Large cash reserves led to complacency and a lack of discipline, according to an ex-RealTime Worlds staffer discussing the Scottish developer's recent closure
and poor sales of APB
"We got all this money, and it made us relax, when really it should have focused our attention on making sure we had a really good approach to managing the project, to ensuring the design was exactly what it needed to be, to focus testing early on, and just proving that we were doing the right thing, rather than taking the old 'it'll be done when it's done' attitude," an anonymous source told The Guardian
Realtime Worlds went into administration on August 24th, 2010, cutting 150 jobs and having spent an alleged $105 million in funding. The majority of this money was spent on APB
, the company’s flagship 'cops and robbers' multiplayer online game, with development difficulties channeling funding away from the studio’s second project, social media game, Project MyWorld
Fears of financial trouble were felt at the studio months before the closure. "The first hint we got was, a few months before APB launched, the company started – quite bizarrely – to make cleaners redundant," said the source. "Later, rumors started coming in that redundancies were imminent. And then RTW let all the contractors go early, which was another sign that money was running out. But they said everything was fine."
Then, on 13th August the news broke that the entire Project MyWorld
team was being laid off. "APB
continues to be our primary development focus, and we remain fully committed to the game and its players," said the official company statement. "We were told that the budget for the game had been spent on APB
," said the source.
The reputation of the studio’s CEO, Dave Jones, best known as the creator of Grand Theft Auto
, also contributed to the sense of complacency. "When you're working for someone like Dave, it's all too easy to not believe what your ears and eyes, and QA and beta testers are telling you," said the Guardian source. "You're like: 'Dave knows what he's doing, it's going to be fine'."
"The team was saying for a long, long time that there were things that were not quite right with the game… It was never the case that the design was fundamentally broken, but in the execution of a lot of the features there are things that didn't quite come together, that weren't polished to the level that people expected," continues the source.
The length of the development and management structure also contributed to the project’s failure, said a second source, an ex-staff member from the studio’s second project, Project MyWorld. "The middle management – and there was a LOT of middle management at this company – they were on that game for years and they continued to run it as though they were managing an architecture project or something.
"Fun never seemed to be a criterion for what they were doing; managers with little clipboards would go around and tick off things, saying 'OK that's done' and moving on. There was never any consideration for whether or not what had been done was any fun."