APB developer RealTime Worlds has said that the online market still has a lot of untapped potential and can offer new creative and business opportunities for developers.
Speaking at the Develop conference in Brighton, RTW boss David Jones said the company has assessed all the growing areas in the videogame market – including social, iPhone and Wii gaming – but it became clear that next-gen technology and online opportunities are where "the big dollars are".
"One of the reasons we want to go into the online space is because it opens a wealth of opportunities," said Jones. "Online, as far as I'm concerned, is very, very much untapped. It's kind of like winding the clock back ten or fifteen years. There's a huge amount of scope of online for innovation and for forging genres to really set a bench mark in many different areas."
Jones said unlike the movie and music industries, online has helped videogaming rather than hinder it, and the business can take advantage of the continued investment in better web technology.
"We're the only industry in the entertainment space where online is actually a really big positive. There really are benefits for online and next-gen. We've been game designers for along time and we want to see the industry really push technology forward and create brand new, fresh experiences. Next gen is still by a long shot, where most of the money is. It's where the big dollars are."
"It's a technological burden now but it's getting much much easier, there's billions invested in the web to make it faster and easier that directly benefits the gaming space. We can basically just ride the tails of that investment. This is my new platform of choice."
Online also allows developers and players to connect closely, with Jones citing Call of Duty, Gears of War and Halo 3 as console titles which prove the popularity of online gaming.
"They come for the single player experience and invest hours in it, but they spend ten times that online,” he said. “I believe it's truly where players spend their time."
"The fact that you can have a direct relationship with players, we absolutely want to do that. For the first time ever we want to look at our games, monitor our games, look at how players are playing, have feedback on games quicker.
"It's a true business where you can be at one with your customers. Piracy is not an issue, it gets rid of that because it's a service that you have to connect to. If players are happy to pay for the service then it's an economic benefit to us."
APB is to be published in conjunction with EA Partners, and will be released in 2010.
The game will run on servers featuring 100 players at a time, with Jones saying that it's down to the creative talent at the studio to offer gamers an experience they cannot find elsewhere
"Basically APB just runs on a server, that's basically the biggest thing about it," he offered. "It's a highly dynamic action game but it runs on a server.
"The absolute key thing you have to do for this, it's not about just taking a normal kind of game and making it multiplayer and sticking it on a server. It has to be something they can't get anywhere else," he concluded.