Game on as revenues rise at APB owner Reloaded

RELOADED Productions is reporting rising revenues from All Points Bulletin (APB), the online game it salvaged from the ashes of collapsed Dundee-based developer Realtime Worlds, as the new owner this week prepares to launch an upgraded version.

APB has attracted three million subscribers since being relaunched as a free-to-play game in December.

The title, which is being managed from US-owned Reloaded’s Edinburgh office, makes money by selling virtual enhancements for the game for real cash. Michael Boniface, general manager of the Scottish office, said it would take a full year to determine the exact level of sales, the majority of which are generated by online micro-payments.

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“But certainly what we have seen from December has been a steady increase in subscribers and purchases,” said Boniface, noting that an average of 10,000 people around the world are now playing APB at any given time.

“We are happy with the figures we are seeing.”

The company will release further content for the game on Wednesday under the title of New Breeds Part One.

The update will include new characters with access to additional resources such as weapons, vehicles and modifications, as well as “Fight Club Challenges” that let players compete for in-game prizes.

One of the most successful massive multiplayer online (MMO) games of recent years, World of Warcraft, reached a peak of 12 million paying subscribers in 2010, though that has since slipped back to around 11 million.

By contrast, most MMO games are free to download and play, charging only for game enhancements. “The essence of the free-to-play model is that, if you are not having fun, then you are not going to buy anything,” said Boniface, who was previously director of IT at Realtime Worlds.

Realtime spent five years developing APB but was forced into administration just six weeks after the release of the original game, which flopped on its 2010 debut.

Reloaded Productions was formed as a wholly owned subsidiary of California’s K2 Network after the US company purchased the APB rights.

The collapse of Realtime Worlds was seen at the time as a major blow for Scotland’s video games industry, which supports about 1,500 jobs and contributes some £30 million to the economy.

But games developers were given a boost by last month’s Budget, which introduced tax relief for the sector and the wider creative industries.

A similar tax break was introduced by Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling but was scrapped during George Osborne’s emergency Budget in 2010. Osborne reintroduced the measure this year following a report by the Scottish Affairs Committee.