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APB dev blames demise on "complacency"

$100m and Crackdown's success caused it.

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Image credit: Eurogamer

A high-ranking member of the development team that created $100 million catastrophe APB has blamed its demise – and Realtime Worlds' – on complacency.

In a series of fascinating and frank blog posts Luke Halliwell, who was a technical lead at RTW before it slipped into administration following lacklustre sales of APB, went in-depth on the studio's problems.

"Complacency did stray into arrogance at times," Halliwell wrote.

"The complacency showed through in so many ways. We were complacent about game design, papering over APB's obvious shortcomings and telling ourselves it would somehow come together at the last minute before release (an argument that was strengthened by the experience of seeing Crackdown do just that).

"We were complacent about business planning, deciding to spend all our investment getting APB to launch, assuming that we would sell zillions of copies and over-spending on server hardware.

"When we were told we were being made redundant, we were told something along the lines of 'the market is just so bad right now ... We could never have predicted this ... Even our worst sales projections were so much higher than this'. I think that was supposed to be consolation but it was just complacent, and dumb."

APB received 6/10 from Eurogamer's July review.

Yesterday administrator Begbies Traynor confirmed industry speculation that the 'plug is about to be pulled' on the game after failing to attract a buyer, leaving those who purchased a copy out in the cold.

"It's a gross generalisation to say the whole company was complacent," Halliwell continued.

"It's deeply unfair to a few pockets of incredibly passionate, hungry developers that worked their socks off and created some amazing stuff – like APB's character customisation system, and its super-reliable back-end software, to name just a couple (apologies to all the other good examples of work I missed). Sadly, it was not enough to overcome the problems.

"The investment and Crackdown's success were obviously contributors to complacency."

Halliwell claimed Realtime Worlds founder and GTA and Lemmings creator Dave Jones had "his own reality distortion field" that convinced members of staff of APB's success.

"The Reality Distortion Field was a double-edged sword for us.

"I'm pretty sure it was a big part of us raising $100m. It also obviously contributed to our complacency. If anything ever reached crisis point, Dave was always, always able to convince people that everything would be ok. I think at times this prevented us from actually taking problems as seriously as we should have."

Reports this morning suggest Gears of War developer Epic Games may buy the luckless online game.

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