VentureBeat is rapidly becoming one of the most significant news channels for the games industry. It’s not just funding, deals and finance, it now covers industry news from all areas of the rapidly evolving games world.
The publication posted an interview with the team at Reloaded Productions over the weekend, in which GM Michael Boniface, Lead Producer Scott Stevenson and Lead Designer Zak Littwin talk to Daniel Crawley about taking the game from a failed boxed product through to a free-to-play digital title.
There’s some fascinating information in there. We were particularly intrigued by the response the company has had from some areas of the media to the game.
It’s well worth a read. The introduction is below, but you can find the whole thing over on the VentureBeat site…
APB Reloaded — a free-to-play massively multiplayer online (MMO) title — is proving that positive reviews and long-term success don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand, as it flies in the face of criticism from the gaming press and continues to develop a loyal playing community.
Rewind two years, and it’s fair to say that the original release of APB was a disaster. Having sucked up $100M in venture capital funding, the title got a critical mauling on its June 2010 launch. Just 79 days later, poor sales and low player numbers saw the game servers being closed and developer Realtime Worlds folding, with the loss of over 300 jobs.
Free-to-play game publisher GamersFirst took the bold move of reviving this seemingly dead title, launching the newly branded APB Reloaded (APBR) at the end of October 2011. This new iteration ditched the subscription model of the original and featured a host of improvements from Reloaded Productions — the development team cherry-picked from the ruins of Realtime Worlds — but APBR was still received poorly by critics. It currently sits of a Metacritic aggregated score of 57 out of 100, one point lower than the original game.
Despite the poor reviews, APB Reloaded gained 3 million users within a week of launch, quickly becoming the second most popular microtransaction-based game on digital-distribution serviceSteam.
The guys at Reloaded Productions — general manager Michael Boniface, lead producer Scott Stevenson, and lead designer Zak Litwin — talked to GamesBeat via e-mail about how APBR is managing to build and maintain a strong user-base despite poor reviews and what they see as a general lack of interest from the gaming press.