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MattScott

CEO


Hi everyone,

 

Sorry I missed Friday. I'm currently traveling in Europe, and my schedule is a bit off. 

 

This week I'm going to talk about progress first, and then I'm going to talk about the overall state of the player base and what the plan is for rebuilding the player base.

 

Progress with the Engine Upgrade:

  • We had another solid week of working on complex code buried deep in the render system.
  • A significant portion of rendering involves caching material shader parameters, and we were able to clean that code up so it is now thread safe. This greatly reduced the amount of locks.
  • Still to do: There is still a lot of thread safety work left to do, but this was a big source of the errors.
  • Still to do: We are investigating an issue where specific items are forced to update every frame when they shouldn't.
  • Still to do: We want to allow secondary render threads to use the cache and then track down the specific case where we are setting the per material/mesh state and making sure those invalidate the cache properly so everything gets updated.

At that point, we'll be testing the new changes against our old benchmark to see if we can run the next phase of Open Beta with mission districts.

 

State of the player base:

 

I've seen a couple threads mentioning the decline in players, and I want to take a moment to comment on that.

 

I think there are macro issues related to games in general right now, and there are certainly micro issues related to APB specifically.

 

If you look at the industry as a whole, there are declining CCUs in most games right now. This is because in many places coronavirus restrictions have been lifted so players who are sick of being cooped up all summer are doing something different. On top of that, students are going back to school, which takes away free time for games. I'm not saying every game out there has dropped players, but in general we are seeing that trend right now.

 

For APB, we find ourselves in a weird transitional place. APB 1.20 (Live) has some systemic issues that can create a pretty bad play experience - mostly centering on matchmaking, new player experience, and various forms of griefing/dethreating. We have a lot of things in the works for 2.1 that will address these issues which have either been completed or are nearly done. But work on the engine has taken light years longer than I anticipated. While we have done 2 Open Betas now, I can understand the frustration in waiting for the rest of the districts and the actual launch. Hopefully everyone has seen our hard work on Asylum and Social, and they know we are committed to getting this finished as soon as possible.

 

I believe we have made good use of this delay by overhauling the game's entire monetization system. You'll be seeing more of this in September. And I think once APB 2.1 does launch, new players will find the game much more attractive because of our changes.

 

Rebuilding the player base:

 

With the current state of the game in mind, I have been faced with the pretty tough decision of whether to start spending lots of money now on advertising and promoting 1.20 or continuing to wait for the launch of 2.1. That money has been set aside, but timing is everything. I believe we will only get one shot to bring back players and show them the new APB experience. For that reason, I have intentionally held off promoting 1.20 because that would largely be a short term gain and a long term loss as new players enter 1.20 and then bounce for the same reasons we are upgrading everything.

 

Waiting does have its consequences.

 

Just know that advertising and promoting this game is not a question of IF.

It's a question of WHEN.

 

APB 2.1 has a lot of features under the hood that will either address or start to fix the remaining core issues in the game. It has much improved console experiences which at one point during their launch added significant amounts of players, who then left when the performance was so bad. With server cross play, we can bring the entire community together in a much better way. It also has integration with Anzu for in-game ads that will take more pressure off players to spend money. Anzu has also committed to helping us with a large Twitch campaign for awareness at launch.

 

Hang in there.

 

I want to end this week's update with a note to those of you who have continued to support us both in words and with purchases. 

Thank you. We wouldn't be able to do this without you.

 

Thanks,
Matt