Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Almighty Buck Games

Failed MMO APB To Be Resurrected As Free-To-Play Game 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the pennies-on-the-dollar dept.
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.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

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

Comments Filter:
  • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday November 16, 2010 @05:14PM (#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:APB had its day (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Tuesday November 16, 2010 @05:30PM (#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...

  • by east coast (590680) on Tuesday November 16, 2010 @05:42PM (#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.
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday November 16, 2010 @05:44PM (#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.

  • by sortius_nod (1080919) on Tuesday November 16, 2010 @05:54PM (#34248586) Homepage

    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.

  • by Unka Willbur (1771596) on Tuesday November 16, 2010 @06:13PM (#34248802)
    Maybe I'll actually play it.....NOT!
  • by Dutch Gun (899105) on Tuesday November 16, 2010 @06:22PM (#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.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday November 16, 2010 @07:21PM (#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.

  • by fishbowl (7759) on Tuesday November 16, 2010 @08:13PM (#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.

  • by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday November 16, 2010 @09:15PM (#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.

  • by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday November 16, 2010 @09:45PM (#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.

  • by crossmr (957846) on Tuesday November 16, 2010 @09:53PM (#34250768) Journal

    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.

  • by subanark (937286) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @03:44AM (#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).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @01:55PM (#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.

I've never been canoeing before, but I imagine there must be just a few simple heuristics you have to remember... Yes, don't fall out, and don't hit rocks.

Working...