Before I begin, let me clarify that I do not know anybody who works in the higher ups at either Realtime Worlds, or Microsoft Game Studios. This entire post in generally just pure speculation given by the recent courses of action by the two companies in the last few months.
Anyways, now that’s out of the way, lets carry on. Is there a possibility that All Points Bulletin, Realtime Worlds newest crime MMORPG, could be getting the publishing treatment from mega-corporation Microsoft? Absolutely and it really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody after what we have witnessed over the last few months. Allow me to explain:
I recently wrote up a post explaining Microsoft’s enigmatic history with MMORPGs. To put it short they have a vaporous history with them. However, given that the cancellation of Marvel Universe Online occurred only a couple months ago, could Microsoft and Realtime Worlds been gearing up for a partnership? Let’s take a look at it from Microsoft’s perspective. Back in 2005 they entered into a deal with Marvel and Cryptic to make an MMO based on super heroes. Exciting stuff, right? Well maybe not for Microsoft. You see Microsoft has what many people like to call “big boy” syndrome, where in, if they can’t be the biggest in whatever field they are pursuing they usually don’t bother at all. So while City of Heroes was successful it definitely wasn’t nearly the most successful, and it was unlikely a Marvel MMO would get much more successful than CoH. Enter Realtime Worlds.
Originally announcing its game, APB, in 2006 Realtime Worlds was a very small company with no releases. After securing a publishing agreement for APB with Webzen, a Korean MMO company, it later secured a publishing agreement with Microsoft for it’s single player GTA-styled crime game Crackdown, which was met with favorable reviews. Skip ahead a couple years after Crackdown has already been released and Realtime Worlds had acquired $50 million in funding for APB and “other projects”. Using some of this money they were able to re-secure the rights for APB back from Webzen. As of now, APB is without publisher…
So where does this leave us? Well if you look at what has happened, as I have explained it, there are a few noticeable connections:
- Microsoft no longer has any commitments to dedicate money to Marvel Ultimate Universe.
- Realtime Worlds no longer has any commitment to Webzen.
- Both Microsoft and Realtime Worlds have a favorable relationship, where in the latter has gone on record as saying they were “heartbroken” that Microsoft did not request them to make a Crackdown 2.
Now here is where most of my speculation will come in. With the release of GTA IV coming in next week, Microsoft knows just how important the property is. It is one of the most popular games in history, maybe even more so than Halo. Because of this, exploiting an MMO in the same scheme as GTA (and created by the creator of GTA) probably hasn’t escaped Microsoft’s ever scheming eye. After all, given the right mechanics, a GTA MMO could become more popular than WoW (you heard it here first!). Not only that, but securing this game and having it be exclusive to their Xbox 360/Games for Windows platform would make a lot of sense. The PS3 has a lot of heavy hitters coming this year, and if Microsoft really wants to step up their game this is one way to do it.
So there is my speculation and evidence. I have no real proof that this is happening, but it would make some sense. Realtime Worlds still isn’t a large enough company to publish the game on their own (even with $50 million) and Microsoft desperately needs some new exciting franchises now that Halo is wrapping up. Of course, I guess SOE could publish APB as well, but we all know what happens when they do that…