APB to relaunch in 2011

Q&A: GamersFirst confirms purchase of Realtime Worlds' abandoned online multiplayer shooter, with free-to-play rollout slated for early next year.

Earlier this month, a report emerged out of the UK that indicated that Realtime Worlds' bankruptcy administration firm, Begbies Traynor, had found a buyer for the studio's flagship project, APB. Today, that report has been confirmed, as free-to-play massively multiplayer online gaming publisher GamersFirst has announced the acquisition of the APB intellectual property.

The APB armistice will soon come to an end.

GamersFirst subsidiary Reloaded Productions will now be responsible for development on the rebranded offering, APB: Reloaded. The studio expects to relaunch the game under a free-to-play model during the first half of 2011.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. However, initial reports indicated that GamersFirst parent K2 Network purchased the APB IP for £1.5 million ($2.4 million). According to Begbies Traynor, the sale of the IP allows the administration firm to pay all outstanding wages and holiday pay claims for those who lost their jobs as part of Realtime Worlds' collapse.

The large-scale online game revolves around an ongoing turf war between street gangs and law enforcement officials, with players taking to the streets with up to 79 others in individualized instanced virtual cities. It was developed by Grand Theft Auto creator Dave Jones and his Scottish studio, Realtime Worlds, which also designed 2007's Xbox 360-exclusive Crackdown.

For more on what today's deal means for past and future APB players, GameSpot caught up with Rahul Sandil, GamersFirst senior VP of Global Markets and PR.

GameSpot: How did the deal come about?
Rahul Sandil: GamersFirst heard about [APB being up for] sale when everyone else did. We came to play fairly late in the game after we had done our research to see if APB would be a good fit for the free-to-play model. When we finally decided to approach RTW regarding the sale of the APB IP, it went fairly quickly. Reloaded Productions, a subsidiary of GamersFirst, has now acquired full IP assets for APB.

GS: The game was released and it didn't get great reviews. Why did you guys want it? What made you all think it is salvageable?
RS: There are core elements to the game that work really well, more specifically the customization tools for characters, cars, guns, etc. and the player marketplace. We think that the potential for APB in the free-to-play market is much bigger and more realistic than the retail model. With some changes in the balance and dynamics of the monetization in the game, it should run much smoother.

GS: How do you plan on transitioning the game from Realtime Worlds' business model to GamersFirst's?
RS: Obviously the two models are very different. It will take some time to transition the development of the model and adjust it so that it will be suitable for the free-to-play audience. In addition, there were some fundamental issues that we hope to address in the game as well. As a developer and publisher, we hope to make the transition for the players fairly easy and quick, but we do hope that our previous APB players can be patient with us, while we get ready to relaunch the title.

GS: How do you plan on regaining the confidence of players who had previously invested in APB?
RS: With tenure as a free-to-play publisher, we are hoping that our existing community integrate well with our new APB community to discuss and share thoughts about the game. We are doing our best to make sure that there are no barriers to entry. Obviously the game is free, and with the nature of free-to-play games, we actively seek our community's participation in the development of the game. We hope that former APB players will join our community to help us grow the game in the direction that they would like to see it.

GS: Are you offering any perks to returning players?
RS: We are still figuring out exactly how we will be able to approach this issue. We realize that many of the past players have invested their time and money in the game. Obviously, we will now be offering the game to everyone for free, with the ability to upgrade through microtransactions. For previous players, we are trying to determine how we can provide possibly a premium and potentially allow them to restore some of their characters. Again, there are a lot of small things we still need to figure out, but we will be coming out with solutions in the coming months.

GS: Realtime Worlds had a major combat overhaul planned for the game. Is that still planned?
RS: There were several patches that had not gone through when Realtime Worlds ceased operations. We are currently looking through all of the content that was to be released and still really determining the initial steps of getting the game back online, transitioning, and further development. In short, we are still learning about the unreleased content, and we definitely plan to release the content that makes sense for the audience. Our primary goal now will be to get it up and running properly on the free-to-play platform and then explore the next patches in content.

GS: Will you be supporting the game with new content?
RS: Of course. There will be some changes that will need to be made for the basic dynamics to the game to make it free-to-play from the previous retail model. We will do the first patch, planned for release in the first half of 2011, and follow up with regular updates. Regular content updates are a critical part of the free-to-play business model. It allows our community to contribute comments and feedback to the existing content and for us to internally track and develop content that is in line with what our gamers are already leaning toward in-game. With that said, there will be regular content updates to the game as we do with our other titles, like War Rock, 9Dragons, and Sword 2.

GS: Did you hire anyone from Realtime Worlds to continue work on the game?
RS: By the time we got to the game, the employee count had already diminished from 270 to about five or six, who were really just maintaining the game's code for its eventual sale. We do not have anyone on staff, but we would love to hear from former employees and get their input on the game.

GS: Do you plan on making any major changes to the existing game?
RS: The first release of the game will only be some slight changes from the original and incorporate the next patch in the lineup of the game the first half of 2011. From there we would like to see how the players respond and use some of their feedback to guide the future direction of the game.

GS: What flaws do you hope to address in the short and long term?
RS: One of the main flaws that we saw in the game was the really poor balance and monetization strategies. Things like purchasing time cards didn't really work for the game. If you are playing with your buddies and they no longer have time, slowly your whole team (or clan) drops off and the game is no longer fun to play. Being that we are moving the game to a free-to-play model, it will eliminate the hurdles of time requirements and other elements that restrict friends playing together. Essentially, our goal is to get more people in the game to elevate the "fun" component of it, and then offer microtransaction options to those who would like to upgrade to a premium and unlock some of the areas that may not be reachable by a free player.

GS: Do you plan on implementing APB's technology into other releases?
RS: Yes. The developers of APB built some great customization features to the game, which gained a lot of its recognition. We definitely plan to use these in future development, but currently have no specific plans.

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73 comments
Lytmare
Lytmare

I really hope they give us returning gamers something, I don't want any crazy, super powered rocket launcher or a over-kill squirt gun. Just something cosmetic that helps us stand out! I got a little PO'd after paying 70$ then having the game shutdown almost 2 weeks later.

CrazyBahal
CrazyBahal

From the first time I saw APB I said that this game can be a good free to play game and I'm not going to pay for that and now the game is Free to play

highndry18
highndry18

My message to GamersFirst: The moment you guys bring the servers up you'll be in constant war with an online game cheating organization that sells their external cheat programs. They've made the aimbots and wall hacks for APB when it was still under RTW and they've contributed to it's closure and have even profitted from it. I'm not going to reveal who they are because I have no interest in promoting their site, but you guys need to avoid the mistakes that RTW made when they did a half-assed job in dealing with cheaters. Make that a priority and I'm sure the game will succeed this time around.

ckynick254
ckynick254

well they need a private surver for now

cosmin_dark
cosmin_dark

it will be free or we need to pay for it ?

CrAzY_BoY67
CrAzY_BoY67

i hope they dont change the graphics because if the animate it like they do with their other games i will go crazy!!! and if i have to pay for additional content EVEN THOUGH I HAVE ALREADY PAID £35 i will actually sue them!

IceJudge
IceJudge

Hope they scrap that new aiming system that was implemented towards the end and keep the pure skill servers.

Whirlybird0
Whirlybird0

This game deserves a relaunch. It's got a lot of potential and in the right hands, it can become a truly awesome experience.

Kozisurf
Kozisurf

Hopefully micro-transaction will better suit this game. Glad to see it is getting a second wind, I might finally give a try.

steven141
steven141

Looked promising but never played it

CS19052
CS19052

Giving me second thoughts. Ahh to hell with it, it's free I'll give it a try.

dmcphillie
dmcphillie

@carllfc I was thinking the same thing along with auto assault, which would be great for FTP Model and Matrix ONLINE, which was just finally getting interesting before they pulled the plug

carllfc
carllfc

Why doesnt a company buy Tabula Rasa? :(

teeskoowared
teeskoowared

hmm maybe i will play it...always looked good but never got around to buying it

laplace985
laplace985

I could care less about the game but the customization is absolutely unmatched; It completely shames the customization in saints row 2 and svr 2011.

Blank2k2
Blank2k2

Probably wont be a "Success" in MMO terms, but the good thing about F2P Model is even if you get 1000 players the company will still make obscene profits.

Zcrimson07
Zcrimson07

this is so awesome. i will totally play this for free

Simeon_Crane
Simeon_Crane

I swear MMO companies are aware of as much history as liberals are. None. Why would someone take a game that didn't get good reviews and attemt to relaunch it without overhauling the most glaring problems with the game first? Just wait and release a finished game! Why do MMO companies continue to release unfinished games that fail time and time again. Take the time and get the funds needed to FINISH the game before releasing.

Hammershock6
Hammershock6

Let me just blow the dust off my APB case, (cough, cough, CHOKE!)

Randomisrandom
Randomisrandom

This is actually a win for gamers everywhere. If APB gets back on its feet and actually becomes a success, then game developers everywhere will be a little more secure about releasing original and innovative games on the market, making our gaming experience more diverse and interesting. I wish GamersFirst all the best luck.

MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

@Gelugon_baat You must spend ages on every comment you make on this forum, dude. They are always so well researched, it's insane!

MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

This guy gives the worst review answers ever. Talk about not selling yourself very well! Every time he was asked about major changes in the game, he just brought it back to the money! You can see what's on his mind.

Kahlualei
Kahlualei

They better devote some resources to developing some cheat/hack protection before they release if they don't want to suffer from one of the live game's biggest downfalls.

BelaidKL
BelaidKL

wow...i thought this game actually sucked but the fact theyre 'RE-LAUNCHING'....well they wouldnt do that unless it was really good...might give it a try this time

anthonycg
anthonycg

I've never seen a relaunch before.

Pete5506
Pete5506

Good to hear, people will play it

Wylen0
Wylen0

Wait since they are bringing this back from the dead doesent that make it a zombie!!! In all seriousness though i am glad this will be F2P

sasmas
sasmas

YEAH GOOD GOOD GOOD VERY GOOD

fLaMbOaStiN
fLaMbOaStiN

I was one of those people that was always preaching APB as a good F2P MMO, and thats it.. I'am glad it got picked up and someone else saw the potential to make good money useing it f2p with micro transactions. Ill give it a shot when it's released.. But since APB is pretty much a fully pvp game i hope its not pay to win.

mischiefmeerkat
mischiefmeerkat

at least it's free. can you imagine the immense suckage in buying a game, having it canned after a few months, then paying again for the re-release? that may become a new standard in the industry, making constant remakes of the games that you have to pay for. they do it with systems already

lorider25
lorider25

Cool, I tried the beta and it was alright as long as you had people to play with, but I didn't think it was worth buying. I hope the people that bought this get like a cool item or something, I kind of feel sorry for them.

djwood84
djwood84

Buy it, use it, break it, fix it, roll it out for free and love it! This should be good, glad someone pulled this back from the brink.

Gunnygopher123
Gunnygopher123

This reminds of Battlefield 2. When team killing, you revive the person you had just team killed. I'll give it a year.

Rhino53
Rhino53

@stakex007 I've heard about the balance issues in APB so I stayed far away from this game. Maybe GamersFirst will fix those issues and the ones in your last comment @Frosty192 I've never played WoW nor will I ever

AdmirableAckbar
AdmirableAckbar

It's great that they're trying to reboot the series, but I can't shake the feeling that this is going to end badly.

Goyoshi12
Goyoshi12

I am kinda excited for this actually. Driving around shooting up people for free. I'm game. :)

bornej
bornej

All of this sounds great...can't wait to check it out!

DethSkematik
DethSkematik

Nice. Just like CrimeCraft, the bare-bones game would've been easier to swallow if I didn't have to pay every month for it (because there's still some fun with these games, just not enough to warrant a sub). Looking foward to this one (hopefully my retail copy still works with the relaunch :D).

acerpg007
acerpg007

Wow! nice.. The only thing this game hadn't had any success because of those that owned it were Money-hungry, so by making this F2P or B2P this will be at most successful.

shimya
shimya

smart way to recoup losses and relaunch a game that had so much potential.

Nightwalker505
Nightwalker505

see now thats a great idea if your game sucked make it free and re-release it with (hopefully) enhanched feature that hella smart on there part i might actually check it out now

acasero44
acasero44

If you are tired like Generics facial customizations like FO3 MASSEFFECT 2 AND DRAGON AGE ORIGINS get this game since its free youll love your character i spent like an hour creating mine and it looks just like my protocol

XboxGuy1537
XboxGuy1537

APB is getting a second chance it looks like. Hopefully, the game will be good.

Vhial
Vhial

Free to play. Cool...yet...not cool, most free to play games are ruined by cash shops and or broken glitches that are never fixed.

Frosty192
Frosty192

@Rhino53 Go play wow and dont troll apb boards bye bye

stakex007
stakex007

@Rhino53 - Many reasons in fact, and I doubt anyone would deny that. However, the vast majority of those reasons centered around the fact that it was a pay to play game. Its very very hard to get people to pay $10 a month for your game when it has less content then you would find in a game like GTA4... which does not cost a monthly fee. Throw in a bunch of small, but annoying balance issues and you have a failure waiting to happen. The one thing that needs to be taken care of, or at least addressed more seriouslly then it was under RTW is the rampant hacking. A game being free will allow it to get away with a lot of short comings (APB didn't have a lot of short comings, just a few big ones)... but if it has a huge hacking problem still it will in fact fail again.