A free-to-play road safety MMO launched by the Department of Transport last year that has only managed a few thousand sign-ups in recent months has cost UK taxpayers nearly £2.8 million, it has been revealed.

According to documents dug up by Puffbox and reported by GamesIndustry.biz, Code of Everand, which launched in November 2009, has cost £700,000 to upkeep since launch, on top of initial development costs.

In the months following launch things looked reasonably rosy, with the game attracting 54,000 users at its peak in March but interest quickly dropped off, with new subscribers on its site virtually flat-lining towards the end of 2010.

The game currently boasts a total of 170,000 users, of which only 8.2 per cent joined in the the current fiscal year. And this figure accounts for registered users only – not those that are currently active.

Some evidence of its actual popularity can be sought in its social media presence. The game has 568 Facebook friends and 82 followers on Twitter. In comparison, hit Disney kids' MMO Club Penguin has 2787 following its feed.

Developed by US studio Area/Code – the same team behind iOS hit Drop7 and EA's Facebook title Spore Island – it apparently took two years to make and support is still ongoing. The game's Facebook page this week announced "Maintenance break starting shortly. Stand by for some awesome new features..."

That said, the government line is that "the status of the project beyond March 2011 will be reviewed in light of evaluation findings and other business planning considerations."

Take a look at the trailer below to see what you're all missing. Looks bonkers...

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Fred Dutton

Fred Dutton

US News Editor

Fred Dutton is Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.