Not-so-Funcom – Delays, Lay-offs

By Alec Meer on September 30th, 2009 at 12:24 am.

Aieee! Seems Age of Conan devs Funcom aren’t in the rudest of health – they’ve just announced 20% of their workforce is being let go, and their hopefully-incredible MMO The Secret World has been delayed by “some months.” Conan’s upcoming expansion isn’t affected, apparently. Best of luck to those who’ve lost their jobs, and, selfishly, let’s hope The Secret World doesn’t have to compromise itself as a result.

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25 Comments »

  1. derfalconer says:

    Secret World looked really interesting, I hope ‘some months’ does not turn into ‘some years’ or get cancelled/DNF status. It seemed like a good project to bounce back from their shortcomings with Conan.

  2. Gentacle says:

    Age of Conan seemed like a good project to bounce back from their shortcomings with Anarchy Online, too ;)

  3. Dante says:

    So, a game with an unspecified release date has been delayed an unspecified amount of time?

    I wonder why Funcom felt the need to tell us.

  4. The Dark One says:

    To me it sounds like they wanted to transfer work over to the new Montreal studio because of the local subsidies but didn’t have the cash to continue paying their employees in the more expensive studios before the new place was ready to open.

  5. Adam says:

    Has NCSoft made an actually good MMO yet, instead of one that’s horribly buggy at release, lacking things to do in the middle, a lacklusture “endgame”, and running terribly even on a beast of a system ala Anarchy Online and Age of Conan?
    Because if not why do people have any hopes at all for this new game. Sure, the setting looks interesting but then so did the above games, and its all they really had going for them.

  6. Kakksakkamaddafakka says:

    I’m confused.

    What has NCSoft/Aion to do with anything?

  7. Adam says:

    I apparently got NCSoft and Funcom mixed up in my head, and I don’t seem to be able to edit the comment :(

  8. abhishek says:

    What worries me about this news is whether it affects the development of Dreamfall Chapters. After the unmitigated disaster that is AoC, I am just not interested in another MMO from them.

  9. sexyresults says:

    Ugh the one MMO I had a slight interest in.

  10. bill says:

    The business model for MMOs seems a bit messed up. Launch buggy version. Everyone plays it then leaves. Spend lots of money supporting it for the few that remained. Move on to new MMO and slowly abandon it.

    I don’t know what the answer is.. but the current model clearly doesn’t work (for all except 1 or 2).

    Maybe a “spread the invite” style rolling “paying beta”? Or maybe a combined membership that allows use of all games? That way “early-adopters” who quit conan before it got polished might sigh up for secret world, then head over to conan again while they wait for secret world to be finished.

  11. the affront says:

    bill: How about making a somewhat unique MMO with genuine niche appeal instead of, when it comes down to it, another boring clone anyone could live without, and then STICKING WITH IT a few years even if the launch crashes and burns and the game sucks (because, you know, actual belief in your product instead of just seeing it as another cash cow to be exploited short-term), instead of just going “ah screw it, we’ll just siphon the most possible money off those damn fools stupid enough to stay with this buggy mess while on 10% of the original development/patch budget to cut costs and slowly let it die”?

    Kind of like CCP did with Eve. Because that was complete shit for the first year or so, too, and most others publishers/devs would have just dropped it like hot coals.

    But, yeah, like that will happen any time in the near future again, with the current “hype, pump & dump – MMO style” release schemes….

    • bill says:

      nah. I don’t buy it. Quality or originality aren’t the over-riding factors in MMO success or failure. Numerous good and original MMOs have crashed and burned.

      The main problem seems to be content. Due to costs it’s almost impossible to launch an MMO with enough content… it has to be added later. But most MMO “early adopters” are power players who burn through the content so quickly that they get bored and quit after a month or two.
      Which means the devs are left toiling away making content that’ll be seen by very few people.

      I think the problem might simply be that there aren’t enough “chilled out” MMO players to support more than 1 or 2 games. The power players flit from game to game, burning through content… but the rest just hang out on WoW.

      Either that or you just need enough starting capital and time to make an almost complete MMO at launch… but that limits the field to very few companies.

  12. joben says:

    AoC is actually pretty good now. Most of the problems have been fixed, and it’s simply just great fun.

    It’s a shame Funcom released it in the state that it was, and it’s more of a shame that people are simply not willing to give it another chance, and insist on having this ‘crap MMO’ image of it stuck in their heads.

    I’m willing to bet that many of the people that bad-mouth it either haven’t played it recently, or haven’t played it at all.

    PS. If there’s something the game doesn’t seem to lack now, it’s things to do… plenty of quests for all levels, and a lot of great-looking environments with some really awesome music.

    • KikiJiki says:

      The problem I (and I suspect I may not be the only one) had with AoC was not the launch, not the lack of endgame content, nor the grindyness of the midsection of the game.

      No, the problem I had was Funcom’s completely arse over tit management of it post launch that resulted in some of the worst (and I sincerely mean that) design choices/bugfixes I’ve ever seen in any game.

      The sad thing is that at launch it was a passable MMO, post launch Funcom turned it into the crap game that I remember.

  13. Rei Onryou says:

    Someone throw some money their way. The Secret World must see the light of day!

  14. DK says:

    Excuse for why Secret World is going to suck spotted.

  15. Tei says:

    Well.. Age of Conan was build by people with a problem with “control”. The developer of that game want to control the experience. Is not a world where you live, but something like a table where you have to follow unwritten and written developper laws.

    This has two sides. On the general way, the game is ONE long path. You can move back, and fort, but theres not much room for… you know 2D movement. The designers want yo to play in Area A at level X, so you can’t be a player with level Y in that area. The designers want you to follow the path (for 8888 million times), not to climb mountains.
    Hence,.. invisible walls where added to stop people from climbin mountains, shorcut long and lame paths, force people on the 1D design of AoC.

    Why Age of Conan is a 1D (one dimension) game? because the designers want total control over the experience, and give none to the player. I think this a personal problem of the devs, and I am like … I want.. I want to say are a bunch of “control freaks”.

    The problem with a 1D game is that it has a end. You complete the line, and theres nothing else to do. Much like Hellgate London (that has already closed his doors) totally linear design is cool, till the moment you “win”, and the game instantly dies.

    By the moment the players enter the last map (THE) keshata, players are fatigued and bored by the 1D design. Any attemp to PLAY the games is broken.

    Breaking the game more, adding more invisible walls, is higuer on the dev’s priority of this devs than fixing bugs.

    Age of Conan is a long Golden Axe level, not a MMORPG game. Its still alive (not like Hellgate London) because others redeaming features like excellent start area, excellent graphics, excellent feelings, some pro-groups dungeons, etc.

    It will become a very good MMO, if his devs relaxe his “zeal” to control the players, and stop then reinvent the game. Oh.. and add something more than “optional paths”, a full 2D design.

    • Kakksakkamaddafakka says:

      It looks like people have problems understanding how a big developer like Funcom works.

      This isn’t the AoC team. It’s Ragnar Tørnquist, who has been the driving force behind the TLJ series, and a lot of the Dreamfall team with additions made from the AoC team and otherwise.

      You can’t simply say that Funcom IS this and that. It’s a huge company, with a lot of people going out and in all the time, with a bunch of different designers and clicks around them.

      Who cares if AoC wasn’t stellar, that pretty much has nothing to do with TSW.

  16. Swanny says:

    What I believe Funcom needed to do was put the effort from AoC into Anarchy Online.
    Except for Eve Online, I think there are no great sci-fi mmo’s.
    AO had the potential to have that niche, to get players who are sick of bats and elves and orcs.
    It needed a major graphics overhaul, though, probably some accessibility improvements, amd major bug fixes.
    Last i was in, AO was still running very poorly on newer ATI cards.
    Instead of building their foundation, – ‘Let’s do another fantasy MMO!’
    I think Funcom fumbled bigtime, and I do not think they will recover.

  17. Nate says:

    NC Soft is tied to games like Lineage, Guild Wars, Aion…etc, so yeah I’d say they’ve been able to do pretty ell on games (more so in asia than NA/).

    Funcom is not tied to Nc Soft in any way though.

  18. abercrombie says:

    The idea of this game interests me – it’s just the piss-poor interface and apparently completely passive AI that turn me off