Realtime Worldsâ?? APB returns as free-to-play

Realtime Worldsâ?? APB returns as free-to-play

By Rob Crossley

November 16th 2010 at 10:08AM

GamersFirst buys the IP for â??less than one per cent of original dev costsâ??

One of the most destructive and unequivocal commercial failures of the modern games industry is being given a second chance.

APB, the $100 million white elephant that brought down Dundee studio Realtime Worlds, has today been confirmed as a new acquisition for the free-to-play evangelists GamersFirst.

A trusted source close to the deal has told Develop that the £1.5 million buyout price – originally appearing in a GamesIndustry.biz news report – has been “greatly exaggerated”, and that the $100 million game was bought for less than 1 per cent of that dev budget.

GamersFirst declined to comment on the terms of the buyout, but in a wide-ranging interview confirmed that the game will be released early next year as a free-to-play title – the same information provided by Develop's source.

Since the final closure of Realtime Worlds, which was briefly protracted by re-hirings and gradual staff cuts, it has emerged that six staff remained with the game’s code to ensure it would be acquired.

Those six developers – the final links to Realtime Worlds – have now been made redundant, bringing an end to the three bleak months which followed the studio’s fall into administration.

Bjorn Book-Larsson, the COO of buyer GamersFirst, did not rule out re-hiring RTW staff.

“We would say that, if there’s former staff that are interested in talking to us, our door is open,” he told Develop.

“Anyone who has prior knowledge of the game, we’re open to have discussions with. Obviously, people who have knowledge of the game are a great interest to us.”

Outgoing administrator Begbies Traynor said in statement that it was “obviously very happy to have concluded the sale but at the same time very much regret the loss of jobs as a result of the closure of Realtime Worlds."

The firm said that, due to the sale of the APB IP, “all outstanding wages and holiday pay claims will be met in full”.

That issue itself has been a subject of controversy, with many developers claiming to have not had their redundancy pay and final wages honoured. Begbies Traynor denied the claims.

Book-Larsson will now establish a new development division at GamersFirst, in the group called Reloaded Productions.

The firm has spent under £1 million on the game’s source code, all the rights and trademarks, though it didn’t acquire RTW’s high-end and expensive server tech.