The UK government's Department of Transport has spent £2,785,695 to date on free to play educational MMO Code Of Everand, it has emerged.
Documents obtained by Puffbox reveal that that the US-made road safety game's upkeep cost £700,00 alone in the year post-launch, despite drawing only a few thousand sign-ups per month
Everand, designed for 9 to 13 year-olds, brought in 54,000 new users during its March 2010 peak, but this had slumped to 6500 by the following month. Sign-ups have continued to decline since then, and now number in the very low thousands.
In total, Evarand boasts 170,000 users, 91.8 per cent of which came in the last financial year, despite the ongoing spend. This equates to a spend of £16.33 per registered user - a figure likely to be even higher were the number of active rather than simply registered players known.
The now four-year-old MMO was in development for some two years prior to launch, and reportedly faced cancellation twice during that time. Primary development was contracted out to US studio Area/Code, which has also created titles such as Spore Island (a Facebook game for EA) and renowned iOS puzzle game Drop7.
Plans for the game's future beyond March 2011 are apparently contingent upon "evaluation findings and other business planning considerations." While it was commissioned under the previous Labour government, the current Conservation/Liberal Democrat coalition government's austerity measures do not appear to have affected this project as yet.
However, Puffbox's Simon Dickson notes that the game's Facebook page (which has 568 'friends') was boasting of an impending feature update just this week.