Realtime Worlds axes US office [Update 2]

Realtime Worlds axes US office [Update 2]

By Rob Crossley and Michael French

August 17th 2010 at 2:26PM

Rumours abound that the end is nigh for the esteemed Crackdown and APB studio

[Update: Realtime Worlds has entered administration.

[Update 2: Realtime Worlds' new administrator is, for now, looking to rescue the US business It is thought that a skeleton crew remains.]

A variety of sources are claiming that Realtime Worlds’ satellite studio in Boulder, Colorado is to close down completely.

Several insiders have told Develop that Realtime Worlds CEO Gary Dale has taken a plane to Colorado this week to inform the group of its fate.

The impact of job losses at the US studio are unclear. Develop is contacting Realtime Worlds for comment.

Meanwhile, mounting speculation is suggesting that Realtime Worlds is to shut down completely – rumours that, in some industry circles, are becoming difficult to not hear.

Some Develop sources are even making the bold claim that Gary Dale is now taking a flight back to Dundee, and will inform the entire company that, somehow after five years of painstaking work on APB, Realtime Worlds’ closure is imminent.

In a move which has not gone unnoticed by attendees at GDC Europe this week, Realtime Worlds has cancelled its scheduled lecture on how it created the MMO-shooter APB. Meanwhile, fans of the game no longer have the opportunity to buy long-term subscriptions.

The fresh batch of rumours follows speculation last week that wide-ranging staff cuts were made at Realtime World's Dundee headquarters. Those suggestions were confirmed accurate.

Further suggestions of staff cuts at Realtime Worlds brings to light the bleak, cut-throat nature of independent game development.

After Crackdown (2006), faith in Realtime Worlds hit an all-time high, and much buzz surrounded its next big project.

The studio slaved over APB for nearly five years, yet in the space of weeks the game was stung by mixed reviews, as well as a controversial payment model and, to top it off, widely criticised PR.

Few believe the APB’s server capacity is being sufficiently filled. And many who are playing the title are doing so with many free game hours ahead of them before they need to purchase more.

Realtime Worlds has always approached APB with a long-term monetisation plan, and the studio has been hard at work building a significant patch that will address its most vehemently criticised game elements.

Last month the studio made a suspiciously early reveal of its next game, Project MyWorld. After rumours that at least two publishers declined the chance to sign the game, Realtime Worlds studio head Colin Macdonald confirmed to Develolp that staff cuts were made across the MyWorld team.