Epic Games to acquire APB?

BBC cites development sources as saying Realtime Worlds' sunsetted Unreal Engine-powered shooter may get a second life at the Gears of War studio.

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Source: British news service the BBC.

What we heard: Yesterday, Realtime Worlds issued the heavy-hearted statement that its online third-person shooter APB would be shut down, effective last night. The move came after the Scottish studio filed for bankruptcy protection and enacted massive layoffs following "lackluster" sales of the tepidly received title.

APB may soon have a new gang in town.
APB may soon have a new gang in town.

However, APB's game of cops-and-robbers may not be over just yet. Reporting on the game's demise yesterday, the BBC offered up one additional tidbit, citing a source "close to the development team" as saying that administrators hoped to sell APB, with one potential buyer being Gears of War creator Epic Games. No additional details on Epic Games' connection to APB, which is powered by Unreal Engine 3, were mentioned.

The purchase of APB would be the second win for Realtime Worlds administration firm Begbies Traynor. Earlier this month, the firm confirmed for GameSpot that an unnamed US company had purchased Realtime Worlds' online social-networking and gaming platform, Project MyWorld. However, that acquisition was shrouded in mystery, as "the buyer insisted on total confidentiality, no press release, no disclosure of price paid, or name of buyer," Begbies Traynor said.

Whether or not Epic Games acquires APB--or is the unnamed buyer of Project MyWorld--remains to be determined, but the studio certainly has its development plate heavily loaded. In addition to Gears of War 3, the Cary, North Carolina-based studio has People Can Fly's Bulletstorm in production and Chair Entertainment's first iOS title, Project Sword. Epic, of course, also remains at work on updating its ubiquitous middleware software Unreal Engine 3.

The official story: Epic Games had not responded to GameSpot's request for comment on APB or Project MyWorld as of press time.

However, the studio did tell the BBC, "[Epic Games CEO Mark Rein] absolutely loves APB, and everyone here loved what they saw. We've got our hands full of Gears of War 3, Bullet Storm and the recently announced Project Sword. If any talks like that are going on, then they would be confidential."

Bogus or not bogus?: Too little to go on. Thanks to the 12-million-unit franchise sales of Gears of War, Epic certainly has the resources to purchase APB, especially since it could probably land the code at a steal, given Realtime Worlds' position.

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