Bleh: Secret World Declares War On Your Facebook Wall

By Nathan Grayson on April 19th, 2012 at 9:30 am.

oops i just blacked out from rage and now i'm awake and everyone's dead

Ugh. I feel dirty. I just took The Secret World’s newly launched “social tool” The Secret War for a spin, and it forced me to do some things even a childhood of grisly newfangled murder simulators never prepared me for. It is, in short, everything you hate about Facebook gaming – except that’s the whole game. I’m feeling a bit ranty right now, so join me after the break for the gory details. Oh, and consider brewing up some coffee so you can spit-take it in enraged astonishment.

OK, so the goal of the “game” is to accrue points en route to unlocking weapons and other trinkets in The Secret World once it launches. If those virtual carrots on a stick aren’t enough of a reason for you to bite, Funcom’s also offering beta access, a fully paid trip to its studio in Montreal, and the chance to get your name in the game (no, not as a playable character; everyone on earth can do that) – but on a random draw basis.

So then, how do you earn points? Why, by pestering everyone you know with incessant Facebook posts, of course. See, you have to deploy “agents” in different territories and increase your secret society’s influence, and that’s where your friends (soon to be bitter, potentially murderous enemies) come in. In order to add them to your stable – in effect, turning them into currency – you have to spread “propaganda,” which of course takes the form of Facebook wall posts and messages. If your friends click – for instance, say, because their cat steps on their mouse or they are afflicted with temporary blindness – then you’ve succeeded. On some level. I guess.

But wait, there’s a catch! You can only use an agent once per hour, so clearly, you need to invite more and more and more. Otherwise, how will you ever unlock that incredibly existent non-faction T-shirt you’re so thrilled abou– OK, I can’t finish that sentence. Has anyone ever been thrilled about an in-game T-shirt? In the whole of this brief yet increasingly dark period in human history? Why is this a thing?

This is terrible. For a game all about subterfuge and underground politics, the message here is unbelievably in-your-face. “Want some largely inconsequential stuff? Then advertise for us. For hours. Repeatedly.” This is gross. It’s not even a game.

My first mission was – I kid you not – to “like” The Secret World on Facebook. In retrospect, I find that a bit amusing, seeing as I like it a whole lot less now.

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60 Comments »

  1. Elmokki says:

    Secret World has such interesting idea for the game world. Sadly apparently about everything (well, no classes is cool I suppose) else about the game seems like a huge dissapointment.

    • DuddBudda says:

      how paradoxical, the secret world has no interest in keeping itself secret

      I know the RPS community relishes a good pune, but this sad news has sapped my will, son

  2. AmateurScience says:

    This is everything that’s wrong with transgaming at the moment. Great concept, currently reduced to constant requests to spam friends, family and colleagues with inane crap they care not a jot for.

    • thegooseking says:

      The message “social gaming needs to stop being antisocial” seems apt. What social gaming needs, I think, is some form of matchmaking. Instead of spamming your increasingly annoyed friends and colleagues, it should say, “Hey, this other person is also interested in this game: that’s something you have in common, so maybe you should get in touch.” Of course, this means that you don’t get new traffic from people reluctantly responding to spam, but if the game is fun and non-spammy – if it’s social rather than antisocial – people will recommend it to their friends anyway, and since the barrier to entry is so low (compared to other genuinely social games like MMOs), I think people would be more likely to respond to a sincere recommendation than spam. Social games need to make us feel good, not guilty, about sharing them, and we’ll share them more.

      This would be especially useful for something like The Secret World, the status of which as an MMO means it’s very community-driven, and getting to know people in the game before the game is even released could be hugely beneficial.

    • marach says:

      Here’s the best part FB just made them take it down because it was causing too much spam for their system to handle!

  3. Qwallath says:

    Yes, it’s a horrible example of FB ‘gaming’, but I expected it to be.
    However, the sociological side-effects are interesting:

    -FB-groups for each of the factions are quickly popping up and forming coordinated guilds and over-arching societies.
    -Even more interesting: look at the world map. Why are certain factions more influential in certain areas of the world? The cultural implications of this – player-faction affinity – seem interesting.

    Dragon is biggest in Asia, obviously, but why is America largely Illuminati-controlled, and Europe/North-Africa the stronghold for Templars? The patterns shift slightly, but this has been the general picture since I joined yesterday, and I fascinates me.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      I imagine America has an affinity for the Illuminati because they love a good conspiracy theory (JFK, 9/11, heaven knows how many about the economy and world domination). I think it’s a cultural tendency of some parts of America to narrativise complex political events into something more easily digestable with a distinct goody, baddy and a dramatic twist (e.g. 9/11 was an attack by an evil secret government organisation). CNN and Fox feature that sort of reductionist conceptualisation of events every day.

      • Qwallath says:

        Perhaps so. But at least some folks – like me – will have taken the affinity test or read the faction descriptions to decide which faction they belong, not just chosen one on association only. All of them are to a certain degree conspiracies, like the whole gameworld, though perhaps the Illuminati have the advantage of a ringing name.

        That said, it might just be some inbuilt mechanic as well. The current map division is centered roughly around the traditional home bases as described in the game background. Illuminati=US, Templar=EU, Dragon=Asia. Perhaps there are some point bonuses in place for for factions acting on familiar soil.

        Or there may not be, in which case it is still interesting why the divisions are as they are. Probably impossible to come up with a proper and founded explanation, but still. I think that’s the fun part about TSW so far. The FB mechanic… well… others have said it already ;-)

      • Blackcompany says:

        “CNN and Fox feature that sort of reductionist conceptualisation of events every day.”

        Well said, and perfectly true. Both sites try and goad Americans into reducing the other party’s beliefs, arguments and positions into simply “the wrong side/bad guy” without consideration for possible middle ground or compromise. Very reductionist approach indeed.

        And many Americans – myself included, once upon a time – fall for the hype and hyperbole. I have since begun to look to international channels for news. Also, to read both sides and search out the grains of truth. Which usually lie somewhere in the middle.

        But yes, by and large us Yanks do love a good conspiracy theory, and our reductionist conservative vs. liberal back and forth. Shame, really, because I have a feeling a lot of good arguments – from both sides – get lost in the reductions.

        • Craig Stern says:

          Truth isn’t a spatial property: you don’t reach it by splitting the difference between two arbitrary ideological standpoints. (Sorry: I just hate when people say the truth lies “in the middle.”)

          • Arglebargle says:

            Yeah, the mid point of the extremist blather is often just average blather.

    • Lagwolf says:

      While having a spot of tea I watched the intrusion of various factions across the world. The ebb & flow on the map was quite fascinating it has to be said. Yes, of course, I agree that the FB spam your friends is noxious.

  4. whoiscraig says:

    Forced? Are you kidding me?

    Everything about The Secret War is voluntary. If you don’t like it, don’t play it.

    Nobody is holding a gun to your head forcing you to spam your friends.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      I presume Nathan was being dramatic, but the whole point is that the ‘game’ was nothing but an exploitative economic exchange of trivial non-items for marketing. There is no fun to be found behind bettering yourself or mastering certain mechanics, just a pitiful carrot and stick that some poor people will be duped into wasting their time chasing after.

      • whoiscraig says:

        “an exploitative economic exchange of trivial non-items for marketing”

        That’s the very definition of a facebook game. I don’t know why everyone sounds so surprised.

        TSW isn’t the first video game to have a crappy facebook game associated with it, and it won’t be the last.

        • Innovacious says:

          i really don’t understand the “we cant dislike it or complain because other people do it” mentality some people have.

          • whoiscraig says:

            I never said you can’t complain or dislike it. I’m just disagreeing with his use of the word ‘forced’ because nothing in TSWar is forced at all.

          • Amun says:

            So you’re saying that the game doesn’t force you to do anything?

    • Innovacious says:

      He didn’t say he was forced to play the game. He said to play the game you are forced to do these things. Like, if you play a first person shooter you are forced to shoot people, because that’s what the whole thing is about. He was hoping there was something else to it, but there isn’t.

      • f1x says:

        On the other hand, lets not be too naive about it,
        as much as you are not forced in the literal sense of the word its obvious the facebook part is intended to be part of the whole experience of TSW, you are suppose to participate in it if you intend to play the game, thats why there is actually some bonuses, even if they are lame

        so yes, somehow you are “forced” to cope with the disastrous facebook part as it is part of the whole game-experience

    • mondomau says:

      ‘Forced’ in the context of playing the game. But well done on blending inaccurate pedantry and ironic melodrama in one post.

  5. f1x says:

    What can be worse than games inside Facebook? Games that are actually based on Facebook “mechanics” itself, “click the Like button to inflict 2 points of damage to your enemy”

    • stahlwerk says:

      …and in the process invalidating the whole facebook social graph data you wanted to generate in the first place. If the user’s incentive to click the like button is not expression of said “like” but a consumerist reflex (“click here to get shiny”), you may as well label it “Baah!”, but then don’t be suprised if all you get is a baaing flock of sheep instead of meaningful social networks.

      On a related note:
      http://www.xkcd.com/1013/

    • sneetch says:

      Yeah, but that’s not very likely is it, f1x? The Like button would heal people. You can’t say “I’m gonna Like you back to the stone-age!”

      • f1x says:

        You are right of course, in a proper facebook metagame, the Like button would grant +2 selfstem points :p

        but what I meant it is kind of that the Like button in Facebook with what this game does and what people does, its becoming kind of pointless,
        you know, its like when someone posts on facebook “my dog died” and his friend “Likes” the post, you are not supposed to like it but its just that the like button has become the shortest-brainless way to say “yes I saw your post”
        it is a button that had a value at some point but it has become merily a mindless button, as Facebook is a mindless bunch of people creeping around instead of what it was (or was meant to be) a tool to make friends or get in touch with your friends

      • HermitUK says:

        I’m in trouble, please recommend this message!

  6. BobsLawnService says:

    This would be an interesting concept if it used a faux Facebook that only existed in-game.

  7. Cryo says:

    Watching Funcom get mired in this MMO business is like watching a friend drinking himself into an early grave. It should hit rehab, get its life back on track and finish TLJ trilogy.

    • Belua says:

      Finish the TLJ trilogy? Oh, how long I have waited for this… But I’ve lost all hope. I think it’s time we grit our teeth and admit that this will not happen unless we merge with a fantasy world or something.

      • Prime says:

        Yeah…I think I’m just gonna bin that hope alongside Elite IV, Half Life 3, Firefly Season 2, any chance of seeing Star Wars return to its pre-Phantom Menace glory….

    • Apples says:

      It’s painful that they went straight from the best game genre for narratives to two of the worst genres for narrative. I understand that they want to TRY doing narrative in an MMO but it will be impossible when MMOs attract people who just want to grind, name-call and skip quest texts, and when their existing playerbase will be the type of people who like spamming people to collect pointless images. Arghhh.

  8. HexagonalBolts says:

    Sod this and everything like it.

  9. caddyB says:

    I’m glad I don’t do facebook

  10. Kasper says:

    I’d like to see a game that actually uses the Facebook integration in a thoughtful way. Imagine if the gameworld in a post-apocalyptic game was populated with NPCs that were actually your friends from Facebook, and if the game used all the other things it knows about you, via Facebook, to create a more personal and customzied experience. The information is there – it just needs to be put into the hands of a good game designer.

    “Zombie attacks Your Mom for 25 damage. Your Mom dies.”

    :(

  11. Jimmy Z says:

    Huh? Someone actually still pays attention to this turd after they announced their incredibly moronic payment scheme? Seriously, monthly fees that get you jack shit and then micro payments on top of that? On what fucking planet does that make any sense?

  12. Morlock says:

    Am I the only one who thinks this is brilliant? I can’t stand Facebook (despite having an account), and to me this is pure subversion – a game about exposing the sinister and cynical nature of many other Facebook apps.

    • Apples says:

      The fact that the task to Like the page is straight-up called “Propaganda” is pretty funny but I don’t think they’re being as clever as all that. And even if they were going for that, people are going to take it seriously because it’s impossible to parody social games. They’re already so bad and manipulative that it’s impossible to make anything that all people will understand is satirical, let alone one with as high production values as this one. Remember Cow Clicker?

    • PositivelyGreg says:

      You know… I really want to give Funcom the benefit of the doubt, but now all I can think about is how much cooler this Facebook game would have been if it truly were about peeling back layers of Facebook to reveal the devious mechanisms of the underlying massive conspiratorial secret societies… and then peeling back THOSE layers to expose the insane otherworldly powers that drive it all, to the point where everything rides on a tenuous connection to the human agents via the last tattered shreds of Facebook, now serving symbolically as the final fragile strands of familiar society. Meanwhile your posts to your friends look increasingly insane and paranoid as you try to expose them to truths that are all too obvious but that they refuse to see.

      I’m sure that was version 1 of the design doc.

    • Ultra-Humanite says:

      It’s not like that at all. How is this exposing the cynical nature of other Facebook games and apps? By doing the exact same thing? It’s not like it’s tongue-in-cheek self-referential here, it’s exactly the same as all those other idiotic Facebook games. That’s not brilliant even in the slightest.

  13. Zeewolf says:

    Funcom = Rubbish.

    • Vorphalack says:

      The Longest Journey was genuinly brilliant. Despite the unusually high fail rate at Funcom, you can’t take that one away from them.

  14. It's not me it's you says:

    Oh my. If I were any less of a gentleman my entire response would consist of “FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS”. Now it instead consists of that basic message and this surrounding fluff.

  15. Melf_Himself says:

    Funcom: All talk and no implementation since 2006.

  16. bascule42 says:

    I put my face on a Sims shirt once…that was quite fascinating for a minute.

  17. Dog Pants says:

    This could be redeemed if the t-shirt said “I alienated people on Facebook and all I got was this lousy t-shit”.

  18. RegisteredUser says:

    I do so hope the guy who wins the studio visit punches them in the face for this.

  19. PoulWrist says:

    FC’s marketing ain’t too bright always.

  20. diamondmx says:

    Facebook needsa “Shite” button right next the existing button. With an appropriate icon, even.

  21. Rane2k says:

    “Has anyone ever been thrilled about an in-game T-shirt?”

    T-Shirt are the new hats :-)

  22. Tei says:

    Spam in any form is bad and people adapt to avoit it. The only thing that stop people on facebook from getting inmune to it its facebook changing the rules often… Its like facebook want us to suffer that crap. The more debious thing about this type of spam is that use friends and ex-girlfriends as vehicle.

  23. Shooop says:

    This is exactly why I don’t have and never will use Facebook.

  24. FataMorganaPseudonym says:

    Why do I smell the stink of EA all over this? They are co-publishing The Secret World with Funcom (for some unfathomable reason), after all…

  25. codename_bloodfist says:

    Finally, we have coloured Europe red!

    Союз нерушимый республик свободных
    Сплотила навеки Великая Русь.
    Да здравствует созданный волей народов
    Единый, могучий Советский Союз!

  26. Tei says:

    http://massively.joystiq.com/2012/04/19/funcom-temporarily-takes-the-secret-world-facebook-tie-in-offlin/

    Well.

    “The Secret War is currently not available.

    Due to significantly higher activity levels than expected on recruitment and sharing, we have been asked by Facebook to make some necessary improvements and adjustments. The experience will be available again once these changes have been made.

    We apologize for the inconvenience!”

  27. Sarkhan Lol says:

    It was a cool idea but they fucked up the execution tremendously.

    Actually you can apply that to most things Funcom have done.