Oi. Its hard to say goodbye to a game. For me, I’ve only really had to do it once before, with Shadowbane. And that was perhaps a bit easier because I only joined in once it went Free To Play, and wasnt actively playing in the set that was happening when they announced its closure. Still, I mourned its loss, and saved large chunks of its Wiki to my hard drive because of the lore. I even went in and took a few last screenshots of my characters and the (admittedly dated) world before it dropped.
So when I read that APB would be closing its doors soon, and that by soon they really meant, “could happen at any minute,” I dove back into the game this morning after I saw the kids off to school to do the same thing I did with Shadowbane – log a few more screenies and say goodbye in my own way.
I guess the good thing about knowing a game is going kaput is that it frees you of any need to save your money. The streets of San Paro were a regular riot as people – even enforcers, took to shooting off spare ammo, buying up new goodies, and general having one hell of a send off. People were not messing with each other really, outside of some destruction derby style smashups (I saw multiple scrolling text of “x has completed y missions in a row” where y was not less thant 5).
There’s been lots of conjectures about what went wrong with APB: Some said it was the hit box (or lack thereof) that drove people away. Others said it was the frustration of wonky matchmaking. Still others contended that it was because the game was released while still very much in a beta state.
They are all wrong.
The hitbox was fine for everone but those who played shooters. And even they were mostly okay once they figured out that there were no head shots. Only uber-leet shooters got mad and went elsewhere when they realized they couldn’t one-shot their way through life anymore. And guess what? They weren’t going to stick around anyway, because all they care about is the shooter lifestyle, which is better served by *not* having RPG elements attached to it. Purists want purity, and this game was anything but. Still, it was a fine combat model for the average player.
The matchmaking system had its faults to be sure, but so did Halo – and Halo 2 – and Call of Duty – and…you name it. I spent hours dying when I started Halo2 online because high level players would suicide themselves through the floor of the ranking system – thereby killing that game experience – and then proceeding to kill the game experience of genuine low ranked characters. Admit it, we were lucky to get one good match per night. And that’s basically what APB gave us as well. Again, fine for the average player.
And don’t give me any crap about the launch as beta idea. Name one MMO that has not launched while basically still in a Beta set. Its all but expected these days.
I really think that APB failed because it wasn’t marketed correctly – or at all. I’d like to think I keep fairly abreast of new MMO’s here at HarbingerZero. I also read alot of blogs and I play alot of games. But I only first heard of APB when the Keys to the City beta invites went out. Up to that point, the game had pretty much been getting attention from console sites and former/current Grand Theft Auto junkies. It also tried to label itself as a shooter. All of these things attracted the wrong sort of crowd for the game – the very people who could not appreciate what it brought to the table.
But worst of all, the failure of APB means that from now on, it will be that much harder for a first time, or small, or independent developer to get backing for an MMO they want to make. And it will be that much tougher for them to convince a player to shell out to play it, even if they do get the backing.
So whether or not you were/are and APB fan…take off your hat, put your hand on your heart, and offer a moment of silence. Because the whole MMO genre will suffer from this.