Secret World Sells 200K, ‘Smaller’ Funcom Games Ahead

By Nathan Grayson on August 29th, 2012 at 11:00 am.

'Well, at least *someone* cares enough to kill me.'

Well, I can’t say we didn’t see this coming, but I’d always really, really hoped some cosmic force would swoop in and reshape reality for the sole purpose of avoiding it. In this bold new world, Ragnar Tornquist would be the brains behind every MMO storyline, and we’d live happily ever after in worlds that couldn’t unironically apply the phrase “happily ever after.” But alas, The Secret World has had some pretty serious trouble gaining ground, and that’s taken a toll. First, layoffs and delays struck in fairly short order, and now Funcom’s headed for a very different future than the one it originally planned.

Funcom’s Q2 2012 financial report outlined The Secret World’s various ups and downs, with the biggest standout being this bit:

“More than 200,000 players have purchased The Secret World and the Company is about to launch several initiatives to acquire more players.”

Which, in the grand scheme of MMOs – especially those of the subscription-based variety – is a frighteningly low number. For comparison’s sake, Age of Conan reached 700,000 subscribers in its first few months, and I imagine Funcom expected at least as strong of a performance from TSW.

Elsewhere, it also confirmed the rumored 50 percent layoff stat, stating “The Company is currently undergoing large cost cutting measures including reduction of around 50% of its staff in all offices. The company is working towards ensuring that all of the live games as well as the company are cash-flow positive.”

I was going to make a joke about the failure to capitalize “Company” a second time and the apparent pink slip treatment of Financial Results Writer Person, but then I just got really, really sad. On the upside, Funcom continues to stress that Secret World’s current player base is, if nothing else, very dedicated – though it feels that release date announcements for both Guild Wars 2 and Mists of Pandaria sucked away quite a bit of TSW’s precious, precious monetary lifeblood.

So then, what’s next? Well, in the immediate future, releasing more Secret World issues. But, beyond that, probably don’t expect quite as large a helping of “massive” in your “multiplayer online game” next time around.

“Funcom will in the future direct its resources towards smaller, more focused online games… The Company will concentrate its new development on more focused, systems-driven games that have a high degree of community and player interaction. These games require less time and development cost to bring to market.”

The report also mentions the upcoming Lego Minifigure possibly-social game in close proximity, and notes that Funcom is “working actively on securing other similar opportunities.”

So that’s quite the change of pace for the Compa– ahem, company that fairly infamously delivered dark, sexy exposition by way of a sex position. Granted, the focus on “smaller” games isn’t anythin bad. Even before all this financial ugliness, Ragnar told me that he’d “love” to go back to making single-player, story-focused games once his time on TSW is up. Dare we hope for Dreamfall Chapters? I probably shouldn’t, given the whole “online” part of the smaller game announcement, but who knows? If nothing else, I’m definitely rooting for all who remain to strain a little sunshine from all this doom and gloom. And we wish our absolute best to those who are losing their jobs – may they quickly find work.

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100 Comments »

  1. Flukie says:

    “launch several initiatives”

    Wonder what that could be….

    But yes seriously, why would any company try to launch a subscription based MMO that isn’t blizzard right now, it seems silly since most MMO players know that small MMO’s like this will lose it in months so people won’t pick it up straight away.

    GW2 seems a MMO built to compete with the best from the get go taking elements from new F2P games and mixing them with a well designed and polished game.

    • Premium User Badge El_MUERkO says:

      Agreed, it’s a self fulfilling prophesy and only something massive will break the cycle, even a Bioware produced Star Wars game, with the reputation of the former and I.P. popularity of the latter, is dying a death.

      The quicker they go free to play the quicker they can recoup some of their money.

      • 2helix4u says:

        I really liked the game and, even though its inscrutable nature meant I stopped playing quite quickly, in my opinion (as someone who compulsively bought every MMO since WoW on launch) its the best of the non-WoW subscription MMOs (Apart from EVE I could be convinced to concede) and is the only one I subscribed to for beyond the first month, since I wanted to support them.

        What was immediately weird though was the fact that there were already F2P elements on top of the initial purchase and subscription service. If Guild Wars 2′s gem store is them having their cake and eating it too then Secret World was attempting to eat and seize all the cakes simultaneously.
        It put me off a bit frankly, since to me it seemed like they were trying to churn in as much cash as possible before the thing inevitably died.
        I don’t know if thats the case or not, but Funcom have a bad track record with MMOs so I can’t rule it out.

        Add this game to the pile of “wish they’d made a single player/coop game” along with KotOR 3.

    • Katar says:

      I completely ignored the game once they said that the subscription was going to £12.99 per month (which is over $20). I’m okay with playing a game with a subscription fee, but I’m not paying £4 more then the £8.99 most MMOs I’ve played have set the price at.

      They cut the price down to £11.49 but that is still far too high for me to bother spending £35-£40 on the game and then that price every month. The price might be closer to the Euro price but both are far too high compared to the US price. It’s insanity to launch at those prices given the current trend towards F2P in the MMO market.

    • MaXimillion says:

      Having taken part in the beta but not bought the game, they recently sent me a mail with a poll asking what they should change to get me to buy it. So that’s one of the initiatives, I guess.

      • 23YearOldBedWetr says:

        The beta is what killed it for me. I was really stoked about the game because it sounded incredible and couldn’t wait to get in the beta. But wow, what a turn off. The Twilight-esque teeny-drama characters were so lame, everything was way too easy, and the story had no hook at all in the beginning: ta-da, you have magic powers!

        I suppose that the story must’ve gotten much better from all the hype I’ve heard since launch but after playing the first few hours I had no hope.

    • Bobzer says:

      Guild Wars does their cash shop frighteningly well, I’ve never seen people so happy to get chests that they have to pay to unlock as loot. (although admittedly black lion keys also drop as rare loot too…). That said I’ve already spent €20 on gems.

      • 2helix4u says:

        I’m not buying any gems for a while, with LoL in my life I literally cannot afford two games with F2P mechanics.
        Its fucking genius “Oh this game is free, and its awesome, this is really good value” *Spends untold amount of money in points*

      • jacobvandy says:

        Seriously? The exchange rate for gems right now is so cheap, I’d feel ripped off spending actual cash. $10 gets you 800 gems (I hope you get more than 1600 for your €20), but I turned in a little over 1g and got 300… That means spending $10 would only get me 2.5g, and it isn’t worth it based on how much money you can earn just by playing. Obviously people are doing that, though — spending real cash to get gems to exchange for gold — which is why gems are so cheap, but I think that has to do with the Trading Post being down. People want money now, while they hold on to their stash of items to put up for sale later.

    • KDR_11k says:

      The biggest issue they’re facing is that they basically made a singleplayer game that they’re charging a monthly fee for. When I played it I had the chat window hidden to avoid seeing any spoilers for the investigation missions, I don’t feel like I missed out on anything by never interacting with any other player. Predictably I did not renew after my free 30 days were over. The 25€ I paid for the game at retail may have been a bit much for what I got out of it as well. But anyway, beyond the lack of interaction the biggest issue was the constant monster attacks, you had to sneak around carefully if you didn’t want to fight a monster that’s roughly as strong as you (i.e. leaves you at very little health after the fight is over) every five steps. If you run and forget about stealth… well, you’ll have a deadly force pursuing you quite quickly. Since quests give about 1000x as much XP as killing monsters there’s no real reason to engage in combat if you can avoid it.

  2. Chizu says:

    Its a shame, I still want to pick this game up when I can. Hopefully before any sign of a player base disolves entirely (unless of course they can do something to pick up more players)… It actually being purchasable on steam here would help.

    That said, if they do start refocusing, I really would like to see them doing something about Dreamfall chapters. Smaller episodic titles may be a better route since honestly funcom seem to fall short alot lately. It seems to work for telltale.

    • Torn says:

      They should have made it an episodic story game (like The Walking Dead) with online coop features like Borderlands has. No large server cost, yet still keeping a fun coop component.

      • The Random One says:

        An episodic action game with online coop? That’s a pretty brilliant idea, actually…

        • Lagwolf says:

          Yeah that sounds very interesting indeed.

        • marcusfell says:

          I believe Halo 4 has something going like that, where an additional multiplayer campaign will be created and released episodically after the inital launch.

  3. mentor07825 says:

    This is the problem right here though. A lot of people get burned by MMOs so they wait six months to see how a monthly subscription one has fared, and then make the purchase. Like I did.

    Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the game through the beta and the Free Open Weekend, but I asked in the RPS forums how long do they think this will last.

    It really is a shame, and I hope that the peopel laid off find work quickly.

    • varangian says:

      The basic model seems out of date really, and doesn’t fit with quite a lot of people’s recreational patterns. I, for instance, often buy games in a little cluster – Steam sales account for some of that – then play one for a few weeks for an hour or so a night. Got halfway through Dead Island and didn’t get bored – it’s quite good fun – but felt like a change of pace and environment. So for the last couple of weeks it’s been Skyrim. I probably won’t finish that either before I try out something else. I’ll rotate through a series of games until I finish them, bringing in new ones as I do. Online game like TF2 work for me, I bought it with the Orange Box and play for a while then may put it aside for a couple of months. However good the look, and TSW ticked many of the boxes for me as I’m a longtime Lovecraft reader, I’d just never go for a monthly subscription model as I won’t be dedicated enough to get value for money from it.

      • mentor07825 says:

        And that’s fair enough. I was a long time Eve Online player, played several other MMOs but they just didn’t grab me. Star Wars did for awhile, but then my sixty bucks went down the drain, along with Star Trek Online, when they both went F2P.

        I just don’t want to waste my money so soon. And I do a bit of the same. Currently going through my back catalogue and won’t get sequels unless I beat them. Uninstalled Skyrim because I pretty much did everything I wanted to do, and going through Dead Island myself as well.

  4. f1x says:

    As much as it sadens me to see companys firing people, it was obvious,
    With the state of MMOs today it was hard for a game like TSW to have a big success and even less survive, the monthly fee model seems to be a big problem at the moment for new games, because I think thats the biggest problem with TSW (and the combat/animation which are awful)

    Regarding Dreamfall and singleplayer games, that would seem like the smart thing to do at the moment, something EP based with a competitive price like Telltalle games could have a good success

    • Shivoa says:

      Agreed.

      10 years after it was sane to charge a monthly fee for server farms to enable lots of players to play together with persistent worlds and statistics (with minimised cheating / tracking + support to catch and reverse cheats/hacks and GMs to provide personal support to live players) and now every online game has a persistent character option and the cost of server computing has dropped to the point where a monthly fee seems like a stretch (especially with so many polished and established option in both subscription and F2P available). TSW certainly wasn’t helped by the boxed sticker price (do publishers really think the PC is a market where a SRP of £40-50 will stick? Especially for a game with am monthly fee?) and competition (existing F2P, GW2 coming with no fee).

      It’s sad to see jobs being lost but I just can’t see how you justify a game when it costs £40-50 on day one and then £140/years for ongoing access to the servers. Every year that more services move ‘to the cloud’ at a low cost and F2P grows erodes the idea that MMOs need to charge so much monthly to retain their servers and customer support (which I’ve certainly noticed has gone from live GMs to being in a queue to get your request replied to within hours in subscription games – lessening the value I feel my monthly fee pays for). Hopefully the TSW core team can find some exciting new work to create and aren’t hit too badly if ongoing TSW updates are hard to fund (on only $3m/month in subscription fees – obviously there are ongoing costs and you can’t divide that just as $10k/month/developer to pay for dev staff but you can see how EVE doesn’t worry about similar subscription fees by staying small enough and ignoring WoW numbers).

      • Vander says:

        And you forgot the shop. I pay the box price, then the subscription, and still not have access to all the content in the game? No way i am going to buy that game.

        • Premium User Badge Lars Westergren says:

          The shop is only for cosmetic items like special outfits (and you get plenty of those in game as quest rewards). Don’t know if you count that as content or not.

          • Jumwa says:

            The MTA shop would be perfectly defensible if not for the upfront cost (a high one at that) and the monthly subscription.

            That kind of gross over monetization is what kept me away from it despite initially being very psyched for the game.

        • f1x says:

          Indeed, the in game shop shows that they were afraid of not selling enough already, so they kind of placed something more just in case

          either that or the publisher (EA if im not mistaken) forced them to include it

          but it was definitely not justified considering box price + monthly fee,
          if you check WoW store for example (I’m not saying WoW its a good model to follow) it started with different services (server transfer mostly) and physical stuff (tshirts, mugs) etc, which didnt affect the game play itself, not that I justify paying 20 bucks for a server transfer but you get my point
          (even tho now they sells mounts and all so they are going same down-path)

      • Eddy9000 says:

        Just to +1 this. I was 100% going to buy this as my good friend is a voice actor in a major role on te game, but £40 to purchase the game and then a substantial subscription on top just wasn’t worth it as I’m not a regular MMO player and wasn’t willing to risk that amount of money. The addition of a shop even for cosmetic items in a paid for game is just an extra bit of rot.

        Funny story, my friend voice acted a pirate quest giver in Conan and was told to do an Indian accent, then the character he voiced was given a White skinned with red hair model. There’s a clip on YouTube with half the comments saying ‘that’s the worst Irish accent I’ve ever heard’.

  5. J_C says:

    1) TSW is great, apart from EVE Online, this is the only MMO that is interesting enough for me to play it. F*ck the haters.
    2) “Funcom will in the future direct its resources towards smaller, more focused online games…” – WHY? WHY Funcom? Why do you insist on making online games? I just can’t get my head around this. You are amazing storytellers, you can make interesting game systems, yet you make online games, when you would have brighter future in the single player scene.

    • Torn says:

      Coop is pretty important, I think.

      Would be interesting to see a ‘single player story’ type deal (i.e. choices matter) that doesn’t force them to do repeatable MMO quests, but still allow for online coop with friends (you host your own server and invite people).

    • diamondmx says:

      I think if Funcom had put half the good ideas they have here into making a single player or small group multiplayer game (1-6 players), without the MMO trappings and tropes (like a crap combat system designed for excessively laggy situations) – this would have been phenomenal.

      The game has some really amazing ideas. The puzzles, and the story are definitely great, but you have to deal with an MMO’s crappy combat system and the immersion-breaking other players, and the simplified kill-stuff quests. The sort of things that take a good story and neat ideas, and kill it dead.

      I wanted to love TSW, but I just can’t.

      Developers need to realise that no MMO is going to break serious ground in the market unless it does something that has not ever been done before with the CORE mechanics. And as nice as it is, the story in an MMO is not the core mechanic, if you have to spend an hour of killing predictable, dull mobs for every 5-10 minutes of story. If you have to do 6 quests involving shooting zombies in the head with 1-8 quickbar combat, before you get to do one of the cool puzzle quests.

      TSW was better, it just was not better *enough*, and that is a damned shame.

      • HabeasCorpus says:

        By simplified kill stuff quests, are you talking about shooting flares at packs of zombies so the redneck in the lighthouse can snipe them? no no no you MUST be talking about how the remainder of those zombies the npc doesnt kill with your help can be lured to their final death off Suicide Bluff (all part of the same simple quest and many more just as intuitive if not better). Bottom line, TSW was not appreciated for its stand against modern MMO’s as much as it should have. It was not advertised to be anything more than everything it risked to be. Please explain how other players being in the game world breaks immersion when the underlying story always points you in the direction of other players in a way that makes perfect sense. The enemy AI is responsive, which is more than can be said for many MMO games. Defending against enemies in this game leaves the player with choices they must make in order to survive (which do not include mashing a number key), and even in death they there are things to be done. Could they polish the combat to be more visually stimulating? maybe, but it doesnt need much. Do they need to overhaul the core combat mechanics? absolutely not. If they turned this game into the premier hack n slash Vindictus clone then the transition from intillectually stimulating gameplay and combat would be so jarring that people would lose interest faster than they are now. Im starting to see how players are getting turned off, because they play it like all the other MMO’s even though its not ment to be played like that. Despite the very large, shiney, colorful sign TSW shows them that says “WE ARENT LIKE OTHER MMO’S” it seems nobody pays attention to what that really means no matter how obvious. This failure is neither Funcom’s and the player’s fault however, its the fault of a gaming industry that looks at numbers instead of ideas and deploys repetitive cheap gameplay in larger than asked for quantities as the next big thing they did before. If this current mindset existed 25 years ago Final Fantasy wouldve never existed. (seriously look at how FF got started and you will see shocking similarities between Square and Funcom)

  6. kurtensen says:

    Why not focus on single player games, you know, something they’re good at? All their projects have been kind of a flop since they jumped to the MMO-wagon

    • diamondmx says:

      Anarchy Online was actually really quite good for it’s time.

      (Not forgetting that it was a buggy piece of crap – but it was quite fun)

    • Lagwolf says:

      Well I think this game was a flop because the combat was awful even for an MMO. People expect better combat these days from their new games.

  7. frightlever says:

    Let’s not forget Funcom is the distributor for “Bloodline Champions” which is a smaller scale MOBA. Perhaps that’s what they’re thinking.

    Also, TLJ is heading to iOS, if it isn’t already there. If nothing else that could be a nice cash-injection for little extra investment. Probably a good home for Dreamfall Chapters on iOS as well. And PC natch.

    • povu says:

      That’s good to hear. We really need a Dreamfall sequel to wrap the story up.

  8. Soulstrider says:

    I knew this mmo was unfortunately going to flop, despite the brilliant setting and storyline, having that type of combat and being subcription based this days is a terrible idea, That said if it goes F2P I will get it asap,since I tried the beta and loved it but can’t afford paying for a subscription.

    Hopefully one of this new initiatives is Dreamfall Chapters.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      It’s not just the subscription. It’s the whole shebang: pay up front, pay the subscription, pay for microtransactions. That’s awful, really. I don’t think anybody but Blizzard can get away with that.

      • mouton says:

        And even Blizzard won’t be able to continue/repeat it too much. Then again, Blizz fans can be quite, shall we say, trusting.

  9. Premium User Badge Lambchops says:

    Another voice here in the “just focus on single player” camp but that is pure selfishness on my part because I want Dreamfall Chapters!

    That said, how well did TLJ/Dreamfall sell? I’d imagine solidly enough but not spectacularly. From a business perspective sole focus on such things may not be the best bet?

    • Soulstrider says:

      I believe they were fairly sucessfull. Not AAA game sucessfull but it was probably one of the most sold game of Funcom.

    • Mollusc Infestation says:

      I wonder what the response would be like if they started a Dreamfall Chapters Kickstarter. Hmm.

      • adam.jutzi says:

        The response would be that they can have all of my monies.

    • frightlever says:

      I THINK they sold around half a million copies each.

  10. KikiJiki says:

    The subscription MMO seems to be beset by problems on all sides – poor release quality of the product/erosion of their market by F2P titles and an ageing user base all make it that much harder for a new game to get market traction, and without a good launch they can unfortunately never recover.

    It’s just not as forgiving to launch a product that’s buggy/unfinished/has issues now as it was when WoW or EVE launched, and it’s unfortunate that companies are getting hurt this badly now. That said I think it was extremely foolish for EA/Funcom/etc to even start development on this year’s MMO flops as although the rise of F2P wasn’t an obvious problem, the other issues with launching an MMO were never going to go away.

  11. piecoughed says:

    Enjoyed my time with The Secret World but the thought of signing up to a monthly sub again, and then putting up with that grindy combat to get to the good story bits, makes me shudder.

  12. AngoraFish says:

    I cancelled my sub when GW2 came out. TSW is a good game, but it lacks variety. I got up to Q7 (70% of the leveling) before I unsubbed and didn’t have to team up once (one crappy, optional, ‘dungeon’ in each of the three starter zones and no world events) – so much for the second “M” in MMO. Also, for a game that sells itself around the idea of a massive global conspiracy, locating 95% of the basic content (enough to max out one skill tree and fill up on Q6 gear – 60% of the leveling) on one tiny island in Maine was a huge misjudgement. One crappy island across three large zones is just crazy – why they didn’t use a different city in each zone, and have you flit between them, is a mystery. Still, it was fun enough that I’ll likely be back as as casual player when it goes FTP.

  13. doma says:

    but but…. AO2….. :(

    • diamondmx says:

      I’m with you there, but I don’t think anyone wants them to be doing it yet.
      Not until they, or someone else cracks the MMO mechanics glass ceiling we have at the moment, and lets an MMO dev start doing really innovative stuff.

  14. Premium User Badge Lars Westergren says:

    I love the game, and just paid for another 3 months subscription. Made it to beginning of Egypt so far.

  15. Premium User Badge Bluerps says:

    I just wish they had made TSW a single player game. All the features of the game that interest me (the setting, the stories, the characters, the investigation missions) do not depend on it being multiplayer.

    I would have bought (even preordered) TSW as a single player game. :(

    • Premium User Badge PoulWrist says:

      Yep. A deep role playing game set in a modern setting like that, with a proper world and pacing, not a fucking spam-1-a-lot online game. I never understood why FC continue to try to be all “online”… profit whoring, I guess. I figure they could’ve spent those 6-7 years it took to make TSW.

  16. Azradesh says:

    “Funcom will in the future direct its resources towards smaller, more focused online games”

    No, no, no, NO! Offline games! Please, for the love of all that is good and holy! Offline, single player, story driven adventure.

    • Premium User Badge VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      I concur. I don’t really need the multiplayer feature. But I don’t mind it being there, nor do I particularly mind the online aspect (though I would be against it if it were a purely single player game).

      But the main reason I haven’t dived into TSW yet is because I know I would only be able to play it a couple of days a month (but play over a long period). A monthly subscription makes no kind of sense for me—so I’ve just not played it at all as a result.

  17. Truth says:

    200k, damn, I thought they had more than that.. Look at Guild Wars 2, they had 1 million sales before the game was actually released.

  18. drewski says:

    Stop using dead business models.

  19. kwyjibo says:

    The only people willing to pay a subscription are the World of Warcraft idiots. If Star Wars can’t make a go of it then there’s no way anyone else can.

    Free to play or bust.

    • Premium User Badge Lars Westergren says:

      >The only people willing to pay a subscription are the World of Warcraft idiots.

      Why the need for insults, of WoW players or anyone else? Plenty of people are willing to pay subscriptions for quality content.

      >Free to play or bust.

      In general I’m sceptical of claims that one business model fits all.

    • Jenks says:

      Yes, subs are for idiots. F2P games attract much higher quality players making for extremely enjoyable communities.

      Idiot.

      (To preempt a misguided retort, no, I don’t play WoW)

      • derbefrier says:

        I hope your trolling. But I have a feeling your being completely serious.

        • Premium User Badge jrodman says:

          you…….are
          .you…..are
          ..you…are
          …you.are

          ….you’re

          TADA!

    • f1x says:

      To be honest,
      if I had to pay a subscription to a mmo, it would be for WoW (I would not because after so many years I’m already tired) but its simply still the best, the most complete, the most playable and the most extense in terms of content
      and thats a fact, none of the competitors that “copied” it managed to improve it,
      if there was something actually really better, maybe then people would accept to play a subscription (or probably not because, mmo fatigue is also a fact)

      But understimating what WoW really is, its foolish, (you might like it or not, hate it or love it)

      pd: even if I argue that subscription model is obsolete for the times that are running, I still believe that a new “WoW”, a new mmo that really acomplished what WoW did when it released could survive with a subscription model

  20. Jorum says:

    I like TSW, but cancelled my subscription yesterday as I wasn’t able to play enough to justify £12 a month.

  21. mrmalodor says:

    This is what happens when you try to conquer an already over-filled market.

  22. dualestl says:

    Well what did they expect?

    A quite expensive to buy MMO ,has a monthly pay subscription model and a in-game shop, but has very dated gameplay mechanics.They couldn’t make it more worse and non consumer-friendly even if they tried.
    It seems like the Age of Conan fiasco hasn’t thought Funcom anything.

    • Azradesh says:

      The in game shop is meaningless to the game, it’s only purpose is to buy pretty cloths.

      • The Random One says:

        It’s not meaningless to me, and if I’ve paid for the game and I’m paying for a subscription I expect to have access to everything on the game, meaningful or not.

      • Cooper says:

        Do not underestimate the importance of dress-up. Especially in an MMO.

        If your game costs money to buy, and THEN costs MORE money each month. Do not expected customers not to be pissed off when pretty things costs EVEN MORE money…

  23. jalf says:

    Interesting to see how many people call out the business model as being “dead” or “10 years behind”.

    I had the same gut feeling, but I’m surprised to see it echoed independently by so many others.

    The market has changed. And for whatever reason, Funcom tried to launch TSW the same way they launched AO.

    • f1x says:

      Yep, it might not be totally dead but its definitely going coma

      Even the colossus, World of Warcraft is increasing its revenue and atention to the store more and more everyday (pets, mounts, security gadgets, etc)

  24. mbr says:

    Medium Multiplayer Online

    • f1x says:

      Maybe thats something companies should consider

      I would play (and maybe pay) a mmo with lesser graphics (isometric for example), no voice acting or super budget if the gameplay / content was really brilliant

  25. jimmydean239 says:

    I really don’t get why companies keep releasing the same game over and over again and expect to be successful. SW is WOW (or everquest, if you want to be pedantic) with a few new bells and whistles. Same as SWTOR, same as Rift, same as Aeon, same as AOC etc etc. These games bring absolutely nothing new to the table apart from some small defining features, and that’s why people get bored with them. It’s so sad that the “MMO” genre has been defined by implementing the same rules in a different setting, and I can’t understand why the model seems to perpetuate. If somebody did something new with the MMO genre, and truly made it a different game to WOW, then people might just get on board. Risky strategy I guess, but it seems to me that MMOs now simply follow the COD formula of releasing the same game with a slighly improved face. They’re in just as deep a rut in terms of gameplay and mechanics. Change it up I say!

    • Premium User Badge Lars Westergren says:

      > SW is WOW (or everquest, if you want to be pedantic) with a few new bells and whistles.

      There is quite a lot that separates Secret World from WoW in my opinion. Investigation quests, an overarching plotline, a limited deck of abilites that you can switch in and out powers from, the ability to play through most of the game single player if you wish, plot centric cut scenes…

      > These games bring absolutely nothing new to the table apart from some small defining features,

      “Every movie is like any other movie, with some small definining features.”
      Edit: Ok, sorry, that was a snide dismissal. I guess what I wanted to say was: I think enough features differentiate MMOs from each other. But the market is clearly oversaturated. I too would have been happier if this had been released as a single player game. Combat, dialogue and plot elements could all have been improved I think if they hadn’t had to keep the constraints of thousands of concurrent players in mind.

      • jimmydean239 says:

        IMHO, the investigation quests are your small defining feature, and everything else is either in WOW, or has already been done elsehwhere. Playing through the game single player? It can be done in pretty much all MMOs, bar sandbox games like EVE. There’s nothing particularly different about SW if you’ve already played a bunch of MMOs.

        Also, “every movie is like every other movie, apart from small defining features”? Sorry? You’re suggesting for example that Pan’s Labyrinth is just like Get Carter, just with some small defining features? The only similarity is that they were filmed with a camera. EDIT – fair enough, we’ll leave that there.

        What I’m trying to say is that the underlying mechanics of these games need to change, from the combat to the fetch and kill quest structure. All of the mechanics have now become what we call an “MMO”, and that’s incredibly limiting and doesn’t bode well for the future. The term “massively multiplayer” used to be somewhat open to interpretation, however now it’s basically accepted that you have to do, for the most part, everything that WOW and EQ did in order for people to like your game.

        I didn’t mean to upset you if you’re enjoying it, and if so that’s great. What I’m saying is that we’ve seen it all before, and I can’t see how games companies can expect widespread success with a product that’s essentially already been out for ten years.

        • Premium User Badge jrodman says:

          I don’t agree. I don’t think The Secret World is more similar to World of Warcraft than any other two games are in the same genre.

          They are in the same genre for sure, and that genre has problems with:
          – requiring lots of time
          – wanting too much exclusive focus
          – costing a lot
          – having incurred player burnout

          I think that’s the real problem they smacked into, beyond the design issues in The Secret World, anyway. The intersection of having combat be nearly unavoidably everywhere, and to boot be annoying was just a huge screwup.

      • jimmydean239 says:

        I think you’re right on the last point, I remember playing SWTOR and thinking it would have been so much better if it wasn’t built on the MMO model, and I think the same goes for SW.

  26. televizor says:

    ” Dare we hope for Dreamfall Chapters? I probably shouldn’t, given the whole “online” part of the smaller game announcement”

    I think it was here that I read that Ragnar said that they’ll probably switch to an online game for the next Dreamfall, a couple of years ago. One can only hope.

  27. Freud says:

    In the late 60s there were companies working their asses off making better mechanical calculators.

  28. ninjapirate says:

    Such a shame. I had a genuine interest in this game and would have bought it right away, if it hadn’t been for the monthly subscription fees.

  29. Jake says:

    Bad news. The Secret World is a great game and pretty much perfect for people like me that are sick of cartoon fantasy worlds after a long time spent in WoW. Guild Wars 2 might well have fresher gameplay in some areas but the idea of yet another fantasy universe with animal men, elves and gnome things is really not appealing. Unfortunately I am in the minority as I guess TSW universe just doesn’t appeal to many people – unless it is entirely the subscription fee that has kept the numbers so low.

    The monthly sub doesn’t bother me especially – I like the idea that it goes into providing new content for the game, though I have to admit it seems stupid to be paying a sub when I haven’t even had time to play for the past couple of weeks.

    TSW could have been better single player – but for those people that don’t care about the MMO side of things and just want to play an intelligent rpg with Lovecraft/X-Files/comic book storylines then it’s great fun just to play solo. I am quite glad there are not too many other people running around in my game.

  30. Yosharian says:

    If they had just released it as a singleplayer game it would have been way better for them and for us.

  31. S Jay says:

    I wish TSW was a single-player game. I wonder if they would have earned more (and had less fixed costs)

    • Premium User Badge jrodman says:

      There’s certainly fewer components to develop, and I suspect (but do not know) that it’s easier to make the “client” or “game” work right. So I believe fixed costs are probably lower. However, I’m guessing.

      I think the big savings is that if you design a game for people to play for a few weeks, you can write 5% of the content that you need if you design a game for people to play for months or years. And you can make it the good 5%.

  32. mazzratazz says:

    The saddest thing about all this is that despite the fact that EVERYONE seems to have predicted this, due to the outdated business model and the confused nature of the game (an MMO that appears to be uncomfortable as an MMO), Funcom seem to think review scores are largely responsible.

    At least they’re not blaming piracy I suppose.

    • Brun says:

      I’d argue that, in addition, the game was not sufficiently marketed. Normally I’m not an advocate of huge marketing campaigns (quite the opposite, in fact), but I think that this game really flew under the radar of a lot of people, given some of the other games coming out this year.

      The biggest thing to take away (from TSW, SWTOR, and the numerous other failed subscription MMOs) is that emulating WoW is not the path to success. The most important factor in WoW’s success was timing – it came out at exactly the right time in the evolution of gaming and of the internet. The window that WoW was able to exploit – due in no small part, again, to a lucky combination of cultural and technological zeitgeist – has long since closed. As a result, WoW will ALWAYS be the exception, not the rule for MMORPGs.

  33. ChiefOfBeef says:

    It’s not box-prices or subscription fees that put me off new MMOs. It’s the similarity to WoW in virtually every single one of them.

    If someone tried making an MMO that was like a more accessible EVE that didn’t look like Penumbra, a half-decent development budget and FFS did not follow the ‘holy trinity’ of design that is Tank-Healer-DPS then I’d be a lot more generous with my money.

    The fact that developers are often asked during production if their game resembles the WoW/EQ design and their reaction is always defensive tosh means they aren’t learning.

    • Brun says:

      Have you looked at GW2? Pretty sure it fulfills most of the requirements you just described.

    • lexoneir says:

      I still don’t understand people who hate the ‘trinity’. I mean, I agree it could stand to handle a little more complexity, such as what DCUO tried (and seemingly failed) to do with the ‘controller’ role. But it seems like most people who hate the trinity hate the very idea of having roles, which seems a little ridiculous to me. Even shooters these days have roles. They add to the gameplay, and removing them takes away from it.

      • Josh W says:

        I like TF2, I don’t like T/H/DPS.

        Why? Because I prefer there to be nuanced relationships between classes, where you have to swap roles at different times. I’m not terribly bothered by the principle of aggro/damage/support, but I think they should be shifted around at different pacings, so that one player may want to be aggro for a time, until he goes dps, or players might have different advantages against different creatures, or have interlocking support abilities etc.

        The obvious trinity is a function of lazy ai design and the particular degeneracies of character customisation; if all that matters is damage per second vs ability to avoid it, and it’s possible to focus attention onto specific characters, and heal them without getting into danger, then naturally people will come up with teams of builds like this! But I think this is something to be fought, when you could be creating scope for more advanced tactics that use space or timings or whatever else to provide more variable challenges, that are not simply about pattern memorisation.

  34. Hardmood says:

    “Age of Conan reached 700,000 subscribers in its first few months, and I imagine Funcom expected at least as strong of a performance from TSW.”

    one word: IGNORANCE

    they sold more than that the first month and managed to piss of 75% (and still piss of a big bunch of peple, inlcuding me and ALL of my m8s who played aoc!) in not time and EXPECTING big sales from their new mmo?

  35. SPG says:

    Yada Yada

    Everyone knocks Funcom, its the cool thing to do Oh that and its easy to do, TSW is a stunning game stunning, the art, the story its just so so compelling and different., just like there previous MMO`s.

    Still nothing will compete against the GW2 hype train as its flavour of the month. Give it till December time and GW2 will be done and dusted and the so called next big thing will be back.

    • Hollowized says:

      I’ve read plenty of people saying the game has good story, some interesting quests, etc. However I have yet to read anything that says why the game is an MMOG instead of just a single player game with an online/lan co-op (and possibly competetive) component.

      So personally I would knock on TSW for being an MMOG with subscription, just as I did with SWTOR. I have no interest in paying a subscription for a single player game with co-op, even if it’s pretty good. Since I quit WoW and AoC, I really haven’t seen any MMOG that I’m willing to pay sub fee for. AoC is of course free to play now, and I also kinda regret buying that game. I don’t regret buying WoW though since it was my first MMOG, plenty of my friends where playing it, and it was a new and fun experience for me at the time. However me and most of my friends quit playing it a long time ago, and I have no desire to return to WoW myself ether.

      With plenty of interesting upcoming MMOG that don’t require sub fee, like Planetside 2, Firefall, and Guild Wars 2, it would take something extremely special for me to consider paying a monthly fee for a game again. And there are plenty of single player games with good story and art, it’s just that I don’t have to pay a subscription fee each month to be playing them.

  36. CelticPixel says:

    I really, really want Dreamfall: Chapters : (

  37. Hatsworth says:

    Enough with the MMOs already.

  38. adam.jutzi says:

    DreaMFALL dreamfall drEAMfall dreamfall freamdall dreamfall DREAMFALL! dreamfall dreamfall DREAMFACE!

  39. paravrais says:

    I really don’t understand why Funcom basically flushed this game down the toilet. It had decent hype pre-release and good reviews all round then when it was revealed that instead of choosing one payment option like *every* other MMO they were trying to con people out of paying for the initial download, then have a cash shop AND charge £4 a month more than WoW, Rift etc people immediately switched off it. If they got rid of the cash shop and charged £8.99 a month things would be going very differently for them now.

  40. Hardmood says:

    how the hell can people get burned by mmo´s?
    mmo is just a word…useless arguments tbh (same with that retarded hater/fanboi grunts all around…)

    im burned cos
    - no innovations or useless innovations (facebook ingame hahaha…)
    - bad combatsystems
    - lousy lore transition into the game
    - lame grafix + lame gameplay
    - bunch o dollars per month for halfbaked bread
    - same boring gindshit again

    THATS reasons to get burned out.

    if i watch vids about tsw im finding a lot reasons from that list…

    i never understood y they lowered the combat mechanics in aoc e.g. to get more players.
    instead they should have put their focus on even more innovative combatmechanics and im sure they would still have a solid 200k subs with aoc, but no…
    innovative combatmechanics would be the number 1 reason for me to even try out tsw and buy vom release tbh, but no… it even is not innovative, it lookks terrible too…

  41. DK says:

    Hey guys, our game that we hoped would replicate the success of WoW has failed to do so just like all the other failed MMOs of the last five years. Who could have seen that coming, huh?

    What do you mean our MMO that wants to be a singleplayer game, would be a great single player game but is constantly undermined by the fact it’s multiplayer isn’t fun for people?! They *don’t* wanna pay monthly for a game that launched with a cash shop?

  42. King Eternity says:

    Small scale multiplayer would have been infinitely better for TSW. I really wanted to like the game but as soon as I jumped into the beta and followed the ant line of new characters all doing the same opening quest, the writing and story were rendered ridiculous. You can’t tell an immersive, personal story in an MMO world where the inherently impersonal nature of it is constantly shoved in your face.

    I’ve thought for years that there is a missing niche of medium scale multiplayer games, with a server setup more similar to current FPS games than MMOs, having simultaneous player numbers in the 20 – 200 range. It would allow you to have detailed content and AI on par with single player games and much deeper player communities, where players would know most or all of the other players on the server.

    Why is nobody doing this? Day-Z is kind of venturing into this space, and the old Neverwinter Nights’ multiplayer was heading towards something like this. Imagine a game like Skyrim with 30 or 40 people playing at once. It doesn’t seem technically infeasible?