Crackdown House Realtime Worlds Goes Into Administration
A staffer for the PR house representing UK-based corporate recovery group Begbies Traynor said in a phone call that the firm is handling Realtime Worlds' administration, confirming reports that originally appeared on UK-based Develop Tuesday morning. An official statement is forthcoming, the rep said.
As administrator, Begbies Traynor will decide whether Realtime Worlds can continue on as a company in light of financial difficulties, or more likely if the studio can recover more money by selling off assets or liquidating entirely.
Calls to studio founder and creative director Dave Jones and the studio's Boulder, CO-based online support office went unanswered Tuesday morning.
The move into administration comes less than two months after the launch of the studio's online action MMO, APB. It garnered a lukewarm reception from game reviewers, although Realtime in July categorized the launch as "very smooth."
About a month after the launch of APB, the studio issued a statement saying that it would be "shifting staffing emphasis" in order to provide more live service for the online game. Realtime said the shift involved a "small number of redundancies" at the company.
Last week, the company confirmed it had to lay off workers, but did not confirm a report that said 60 had been let go. In May 2009, Realtime said its headcount hit 250, and offices covered 34,000 square feet of space total; in August 2009 it opened a new office in Dundee, shooting to grow to 300 employees by year end.
Realtime recently unveiled the social virtual world Project: My World. Prior to APB, the studio had released Crackdown, published by Microsoft Game Studios, for Xbox 360 in 2007, gaining a loyal fanbase. Realtime spinoff studio Ruffian Games developed Crackdown 2, released this year and published by Microsoft.
The studio was founded in 2002 by Jones, originator of the Grand Theft Auto and Lemmings franchises. He was also co-founder of DMA Design, which became current GTA house and Take-Two subsidiary, Rockstar North.
[UPDATE: Appeal PR, the firm representing Begbies Traynor, issued an official statement to Gamasutra Tuesday that said Realtime "has gone into administration in the face of lackluster demand for its latest online 'cops and crooks' game APB: All Points Bulletin."
Paul Dounis with Begbies Traynor said that his company is "currently involved in a consultative process with the 200 staff employed in Dundee." He added that the administrator will employ "some" of the 42 staff in the U.S. office to assist in selling the business.
"Our intention is to continue trading the company while we attempt to find a going concern buyer which will safeguard the future of the business," Dounis stated. He also said he hopes any buyer will continue to develop APB.
Richard Wilson, CEO of video game trade body TIGA said, "This is a very sad day for Realtime Worlds, Dundee and for the Scottish and UK video games industry. ... Despite today’s terrible news, Dundee and Scotland remain good places to do games business."]