We sophisticates, in discussions about oil spills and the like, throw around terms like "fifty billion dollars" as though we had any idea of what that actually means. In fact, no one knows what it means. The only person that I know in a position to discuss money in terms of billions works for a large central bank, and while he's the first to make fun of Tim Geithner, who can't figure out his own taxes, he admits that's the norm even in very rarefied air.
In fact, a million dollars is more than most of us will have at one time in our lives. A hundred million dollars? It's an almost abstract amount of money, like the number of Quatloos bet by the gamesters of Triskelion on whether Kirk can beat Spock in hand-to-hand combat.
A hundred million dollars is more money than Blizzard put into the initial development of World of Warcraft. Leaving WoW aside, a hundred million dollars is more than it cost to develop Civilization, Quake, Half Life, The Sims, and the Atari 2600, all put together. It's a lot of money.
So how did the developers of All Points Bulletin, a game that sold perhaps as few as 10,000 units, get their hands on a hundred million dollars to develop it in the first place?
Lovell analyzes APB’s sales numbers and comes to the jarring conclusion that APB sold less than 10,000 units, which would, given its budget, easily make it the most ridiculously disastrous MMO launch of all time. Adam Martin, in his post on the subject, believes the number to be closer to 100,000 based on his sources, which brings it from “ridiculous disaster” to “unsustainable disappointment”
If the game sold 10,000 units at $50 a pop, it will make a positive return in the year 3,473. Assuming that the world enters a period of massive deflation, for over a thousand years. Assuming that each buyer passes on his copy of All Points Bulletin to his heirs, who continue to play it, like serfs bound to a feudal estate.
All Points Bulletin is the worst failure in the history of gaming, even if it sold 100,000 copies. Worse than Daikatana, worse than Horizons, worse than any anything by Derek Smart, who actually makes money on his games through the magic of a tiny, rabid fanbase, and low overhead.
Via Kill Ten Rats, which has an alternative theory about where the money came from. (It involves hermaphrodite furries and Mel Brooks.)