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Failed MMO APB To Be Resurrected As Free-To-Play Game

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the pennies-on-the-dollar dept.

The Almighty Buck 90

Two months ago, we discussed news that Realtime Worlds' action MMO APB closed its doors only a few months after launch, when it became clear that player interest and subscriber numbers couldn't begin to recoup the massive development cost. A few days ago, a company called Reloaded Productions, owned by free-to-play publisher GamersFirst, acquired all the rights and assets to APB. The company plans to relaunch the game as APB: Reloaded in the first half of 2011, abandoning its unusual business model in favor of free-to-play accounts supplemented by microtransactions and premium services.

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90 comments

MMO bubble officially popped? (3, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34247932)

So, the MMORPG bubble has officially popped?
This is sounding very march of 2000ish.
Business plans with lots of "..."
"Don't worry we'll make it up on volume".
"I know, we'll do the exact same thing everyone else is doing, what could go wrong!"
Spending massive amounts on "development" of the same cookie cutter as everyone else.

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34248116)

No, it hasn't popped. There is still plenty of money being spent on the development of such games.

Check out Guild Wars 2, and Star Wars: The old Repbulic. Both games are going to be knock-your-socks-off awesome.

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#34251006)

Two products do not a bubble make.

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34251132)

Make, a bubble, then, how many products?

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (4, Interesting)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248134)

It's not like this is the first free-to-play MMO, as I'm sure at least one of the linked articles will mention. D&D Online and Lord of the Rings Online have been making much more money since they became "free". DDO's Revenue is up 500%. [techdirt.com]

It's a very valid model for some games (3, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248462)

Not every game is well set up for it. I can't see WoW working well as free to play. However others work great. DDO in particular is either. You can pay for a subscription and when you do, you get full access to all content to long as the subscription is active any new content released you have automatic access to. Or, instead, you can buy points and use those to buy access to content. Content bought that way stays accessible forever, no further money needed, but new content requires a new purchase.

Now turns out they aren't stupid and their pricing is such that if you buy all the content, you end up paying about the same as you do if you just have a subscription. However it works well. Reason is twofold:

1) Some people don't like monthly fees. Makes them feel like they have to play to get their money's worth. Silly perhaps but it is what it is. My coworker is like that. He likes to buy points in DDO, rather than pay a subscription. Makes him happier.

2) Some people can't afford a full subscription, but can pay for parts. A yearly subscription to most games is about $180. Maybe someone can't spend that, but they can spend $40. If the game was just subscription, they probably wouldn't play it. No sense in playing 2 months out of the year. However in a "buy points" system they can buy some content and enjoy that year round.

It certainly isn't the one and only model, but it can work really well.

Re:It's a very valid model for some games (4, Interesting)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248794)

Some people don't like monthly fees. Makes them feel like they have to play to get their money's worth. Silly perhaps but it is what it is. My coworker is like that. He likes to buy points in DDO, rather than pay a subscription. Makes him happier.

It's not really silly. Say, for instance, your friend would like to put the game down for a month or two (maybe try some other games, MMOs or otherwise). With a subscription fee, short of canceling the account, it's not very practical to do this, as you're essentially paying for a service you're not using.

Subscription fees work well enough for people that play one MMO exclusively and regularly. For everyone else, a la carte offerings make more sense.

Re:It's a very valid model for some games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34249590)

Not all MMOs are like that. I used to play Vendetta Online (still have an account), in which you can stop paying/playing for any amount of time and resume later. All your characters/items are preserved with your account.

Re:It's a very valid model for some games (1)

Rolgar (556636) | more than 3 years ago | (#34250468)

A better way to look at it is how long will you stick with the game.

I don't know specifics, but obviously, there is one price for the points necessary to buy all the content. Divide that price buy the monthly subscription. That will tell you how many months until the a la carte option breaks even. For instance, if the content can be unlocked for $100, and the monthly subscription is $15, six months costs you $90, and 7 costs $105. If you are likely to play for half a year, you are better off buying a la carte, only paying for additional when absolutely necessary. That way you know your total cost will never go over the $100. If you play for 3 years, your cost never goes over $100, but if you have a subscription, you pay $540 for the same amount of playing.

I assume you can buy the content in smaller amounts than the full thing. So say you buy the first few, and you get bored and quit, you probably aren't out much more than a few month's subscription. If you go piecemeal, you might even save yourself a few bucks of the total purchase price if you skip a few parts by the time you reach the end.

Re:It's a very valid model for some games (2, Interesting)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#34252658)

There is also options open to points that are not to subscription. In a way, points makes official "gold trading", in that one can pay for items that will make it unlikely that some time consuming to gather and make item will break. Note, weapons and armor is not sold that can not be found as loot during ordinary play. All that is sold is stuff that remove time taken for grinding, or that make your character visually special (but give no in-game benefit compared to what one can get playing for free).

Re:It's a very valid model for some games (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34252036)

A shift in that would be leasing MMO to ISP's based, who can then included them in their offerings. The ISP wins by attracing customers and reducing their costs by keeping more traffic on their network, they can vene create premium offerings with free MMOs and basic without.

It creates major savings in managing MMO's as billing and associated accounting costs are substantially reduced and game servers are simply file servers to download the latest updates to the ISPs to minimal ongoing costs apart from game upgrades to keep the ISPs leasing the game. So distributed MMO gaming, based upon real distributed cloud computing not the lame lock in version (ISPs can interconnect their servers by no cost treaty to gain global reach for their users).

Re:It's a very valid model for some games (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#34252720)

net neutrality?

Re:It's a very valid model for some games (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 3 years ago | (#34249136)

I can't see WoW working well as free to play.

I can.

You could easily borrow a lot from the way LoTR:O. WoW is already broken up into vaguely level-appropriate zones. Sell each zone as a mini-expansion/quest pack.

And they're already selling premium stuff separately - like the cosmetic pets you can buy on the website, or the assorted goodies you can get from the CCG.

Lock a few bag slots until you pay for them... Lock a few character slots until you pay for them... Sell the various zones separately... Throw in some random premium stuff... They'd easily make plenty of money free-to-play.

Re:It's a very valid model for some games (1)

subanark (937286) | more than 3 years ago | (#34249744)

Part of WoW's fair play model is putting a level playing field for everybody. Once you pay for the expansions there is nothing (aside from trying to dual box) that you can use out of game money to boost your in game abilities, and conquencitly you know that you have an equal opportunity to advance as everyone else. They do sell collector's editions, and a few vanity items with real money. Trading in-game items for real money is against the ToS.

Under their philosophy, You can't sell parts of the game, unless its completely separate from the main game, as otherwise anything you can acquire in those sub areas would give those players willing to spend more money an advantage. The Arena realm is separate from the main game, and it costs extra to participate.

Re:It's a very valid model for some games (2, Insightful)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 3 years ago | (#34250088)

>Part of WoW's fair play model is putting a level playing field for everybody.

You mean for everybody who can organize a team or who can tolerate being in a group of douchebags.

A lot of people can't do either, quickly reach the end of what can be done in the solo game, and get completely frustrated with the difficulty of actually playing the group content.

Re:It's a very valid model for some games (2, Insightful)

subanark (937286) | more than 3 years ago | (#34252104)

Like most games, there is a limited amount of content. If you are at the end of solo content, you can do repeatable daily quests for rewards.

The dungeon finder system allows players that have no friends or connections to do small 5 man dungeons with randomly chosen players. The dungeons are easy, as total party kills are rare (and when they occur you can continue where you left off). It rewards better gear than solo. Do it enough and you get points to buy good gear. Once per day you can get points to buy great gear. And its a stepping stone to find groups to do the big group raids. You can then ask around to do the hard content (10 or 25 player raids) and get great gear fast.

Heroic mode raids give the best gear. Heroic modes are designed to give the really, truly serious players a challenge. They are not for everyone, and you aren't missing much "content" if all you are missing is trying bosses on their hard setting.

The system in fair so far as not giving advantages to those that spend more money. Those that have more time have an advantage as they can make more attempts to get bosses down, this is blunted by the fact you can only get gear for defeating a boss for gear once per week. And when new content is released, new more powerful gear is available to everyone.

The system does not reward veterans with power, only vanity (titles, mounts, achievements). Someone who has played for 1 year, but not within the last 3 months is going to typically be less powerful than someone who has just started playing 3 months ago.

The system rewards skill and dedication. Dedication is playing for 2 hours a day, 5 days a week for a month. Playing for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for two weeks is less dedication. Skill is being able to work and communicate with others (make sure important things get said), devising a strategy and doing your job within that strategy (boss does x,y,z, which can be countered with a,b,c), knowing and utilizing your class mechanics (the optimal set of buttons to press to maximize damage, threat or healing), and demonstrating situational awareness (don't stand in fire).

Re:It's a very valid model for some games (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#34252704)

Seems to me that the "once pr day" is as much a case of giving a "advantage" a anything else. So far i have not seen any game using a points buy system where there is loot that can only be gained for points. It will be quicker to get it by spending points yes, but in the end it becomes a trade-off between spending points and spending time. Basically rather then attempt to fight gold farming, its become part of the game.

Re:It's a very valid model for some games (1)

subanark (937286) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255142)

I guess I wasn't clear on how the point system work:
There is a large number of gear items that will cover most of your gear slots available Justice points with quality of 1 level less than the latest released raid. You gain these points though doing level appropriate dungeons, or level appropriate raids that are not the most current. There is no limit to how often you can do these dungeons. These items can only be purchased with points, but similar items are in the dungeons and older raids, with varying levels of quality.
There is a similar list of items available with quality equal to gear from bosses in the current raid for Valor points. You gain Valor points by defeating bosses in the currently released raid (each boss can be done once per week) and by doing a random dungeon once per day (for the same number of points you get for doing 1 boss in 10 player mode, a bit more for 25 player mode). There is a weekly limit of the number of Valor points you can gain. Gear from bosses of the current raid on hard mode is better than any other gear (there are no higher level points).
Once a new dungeon is released, all your valor points are converted to justice points, and all items for sale from valor points now become available for justice points. A new set of valor point items become available. Depending on how long it takes to release (hopefully once per 3-4 months) the next set of dungeons, if you don't do any raids at all you will probably have just enough time to collect all the valor point items for sale before the gear bar gets moved up.

Most gear you gain is bind when pick up and cannot be traded to other players. For a rather large amount of materials that can be gained though solo play combined with an item that can be bought and trade with valor points you can make a tradable gear item of equal quality to that of valor items. About 1/2 of your gear slots can be filled up this way. The player market value of these items is amazing expensive right when a new raid is released and goes down in price the longer the content is around. The longer the content is around the sooner new content will be released, and the faster your new shiny gear will become obsolete.

Re:It's a very valid model for some games (1)

bckrispi (725257) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256156)

It is a balancing act. Blizzard has to balance the needs of the hardcore players with the casual players. If all items were gained through gold, the advantage would be with the players who could dedicate the most time to the game. Gold generation is a function of time spent playing. With the points/badge system, this problem is obviated. When Frost Badges were the end-game currency, there was a finite/em number of badges any player could get per week. The disparity between badges generated between casual and hard-core players is narrowed.

Re:It's a very valid model for some games (1)

bckrispi (725257) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256022)

You mean for everybody who can organize a team or who can tolerate being in a group of douchebags.

The "MM" in MMORPG implies you're going to be interacting with a large group of people. If you are a social misfit without rudimentary interpersonal skills, then this game is not for you. You don't need to be good at "organizing a team". But you do need to know how to be a "team player". If you want to avoid douchebags, simply find a guild with players who match the goals you have for the game. Be advised, however, that raiding, even casually, requires communication and teamwork. If you can't do this, then you probably want to avoid raiding.

A lot of people can't do either, quickly reach the end of what can be done in the solo game, and get completely frustrated with the difficulty of actually playing the group content.

Why do you need to 'quickly' reach the end game? I know people who have played for over a year without reaching end-game content. They're getting their money's worth just by slowly leveling a bunch of alts. Now if you're saying "I don't enjoy solo content, and I don't enjoy group content", why continue playing?? Cancel your subscription and pick up Call of Duty.

Re:It's a very valid model for some games (2, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 3 years ago | (#34250508)

Some people don't like monthly fees. Makes them feel like they have to play to get their money's worth. Silly perhaps but it is what it is.

Apparently the average gamer logs over 20 hrs per week.

So yeah, if you are playing 20 hours a week, and think you need to spend your remaining free time to get your money's worth, than yeah, that's silly.

I don't have a lot of free time. I'm lucky if I manage 20 hours of gaming a MONTH (in all games combined). Between work, wife, kids... time just flies by for me. When I am regularly going over a week without logging in then the subscription fee does start to weigh on my conscious as a waste of money, and yeah when I sit down to play through the next segment of Metroid Prime 3 and it occurs to me that I haven't logged into EQ2 in two weeks... I do genuinly feel some sense of ... "well I better play EQ2, or I'm just throwing money away..." and at that point I cancel it.

What they need is some sort of scaling system...

Play more than 60hrs a month: full price $15.95
Play less than 60hrs a month: $12.95
Play less than 40hrs a month: $9.95
Play less than 20hrs a month: $5.95
Play less than 5hrs a month: $1.95

The average player plays 20 hrs a week, 80+ hrs a month and will solidly be in the full price range. While someone like me... if I hook up with friends we might bang out 25 hrs a 3 or 4 day marathon, and then I might play once or twice more that month... and hit the 9.95 mark. Another month I might log in a couple times to fool around and pay $5.95. Another month I might not log in at all, and wouldn't flinch at dropping 2 bucks on the game despite not playing it.

I'd easily still be running 2 or 3 subscriptions to different games on a system like this. I'd probably have my wife sub'd for a game too. (We enjoy playing together but she's even more casual than I am... if I manage to play something 3 or 4 times a month, she might join me for one of those... and a whole extra full price monthly subscription so we can play together once in a while. ... not worth it.

Yah, just one problem (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#34252580)

F2P is MORE expensive. You see, there is a small problem. MMO prices haven't gone up in two decades, but costs sure as hell have. So, with you 2 bucks a month how are they going to pay for the servers that are there wether you play or not? How about the support staff? 2 bucks a month vs your own 16 would mean they need 8 times the number of subscribers to get the same revenue. But the COSTS for those 8 subscribers are higher or do you think payment companies don't charge money per transaction? And what about your characters, still need to be stored.

Your logic is a bit like this, if a car costs 10.000 then I should be able to a car 1/5th the size for 2000... well, good luck!

It just doesn't make economic sense or practical. I am in a group, my hours are up, so I need to dig out my credit card?

But hey, lets extend this, who don't you just pay for internet you actually use! Oh wait, pay-per-minute ISP's were a horror! Well, why not just demand you can only subscribe to those parts of the newspaper you really like?

If anything, MMO's are due for a price hike. CHECK the prices on Lotro F2P. The charges are in sane, 5 bucks for a 10 point stat increase. 2 bucks for some dyes you can't give away in game as a crafter. This isn't a way for players to save money, it is a way to fleece people for every penny they got.

And this makes perfect sense. A newspaper subscription costs less then newspapers at a stand. A train ticket is more expensive then a subsciption. You want to pay less? Then pay more. That is how business 101 works. And NOBODY is going to pay 1 buck (the absolute minimum that makes sense with micro transactions before the costs of the transactions totally outweight the money payed out) for 1 hour of gaming. Not when they can have unlimited play for 11 bucks a month.

Try it, open a Lotro F2P account and do the math.

Re:Yah, just one problem (1)

Wildclaw (15718) | more than 3 years ago | (#34253216)

MMO prices haven't gone up in two decades

1999: $9,89 (Source: http://everquest.allakhazam.com/history/patches-1999.html [allakhazam.com] )
2010: $14,99 (Source: http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/info/faq/general.html [worldofwarcraft.com] )

Both of those numbers pretty much represent standard mmorpg pricing at their respective times. The Urban Consumer Price Index (CPI-U which was the first one I found figures for) gives inflation between 1999 and 2010 as 32%, so the price increase is not too different from average inflation.

Re:Yah, just one problem (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 3 years ago | (#34265404)

F2P is MORE expensive.

I don't disagree. Microtransactions are a scam.

MMO prices haven't gone up in two decades, but costs sure as hell have.

Odd, I remember paying 9.99 each for EQ1, and Asheron's Call back in the day. Current subscription MMOs are around 50% more than that...including EQ1

Re:It's a very valid model for some games (1)

nomaddamon (1783058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34252672)

There are two huge problems with this kind of subscription system:
1. How do would they charge you?
- They could book the maximum possible amount ($15.95) up-front but that would result in constant booking on your CC
- They could charge you every time you enter the next level in payment structure, but this would increase the payment overhead fivefold
- They could charge after a period of playing but that would result in massive number of botters/farmers using fake CC details

2. This is exactly the kind of subscription model that APB had and was one of the main reasons for their failure.
People don't like to be presented with options like: "will you be playing 1-10, 10-20 or 20+ hours this month?". MMO's are supposed to be entertainment for free time. Planning ahead "10-20" hours of entertainment will make it feel like work.
It is much more fun to pay $15 and play as much as you like than to constantly worry if I'm going to loose money by playing too little or too much.

Re:It's a very valid model for some games (1)

bckrispi (725257) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256200)

Imagine the additional cost in supporting this tiered model as well. I can see, every month, thousands of phone calls by angry customers saying "I only played 10 1/2 hours this month. Why am I being billed at the 11-20 hour tier?".

Re:It's a very valid model for some games (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 3 years ago | (#34265390)

Imagine the additional cost in supporting this tiered model as well

These games all have a /played counter. Enhance that a bit, make it available on demand, and show it during log-in, log-out.

I can see, every month, thousands of phone calls by angry customers saying "I only played 10 1/2 hours this month. Why am I being billed at the 11-20 hour tier?".

I can see a few. I don't see thousands really bitching over a few bucks, especially if you give them a /played counter that shows the time played, and login history... with durations, and adds it all up so they can see they played 11.5 hrs.

Hell auto bill them the lower teir if they are only over by an hour, and you'll reduce the calls to a trickle.

Re:It's a very valid model for some games (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 3 years ago | (#34265360)

There are two huge problems with this kind of subscription system:
1. How do would they charge you?
- They could book the maximum possible amount ($15.95) up-front but that would result in constant booking on your CC
- They could charge you every time you enter the next level in payment structure, but this would increase the payment overhead fivefold
- They could charge after a period of playing but that would result in massive number of botters/farmers using fake CC details

They could do it the same as these automatic tiered cell phone plans do it. Record your usage, and then bill you the appropriate tier at the end of the month.

To address your final point, you prepay one month at the full rate upon joining.

2. This is exactly the kind of subscription model that APB had and was one of the main reasons for their failure.
People don't like to be presented with options like: "will you be playing 1-10, 10-20 or 20+ hours this month?". MMO's are supposed to be entertainment for free time. Planning ahead "10-20" hours of entertainment will make it feel like work.

No. Make it AUTOMATIC based on what you did. My cell phone data plan is like this, it automatically bills me at the appropriate tier based on my usage.

It is much more fun to pay $15 and play as much as you like than to constantly worry if I'm going to loose money by playing too little or too much.

There is nothing "fun" about paying $15 a month, and realizing you've gone 2 months and have only logged in once.

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (1)

Nysul (1816168) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248892)

Lord of the Rings Online is a good deal if you can find the boxed Mirkwood expansion in stores. You can essentially play the majority of the game for $20-30. It won't include the midrange level quests but those are discounted all the time and you can either buy those with points you get just for playing or grind mobs (all areas are accessible).

The free to play model can work pretty well if done right. You can buy some stat increases, but those are not very significant (and can be earned in game). The rest of the shop is mostly cosmetics or "stuff you can get if you have the time".

However, I'm not sure if they are giving enough points to subscribers or adding new items to make it worth it in the long run. However, I am having fun and if you're on the Crickhollow unofficidal-new-RP server add my character Tromad as a friend.

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34249372)

I believe you mean the Moria expansion as Mirkwood was d/l only I believe. Don't quote me as I've only recently started playing. That said the recent one day sale of Moria & Mirkwood cost me a total $22 for both.

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#34249006)

Technically, those are both hybrid games. Most players still spend money, many still subscribe regularly, many pay ala-carte, and many try to play purely for free.

Not the same thing as other free to play games that are sort of cheezy, like maple story, wizard 101, etc.

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248266)

So, the MMORPG bubble has officially popped?

Well - MMORPG's are still in development and making their way to be games, perhaps the "Subscribe to play" MMORPG bubble has popped. I mean, DND online and LotR online and Warhammer all kind of adopted more "free to play" methodologies (even if only up to a certain level on some titles). And all the ones that were free to play from the start are still doing alright (Like Guild Wars). There's a few other subscription based ones besides WoW that are doing alright (Like Eve is steadily growing, I don't know how the Final Fantasies are doing but last I heard they were alright).

Perhaps we reached critical mass - and its in the stage of popping - none of the real MMO bubble companies seem to have gone under, this just sounds like a story of a failed game, which there are plenty of in every genre. You know Gamestop used to have a Desperate Housewives game on the shelf for 10 dollars? I can't find it anymore, I am ever curious as to how bad it was.

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (4, Insightful)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248900)

And all the ones that were free to play from the start are still doing alright (Like Guild Wars).

I've heard some people making a slight distinction for games like Guild Wars, calling it "Buy to Play", or B2P. The distinction is that ArenaNet is making its money primarily off box sales. They do have an in-game store, but they just sell extra storage, character slots, costumes, etc... all stuff that doesn't really affect gameplay.

This is a bit different than the "Free to Play", or F2P, model where the game is given away, but you must pay money for substantial in-game items, advancement, or character classes, and it's expected you'll have to pay money to advance significantly in the game.

I think it makes sense to distinguish between the two. For instance, you can buy Guild Wars and comfortably play the game without ever purchasing anything else, much as like a single player game. That's a wholly different experience than a "Free to Play" MMO.

I'm not saying one is better than the other per se. The F2P model is nice because it essentially gives players a very deep demo of the game before spending any money. The GW B2P model means a one-time purchase covers what you *have* to pay for the lifetime of the game.

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34250624)

Final Fantasy XIV is so bad that Square isn't charging subscription fees right now. The game is not doing well... mostly because it's a buggy and badly designed steaming turd.

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (1, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248436)

What else can you expect when probably 80-90% of all MMO gaming profits come from cookie cutter games that are simply more dumbed down than the last one to make money?

Innovation is not well rewarded in this genre of gaming. It seems that this is true in most gaming genres.

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (3, Insightful)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248586)

You're talking total bullshit. Some of the most innovative games are the best sellers.

The reason APB failed is because it was buggy, easy to exploit and the devs refused to fix the problems when they were brought up in beta.

It was far from a "cookie cutter", the concept wasn't bad, just poorly implemented. I doubt you've even played APB (I was involved in the beta, but refused to buy it due to bugs not being fixed), so calling it a "cookie cutter game" is just a cop out.

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (0, Flamebait)

east coast (590680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34249218)

Never said anything about APB so why don't you stop being a troll and read what I wrote instead of making crap up?

The fact of the matter is that the majority of your profitable MMO games are Everquest clones. That's all I was saying. Anything else you got beyond that you read into yourself.

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (2, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 3 years ago | (#34250706)


The fact of the matter is that the majority of your profitable MMO games are Everquest clones. That's all I was saying. Anything else you got beyond that you read into yourself.

I -wish- they were everquest clones. Everquest was hard. Everquest rewarded team work. Everquest had its share of flaws (although some of what were considered its flaws I consider strengths)... but when you accomplished something in everquest it felt like an accomplishment.

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (1)

Raenex (947668) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254930)

You speak of Everquest in past tense. It's still ongoing, isn't it?

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 3 years ago | (#34265502)

You speak of Everquest in past tense. It's still ongoing, isn't it?

Its not the same game it once was, and hasn't been for years. Some of the changes have been much needed improvements. Others... have cost it its soul.

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (2, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34249624)

Yep, innovation or lack thereof isn't a real problem with games. It is being good games. People will happily buy games that are not very innovative, just new versions of classic games. They'll also happily buy games that are brand new properties not yet tried. However what they get tired of and won't buy, or at least will cancel their subscriptions in the case of MMOs are BAD GAMES. When the gamplay just sucks, when there are lots of bugs, when it isn't fun, people will jump ship to something that is because there are lots of good games out there.

MMOs in particular need to understand that the days of being allowed to suck are over. There are multiple good MMOs out there, and one really good one (WoW). You have to compete with that. No releasing broke ass code and saying you'll fix it some day. Your game needs to be fun right away, and need to run well. Nobody (reasonable) says it has to be perfect, but a lot of these games are just flat out broke when they come out. They don't have a complete game and the bugs are not strange "In this particular circumstance on this particular hardware something happens," they are major flaws that happen on everything.

Those games are going to crash and burn, as they should. MMOs got away with it initially because people badly wanted a massively multiplayer game and they'd put up with bad design, horrible mechanics and abusive GMs because that's all there was. Not any more. People will fall back to games that don't suck, even if they are older, if your new game ends up sucking.

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (5, Informative)

FileNotFound (85933) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248464)

Not one of the things you listed was why APB failed. As someone who did play APB I can tell you that it failed due to these issues:

Massive cheating. At least 1/3rd of the players used bots. This is actually a low estimate. The number grew to the point where nearly everyone was botting in the end. RTW was unable to catch or ban cheaters. There was no plan to handle cheaters at release, PunkBusters was implemented late almost right before release and could not be turned on without causing massive game breaking server wide lag spikes. In short, everyone who could, cheated, everyone else quit.

Repetitive game play, few maps, few weapons. There are only two maps, both are fairly poor quality with lots of exploitable areas, as in places where you have a tremendous advantage over anyone trying to kill you. The game play was highly repetitive and all the missions could be broken down to several simple objectives unless players on both teams were evenly balanced and could make things a little exciting - but this almost never happened because of cheating and...

Massive balance issues. The game would pair team vs team, and it would try to do so based on the performance of the team on other missions, so if you won 10 missions in a row, you were considered a high threat player and would be teamed against someone else high threat. If someone else high threat was not available, you would be teamed against a larger number of lower threat players. On paper, this may have worked. Unfortunately because as a player you are able to turn down a match, the low threat players almost always turned down the high threat player match. End result, 2 high threat players get matched against 4 low threat players, 2 of the low threat players turn down the match, the other 2 accept and get destroyed by the 2 high threat players who outrank them.

Horribly broken economy. During the first few weeks of release, you could make 112k APB$ by standing in front of a customization kiosk for 10 hours. Everyone did this. As a result all money was worthless. When the kiosks were fixed, there were still plenty AFK exploits and witnessing exploits. The AFK exploit being the worst of the two as it involved a macroed player sitting in an active zone accepting every single mission. So now not only were you matched against cheaters but one of your teammates was a macro.

Poor combat dynamics. Guns did not feel right, this is hard to explain but everyone who played the game will agree. All guns had hardcoded maximum range and as a result some guns were made 'situational' to the point of being useless. In short everyone used a medium range gun, and the botters used SMGs as with a bot you had 100% accuracy anyway...

Driving lag. Personally I am on a 50/50 FIOS connection so I thought the driving was ok - until I played the game on a regular 1.5m cable line. The driving on a slow connection was unmanagble with up to a 2 second delay in car response. This paired with the fact that some of the car physics was simply broken, as in some cars had almost no weight and were unable to get any traction, made driving impossible for many if not most. I pretty much always had to be the driver as the one with the best connection. (Of course when punkbusters was turned on, the 3-5 seconds of lag still resulted in me plowing into the wall at full speed, catching the car on fire, and the lag disappearing just in time for us to blow up.)

In short, this game was just not done. Had it been done well, I'd still play it.

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 3 years ago | (#34249866)

Honestly, of all those reasons it was the first that got me to stop playing. You'd have crews that were cheating and they'd use the missions as farming opportunities. With no way to leave a mission, users who weren't cheating would get stuck in a fucked up treadmill.

Of course, the reason this was so frustrating is because the game did have potential. It was fun...in spurts. But it had a long way to go.

A common failing in MMO design (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#34252692)

What you describe is not so much "bugs" but a complete and utter failure to grasp the totally loathsome nature of the MMO player. This vile beast will go to any lengths NOT to have fun but to ruin it for everyone including themselves in order to... to... I don't know but some twisted need to do whatever because everyone else is doing it or would so I do it first anyway.

It is the bane of anonymous multi-player. In real life we can have plenty of multi-player events because those that misbehave are either beaten into a pulp or there is a payed for authority to do the beating. See referees in sport.

Online, MMO developers seem to think these things are not needed. Even sillier, people expect a policed and controlled environment for free. People complain about 12 bucks a month for a nice server environment when this is peanuts compared to say the costs of joining a soccer club (please remember these things are often subsidized, meaning you pay through your taxes).

It is very easy to come up with an intresting MMO design. Then release the inner asshole and watch it being ripped to shreds. APB just never could exist without extensive policing of the servers and that means far higher subscription costs. Disable macroing? Even if that is possible, the cheater is JUST going to do it for real. Yes, the dread monster that is the MMO player will sit for hours in front a of screen, clicking endlessly to cheat just because he can and having a totally valueless high number of credits is the only thing he has to life for.

A MMO at its core, every single aspect of its design needs to be asshole tested. And that is hard to do when you got a dream about a wonderful game world were everyone will be happy. Try it yourself, think up an exciting MMO multiplayer quest and then release the asshole inside you. Almost nothing stands up. Not against assholes that kill non-drop non-xp totally below their level quest characters just to annoy. Hell, I am willing to bet that if you designed it into a game that a griefer would get shocked, lost money and was force fed shit every time he mis behaved, he would still do it. Because everyone else is doing it, so I must do it before they do it!

The APB designers just never realized what their baby would be exposed to once it was released on the savage horde. A 100 million dollar lesson, that nobody learned.

Re:A common failing in MMO design (1)

camazotz (1242344) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254702)

Substitute "PvP player" for MMO Player and I would agree; most MMO players are not so much loathesome as simply self-absorbed and lacking in social graces. Most PvP players, however, are vitriolic racists asshats to the finest degree. I'd like to say that the worst of the MMO and PvP players I've all met are 13 year olds with personality disorders....but alas such is not the case....too many of them are adults who act like such, giving the 13 year olds a bad rep.

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (1)

Comen (321331) | more than 3 years ago | (#34262886)

I loved this game, and I think people baked these numbers of people cheating, I never once used a bot and constantly got called a cheater from evey person I killed.
There were some people cheating, but almost every person I played with and we played really well together using a vent server etc, we all got called cheaters all the time, as if we were all running around boting seeing threw walls, when its more like they sucked, were really predictable, and we convered places well and used our heads and communicated well.
There were some known cheaters that admitted they cheated, but even those guys could love a match if you played it well.
The game needed some different missions and some things changed, but the game played really well, just like other simple games like Quake its not the game or levels that really make the game, its the players and the gameplay that keeps the game fresh, this only works with games that really play well though, and I thought APB did a great job of this.

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248646)

what are you talking about?

there's huge amounts of success to be made by making games free to play. granted it's all in the execution and there *is* no cookie cutter way to just make free to play work, but there are lots of ways to explore that may be unique to each game, company, etc.

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 3 years ago | (#34249214)

Remember "Burn the money on marketing now, reap the profits later."? And how pre-IPOs were so proud of their burn rates...

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34249534)

It isn't a generic fantasy-mmo game like everyone else, rather a modern day cops and robbers game.

APB was something I was really looking forwards to.

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34255462)

There is never a reason to play MMOs. Ever. People who play MMOs need to get the fuck out of their computer chairs and find a real goddamned hobby. It's a time-sink, a money-sink and you receive nothing in return. Go outside. Write some music. Play a board game with some friends face to face. Get out of your goddamned basement and see what the REAL world is like. It's a wonderful place you fucking nerd.

Re:MMO bubble officially popped? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34268032)

the lamentable thing about APB was that it wasn't simply doing what everyone else was doing. Sure it had more than it's fair share of game breaking bugs, cheats, driving handled poorly, weapons handled poorly, but deep down inside, APB was based entirely on GAMEPLAY. WoW has done an amazing thing in providing a pretty interface for a spread-sheet/stair-climbing simulator and gameplay itself took a very back-seat to the spreadsheet balancing. For WoW, customers kept coming back for the same reason you see people playing the slot machines at a casino-- hearing the pleasing middle C tones after pulling the lever and gambling on that extremely low pay-out rate. Most MMO developers look at how WoW did things and essentially just tries to make a newer prettier interface for the spreadsheet balancing. This is not what RTW did. RTW attempted to make a game that was fun that kept you coming back because of the game, their failure came about from numerous issues, some going as deep as basic game design, but most came from having too many chiefs and not enough indians, having a ridiculously unreasonable budget and expected revenue, and shipping too early due to publisher getting tired of the long development and high budget.

I just want it to be known that APB failed because RTW gave their smokes too much flavor and not enough nicotine.

I guess what I'm saying is that even if the core gameplay were nothing but fun it probably still would have failed because there was no addiction factor of boss grinding for 0.1% drop fat purples.

APB? (0)

contra_mundi (1362297) | more than 3 years ago | (#34247948)

That's the name? Just random letters?

From the looks of the actual game, I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Re:APB? (2, Informative)

fotbr (855184) | more than 3 years ago | (#34247998)

I suspect it's "All Points Bulletin" -- and given the looks of the game (rubbish), random letters might have been a better choice.

Ahem. (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248002)

All Points Bulletin.

Seems obvious... (1)

Aldenissin (976329) | more than 3 years ago | (#34247954)

This was the way to do it in the first place.

Bad news... (1)

falldeaf (968657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34247964)

I'll be sure to avoid trying this out, just in case it's a good game. I try to stay away from any game without an end condition, it keeps me productive...

The question (2, Interesting)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34247986)

Would anyone play it for free? Got some bad reviews IIRC

Re:The question (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248098)

I just might. I had been looking forward to it for the last couple of years. All of the bad reviews scared me off. Now that it is free I will probably check it out.

Re:The question (1)

FileNotFound (85933) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248102)

Of course people would play it for free.

The important question is if they'll pay for the services.

Re:The question (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248110)

I don't know. If it sucks, it sucks at any price.

APB had its day (1)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248078)

Honestly, I think an MMORPG remake of an 80's arcade game [arcade-museum.com] was doomed from the start! Although, now that I think of it Frogger MMORPG would be pretty cool.

Re:APB had its day (1)

Dunega (901960) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248154)

You mean I get to be a slow moving car that can only drive in a straight line? WHERE DO I SIGN UP!! :)

Re:APB had its day (1)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248332)

Actually, it's an MMORPG so there are hundreds of other people driving their slow cars in a straight line as well!

And they've changed the name from 'APB.' It will now be known as 'Commute.'

Re:APB had its day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34251524)

You can go in any direction you want, control the speed and even go into the service station for a speed upgrade. Original APB was awesome! :D

Re:APB had its day (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248212)

Honestly, I think an MMORPG remake of an 80's arcade game [arcade-museum.com] was doomed from the start! Although, now that I think of it Frogger MMORPG would be pretty cool.

I played EVE Online for about a month back in '05. I believe that was a remake of Asteroids. Here I am, grinding big asteroids into little asteroids as quickly as possible, again...

Re:APB had its day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34252470)

Frogger MMO is the most popular MMO format in MMO history. Games like EverQuest 1, EverQuest 2, and World of Warcraft are all just frogger clones - with the distinction being that trucks have been replaced with moving Fire :)

Re:APB had its day (1)

c0rnwallis (1942634) | more than 3 years ago | (#34274088)

The economy of EVE wasn't totally broken like APB.

Re:APB had its day (0)

ThePlague (30616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248428)

I think the Firefly universe would make for a great MMORPG. The classes are pretty much already made in the form of the Serenity crew, there's a ton of worlds, and there's all sorts of opportunities for space/ground combat.

Re:APB had its day (1)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248686)

There is already a gaming system in place that is ideal for a Firefly game, and it's not the same one the "official" Firefly/Serenity game used. It's called "Traveller." And it's in the process of being reborn.

Re:APB had its day (0)

ThePlague (30616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255288)

I remember Traveler! That would make a great framework for an MMORPG.

It was decent (2, Interesting)

jonxor (1841382) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248200)

I played the game before it shut down. Imagine GTA Multiplayer, (much better than MTA). The only problems with it were the massive amounts of hackers and a broken Matchmaking system (which was easily fixable, it matched players up by "threat level" which could be manipulated by actions, rather than a players "rating" which determined progress in the game (unlocked vehicles, weapons, clothes, etc). The gameplay was extremely fun when you weren't matched up against a hacker, or somebody 10 times your rating. I would play it again if they bring it back, and do something about the hacking and matchmaking. There were no real "levels" in the game like a traditional MMO. Someone fresh into the game could make kills on veterans, and win missions, if they were skilled enough (although that didn't happen often, it was do-able).

Re:It was decent (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 3 years ago | (#34252296)

I *almost* bought APB and I'm glad I didn't.

I *did* buy Global Agenda, which never got to the $x/month part of the game. They eventually converted to free-to-play.

Competitive multiplayer in every respect was broken, and a single group of about 30 people dominated the entire game - literally. They didn't even have the sense to introduce tiers in what was essentially a ladder system.

I went back for an update for a bit, but it lagged my medium-range computer to hell, and I put the game on the shelf (so to speak) until I upgraded. The general gameplay was fun, but there were a lot of unforgiving flaws. Unfortunately, despite all the beta-testing they did, these flaws did not become readily apparent until many months after the game had launched.

On another still-related topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34248230)

I wonder what Square-Enix will do with Final Fantasy XI.

Seeing the many problems they're having with FF XIV, old rumors of re-making FF XI as a single-player game and the new micro-transactions model, I wonder if Square-Enix will ever release the server source code (or at least the protocols) or simply let FF XI die.

I would love a free-to-play FF XI, even if it was limited to 4 to 32 players per server. Simply make the drop rates and crafting 100%, decrease the mob difficulty and spawning timers... if would be fun to play with friends.

Re:On another still-related topic (1)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 3 years ago | (#34249692)

I'd like to see FFXI go free to play too. One of the reasons I quit was because they changed their payment system to one that didn't like my credit card. But I won't be holding my breath for it. As things stand, the launch fiasco that is Final Fantasy XIV, is effectively making that game free to play as SE has extended the free period another 30 days.

Re:On another still-related topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34255882)

Except that FF XIV has hardware requirements that makes it impossible for me to play, I assume they have the same credit card requirements too and from what I've read the game's interface is even worst than FF XI. I don't know if FF XIV has the same stupid "zone loading" as FF XI has, but that's annoying.

I started playing WoW again two days ago. Free trial of 10 days. I couldn't believe how much better it is compared to FF XI. There's no zone loading (except when warping - duh), quests are easy to follow, the interface isn't designed for a damn gamepad... Quests in FF XI are hell. Try to stop playing for 6 months then come back... The game seems to assume you write things down on paper or something.

If someone could take the interface of WoW and add the characters, items, maps and music from FF XI, that would be a really sweet game.

People shouldn't try to emulate the FF XI server, they should re-write the whole game with a more modern, non-console interface. Just rip the necessary parts from the game for the client and write your own server.

couldn't being (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34248420)

Somehow I think he meant it "couldn't begin" to recoup the cost.

Nice, Now the bugs and cheats are free! (2, Insightful)

Unka Willbur (1771596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248802)

Maybe I'll actually play it.....NOT!

That's the real name... (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#34248902)

I thought the summary was just wrong. No game would be called "APB", it's clearly an acronym. But no, it's right. That's the real name of the game, which has the sub-title of "all points bulletin".

Re:That's the real name... (1)

Miseph (979059) | more than 3 years ago | (#34249514)

You might be saddened to learn that many sports and racing titles also use acronyms for titles, and have been doing so for decades. There are even many shooters and action games (SOCOM, comes to mind) which do so... it's actually a pretty widespread practice.

So sorry to burst your bubble.

Re:That's the real name... (1)

CrashNBrn (1143981) | more than 3 years ago | (#34249646)

If you've ever heard Police Radio or any TV-show featuring Police Radio dispatch, then, APB is a pretty well-known acronym for many people (in North America at least).

Realtime Worlds assets (1)

The Mgt (221650) | more than 3 years ago | (#34249900)

Coincidence that this is posted today. I've been in their former offices all afternoon carrying off auctioned loot. It was kind of sad to see really.

They still don't get it.. (4, Insightful)

crossmr (957846) | more than 3 years ago | (#34250768)

I've been in Korea now for 2.5 years, and getting into a lot of different Korean games for awhile now. One thing I've continued to notice is that it doesn't seem that any Korean games charge "premium" content as would be described in North America. Korea games are generally free from start to finish. Some people have mentioned that when you hit a certain point in DDO or LOTR:O you have to start paying or you basically can't play. Korean games don't do that. You can play all the way along. Their micro transactions tend to cover aesthetics and time compression or if they do include items, they don't include items which are "better" than the ones you can get in game, so in reality it's just more aesthetics. A lot of major game companies just had higher than expected profits as well. They don't feel the need to claim a game is free, then block off half the game behind a pay wall.

North American companies still haven't gotten that. They seem more concerned with finding a way to "force" people to end up paying them money. Heck, I've never bought a single pay item from a shop here in Korea. I've browsed the store and looked at various things, but never done it, yet I continue to enjoy games 2 years in. Korean companies are of the mind that if you build a quality product and the money will come. Doesn't always work out, but most games have good longevity and they're constantly making new games.

I'd just caught another story about a publisher who wanted to sell half a game, then charge for the other half of the game as DLC to cut second hand sales. No need to worry about second hand sales if you're giving the way game away for free, nor do you have to worry about piracy. I guess then publishers would have to shoulder all the blame when the game fails.

Maybe they understand the model the just fine.

Re:They still don't get it.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34256908)

The really, really big elephant in the middle of the room that they are missing is that those people who are 'getting away' with playing the game for free are also making the game more popular.

Who wants to play a game where much of the content is no fun because there are not enough other people playing?

People who come and play your game for free are important components of your game. People who pay you money will always be a percentage of them. Here's the model to dominate the free-to-play mmo market (assuming your game is decent, and there are many out there that qualify): adjust payments to 1) increase players, 2) retain players better than your competetors. 3) Be happy with what you can get away with charging for then, because if you stick by 1 and 2 as your primary goals, 3 will gradually increase.

Best free to play system. (1)

dadelbunts (1727498) | more than 3 years ago | (#34251130)

The best free to play system i have seen is from puzzle pirates. Most items are more expensive than the other servers and cost dubloons to purchase. The best part is these can be purchased with in game currency so if you grind alot you can purchase them and still pay nothing for the game. On the other hand you can purchase them with cash and have them alot sooner.

Re:Best free to play system. (1)

neminem (561346) | more than 3 years ago | (#34258576)

Nifty. I honestly believed Kingdom of Loathing was the only MMO that understood the concept; cool to hear there's another (I've heard of Puzzle Pirates, but haven't ever actually played it). KoL definitely does do the same thing - 10 bucks gets you the current Item of the Month, which is generally extremely powerful, and which you can then either use, or sell in the in-game mall to someone who wants to buy it with in-game currency. (Some of the IotMs are bound to you once you've used it, some can be used and then sold again.) They also promise that if any IotM opens significant new zones to explore, players who don't own the IotM will always be able to purchase the ability to temporarily explore that content from those who do own it (also with in-game currency).

The way they did it, any profit they've lost from not forcing everyone to buy every item, is more than made up for by the people buying several of a given month's item to invest and sell later, when prices have gone up due to decreased supply. It's a fantastic system. (I've given them... quite a lot of money at this point.

Like an empty sandbox. (1)

scurrynoms (1941830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34251640)

I think APB had a pretty decent idea but had a terrible follow up. The game was really innovative with the whole design "anything" idea and allowed for some really cool and creative things, but it didn't have an intensive to keep paying and keep playing. Like most MMO's that require a fee (or even ones that are free-to-play) they have new content released, hundreds of different items, classes, spells, etc... But APB didn't really have anything to keep the player constantly playing. The gameplay was super repetitive and there was a limited amount of gear a person could get. Also there weren't many upgrades or new items to get to improve your character. They needed to have these elements that would want you to constantly improve your character with gear or skills. I mean no one is going to want to pay to play an online version of GTA.

APB? (1)

mestar (121800) | more than 3 years ago | (#34252534)

With such a catchy name, how could it fail???

Anybody for a round of MMO APB?

Interesting to see... (1)

standalone0109 (1944548) | more than 3 years ago | (#34295574)

It may do good as a free offering. I have found among my friends that those who starting off playing free offerings are very satisfied with them. However, I find that friends that started off with paid services seem less happy with the free offerings once they try them. StandAloneApps.com [standaloneapps.com]
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