Realtime Worlds shutting down APB

Beleaguered developer pulls the plug on its pay-to-play online shooter less than three months after launch; servers remain up for time being.

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Realtime Worlds' online shooter APB was in development for more than five years but is having the plug pulled on it after less than three months. In a post on the game's official forums, community officer Ben Bateman announced that, "despite everyone's best efforts to keep the service running, APB is coming to a close."

APB's servers are up at the moment, giving players a chance to say their good-byes to the crime-riddled city of San Paro. In a post on his Twitter feed, Bateman said the servers would be turned off "tonight."

APB's clip is running dry.
APB's clip is running dry.

"I truly wish we had the chance to continue to craft APB into the vision we had for it," Realtime Worlds founder Dave Jones said in a statement. "It has been a long and difficult journey but ultimately rewarding to have had the chance to try something bold and different…I am so sorry it had to end so quickly, but hopefully the good memories will stay with us all for a long time. Thanks to all the team for the years of hard work, and to the players who contributed so much."

APB launched in late June to fair reviews. Within days, Realtime Worlds had announced a "small number" of layoffs and soon acknowledged a laundry list of fixes and improvements it intended to make. The bottom fell out last month, when the Scottish developer entered administration (akin to bankruptcy for an American company) and subsequently laid off 185 people. At the time, a representative with the company said there would be "no disruption" to the APB service as a result of those events.

APB was an online open-world action game that had been described as "Grand Theft Auto Online." Players took on the role of a ruthless criminal or a dedicated law enforcer in a virtual city populated with up to 79 other players. The game featured an asymmetrical matchmaking system, which assigned players to a game based on their skill level without the use of a lobby.

Originally announced in 2005, the game was first set to be published by Webzen but eventually found its way to release through the EA Partners program. Last month, Realtime Worlds' administration firm said APB had attracted 130,000 registered players.

APB is by no means the first online game to suffer a quick death, though its fate came quicker than most. It took 16 months for NCsoft's Auto Assault to run out of gas, and it was the same amount of time before the publisher's Tabula Rasa was wiped clean. The Gamecock-published 2007 player-versus-player game Fury didn't even make it 10 months before ending due to its lack of a viable business model.

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