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Report: Many  APB  Players, Subscribers Denied Refund
Report: Many APB Players, Subscribers Denied Refund
September 27, 2010 | By Simon Parkin

September 27, 2010 | By Simon Parkin
More: Console/PC

Subscribers to All Points Bulletin (APB), the MMOG developed by Realtime Worlds, have been told not to expect a refund by the collapsed firm's administrators.

The game was taken offline last week after administrator Begbies Traynor announced it could not find a buyer to save it, with players given a few days to "say goodbye" before the servers were turned off.

Players who bought the game via the download-only service Steam presumed they had lost their investment when owner Valve Software posted a message on its website saying: "As with most software products, we do not offer refunds or exchanges for purchases made online as outlined in the software license."

However, some buyers of the game, posting on the Steam forums, claim that publisher Electronic Arts has offered them a free game from its library as a goodwill gesture.

In addition, Gamasutra commenters who bought the game from the digital-only, Electronic Arts-owned EA Store have, in some cases, received a full refund.

Owners of physical copies of the game are not so lucky. Joint administrator Paul Dounis said players who are looking for refunds must return to where they bought the game. "Customers should revert to the entity from which they bought the game in respect of their entitlement to any refund," he said in a statement.

APB was a subscription-based service and any players who made longer-term one-off payments or any in-game purchases have lost their investment, in addition to the initial cost of the game.

Realtime Worlds reportedly spent tens of million of dollars developing the game, which was received poorly by critics upon release, scoring just a 53 average on Metacritic alongside complaints that it was buggy and felt unfinished. Around 180 people lost their jobs when the developer collapsed.

[UPDATE: EA Store refund details added.]

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Alvin Chan
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Owners of a physical copy should keep their copy of the shortest lived MMO in history. It'll probably become a collector's item.

John Currie
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I think that situations like this are really sad. 180 people losing their jobs because the game did not do well. Seems crazy!

What leads to a situation like that? I'm sure that at least a large number of the team were very good at ther job, hardworking, etc. It seems like with that much talent there must have been some higher level decision that derailed the team's possible success.

Plus, how do you handle that if you were one of the ones that gave 110% yet in spite of all your efforts, the game still failed?

Chris OKeefe
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The amount of money spent was not justified for the end product, and that should have been obvious much earlier in development. I'd love to see what soaked up all of that money, honestly.

The problem with investments as large as ten million dollars is the old adage, 'the bigger they are, the harder they fall.' The collapse was dramatic because they had no room for error with that sum of money. As soon as it started to go downhill it turned into an avalanche.

I do feel for the men and women who lost their jobs, and as Cam said, the blame should rest with those at the top of the food chain at RTW. I hope it's not a career-ender for anyone who doesn't deserve it.

Honestly I have a feeling we'll be seeing the ripples of APB's(and RTW's) collapse for some time. I think investment is going to become harder to come by, which will have all kinds of longterm impacts.

Michael Nielsen
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I pre-ordered the game on the EA Store, and contacted EA last thursday regarding a refund for the game (not my RTW points - I consider them lost).

Friday afternoon I got an email confirming that I would get a full refund of my game, FYI I live in Denmark (EUR) and contacted EA using their Online Support site at

Simon Carless
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Thanks for the note, Michael - we've added that detail to the story.

Andrew Grapsas
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If they ever cared about their players, they'd just release the server-side for public use.

Then again, they probably are looking to sell off the tech, etc...

Michael Martin
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I just like use of the word "revert" from EA's statement: "Customers should revert to the entity from which they bought the game." I am envisioning the customers mutating into GameStops...

Dustin Mellen
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Right, go back to the store where you purchased PC software. Every store I know of all carry the policy of replacement only for software, no refunds. Consumers take many risks when they buy software, this disaster outlines one of those risks.

Ujn Hunter
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Paying for a game that you have to then pay to play is a silly thing to do in the first place. If you're going to be charging for subscriptions to play the game... it should be given to you for free as the software is useless without a subscription.

Evan Combs
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I share that same opinion.

Joseph Gonzalez
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Its only speculation, but everything Iíve heard about the development of the game says it was a money pit to begin with. There were all kinds of reports of mismanagement of resources and money. Thereís no real way of knowing if these reports were true or the rants of disgruntled employees but either way it suggests there was something fundamentally wrong with operations.

I feel bad for the developers because I know how it feels to have a studio collapse out from under you. On a positive note though, it looks as if two new content studios have risen from RTWís ashes. Itís always a positive when developers can pull together and form something on their own after a studio closure like this.

Lo Pan
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I wonder if we will see the former Realtime Worlds management team brought before Judge Judy.

Joshua Sterns
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Seems to me people got ripped off and lost their job. That's a lose lose.

This situation also makes me weary of any MMO not produced by a big studio like Bioware or Blizzard.

Andrew Swain
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Here is an interesting little video from one of the artists at RTW(well, previous artists.)

It shows what he thought many aspects of the game should have been like, but his

pitches to add it into the game were denied.

Ian Uniacke
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My comments may be unpopular but I believe this is a classic case of the company heading off in the wrong direction from day 1. There is a compulsive desire amongst many in the industry to go straight from nothing to develop the "next big thing". An independent studio without a long history of success had no business making something as big as an mmo, let alone an unproven gameplay style in an mmo. It took a company with consistent revenues and a long history of success like Blizzard to simply create a successful mmo that basically apes many previously existing gameplay ideas. The project was far too ambitious.

Jonathan Jennings
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I actually would agree with you to some extent, I think another example of what you said was crackdown 2 which from what I understand is little more than a rehash of the first crackdown.

It's not something you can just blame RTW for though, lots of people fail to realize the best way to success is one building block at a time, very few people are genius or original enough to make it to the top of any industry without a track record of success.

Kyle DeFoe
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EA is compensating some buyers of APB. The message from support can be found below. If you meet the criteria i recommend bad company 2 ;)

Greetings Sir/ Madam,

Thank you for contacting Electronic Arts Customer Support.

We understand that you purchased APB and since the game is no longer available to play, you'd like us to refund the purchase amount you spent on it. While refunding the amount is not possible in this case, as a refund to what you've lost, we're offering you a free game from EA Store "". If you purchased the game after 7/15/2010 then you are eligible for this offer and can select any game you would wish with a couple of exceptions as noted below:

Only those games for which we've Digital Download version available on EA Store can be selected.

Please do not select a game which is not released yet.

In order to proceed with the refund request; along with the name of the game you'd like to play, we will also need the proof of your APB purchase:

In case of box version - attach the scanned copy of your purchase receipt in this email.

In case of downloadable version, please provide the screenshot of your purchase proof (Email from the retailer).

In case of digital download version from EA Store, provide us the order #.

Once you've provided us the proof of your purchase and name of the game you'd wish to have, we'll entitle it on your account and then you will have to use the EA Download Manager to download the game. If you do not have EADM, you can download it here:

Best Regards,


EA Support Centre

Ian Fisch
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Where are you RTW developers? We want to hear the story of why this game turned out to be crap. Seriously.

David Delanty
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That would make for some interesting reading, Ian. I'd really like to hear some more details as well. But I'm certain that a lot of former RTW employees are circulating about the EA umbrella searching for employment at other branches, or trying to keep their noses clean while searching for another industry position, and wouldn't jeopardize their chances by divulging any details beyond what we already know.

christine miller
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Kevin Reese
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Funny how that works. Even with tens of millions of dollars, and many dozens of talented folks spending years making APB, the game just wasn't that fun. I bought the game and I hate to say it, but the truth is I spent more time enjoying some flash games I've played, then this massive budget title.

The game should really be studied for what went wrong.

The best lesson that I could come up with, having had played the game, would be: build solid GAMEplay mechanics, and then build all the flashy-flash on top of that.

I know that's way easier said then done. But ya, if the gameplay is there, people will play no matter what it looks like (but not the other way around). Examples DFO, Minecraft, etc...