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UK government spent 2.8m on road safety MMO

Fri 14 Jan 2011 3:26pm GMT / 10:26am EST / 7:26am PST
PoliticsOnline

Code of Everand cost Transport Department at least 16.33 per user

area/code

Area/Code games highlight the connections between the interactive systems and imaginary landscapes inside...

areacodeinc.com

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.

14 Comments

Paul Smith
Dev

195 155 0.8
What a waste of money...

Posted:3 years ago

#1

Alex Loffstadt
Community Manager

84 0 0.0
Not having played the title and seen it in action I'm not going to critcise the basic concept as a waste.
Honestly depending on the nature of the game as an MMO a development price tag in the low millions isn't unusual, if not pretty standard. What may define the waste side of thing is what the business model was for recouping the cost (Hell a private public partnership for a contemporary set game with some subtle in game advertising and some wider business promotion would likely have worked...)

If you want to get offended by something, with the amount of UK and European based development talent why in the name of all that's holy was this made in the US?

Posted:3 years ago

#2

Andrew Goodchild
Studying development

1,199 317 0.3
Not only a waste of money, but if the government are going to waste so much on a free game, shouldn't they at least have used a domestic developer, to at least boost the UK economy whilst they were at it? I'm sure most countries would have kept development local for free government developments.

Posted:3 years ago

#3

Martin Mathers
Copywriter/Journalist

39 0 0.0
I'm pretty sure the TV ads for this disappeared ages ago (he says, having been subjected to enough kids TV to know when they were actually bothering to advertise it).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Martin Mathers on 14th January 2011 5:34pm

Posted:3 years ago

#4

Phil Williams
principle artist

5 0 0.0
HAHA!!!

Posted:3 years ago

#5

Alex Loffstadt
Community Manager

84 0 0.0
@Andrew when it comes domestic development it's not just a matter of cost or supporting domestic companies etc. Having worked on international projects, working with someone who is 3000 plus miles away can make it incredibly difficult to maintain control of the project and its quality.

If it's free and there's a public safety issue related then the fact that money was spent isn't necessarily a waste. 3 Mill for an MMO isn't unusual, and if you want an MMO to continue you need revenue.

That said just because it's free two play doesn't mean that the government couldn't have used anyone of a number of business models and revenue streams to mitigate against the work.

It's also a matter of market analysis and how many people they thought they were going to reach and for how long.

Posted:3 years ago

#6

Adam Yaure
Studying MSc Games Programming

19 0 0.0
guess they didn't promote the game enough.
my cousins have no idea what this is at all...

Posted:3 years ago

#7

Andrew Goodchild
Studying development

1,199 317 0.3
@Alex. The fact that money was spent wasn't what made it a waste of money, the fact isif they made a series of cheap flash games or lower budget games, people would have played them a few times and hopefully got the message.
An MMO to be value would require the users to keep playing. Firstly, you don't need that much contact to get a road safety message across, important as it may be, you don't need to get people playing 3 times a week plus for a year. Secondly, whilst kids may well have played a fun flash game or scrolling shooter, if they are selecting an MMO to play, few kids are going to favour an MMO on road safety, over adventure quest or something where they get to fight monsters. They may try it out, but if they are not going to stick with it, then an MMO was not the right game to make. However, six years ago MMOs were what everyone was talking about, so it's clear why they jumped on the bandwagon.

Not clear on your distance comment, in that it was the UK government employing a US developer, surely that's where trying to control a project over thousands of miles took place, not if they'd used a UK (or at a push Western European) developer.

Posted:3 years ago

#8
If this was not put out to commercial tender and if the UK games industry were not made aware of the existence of this project,something that could have been done easily through TIGA and UKIE , then that would be an absolute disgrace. I will be asking further questions and let you all know what answers I can get.

Posted:3 years ago

#9

Ryan Locke
Lecturer in Media Design

45 6 0.1
"US-made road safety game"

The real scandal!

*points finger of fury*

Posted:3 years ago

#10
What an absolute joke.

Posted:3 years ago

#11
I've ceased to be suprised by the stupidity of our government.

Though I'm going to reserve further ranting until I've played it...

Posted:3 years ago

#12

Kingman Cheng
Illustrator and Animator

929 150 0.2
Would have much prefered the 2.8m going towards repairing the national issue with potholes seeing as it's going to cost them a bomb to repair it all PROPERLY.

Posted:3 years ago

#13

Alex Loffstadt
Community Manager

84 0 0.0
@Kingman Wrong taxes sir. Potholes are the responsibility of Local Government not the Highways agency and some councils are better at fixing them tan others. So the 2.8 mill would never have gone into local government kitty in the first place.

Posted:3 years ago

#14

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