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Realtime Worlds' David Jones

The APB mastermind, direct from GDC.
EurogamerAre there goals for the more solo, casual player? You don't really have player-versus-environment content at all.
David Jones

We don't as such, we do a little bit for criminals because they can just ram-raid shops, steal stuff, steal cars, sell them, mug pedestrians. For example, a good solo one, if somebody plays the game a lot and they like solo, we have a league for the most damage done in the day. Being in a group's not a benefit for that one.

We even have fashion leagues, which is how many sales you've had on the trading house because you're very creative. And we reward that.

EurogamerYou've said that you're not going to charge a subscription. But presumably, if you're successful, APB is going to be quite an expensive game to operate. How are you expecting to make money from it?
David Jones

We haven't announced a business model yet. It's not like we're going to say it's completely free for ever more. There is a business model there, but it's a very unique business model because it's a unique game.

I don't want to say anything just yet, because there's a few interesting things in there that we want to be very careful about the messaging on. But we've absolutely made sure it's extremely good value for the player. What we didn't want to do was for people to feel that they had to commit every month to a payment to play this game. That we've removed.

There is a charging mechanism, but it's very different, it's very flexible, and there's some interesting ways that potentially, for example, they may not have to pay. It's very unique and very well thought out, but we won't announce it until people understand exactly what the game is.

There's nothing out there that has our model. It is completely unique.

EurogamerWhat are the pitfalls of developing an online game?
David Jones

Underestimating how different it is to develop. Just the logistics of making a 100-player game, in terms of testing, feedback times.

I think the business model is one we spent a lot of time on as well. It's a difficult, controversial, emotive subject for many gamers. Players know they love online gaming, they want more and we're delivering more, but of course that also involves cost.

I think we have to be very, very careful explaining to them that they get something very unique, but to do that has incurred a cost... We've bought the highest-spec servers on the planet right now just to make sure 100 players have an amazing experience. Physics, thousands of civilians in the streets, cars, building that up and synchronising it to 100 players, that's a lot of expensive hardware in the data centres to do that.

EurogamerPeople have such differing values about this sort of thing; some refuse to ever pay a subscription, others regard micro-transactions with suspicion...
David Jones

Yeah, like I say it's very emotive. That's why we tried to come up with something that pleases everybody.

EurogamerDo you think you've managed that? It's surely impossible.
David Jones

I'd love to tell you what it is. I've spent years and years on it. I've yet to find anybody who we have presented it to, like EA, who hasn't said they really like that, it's very unique and I think players will get it. I'm really looking forward to announcing it, because it's very simple to explain and the normal reaction we get from people within 20 seconds is, "I don't see any problems with that."

I believe we've got something where I don't think we'll have any class of player who will say, "That doesn't work for me."

EurogamerThere was a lot of talk a while ago about you selling APB to a publisher so that it could be rebranded - in particular, to Rockstar as GTA Online. Was that ever on the cards?
David Jones

No. I have no idea where that came from. I think that some people at some point thought hey, it's kind of like GTA, but actually it's not. Until you play the game, it's very hard to imagine what it will actually be like.

EurogamerAre you tracking the development of Crackdown 2?
David Jones

I basically see what everybody else sees, to be honest. Obviously I'm keen to see it, keen to get my hands on it.

EurogamerIt must be quite strange though, to have something that you developed personally carry on elsewhere.
David Jones

[Shrugs] Well, GTA. That was the other thing. Not really, obviously it's great if these things have legs. But eventually I do get bored of things. I'm always looking for new ideas and new things to create.

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Oli Welsh

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Oli was Eurogamer's MMO Editor before a seven-year stint as Editor. He worked here for a colossal 14 years, shaping the website and leading it.

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