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APB business model is "completely unique" - Jones

RTW boss says it's taken years to perfect; hopes flexible and changing model will please all consumers

Realtime Worlds' highly-anticipated PC game All Points Bulletin (APB) will have a completely unique business model, with the Scottish developer eschewing traditional subscription payments in favour of a "changing, flexible" model that in some instances can offer play for free.

Jones, the creator behind the original Grand Theft Auto series and Xbox 360 smash Crackdown, has been working on the business model for "years and years", and although simple in concept, admitted that it will need to be communicated clearly to players.

"It's not like we're going to say it's completely free for ever more. There is a business model there, but it's a very unique business model because it's a unique game," Jones told our sister site

"I don't want to say anything just yet, because there's a few interesting things in there that we want to be very careful about the messaging on. But we've absolutely made sure it's extremely good value for the player. What we didn't want to do was for people to feel that they had to commit every month to a payment to play this game. That we've removed.

"There is a charging mechanism, but it's very different, it's very flexible, and there's some interesting ways that potentially, for example, they may not have to pay. It's very unique and very well thought out, but we won't announce it until people understand exactly what the game is."

He added: "There's nothing out there that has our model. It is completely unique."

Jones acknowledged that payment for online games is a very sensitive subject, with consumers happy to pay for content and services so long as it's of the highest quality. To help the game run as smoothly as possible, RTW has spared no expense on server technology.

"I think the business model is one we spent a lot of time on as well. It's a difficult, controversial, emotive subject for many gamers," offered Jones. "Players know they love online gaming, they want more and we're delivering more, but of course that also involves cost.

"I think we have to be very, very careful explaining to them that they get something very unique, but to do that has incurred a cost... We've bought the highest-spec servers on the planet right now just to make sure 100 player have an amazing experience, physics, thousands of civilians in the streets, cars, building that up and synchronising it to 100 players, that's a lot of expensive hardware in the data centres to do that."

Feedback on the business model has been resoundingly positive, said Jones, suggesting that all players will find a solution that works for them.

"I've spent years and years on it. I've yet to find anybody who we have presented it to, like EA, who hasn't said they really like that, it's very unique and I think players will get it. I'm really looking forward to announcing it, because it's very simple to explain and the normal reaction we get from people within 20 seconds is, 'I don't see any problems with that.' I believe we've got something where I don't think we'll have any class of player who will say, 'That doesn't work for me.'"

The game, which has picked up tremendous buzz from critics and gamers, hopes to take the open world crime genre to massive online audiences. Although initially a PC-only title, there are plans to release the game on home consoles, but that depends on a number of factors including juggling payment to format-holders. And Jones is adamant the PC version must be water-tight before any home versions solidify.

The full interview, in which Jones also discusses the three-year plan for APB and the expected evolution of content, can be read here.

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Matt Martin avatar
Matt Martin: Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.
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