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Free-To-Play APB Attracts Users That Subscription Model Didn't

A week after its re-launch as a free-to-play MMO under new publisher and developer GamersFirst, APB Reloaded has already reached more than 3 million registered users.
A week after its re-launch as a free-to-play MMO under new publisher and developer GamersFirst, APB Reloaded has already reached more than 3 million registered users. That number represents a significant milestone for a game that was canceled by its previous publisher due to a lack of player interest in the previously subscription-based game. Originally developed by Realtime Worlds and distributed by Electronic Arts, APB: All Points Bulletin first released in 2010 with a monthly subscription model. Low subscription numbers, however, forced the game to close in a few months, and Realtime Worlds shuttered shortly afterward. Under K2 Network-subsidiary GamersFirst, the newly retitled and retooled APB Reloaded is faring much better with its free-to-play debut, and is currently the second most popular game with this microtransactions business model on Valve Software's digital distribution platform Steam. The publisher is also planning to release a retail version that will include $50 worth of unique in-game items for the MMO third-person shooter. This boxed edition of APB Reloaded will sell for $29.99 at retail chains like Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, and GameStop across North America soon. GamersFirst purchased APB in November 2010 and tasked its Reloaded Productions subsidiary to work on relaunching the open world title. That studio opened a new branch in Edinburgh, Scotland earlier this year and hired several veterans from the defunct Realtime Worlds team. Along with making the cops-and-robbers game microtransaction-based, Reloaded Productions added a number of changes and new content, like its Fight Club feature, a pick-up-and-play mode presented as "a session-based online shooter with vehicles" for up to 32 players. "We recognized the potential for APB Reloaded to be a true breakout hit in the free-to-play category all through beta testing," says GamersFirst's Marketing SVP Rahul Sandil. "We quickly amassed a vocal, dedicated community, and they've been instrumental in growing the game and helping better the experience." Sandil adds, "Ultimately, players who discover a new free game decide if there's enough value and quality to keep playing, and APB Reloaded's trajectory tells us a growing number are being blown away by what they're getting."

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