely, despite some considerable interest from potential partners. God knows what will happen to it now the team are gone. Probably nothing. Years of my life were poured into that project, but it was a blast to make, and at least it was made public so I can point and say, “I helped make that”.

RTW tried something bold, and fucked it up. It tried to make what amounted to two MMOs at once, as well as self-publish. I have to hand it to Dave J. He’s ballsy. But in the end, we couldn’t do it, and I think the whole company will go under sooner rather than later. It’s a shame, too, as Dundee can’t absorb the level of game dev redundancies that are about to hit, which means the Dundee scene gets that little bit smaller. But that’s the price of failure, and we certainly failed. No excuses, really. We were well funded, hired some great engineers, designers and artists, and great QA guys. Ultimately, the senior management team must take responsibility. I think they had far too much focus on the company’s ‘strategic direction’ and not enough on day-to-day execution, which was where it really matters. And I think a huge part of the blame lies with Dave J, though I can’t emphasize enough how nice a man he is personally; ultimately APB has torpedoed the company, and it failed largely under his creative leadership. It has other issues (technical, for instance), but the design and the business plan are largely down to him and the board, and they are what have failed so irrevocably for the rest of us.

ExRTW"


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