K2 Network subsidiary GamersFirst confirmed this week that its family of companies was the buyer of Realtime Worlds’s abortive MMO project, All Points Bulletin (APB). GamersFirst says that it plans to relaunch the game as a freemium MMO with all of its prior pay-to-play elements removed. A source speaking to Develop says that the price tag for APB was much lower than the £1.5 million ($2.4 million) reported over the weekend. Develop reports that GamesFirst spent “less than 1%” of APB’s $100+ million development costs to acquire the game’s source code.
K2 Network made the APB acquisition through its subsidiary, Reloaded Productions. APB will relaunch as “APB: Reloaded” on the GamersFirst portal in 2011. Reloaded Productions has set aside a $1 million budget for revamping APB into a free-to-play game. At launch, Reloaded Productions plans to update APB with its final patch, 1.42, which wasn’t finished at the time that Realtime Worlds was forced to shut down the servers in September. The company also intends to bring unfinished and unreleased content into the game.
A major goal for the relaunched APB will be fixing the game balance. In the pay-to-play version, new players often found themselves hopelessly dominated by players with as little as a ten-hour edge over them. This phenomenon contributed to APB’s low player retention rate. Reloaded Productions also plans to add additional game modes. As a free-to-play game, Reloaded Productions projects a conversion rate of 10% to 20%. GamersFirst COO Bjorn Book-Larsson says that his company is open to hiring developers who previously worked on the game at Realtime Worlds.
GamersFirst serves about 30 million registered users in MMOs including Knight Online, Sword2, War Rock, and 9Dragons. The company says that one of its freemium games needs to see about 10,000 to 20,000 concurrent users for a game to be a modest success.
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