MMO Woe: The Secret World Suffers

It doesn't feel good to have to write stories like this a few months after every MMO launches, I tell you

The Secret World has one remaining secret – that it wasn’t the big fat hit it needed to be. Dev Funcom has been making grumbly noises about the Metacritic score being too low, leading to a tumble in their share price, reportedly by as much 84%. It’s almost as if Metacritic is a poisonously artificial benchmark of success and accomplishment, isn’t it? While I raise at least three eyebrows at Funcom claiming their aggregate review score is the major reason for the game struggling, the fact is that the game has failed to meet their sales projections, and that’s bad news for an MMO. Funcom’s chief money-dude has also been talking of lay-offs in the wake of the bad news.

This state-of-play also arises after the 30-day free sub for purchasers of the game expired recently, which is increasingly proving to be a problem for MMOs. (Not that there are many big, sub-based MMOs left to launch, of course). You can’t blame metacritic for a subs drop-off – if the game’s not keeping its players, better reviews wouldn’t change that in the slightest.

Funcom have put out a lengthy but nonetheless grim investor note to try and calm down panicking shareholders – presumably some of them are worried that they’ll only be able to buy two brand new Lexuses this year – by detailing future plans for TSW, money-wise. Its recent Steam launch is part of the recovery plan, as is future content, but they’re also bracing for continuing player drops-offs. At the moment, it’s coming up significantly short compared to Age of Conan’s own mucky launch, but Funcom reckon they might be able to sort out a more stable, faithful long-term playerbase, plus note TSW is cheaper to run than Conan.

I don’t know what to say, really. Like SWTOR, TSW seemed a bit too late in the day, arriving after Moby Subscription had been slain, and I doubt I was alone in being put off by the dry combat (the narrative stuff seemed appealing, but I didn’t want to wade through hours of what, from the beta, wasn’t terribly engaging shooty-bang just to hear the dialogue). Unlike SWTOR, TSW wasn’t slavishly copying the competition and had high aspirations even if couldn’t necessarily realise them, so it’s tragic to see Funcom suffer. Hopefully they can bounce back, and will pour their energies into games that don’t require hundreds of thousands of subscribers to turn a profit.


  1. Namey says:

    Traditional subscription based MMO has financial issues, fails to kill WoW. More news at 11.

    • d3vilsadvocate says:

      yeah, it was retarded to release that kind of game in the first place. Noone wants this stuff anymore, move on.

      • Lars Westergren says:

        Speak for yourself. I am very happy to pay for quality, and I think The Secret World has delivered so far.

        • Kal says:

          They still don’t have a correctly working chat system 2 months in, and serious, quest- or instance- breaking bugs are far from uncommon. Quality it is not. It is, in fact, exactly what has come to be expected from Funcom.

          • paxundae says:

            Hmm…sounds like you haven’t played since the 1.1 patch went live.

          • Kal says:

            On the contrary. The 1.1 patch didn’t fix chat and it still hasn’t addressed many of the show stoppers. Two pertinent examples: channel subscriptions are still lost when zoning, so if for example, you move LFG chat to it’s own separate tab, every time you zone that channel will be re-added back into your default tab. As an example of a serious quest/instance bug, the penultimate encounter in “The Facility” – the “Anima Constructs” fight – bugs out if you don’t succeed at the encounter on your first attempt (the bug involves the mobs concerned failing to die when they reach 0hp) rendering the encounter and hence the entire instance unfinishable.

            Those are just two examples, there are many more, and while, yes, some things were certainly fixed with the patch I think it’s an enormous stretch of the imagination to describe this game as “quality”. My point is that taken in context with Funcom’s earlier releases, I find it hard to believe that the company has any credibility left at this point, and the freefalling stock price seems to bear that idea out.

          • paxundae says:

            The chat problems, including the specific one you describe, were fixed in 1.1 and 1.1.1 (see link to I can attest to the fact that (1) you’re correct that that specific chat problem had been an issue in the past, but also, (2) having played since the patches, that chat problem was in fact fixed, and channels, including custom channels, now stay properly attached to their various tabs when you switch zones.

            The reason I’m making a big deal out of this is that this game actually *is* quality. Very much so. But there are lots of persistent rumors that the basic systems, like chat, continue to not work at all, and that Funcom does nothing about it.

            With regards to the occasional broken quest…yes, there are three or four throughout the game that are easily broken.

            If a broken quest is a sign of a poor game, then every single MMO that’ still running today is, in fact, a poor game.

          • Kal says:

            I hate to be harping on about this paxundae, but your information is incorrect. Not only could I log on right now and demonstrate, step-by-step, the specific chat problem I am mentioning (and indeed a small handful of others), but furthermore I have in the last 24 hours spoken to a GM who confirmed that this specific problem is a “known bug” that is being worked on at present.

            It’s also worth mentioning that the bug which prevents an individual’s chat in any channel but /say from being seen by others has resurfaced, and while I haven’t experienced myself it this time round, one of my guildmates has, and a cursory look at the technical support forums for the game will show you it is far from a minority problem. That these are bugs which have been explicitly mentioned as fixed in the patch notes and which are nonetheless evidently extant seems to me to be more damaging to Funcom’s credibility that the existence of those bugs in the first place!

            I’ll certainly concede that bugs can be more complicated than they appear and that it’s possible that in some configurations or for some players these bugs do not occur – which could explain your not seeing these problems for yourself, but whatever your personal experience may be, as a whole chat is absolutely not performing to an acceptable standard for a modern MMO.

            I also think it’s disingenuous to dismiss so readily bugs which can entirely prevent a character from progressing. We aren’t talking about the odd side-quest here and there not working (although there are plenty of those too.) If you can’t finish a particular encounter in an instance, then you can’t complete the instance as a whole. If you can’t complete all the Elite mode instances, you can’t get access to Nightmare mode dungeons at all. While certainly YMMV, for my money that is the sort of thing that should merit an emergency patch, not left to be fixed with the regular monthly cycle.

            Quality this game is not.

        • paxundae says:

          I completely agree. I bought a lifetime subscription and I’ve been completely happy so far. The story is good, the dialog is often great, and the setting is fantastic. The dungeon design and boss mechanics are much more interesting than WoW’s 5-mans (note: I played through Wrath, but not after…it’s possible things have changed). And the theory-crafting is really spectacular. Hundreds of skills to fit together. Whenever I manage to come up with a build that successfully chains 4 or 5 of them to great effect, I can’t help but be impressed at how well thought out the system is.

          Is it for everyone? No. Is it a failure? Hardly. And the servers and cabals I’m playing on also seem to be pretty crowded.

          If it goes free-to-play, hopefully it won’t do it in a cash-shop way. The current cash shop is entirely vanity clothing a non-combat pets. Adding in buy-2-win just ruins things, in my opinion. One thing Funcom could consider is is only unlocking 1 portion of the skill wheel for free players, and then charging to get access to additional skill schools. Something like that might be able to pull in more people while maintaining some sort of revenue stream, without doing too much to destroy the design of the game. Because the current design really is quite beautiful.

      • Andy says:

        I personally would’ve happily paid for it if it actually had any quality. I tried it out and got a horribly ‘low quality’ feeling within moments. Kept trying it for a couple of weeks and then couldn’t summon the will any more.
        I’m not yet convinced the model is dead yet (it’s definitely on the way out though) but ask yourself if you’d play this as a single player game…? Definitely not.

      • PoulWrist says:

        And I don’t want free 2 play. But I don’t want to pay for a bad game either, and all newer mmo are bad.

        • GameCat says:

          “all* mmo are bad”

          *Except Eve Online

          • ukpanik says:

            Eve was great for the first ‘wild west’ 6 months…then became a blobby turd.

    • innociv says:

      I loved the game. I would have preordered it two months ago if it was like Guild Wars where you just buy the box and play all you want.

      I out right refuse to rent the character I spend so much time on. It’s morally unacceptable, whether I have the money for it or not.

      There is a big difference between a good game worth $50, and a game worth $180 a year. For $180 I can buy everything I could ever want during a steam sale.

      What’s the $15 a month for? It’s practically instanced. There are tons of zones with only a few people in each zone, plus all the actual instancing. If it’s supposedly for new content, then sell new content that’s worth what you’re asking for, not charge $15 a month for a promise of content.

      • Lobotomist says:

        TSW and TERA are two games that payed high price for being launched with dead model of P2P.

        Its too soon to relaunch them as F2P (especially for TERA) but they are bleeding subscribers at alarming rate.

        There is almost nothing that can save them now

        • innociv says:

          I wouldn’t say it’s a dead model.

          EVE Online I think benefits and works well for it’s monthly fee, also since they actually do update it a ton.

          But TSW was basically Guild Wars + Anarchy Online + some nice writing/voice acting.
          Why didn’t it have GW or AO payment model since it’s the same game as them?

          It’s like as if someone released a new FPS that was $50 + $15 a month + cash shop. I can already get good shooters for far less than that, so “Why pay more?”

          I can’t help but think that their budget would have allowed them to sell the game for $50 with no monthly fee or anything else, and recouped all their cost and made money.
          Funcom decided to be greedy like usual and shot themselves in the foot. No one is paying past the free month, when they probably could have gotten 5x more $50 box sales if it didn’t have a monthly fee.

      • S Jay says:

        Yeah, I am on board.

        I really like EVE online, but I don’t have the time to play all the time and I think it is just throwing money out the window to pay for a subscription I can’t use a lot (since I don’t play enough, I obviously can’t buy more time with in game currency too). So I don’t play it anymore.

      • gnodab says:

        Not to mention they want 50€ from us here in Mainland Europe! But even if it where 50$ selling a game and then charging subscription fees is just beyond greedy. Sure, blaming Metacritic for all the woe in the world is usually justified, but this is the proverbial exception. In a world where F2P has reached the quality of Tribes or Planetside, they scream: give us all yo money! Silly…

    • DiTH says:

      I played TSW for around 3 weeks.Even if it was F2P i wouldnt play it more than that cause it failed to excite me.

      The problem with recent games is not the subscription model but they just dont excite players.I would gladly pay 15$ sub for a quality game but there is just no quality games out there.

      They prefer to be mediocre at all sections of a game,except 1 or 2 that they advertise,and they think that will be fine for players to keep paying.Time for those companies to wake up and stop releasing half arsed features and games full of bugs, the consumers are waking up(at least at the MMO genre)

      • Shuck says:

        I think if TSW doesn’t do well, we can kiss the idea of future quality MMOs goodbye. No one is going to risk resources on untested game mechanics if the games that take creative risks fail.

        • Baines says:

          Why? There are other MMOs that aren’t using the same payment scheme that people would call “quality”, like Guild Wars 2.

          The main thing we might lose are the overpriced/short life subscription MMOs that get built with a big budget off of subscription dreams, that quickly tank and get converted to F2P to survive. (Admittedly, that seems to be the source of many MMOs, because companies aren’t so willing to skip the “paid game/subscription” step and go straight to F2P.)

          The other thing to consider is whether games like TSW and SWTOR are “quality” MMOs in the first place. By most accounts, they still can’t really compete with single-player games in quality, but at the same time are average or even below average in the MMO/multiplayer area. (The focus on story actually hurts as well, as the creators cannot afford to continually create new content at the rate that players will devour it, and story-focused games tend to have less to do outside of the story, because the creators spend so much effort on the story.)

    • Roshin says:

      The concept behind TSW sounded both vague and vaguely interesting, but not much more than that. I watched TB play it on Youtube and I thought it looked like utter rubbish. Add subs to that and the fact that it’s dying on it’s arse and Guild Wars 2 literally just around the corner, and there’s not a chance I’d look twice at it. Like SWTOR, it falls into the awkward “doesn’t really need to be an MMOG” category.

      All that said, I think price is one of the bigger issues here. Charging €49.99 for the client and a free month of play is madness or greed or both, and then they slap an additional €14.99 per month after that. It’s just too much. I don’t think it needs to go F2P, though. If the client was €14.99 and the monthly sub somewhere around around €3.99, I probably would at least give it a try.

      It doesn’t have have to be the full stonking price MMOG’s traditionally used to cost or F2P, does it? I’d like to see someone explore the area inbetween those two extremes.

      • Shuck says:

        “I don’t think it needs to go F2P, though.”
        From what point of view? From a financial standpoint they obviously need some sort of income beyond sales, since the sales haven’t done it. If subscriptions aren’t doing it, F2P probably wouldn’t give them the revenue they need right now, however.

        • gnodab says:

          But the thing is they are committing economic suicide. If you want to establish an MMO you need to get as many people on board as possible and you’ll want them to commit long term. Then you can bleed them dry with micropayments, and no one will care (as long as they are fair and well designed). Going out and forcing everybody to pay an enormous (compared to direct competitors) amount of money up front is just not very smart.It’s like the kids with the marshmallows, doomed to grow up to become huge failures.

    • thegooseking says:

      I want to play it, but apart from not having time for an MMO in my life right now, it’s more the box price that’s put me off than the subscription. I would happily pay for a subscription, but I won’t pay £40 for the ‘privilege’ of doing so.

      • Faxmachinen says:

        This is exactly it. I played the free weekend and liked it, but nowhere near enough to warrant the 200€ price tag. I pre-ordered Borderlands 2 for me and my friends, and the four-pack was still less than a single copy of TSW.

  2. KikiJiki says:

    It really doesn’t surprise me that nearly all of the MMOs commissioned while WoW was a huge cashcow are dead or dying. The (arguably) flagship game for the genre is almost seven years old now and it seems that most people that played it religiously have either grown up and gotten responsibilities or are simply tired of MMOs in general. I used to play a LOT and find now that no other MMO can hold my attention for more than a month.

    • Vorphalack says:

      That can’t be the whole story though. Personally I think they just got too greedy with TSW, asking box price + £12 / month + cash shop was an instant no from me. I’d have given it a shot for a more competitive price tag.

    • Dark Nexus says:

      I know that even after a year off the WoW, I’m still suffering from a bit of a MMO hangover. And by that I mean I’m still catching up on games that I gave little to no attention for the close to 7 years I played WoW, so any game running under a subscription model has the best non-sub games from the past half decade to compete with for my money.

  3. caddyB says:

    It’s not the sub model, it’s the combat and the relatively wooden animations, I think.

    • John Walker says:

      That seems extraordinarily unlikely.

      I’m sure looking forward to all the WoW: Pandaria reviews slagging off the even more boring combat in that.

      • thestage says:

        I hate game X I like game Y instead the world is not fair don’t you all understand

        • President Weasel says:

          Speaking as someone who actually spent money on it, I rather enjoyed The Secret World. Maybe they needed to advertise it better and get a demo in front of more people earlier. I thought the combat was better than most MMO combat, and I liked the dress-up-dolls options.
          It’s also got a decent script and solid voice acting – including a character voiced by this guy who was an excellent choice for the part and a pleasant surprise to run into.
          I even like the puzzles (and the option to google them when I get stuck).

          All in all it’s a pretty high quality product – but even as someone who likes it and doesn’t regret buying it, I’m cancelling my subscription and moving on. Someone made a point about the MMO audience consisting of ageing former WOW players who can’t be satisfied; there may be something to that. I doubt I’ll ever spend so much of my life playing one game again, and having played oh so many MMOs the point where it just feels like deja vu all over again comes quicker and quicker these days.

          Decent game, overoptimistic business plan with unrealistic numbers, I suspect. You can’t point at metacritic and say if more people had given it a 9 you’d be in clover.

          • mandrill says:

            I thought I recognized his voice… :D

            Also I’m liking TSW so far and am quite willing to keep paying for it. The polish it lacks (not very much IMO) is slowly being applied as they patch it (fairly regularly at the moment).

          • xavdeman says:

            They also have a character voiced by Marlon Young (of The Hard Times of R.J. Berger fame). link to
            You can find more famous voices in the game: link to

      • JD Ogre says:

        Assuming you’re not pre-predjudiced against hotkey combat, World of Warcraft combat is not at all boring. Most everything is decently animated and with good sounds and has an OOMPH to it, unlike TSW’s rather flat experience where you’re gliding around, pivoting at the waist and shooting at things (with generic crackling or gunshot sounds that are barely distinguishable from others in its class) that for the most part don’t seem to visibly or audibly react to your attacks until they’re dead.

        The mechanics of TSW combat and character building are great, but the rest of the combat experience is meh, at best, full of polish flaws that you could accept from a small indie dev team, but not from something meant to be an AAA title (or at least AA) in 2012. Or even 2006.

        • President Weasel says:

          And that’s a valid point too.

        • Milky1985 says:

          “Most everything is decently animated and with good sounds and has an OOMPH to it, unlike TSW’s rather flat experience where you’re gliding around, pivoting at the waist and shooting at things (with generic crackling or gunshot sounds that are barely distinguishable from others in its class) that for the most part don’t seem to visibly or audibly react to your attacks until they’re dead.”

          Thats the argument you are using? The monsters in wow don’t react at all to the stuff you throw at them (sometimes literally, even the throw attack provoke no response). Its just the same block animation on occasion and an autoattack. If you throw a pyroblast at an enemy, nothing. Sure secret world might do that, but using wow as an example of a thing that does it better is a bad way of arguing things.

      • caddyB says:

        I just think if you can manage to have fun and engaging combat and enough to do at max level that people don’t stand in the main city all the time; they will pay the monthly sub.

        That’s what they’ve been trying to do with Pandaria, more ways to spend time in game. It can only be a good thing, because in my circle of people nobody is whining about the combat, there isn’t anything to do when you do everything in the hard difficulty and then it’s just waiting forever for the next raid.

        Maybe that’s because I used to be in a guild that was doing high end content and people around me reflect that.

        Then again that is only my experience, and I don’t claim to know as much about gaming as most of the people here.

        • Spinks says:

          I think the set of people who are interested in an immersive modern urban fantasy puzzle solving RPG adventure and the set of people who want a zombie killing MMO may not overlap as much as Funcom were hoping.

      • Hendo says:

        But that would be an unfair comparison. WoW already has people invested in it, whether it be for the lore, player characters, fellow guild members to play with or just the amount of money and time people had invested. They gained this back at a time when the subscription model was acceptable and the combat format was widely accepted.

        TSW has arrived at a time when the FTP model is favoured and gameplay design has moved on to be more “immersive” (for lack of a better word). Pandaria will do well because nobody expects combat to change and know exactly what they’re going in for. In the same way, they are also unlikely to see brand new players to the franchise. More likely it will be people returning or its existing playerbase.

        TSW needs to appeal to what people want in a game now in order to counteract the dated payment model. Poor combat or gameplay in general is definitely not going to help.

      • Matt-R says:

        Mmm, thing with WoW though John is that it just feels miles better, the animation and all the rest of it is sleek and fluid and the same can’t be said for TSW which is a shame since I was really looking forward to it. I’m beginning to write off the MMO genre for the forseeable future nothing in the space that really even comes close to what even an average single player game delivers now, and even with the differences between MMOs I can’t shake off the feeling that I’ve been there done that in every single new one I play.

        I won’t even say new MMOs just aren’t good because I remember how bad FF11 was and played vanilla WoW on private servers fairly recently, just too much MMOing I guess… the space needs a radical shake up somehow that I just don’t see happening any time soon.

        • f1x says:

          Yep, thats the issue,
          we are here assuming that WoW combat is bad, and that all the games that came after improved it
          but is not, its the other way around, as old as WoW is (and boring) its still got way better feel on its combat system than SW:TOR and/or TSW

          so thats a big problem, and that happened to me while I was beta testing / playing free weekend,
          I liked the game, I loved the setting, but in the end I’m spending most of the time out there killing stuff and the combat was just bland and the animations are damn poor

          • Gorf says:

            yep, I actually went back to WoW for a while after my month of TSW ran out and the combat is definately better, specifically the casting animations and variety.

      • Tei says:

        I agree with caddyB. The animations, effects and general combat is wooden, and not enough inspiring. Having no class is one thing. Having everything you do be boring and equally anything else you can do is boring. What about people that like pets? no summon pets class or skills. What about people that like to levitate or fly?… not spicy of any type. The strong points of TSW are very strong, but the weak points are also very weak.

      • Zepp says:

        John Walker I must say I’m shocked that you consider WoWs combat more boring and as wooden as TSWs combat.

      • jrodman says:

        I played WoW for *years* and that was too long. I burnt out and played it past its due date. But even now, burned out as I am, the combat is fun enough. It’s a well-made game in many ways.

        The Secret World’s combat, by contrast, was *awful*. It’s explained poorly, it feels annoying, looks dreadful, and is mushy and confusing. I was definitely on the verge of both purchasing this game at 50 dollars and subscribing (!!!) on saturday of the free weekend on the strength of the sense of place, the mood, the story elements, and the sense of self directedness. By the end of my play session, however, the dreadful dreadful combat had ground me down, and I really can’t see even playing it if it goes completely free of cost without fixing that.

        • jrodman says:

          To elaborate:

          TSW combat is worse in regards to:

          – skill role clarity
          – self-explanation
          – animation clarity
          – pacing
          – sufficient varity of available tools

          TSW combat is better in regards to:

          – position and movement matters.

          But wait, the position and movement are done AWFULLY as well. In most combats as a ranged character, the position mattering amounts to running about in a circle like an idiot, using too many keys and mouse dragging while spamming buttons. I don’t want to run in a circle like an idiot during combat .. basically EVER. Not once.

          In WoW I had my share of trying out fighting enemies far far above what I should be able to kill, and they did involve all sorts of running about, but mostly they involved applying snares and roots intelligently while jump-shooting or advanced pet management. Pretty much never was running in a tight circle useful or interesting (barring PVP, which I’ve always detested). In The Secret World, I found myself relegated to some version of hell where my very least favourite MMO combat activity (running in circles) would occupy over 90% of my time.

      • Brise Bonbons says:

        I can only speak personally, but for me it was definitely the combat that turned me off. By which I mean the fact that the combat existed in the amount it did.

        What appealed to me about TSW is the story, the investigations, and the setting. The combat just kept fucking getting in my way of enjoying those things. They made a bastard child of a bog-standard MMO with its grinding, overabundant fighting, and this amazing mission based adventure game with a fascinating story and world.

        If there was a wedge of the skill wheel that let me actually build my character to be a Call of Cthulhu style occult investigator, with skills like “Search” and “Interrogate” and “Ancient Lore: Sea Creatures”, I would happily buy the game and give them my $15/month for creating such a brave, cohesive experience. As it is, I won’t waste my time on combat that I have no interest in so I can have a few fun moments with the investigation missions.

      • Ritashi says:

        I must say I disagree strongly with the notion that WoW’s combat is poor. I’ve not played TSW so I can’t offer a comparison in that regard, but having played WoW for several years (I don’t play anymore purely because I don’t like the gear grind) I can say that it’s combat is anything but dull. For solo play, the excitement varies by class (nothing beats soloing mobs that can one-shot you with a Hunter), but every class can at least have some very exciting experiences by fighting things way above their level.

        In 5-man group play, the combat also shines. Sure if you outgear the content then all you have to do is tank and spank, but the only reason to play content you outgear is because of the gear grind. That’s not a mark against the combat. But when you play against content that is actually hard, everyone has to think a lot more. Every class has a huge variety of tools at their disposal, and everyone needs to use their tools properly to succeed. At the basic level everyone needs to know when to use any cooldowns they have, and you have to coordinate the cooldowns to maximize their effectiveness. Then there are the oddball abilities everyone has. Priests can use Leap of Faith to pull any party member to themselves. Hunters have a huge variety of crowd control tools, including taunts, slows, snares, hard cc’s, and threat redirects. Every class has similar abilities that are never in a “normal” rotation, but which can and should be used in special situations. And perhaps the most telling thing is that combat in WoW is *all about* movement and positioning. The number one rule of raiding is “Don’t stand in fire.” If you take damage that could have been avoided, and do so consistently, you will die and your group will fail (alternatively the healer will run out of mana and you will fail). But at the same time, you have to keep your dps up as high as possible or you won’t manage to kill the boss before he kills you. There’s something that most games that are trying to “revolutionize” MMO combat forget; having movement as well as the rest of combat is fine, but by punishing movement while also forcing you to move, WoW creates interesting situations. I have yet to see another MMO that can match WoW in terms of the depth of combat. Sure a lot of things look prettier, but I thought that we cared about more than how pretty a game is. I have high hopes for GW2, but until the game actually comes out it’s hard to say whether it can really top WoW’s combat. From every dungeon video that I’ve seen, it looks interesting, but there are a lot of strategic elements missing. Maybe those will come out more in organized play when everyone knows the game better. Certainly I hope they will.

    • Lagwolf says:

      Agreed, both SWTOR & SW suffer from lame game-play (combat, movement & animations) which you would think is the high priority for an MMO. The story was nice but the game-play just kills em’ for me.

    • Jenks says:

      You’re right, it isn’t the sub model. No one is making anything remotely worth subbing to. Start making new MMOs, stop making WoW derivatives.

      Stop it with the bullshit quest systems. In 2004, WoW’s quest were new and exciting. It’s over. Stop it. I will absolutely not play another game where I go to a pack of exclamation points, burn through them, and then have my hand held with a delivery quest taking me to the next pack of exclamation points. The irony is that the WoW quest system was designed to replace the grind of Everquest, but now the quests are the grind.

      Not only would I pay $15/mo for an MMO, I desperately want to. I would probably pay $50/mo if someone would make the right game. Yes, I’m one of “those people,” and I take shit for what I want every time I post what I want in an MMO. The fact is if you disagree, go play every MMO released since 2004, or a facebook game.

      1) True class interdependence. The hybridization of classes begun by WoW and seems to be completed by GW2 is a huge problem. It devalues your role in a group and (by design) encourages solo play.

      2) Stop encouraging solo play. By creating an environment where people can solo, people will solo. It is much easier to log in to a game, bang out a quest hub, get your predetermined on rails loot, and log off. It’s an empty experience that SWTOR perfected. It’s “what people want,” but it isn’t what people want. The people who really do want it, well, there’s an ocean of F2P games out there for them.

      3) Stop the instance madness. The job of community murder that points #1 and 2 start, instances finish. When people are done soloing, they find a few people and jump in their own instance of a dungeon. Why not instead have all the people doing that dungeon *gasp* interact with one another? Instead of everyone being their own little hero of their own narrative, why not have people feel like they are part of a community working on something greater? Instead, developers are going in the opposite direction. Not only are dungeons instanced, but so are world zones, and cities.

      4) Make travel meaningful. You will hear people talk about Everquest’s “half a day!” to get across the world. “You had to wait for the boat for a half hour sometimes, and then a half hour boat ride! It was miserable!!” Yes, when you hear someone say this, F2P is for them. These are the anti-social idiots I would pay $50/mo to get away from. I took the boat, and I ran across Norrath to explore it. When I needed to travel somewhere quickly, I did so – because I made friends. See point #1 – there were classes in the game that could *Gasp* do things that you couldn’t! They would take you from where you were, to where you wanted to go, all for the price of interacting with another human being. This is almost unthinkable to modern MMO players, whose classes can do everything short of GM commands (new F2P tier incoming?).

      5) Build a world. Again, I am going to pick on SWTOR. In older MMOs, I knew the worlds like I know the neighborhood I grew up in. Current MMOs that is absolutely not the case. Between instancing and instatravel everywhere, there is zero sense of world. I knew how to get from Ak’Anon to Halas, I knew how to go from Orgrimmar to the Ashenvale coast even if there was a band of Alliance ganking near Astranaar. Compare the intimate knowledge I (and hopefully you) had with those games, with SWTOR. I have no idea what was where. It was a bunch of instances that you warped between. There was no “world” (or galaxy in that case). You might as well have been Mario picking which pipe to go down – World 1, 2, or 3.

      6) Not everyone has to be THE HERO. Have the balls to make a game where not everyone experiences every scrap of content. Stop designing single player games and start designing worlds. There was a true sense of awe when I saw my first paladin with a fiery avenger, or my first capital ship in Eve. Neither time did I think it was something I had to have for myself – just really awesome things in the world that I happened to be virtually living in. Of course if I wanted to aim for those things, they’re available – just not for someone putting in a couple hours a month between some Farmville and Bejeweled. Those things are worth admiring. There is nothing in current MMOs worth admiring. I didn’t play SWG, but as I understand it, a select few people earned the right to be put into a pool who might be lucky enough to unlock a jedi character (in other words, jedi were extremely rare). I’m sure just seeing one in game was an event for most players. SOE then decided the game wasn’t popular enough, and made jedi a class anyone can play. It is deemed the biggest shitstorm in MMO history and caused a mass exodus from the game. If you’re unaware of this debacle, google “SWG NGE.” Similarly show me your most prized item in SWTOR, and I will show you a thousand “who gives a fucks.”

      I could go on but this is already ridiculously long and no one is going to read it anyway. It was cathartic getting this all down at least.

      Full disclosure: I keep getting sucked into MMOs like TERA and SWTOR because I’m a stupid person who doesn’t know to stop touching the hot stove. I’m currently playing Eve and occasionally Everquest on the Mac server.

      • aepervius says:

        You just described a MMO which would have only about a minority of person wanting to play it, circa pre-2004 numbers. Look more or less eve (or perpetuum) resemble a lot of what you describe. And look at their subscriber numbers.

        That said, I should have said “we” instead of “you” because I long for a similar game too.

        • Jenks says:

          Thanks for replying, but think about what you are saying for a second. You letting the developers and these blogger pundits think for you. Do your own math. To them, it is an absolute fact that streamlining the games into single player games is the path to success. Now that we have a single player experience with the MMO label slapped on it, and no one is buying it, all of a sudden MMO’S ARE DOOMED! SUBS ARE DOOMED! EVERYBODY PANIC! F2P! “SOCIAL” GAMING! BUZZWORDS! SHITTY BLOGOSPHERE GROUPTHINK WOOO!!!

          I’m sorry, but what the fuck?

          Eve is a horribly abstract and extremely hardcore MMO. I play it because in the 10 years since its release nothing besides WoW has done anything special. I strongly believe there is a way to do an MMO “the right way” without going as far as Eve and attract a much larger user base.

          There is an evolution of early MMOs that doesn’t exit, one that goes in a different direction than Blizzard took it. I am sad now to think that it won’t happen in my lifetime. The spectacular implosions of SWTOR, 38 Studios, and less so TSW, may be a positive or negative, it will be a long time before we know. AAA MMORPG development will be abandoned altogether, or there will finally be a paradigm shift in the industry and it will be the cash grab WoW derivatives that die, not MMOs.

          • f1x says:

            But to a degree, aepervius is right

            A game like you describe, would have very few players,
            because, in my eyes, what is rotten in the heart of the MMO development is also rotten in the heart of the player base, what is has become with the explosion of WoW
            the player base has declined to a horrible mess of casual (in a bad way, because there is also *gasp* a positive concept of casual) players that only want shiny “purples” and good looking avatars
            its quite of a vicious circle, what we have now

          • Jenks says:

            But how do we know? What is that assumption based on?

            Has there been a game coming close to what I described and failed in the last 5 years?

            I can tell you what I do know: One of the top developers in the world spent 300 million (plus or minus depending on who you ask) USD to polish up what is essentially a fantasic single player rpg, with a mega strong license behind it, and a no fail experience. The player doesn’t even need to think, they hook you up to the loot I.V. and you are pumped full of loot at the exact pace that they determined is optimal. You experience exactly what they want you to – the same as everyone else.

            This game bombed spectacularly. I quit before my included month was over.

            I’d just like the industry to *try* something else. Assuming that a less on rails experience is niche I just don’t understand. I do understand your jab at “those people.” That’s fine. But SWTOR bombing should tell you that even “those people” are tired of the same WoW experience distilled down even further.

            Instead of assuming everyone is too stupid for a deeper, more sandbox experience, maybe we can instead assume there are enough of us to populate one and make it a success?

          • Xardas Kane says:

            aepevirus would be right if not for one particular game that has been mentioned time and time again – EVE.
            1. That very much goes for EVE especially in PVP.

            2. Even soloing in EVE often gets you into some sticky situations where you have to interact with other payers, be it fight or cooperate.

            3. Instances are but a tiny fraction of what EVE has to offer. You can play the game for a decade and never encounter them.

            4. Fast travel in EVE? What are you, crazy?

            5. Even though I am a relatively new player I know certain parts of the galaxy by heart.

            6. Nobody is THE hero of New Eden.

            It’s one of the most successful MMOs in the world and the only MMO in history that has been growing steadily since its launch.

          • Jenks says:

            I’m sure many of my points are tainted by my Eve playing. At the same time I think there are a lot of things Eve does that could be applied in a less hardcore game with more mass appeal, where your character isn’t a spaceship, combat and movement aren’t spreadsheet based, and there isn’t open PVP.

            Please note I am an active Eve player and I enjoy it very much, those aren’t digs, they’re just facts that will always hold Eve back.

            And Eve predates WoW. That’s my original point, I’m still playing a 10 year old game because no one will make anything as compelling a decade later.

      • PleasingFungus says:


      • Beelzebud says:

        Logged in just to agree with everything you said. I cut my MMO teeth in Asheron’s Call, and while that game had its share of flaws, I see nothing like it out there today, and if there was I’d pay monthly for it.

        What this new breed of MMO lacks is a cohesive world. I don’t want theme park zones, I want a landmass that literally has hundreds of miles of terrain (Asheron’s Call did it in 1999, there is no excuse). I want a skill system that lets me decide what type of character I’m playing, not a list of pre-determined classes. I want there to be zones/items that are nearly impossible to attain, and totally impossible to attain for casual players. I want a game that lets you make mistakes.

        • Spider Jerusalem says:

          i loved asheron’s call like i’ve loved no other game since. somewhere along the way, the thing that made mmos interesting, the dynamism, was exchanged for a static experience, and i’ve no idea why.

      • KDR_11k says:

        The problem with 3 is that it goes against what a dungeon is supposed to be. A dungeon is supposed to be an unexplored dangerous area but when it’s not instanced it’ll be populated by dozens of players. I remember entering a dungeon in Flyff and seeing groups of players in various corners hacking away at different creep spawns. It didn’t feel like I entered a dangerous area, it felt like I walked into a factory. The enemy respawns are probably the biggest issue for making that feel stupid.

        • Jenks says:

          Make dungeons plentiful, and/or random (imagine that!). Make loot drops randomish depending on difficulty and rarity of the mobs. Make mobs difficult to kill and slow to respawn, making a dungeon clearable. Make many paths in the dungeon leading to different ends, allowing multiple groups to be there at the same time. Allow helping other groups you came across.

          Do you really feel immersed when you walk through a shimmering gate, suddenly no one else in the world exists, and now you’re on rails through a couple scripted events to a boss fight? This directly ties in with #6 – you don’t need to save the world when you enter a dungeon. Another band of adventurers might already be there, adventuring. You might strike up a conversation with them. Maybe you wandered in alone, and they have a spot in the group. Maybe they are on the west path, and you can check out the east path. Maybe when they finish clearing their side, you are stuck on a fight, and they come help you finish it.

          Lazy developer rebuttal: “Sorry, these encounters are finely tuned for 5 people, so no more than 5 people can enter this dungeon.” Thanks, this is extremely immersive. Sometimes I forget I’m playing a game! Hey let me link this to my twitter account so people can see my achievements as I do content.

          It can work.

          • Colton says:

            Um, not really.

            #3 was the number one reason why many, if not all, players from Everquest 1 dropped the game and joined WoW. Why? Because the high-ranking guilds dominated ALL the content and if you weren’t in one of those guilds then you never ever got to see or experience that content. They’d clear dungeons and then closely guard the respawn times and then clear them again. Even attempts to use the forums as a way of “My guild wants to clear X dungeon at 6pm on Wednesday” failed from these griefers.

          • Colton says:

            Actually #1, #2, #3 AND #4 were phased out after Everquest 1 — especially #1. I played a Cleric/Healer for 4 years and even at the maximum level a healer could not defend themselves (do damage) properly. It was pretty common to die trying to walk to the raid you were trying to attend.

          • Jenks says:

            You’re tone suggests you’re arguing with me, and yet you’re making my point. MMOs are failing left and right. You just explained what changed from the successful MMO launches of the past to the failures of today.

    • Howl says:

      I bought this game to get into beta and because I thought I would end up playing it. The combat was awful. So awful that I couldn’t stomach more than a few hours of the beta and uninstalled. It was even worse than SWTOR and it’s no surprise that it’s already struggling.

      This is the Nth MMO to fail because the combat is poor. MMO’s are all about killing stuff, to get higher level to kill more stuff with a different texture. You’ve got to nail the killing bit or you’re doomed.

  4. Gunrun says:

    It’s metacritics fault our game failed to do well guys, not that our MMO launched pretty badly, ran pretty poorly and wasn’t very fun, and had nothing new except the puzzles which consist of googling things and then because of the way google works having the answer spoiled for you as the top result.

    • rapier17 says:

      If I’m honest, the investigation quests are one of the best things about this game. Yes you can google guides on how to complete them* but it’s so satisfying to piece it all together. The sneaky quests were a great idea too, but let down by ‘standard’ MMORPG mechanics (just running about avoiding mobs as best you can).

      But there are so many niggling problems – lengthy combat to kill mobs if you go for certain weapons (such as my ‘TTK’ with a shotgun is about 40 seconds for a mob with 20% more health – that’s me using combinations & ‘exploiting’ their state etc), areas packed so full of enemies it’s hard to navigate across the maps without getting into fights every 20 seconds, vast majority of quests are ‘Go kill, go kill, go kill, go kill, quest over’ when more of the smarter investigation quests would have been better. AND, most damning of all, the goddamned bloody ‘British’ voices. Ugh. So, so bad, exactly how American’s must believe people from Laaarndaaarn speak. There are other issues but that’s enough for now.

      Still on the plus side of things, besides the investigation quests, the clothing system is great (if you’re an RPer like me), the multitude of weapon models is good (if weird – they could have done more work on the M4 so that it’s M203 grenade launcher was correctly scaled & placed & that H&K weapons had the correct underslung HK69A1 (according to google) grenade launcher). And London is a very well crafted area – just those damn accents…

      *And some are really hard and I would not blame people for cheating. One I had an entertaining time with was realising that a vans lights were transmitting the next clue in Morse Code from the headlights and then jotting it down correctly and translating it – I spent nigh on an hour on that one part of a quest yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. Actually made me think.

  5. bglamb says:

    Sad face. But then, I cancelled my subscription, so I guess that’s that.

  6. nizzie says:

    TSW is a bad game, I just don’t see any reason to play it, except for the investigation quests. But honestly, that’s not enough to keep me interested, let alone to pay for a subscription. Everything else was just not good enough, the combat felt weird and was boring, the dialogues weren’t particularly interesting (some voice actors were pretty terrible even).

    To go on Steam was the right move, but I don’t see TSW surviving for a long time. GW2 is gonna take a big bite off their subscriber list in two weeks, and I expect them to go f2p or close shop in less than a year. And I don’t really mind, it’s Funcom. Yes, I’m still mad at them for what they pulled off with Age of Conan.

    • mmalove says:

      I like a lot of the direction Funcom took with TSW: ease of cross server grouping, the investigation quests, non-leveling progression and repeatable quests making grouping with friends way easier than in many previous MMOs. I like deck building approach to the hotbar, it reminds me of MTG in a way where half the game is determining what you’re bringing to the battle, and the other half is execution.

      Unfortunately I agree with a lot of the previous posters: the sub model is going to kill this game. It forces it into a tier with the WOW’s and RIFTs of the world, where even SWTOR couldn’t compete, and it’s just not polished enough to survive there. They aren’t pushing out content fast enough to justify 15/month, there’s still some pretty tough bugs to chew on like gear management not actually swapping your gear between roles, and there’s just not much going on in terms of world pvp/events. It’s fun to find a few random folks to run a dungeon with, or the occasion chum tasked with the same quest you had to kill Deep One King #5, but realistically this could have played more like a fallout/skyrim game without the costs of maintaining servers, the subs, and released future content as DLC, while at the same time giving enthusiasts the option to mod in their own content as well. As much as I’m enjoying the game today, I can’t imagine it having a sustainable endgame as a subscription MMO.

    • Gyldendahl says:

      After Age of Conan I swore never to touch Funcom again. And when I heard about TSW I shook my head in disbelief knowing it would fail as noone wants to be screwed over by the same people twice.

  7. jamscones says:

    It’s not the quality of the game, it’s the fact that they were flogging the client for FOURTY QUID and the sub is really expensive too. I resolved to wait until I could get the client for free (or less than a tenner) as I did with Age of Conan

    • Maxheadroom says:

      It looked interesting and I really liked the modern setting (so sick of dwarfs, elves and wizards now) but I dont have the spare time to devote to MMOs these days and £40 +£15(or whatever it is) a month for the odd hour blast here and there isnt worth it.

      Same reason I never game The Old Republic a 2nd glance at launch

    • CaspianRoach says:

      Yep, this. I buy a lot of games nowadays but there’s no way I’m paying that much for such a … generic … experience.

    • TimEatsApples says:

      Right. I’d give this a go if I could download the client for free and get a week’s free play to check it out. If I liked it, I’d happily pay a sub at that point. But there are so many MMOs, and so many boring ones, that I’m not going to shell out that much money in the hopes I might like it.
      It’s a pity, the concept of this game sounded interesting to me, but at the moment the barrier to entry’s too high for my tastes.

  8. tumbleworld says:

    I love The Secret World. The setting is strong. The writing and voice acting are some of the best I’ve ever seen in games. Their non-typical quests are bloody awesome. They’re trying some really interesting things with the synergistic skill system.

    I HATE the combat. For a game that’s relying on the strength of its setting, writing and explorability, closely-packed identi-mobs to grind through is just gruellingly tedious.

    It’s worth ploughing through it, to me. But it’s a damn shame.

    • derella says:

      My opinion of TSW is almost identical to yours… Except for the part about it being worth slogging through.

      Loved the setting, investigations, and voice acting, as well as the potential of their skill/leveling system(though I think it fell short of what it could have been). But the combat, which is 95% of what you do in the game, is just awful — tedious, repetitive, slow, ugly, and just not engaging at all.

      I’d also add that I hate the character models and animations — they lack any sort of style or personality and the customization options are pathetic, especially when you consider there is just one playable race. The double-dipping sub+cash shop also turned me off.

      I could’ve overlooked those things, but the combat killed the game for me. After 1 week I’d lost the urge to log-in because I’d rather play no game than bore myself with something so tedious.

    • wu wei says:

      I hate the Disney-land attraction aspect of the monsters, littering the landscape so quest followers don’t double up on each other.

      Why not?

      If areas had much smaller player caps, better layout of monsters, and constant incentives to co-op with faction enemies or kill them, it would’ve felt a lot less like a bunch of people grinding away on an MMO. A lot more secret world and less day trip to Salem.

  9. MacGuffin says:

    TSW is a solid game, though the mature modern conspiracy genre is a bit more niche than stock fantasy which limits the market more than other MMOs. But they deserve a lot of credit for originality in quest design for the investigation missions alone. I certainly want it to succeed as the MMORPG market is in desperate need of original ideas and some of the ideas in TSW are definitely worthy of attention.

    However, I do wonder why they went with the pricing plan they did. I have trouble justifying subscription games these days when there are increasingly well done F2P and B2P options. In the end I don’t want a game that I feel obligated to play just so I don’t feel as though I’m wasting money every month. I think many consumers are starting to feel the same way.

  10. trjp says:

    Metacritic is fine – it could be improved but it works well enough and is useful.

    If you sign contracts which require you to attain a number on a system which is easily gamed and where one bad result can make a huge difference tho (given that PC games get few ratings on there now) – that’s your problem

    People put stuff like that in contracts because they’ve no idea what they’re doing – they’re making stuff up to make it seem like they understand stuff they don’t. PC games, in particular, are marketted more by social networks/word of mouth/online stuff than the traditional ‘review’ model which Metacritic reflects.

    This is the problem with spending other people’s money to make your own stuff – if it works, they benefit and if it fails YOU suffer – you’d think they’d learn…

    • Vorphalack says:

      Right, major developers need to move away from borrowing tens of millions from investors with rigid contract clauses, and start looking at alternatives like, erm……..erm……..yeah. Silly developers.

  11. AmateurScience says:

    This is sad news, but the concept of the narrative led, entirely solo-playable ‘MMO’ was one I think that was probably doomed to failure. Always struck me as odd that these two games went to great lengths to emphasise elements that made a subscription untenable.

    In an alternate world KOTOR 3 and ‘What Ragnar did next: the deep, involved single player adventure game’ have received rave reviews and sold millions of copies, bringing in enough money to keep Bioware and Funcom afloat for several years. Maybe.

    • Gorf says:

      “In an alternate world KOTOR 3 and ‘What Ragnar did next: the deep, involved single player adventure game’ have received rave reviews and sold millions of copies, bringing in enough money to keep Bioware and Funcom afloat for several years. Maybe.”


      For ppl that like MMO’s, WoW is technically the best of the bunch and thats why its at the top.(and no i’m not a WoW player, tho i have played in the past)

  12. Rao Dao Zao says:

    If it was an offline singleplayer game, I’d have bought the bacon out of it. ;_;

    • Maxheadroom says:

      Same, although weirdly I’m still crushingly dissapointed that Dark Millenium is no longer an MMO. Go figure

      • Azradesh says:

        Why? You just know that any and all lore would be sacrificed at that altar of the balance god.

    • DanPryce says:

      This. I became infinitely more interested in Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium the second it become a single-player RPG.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      I might still not have bought it, but I do believe that (from what I’ve heard and seen about TSW) the game would’ve been far more suitable for a single-player or co-op experience.

      -edit- Also, what were they thinking when they came up with their hare-brained monetisation scheme? WoW? Or just lots and lots of potential money?

    • Iskariot says:

      I see I am not the only one who suffers from MMO sickness.
      I also would have certainly bought this game if it wasn’t an MMO.
      The same goes for SWTOR.
      And Dark Millennium also jumped to the top of my list since it stopped being an MMO

  13. mfcrocker says:

    It’s clearly been the case for a long, long time that Funcom haven’t got a business-leaning brain cell between them. Anarchy Online was arguably their biggest success but has been completely neglected. The implementation of a free-to-play model did boost their playerbase significantly at the time but offered a poor estimation of the game and so had some real problems with retention (extending it to offer Shadowlands but not AI would’ve been far, far more successful).

    Conan and TSW seem to have been total flops.

    The solution is simple, has been suggested repeatedly and ignored over and over – chuck out an AO2, properly engage with the free-to-play model and laugh to the bank.

    (Alternate post: MMOs are dead, long live MMOs)

    • frightlever says:

      Chuck out a AO2? You say that like it wouldn’t take minimum 3-4 years of development.

      AO was one of my favourite MMORPGs and I’d be interested to see a sequel but that’s not going to help Funcom now. They’re screwed unless they can quickly turn around a F2P model for their games – but given that TSW was built around micro-transactions anyway and obviously wasn’t paying the way it may even be too late for that.

      That free weekend probably didn’t do them any favours – all it did was confirm to a lot of people that they didn’t want to pay for TSW.

      In a way Funcom are a victim of their own quest to innovate. Their games aren’t cookie-cutter WoW clones – each of them has a USP, just not one that appeals to enough people.

      • mfcrocker says:

        Well, arguably they have been working on it RE: the new engine work, but that’s been in the pipeline for half a decade now and is frankly outdated by today’s standards.

        You’re right that Funcom are pretty much screwed though – my suggestion was definitely out of blind hope rather than having any kind of grounding in reality

      • Baines says:

        Cookie cutter WoW clones aren’t going to work, either.

        If anything, these MMOs are still too much like WoW. That, at least, is how they are seen. SWTOR, TSW, Age of Conan… They all have a gimmick, but they don’t have enough different besides that gimmick. And they mess up too much of their generic MMO aspects (whether it be combat, PvP, quests, or whatever.)

        People aren’t being turned off from TSW because it isn’t enough like WoW. The people who want to play WoW are playing WoW, or playing Guild Wars if they want a subscription-less game. The people that don’t want WoW, or want something besides WoW, look at these other games and see a gimmick or two inside the same structure as what they are already playing, except without the polish and maybe a bit more creaks.

  14. agitated_android says:

    There are many reasons I didn’t buy TSW. None of them are the metacritic score.

    1. It’s Funcom. See: AoC
    2. Character creation during beta was abysmal.
    3. Combat is snooze-worthy.

    Those three things kept me from even approaching the supposedly entertaining investigations. You can’t make a hit built on one element of a game. Unless you’re Pac-Man.

    • Runs With Foxes says:

      These are the reasons why its failure was predictable. I’d be surprised if even the people who like the adventure game side of it will keep playing for long, because the MMO side of it is simply poor. I think the Metacritic score is unreasonably high, actually.

    • jrodman says:

      Curious about point 2. What was awful about character creation?
      On free weekend, character creation seemed to be essentially a no-op. Pick your visual look.. and you’re done.

      • agitated_android says:

        I only had the opportunity to play during a late beta weekend and while male characters had some… character to them, the female characters were really lacking. Their faces just left much to be desired. It’s not that I was looking for a perfectly beautiful female toon but I at least wanted one that appeared to be from my species. Cro-magnon is the best way I can recall their appearance.

        It’s entirely possible that this is not the situation in the live game and that a handsome, homo sapien female is a possibility now. The trouble is, even if I’m willing to offer them a chance at a second impression I’m not willing to pay them for the privilege.

        And, then there’s still points 1 and 3. I could have toughed it out if the dodging mechanic which I understand was added late didn’t feel like it was added late.

        So much of my brief experience of TSW was informed by my experience of AoC. There was a quite a bit of “oh that seems novel and clever and half done”. The voice work alone I thought worthy of praise but that just can’t be all there is.

        • jrodman says:

          Oh, that’s a shame then.

          As a homosexual male, my female character seemed plenty serviceable. Personality, reasonable looks (not crazy in any direction), and a lack of oversexualization beyond the basic body figure worked for me.

  15. Wodge says:

    F2P is not the problem, the problem is developers don’t really understand that the MMORPG Genre is evolutionary, and not revolutionary.

    Games keep on being released with 1 or 2 new “gimmicks” such as TERA’s realtime action-y combat, TSW’s contemporary setting etc. and missing a metric bum-ton of features from other MMOs. Rift is the only MMO released post WoW that really tried grabbing every single bit of functionality from other games and building upon it.

    The last big MMO that kept my attention for a good while was EQ2, after that I kept comparing new games to it, and found it lacking loads of features and kept me wanting to go back, Rift had a good few of the features, and the upcoming expansion is adding some of the ones I missed from EQ2 (namely, housing)

    TERA, while having a fun combat system, was about 10 years behind most other MMOs when it came to content, Vanarchy aside, it was the same quest hub based gameplay of all other MMOs, nothing new there at all. The Vanarchy system was awful too, no politics/economics involved, pretty much build up a large guild by spamming, and make ’em vote for you.

    WoW and EQ2 have such a large feature set, a new MMO needs to take what’s there, and then add to it, otherwise people will drift back to their old games.

  16. JD Ogre says:

    Maybe if they had, I dunno, done a bit of advertising rather than relying on word of mouth (which really only works for properties with a pre-existing fanbase, like Guild Wars or World of Warcraft), they might’ve done a little better. Or adjusted their subscriber expectations downward.

    Budget and aim for about 500k subscribers ($7.5 million a month coming in is nothing to sneeze at) and *advertise*, rather than making it so you need a million+ to be a success and inevitably being disappointed.

    And by all the gods that ever were and ever will be, stop using MetaCritic as an indication of success!

    • abandonhope says:

      Metacritic should do like the Olympics and drop the highest 10(ish)% and lowest 10(ish)% of scores to eliminate potential bias/misjudgement. The numbers as they are are pretty worthless.

  17. Oozo says:

    “…and I doubt I was alone in being put off by the dry combat (the narrative stuff seemed appealing, but I didn’t want to wade through hours of what, from the beta, wasn’t terribly engaging shooty-bang just to hear the dialogue).”

    That’s me, right there. Which really is a shame – I was immensely looking forward to it.

    Too bad that what Jim suggested aeons ago will never be put into practice: That is, make further use of the ENORMOUS resources put into the narrative aspects. Namely, a single-player game (I’d prefer it to be an RPG, but YMMV) in the same world. I could even imagine it being legit to re-use the details right down to the places and characters, but get rid of the MMO-stuffing and atavisms.

    Playing it, I couldn’t help thinking that they misjudged the genre they wanted to work in, or their own strenghts.

    • frightlever says:

      I’m probably the only guy who felt he was wading through hours of dreary dialogue to get to the combat. I really hated their cut-scenes. Did not hate the combat to be honest – I shan’t be composing odes to it, but it was no worse than any other MMORPG.

      • Archonsod says:

        That’s the thing though. A big reason people don’t play MMO’s is because the combat is slightly less fun than watching paint dry. Having a system that’s ‘no worse’ than any other MMO isn’t good enough; not when you consider these systems are over a decade old.

      • Oozo says:

        What Archonsod said.

        Plus: it’s clear that they went for the narrative aspects as their “unique selling point” (it’s what attracted myself and a lot of other players to the game), so loitering the landscape with magnetic enemies and cranking the fight/other stuff-ratio the way it is, was maybe not the smartest idea. (Even though I do realize that if you’re sticking so closely to the tried-and-tested MMO-template, it’s difficult to give people enough to do without an overabundance of enemies.)

        If you played it for the fights, and enjoyed them, all the better. I didn’t, and the promo didn’t give me a lot of reasons for thinking that it is what I should be looking for in the game. (One could also ask if the combat really is different and strong enough to differentiate the game from other MMOs… I personally do not think so, while the setting actually is a breath of fresh air.)

        • Fearzone says:

          Combat mainly serves to pace MMOs. There is so much combat in any MMO that it is going to grow tedious after awhile, even if it is really good. What makes MMOs addictive is not combat but world exploration and character development–like any RPG. Not that good combat isn’t better and makes the game funner, it does, but if all else is ignored, the game will flop. Wow showed how well a game can succeed when the combat is just okay.

  18. abandonhope says:

    That’s a shame, but who didn’t see it coming? They were in the unfortunate position of developing a subscription MMO as tides were turning, which I’m sure they were well aware of. I suppose there was nothing to do but go full steam ahead and hope for the best.

    Even though I don’t play MMOs, the non-medieval fantasy world appealed to me–and what I saw in the press was positive, which helped–so I played during the free weekend. As I progressed–at a dreadful pace–I kept looking at the handgun skill tree, and eventually it became apparent that I was never going to obtain enough abilities to make combat interesting. Earlier on, it was all buff, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, power shoot, repeat, and each new ability added just a tiny bit of variation–not very compelling.

    It’s going on sale on Amazon for $25 from 8/17 to 8/19, but even then it still wouldn’t be a $15/month experience for me, especially since it’s probably unlikely that subs will go to financing new content now that they need that revenue just to stay afloat. It’s sad to see such an interesting RPG world go to waste on a failing business model.

    • trjp says:

      In fairness, the tide had turned – they’d already converted their previous 2 MMOs to F2P and told everyone how successful that had been.

      TSW effectively has a subs AND a shop – it’s greedy and it being so different didn’t help that.

      Also, being a Funcom game, it will have been unplayable anyway – their games are always knackered on launch and anyone with sense gives it a month or 2 :)

      • mfcrocker says:

        Sort of – the F2P experience on Anarchy Online is gimped to near-pointlessness. Shadowlands is simply a far superior way to play AO and not offering that to F2P players was a huge mistake in my opinion.

        I mean, kicking it around Rubi-Ka is fun sometimes but I couldn’t imagine the tedium of grinding to L200 as a free player.

      • wccrawford says:

        Subs, shop and initial price, too. Any one of the 3 is fine by me, but all 3? No freaking way. Especially since there’s no demo.

        The lack of a demo is why I quit playing MMOs, actually. I can’t justify spending $60 to find out if it’s worth $15/mo, especially when I find most of them to be boring.

        • abandonhope says:

          Yeah, I just don’t get it–none of it, really. ArenaNet sold the base Guild Wars, and then additional campaigns. Right, fine. Blizzard sold the base WoW, and then additional campaigns–what exactly is the sub for again? Just because? MMOs give me the willies.

  19. JohnnyMaverik says:

    The moral of the story is, stop making MMOs.

    • derbefrier says:

      or stop making MMOs that are boring after the first month. The last few MMOs i have bought always seem to end the same way. I have a blast for a month, then run out of content. Okay so maybe they release a new instance, after a week I am right back were I was with nothing to do. At least games like WoW had stupid long grinds for things like weapons and all sorts of other stuff to keep me busy, sure it was repetitive but at least it was something to work for. It seems there was always a way to improve my character, now these days all the top gear is handed out like candy with little or no effort and anything resembling a challenge is quickly nerfed to the ground to appease the casual player base and we just find ourselves with a fun but ultimately boring game with nothing to do at the end of the free month so we cancel. The MMO gamer is not as patient as it once was. When your MMO is a themepark once you have been on all the rides your just ready to move on.

    • Obc says:

      exactly, make a tight focused singeplayer and it will still sell millions. look at skyrim or other singleplayer games. the money could have been invested in 2-4 singleplayer rpg’s/whatever and could have sold as well as other SP games (DA, ME). and the chance is higher that one of the games sells REALLY well and tada, you have unlocked a franchise. why put all your money into one pot which hasn’t made anyone the big money as of late.

      • Baines says:

        I wonder if Skyrim would have been better or worse if it Skyrim, but with plenty of people in a shared online world. Okay, you’d need to approach quests and some of the story differently (at least you should), but keep the gameplay itself as Skyrim. (Not what they are apparently doing with the Elder Scrolls MMO, which just seems to be a regular MMO with Elder Scrolls stuff painted onto it.)

  20. Deano2099 says:

    I was nearly tempted, I was even okay with it having a subs model. My objection came about when the sub was priced at £11.49 a month (down from the planned £12.99). That’s £2.50 more than WoW. I couldn’t see why the premium.

    I do think this game could sustain a good F2P model though – sell bits of story in chunks. I’m far more likely to pay £10 to unlock a bunch of new quests and areas to play whenever I want, than commit to paying that every month. I mean, if they’re going to keep up with these monthly new content issues anyway, it’s the same money.

    Then again, I’d rather they refactored all the content into a SP game and cut out the grind…

  21. noodlecake says:

    Now this has failed can we finally have The Longest Journey 3 or Dreamfall 2 or whatever they might decide to call it?

  22. joedpa82 says:

    Was gonna buy it but and go for the lifetime sub but canceled because they ask me to pay in Euro. Im living in Asia.

  23. Freud says:

    While some parts of the industry is bizarrely obsessed with Metacritic, especially in addition to quarterly report driven owners, poor reviews were a problem before the site existed.

    I think MMOs as a genre in general and subscription based ones in particular is something that doesn’t resonate with gamers as it did ten years ago. So many developers have tried selling us grinding as entertainment the last couple of years I feel players are getting tired of it.

  24. Slinkyboy says:

    I’m hearing praises of F2P. Can’t wait.

  25. J_C says:

    I wonder how many people who say that the combat is shit played the actual game, and not just the beta. Because most of the complaints made during the beta have been sorted out.

    As stated before by others, this is the thinking man’s MMO. If you want great combat, try something else. If you want good setting, great atmosphere, good writing, interesting mission, solving puzzles, try TSW. I hope the game will gain a standard core of players, while the crybabies will drop off to play WoW or Guild Wars. It will be just the better for us, players. Just like with EVE Online.

    • abandonhope says:

      As Bhazor asks just below, why is it an MMO at all? The complaints and criticisms here are by and large about its being a (subscription) MMO, not about its not being more like WoW/Guild Wars. I’d love to experience the story and puzzles; I just don’t want to pay $15 a month to grind my way to the good parts. (I played during the free weekend, not the beta.)

      • J_C says:

        I also think that this game should have been a singleplayer RPG. But since it isn’t, and I want to experience the games story, investigation missions and atmosphere, I can bear with the generic (but not awful) combat. What other choice I have?

        • abandonhope says:

          Hey, more power to you. While I’m not willing to pay to grind, I definitely don’t think the game is complete shit, and I’d have stuck with it longer if it were free. Given how things are going, I imagine there’s a distinct possibility that I’ll get to pick up where I left off at some point.

    • Zepp says:

      I have played the “actual game” and finished almost all NM dungeons (cept some bosses from Ankh and Hell Fallen) as a tank.

      IMHO the combat is shit and boring.

      • J_C says:

        The combat is shit and boring, yet you played through the nighmare dungeons, which takes considerable time and effort. Wow, you sure like playing games with shit and boring combat.

        • jrodman says:

          So who can make valid criticisms of the combat, if not people who have played a lot, and not people who have not played a lot?

  26. Bhazor says:

    Begs the question I’ve been asking since the beginning. Why the hell is it a subscription MMO? More to the point why is it an MMO at all?

    Do online aspects add anything to the experience? Does the painstakingly made atmosphere with stand the assault of endless jackasses jumping up and down on the spot? Doesn’t it feel like a knife in the heart carefully building a world you know most players will just egnore as they find something to grind?

    • The Random One says:

      Aye. I didn’t play the beta because my computer was dead at the time, but the footage I’ve seen is a knife to the heart indeed.

      “You are now a secret member of our secret organization! Go to this secret place to talk to our secret contact, secretly!”
      “Is the secret place that one where there is a constant procession of brightly dressed joggers going in and out?”
      “The same. Shhhhhhhh!”

      • abandonhope says:

        IIRC, a character actually addresses this quite early on. Something like, “Notice all these people walking around in this derelict part of town?”

    • Iskariot says:

      Well Bhazor, what you described is a problem for all MMO RPG. I mostly play games to immerse myself in a carefully crafted game world.
      The MMO formula always turns an RPG in a immersion destroying playground full of jumping kids.
      That is why I would never play any of them.

      • Bhazor says:

        I have nothing against MMOs in general its just that the vast majority make no actual use of being online. In this case where the whole game is basically solving puzzles and uncovering lore it’s a huge detritement to have a shower of assholes ruining the atmosphere and posting spoilers on global chat.

        MMOs that allow real freedom are precious few in numbers and the rest are just co-op with a cash shop.

  27. povu says:

    Sounds like it’s time for a sequel to The Longest Journey: Dreamfall. Please? I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS!

  28. Chris Evans says:

    I liked the setting and the world from my brief excursion in the Beta, but my word the combat was horrendous! It really put me off I must say =/

  29. AngoraFish says:

    I’ve been playing for about three weeks, and loving it. I’ll almost certainly stick with it until I’ve completed the main quest line, but I must admit that I’m likely to drop the game after that.

    For what it’s worth, TSW is a great deal better than SWTOR in my view, but not quite up to the standard of Rift, or GW2 from what I’ve seen.

    I will say that for a game about global conspiracies, getting stuck almost exclusively on a tiny (feeling) island for the first 60% of the game (QL6) is a missed opportunity. Why they didn’t, instead, mix things up by having missions frequently fly you between cities, and back, is a mystery. It wouldn’t even necessarily need any additional map space as the starting island is large over three big separate zones (which could have been three entirely separate locations instead), and they already have detailed maps of Soul, New York and London that are massively under utilised.

    I must say, also, that the investigation missions aren’t to my taste (I’m happy to google the answer), and they have zero replay value, so no incentive to keep playing there.

    Having a near identical quest line for the three factions also seems to limit replay value, and the insubstantial and almost entirely useless crafting system limits incentive to extend game play.

  30. Ghoulie says:

    I’d love to play it, but my internet tends to suck in the evening (when I get some spare time to game). Not that’s particularly good otherwise, but it’s particularly painful at that time of day.

  31. iamspacegiraffe says:


    You’ve had your fun with MMOs now…


  32. Lemming says:

    The problem isnt review scores and its not having a sub. It’s charging more than any other sub in the genre. The arrogance is slightly unbelieving.

  33. The Random One says:

    Make it f2p already, Funcom. THAT is why I, at least, didn’t buy.

  34. AstaSyneri says:

    I am looking forward to trying it as a FTP :P.

  35. Lagwolf says:

    There are non-fantasy MMOs coming that have decent game-play & combat.. The combat in Age of Steam (in Alpha now) is quite engaging and rather good fun… with added attraction of steampunk.

    • Malk_Content says:

      Although I have not played in the Age of Steam alpha, I have watched a couple of videos (one with interview with the dev playing at the same time) and the combat in that looks worse than TSW’s. At least TSW combat requires you to move every now and then, Age of Steam is pure autoattack with dice rolls for defence and the popping of abilities when you can. You can’t even move backwards to avoid the occasional swipe or ranged attack as it follows the ridiculous, “well if the enemy could attack you at the start of it’s attack, it will hit you regardless of distance when the attack connects.” The developers seem to thing this is a good thing.

      • aliksy says:

        The “to hit is calculated at the start of the attack” mechanic is perhaps the single worst thing in MMOs (and Diablo3). Probably the #1 cause of my rage quits in recent years.

    • jrodman says:

      This game you keep mentioning. Its name is not age of steam.

  36. Necron99 says:

    Hate to be the different one here, but, I LOVED Anarchy Online and I LOVED Conan. What I found while playing and paying for both of those games was that Funcom had APPALLING customer service. And I don’t mean bad, I mean, HORRIBLE. After the fiasco I went through with Conan and the craptastic “GMs” I spoke with, I swore to never EVER pay for another Funcom game. The worst part is, I started a guild in 1996 that is still going strong and when I told them the story of what happened and Funcom’s horrible “response”, the entire guild voted off TSW.
    In the end, (well, really before TSW even begun) Funcom didn’t just lose one person over bad customer service, they lost a guild.
    I’m sure I’m not the only one who has boycotted Funcom because of their HORRID customer service.

  37. shadow9d9 says:

    8 tiny instanced worlds, instanced everything, terrible pvp, and the same repetitive as all hell repeat a few dungeons endgame is what killed it. Has nothing to do with subscriptions.

  38. machineageproductions says:

    If Metacritic is what’s killing them, I’m not sure why they don’t do what other AAAs do, and just buy better Metacritic scores.

  39. Erithtotl says:

    IT amazes me how publishers are unable to comprehend the current online gaming landscape. Every publisher seems to want to have a massive player base and charge a subscription. This doesn’t happen anymore. You basically have two options:

    1) Release a niche game that serves its niche really well and thus its fans are willing to pay (EVE).
    2) Release a broad game that succeeds on player volume and is F2P.

    Publishers are still trying to get best of both worlds and that won’t work. There are way too many #2s to make a combined model work.

    I really wish we’d see more option #1. As it is I feel like titles are so desperately trying to grab the casual gaming dollar that they end up delivering a bland/compromised experience that excites no one. I think a game like Mechwarrior Online would be better served by option 1. It’s too hardcore for a broad playerbase and I think a lot of players would prefer to just pay for it than have the game try to cater to casuals. Hardcore gamers are those who are willing to pay, but they are also the most demanding. Casuals are less willing to pay, but less demanding.

    If WoW released today exactly the same but with modern graphics, it would not succeed as a subscription game. This is not a knock on WoW, but rather that there are too many options for your gaming time offering a similar experience. When WoW launched there were no real F2P options, and it continues to make money because its the Facebook of games. Everyone is on it, so everyone is on it.

  40. manveruppd says:

    I really loved the game when I tried it, and would honestly buy it if I weren’t expecting GW2 to take over my life in 2 weeks. It’s different, funny, well-written and atmospheric. It would be a massive shame if it had to fold!
    I think the low metacritic score has little to do with it though, more the fact that Funcom perennially mis-time their launches. TSW is a small niche game, which more people would be willing to try if it weren’t coinciding with other big launches. 6 weeks before GW2, 2 months before the new WoW expansion. People are holding their breaths for the industry behemoths. Conan also launched 2 months before WAR and 3 months before a WoW expansion iirc. Guess they’re not a big company with lots of cash in the bank so they could afford to postpone the launch though, so them’s the breaks.

  41. Brit89 says:

    Combat definitely was whack and one of my main reasons I was put off during the Beta. I thought the story was decent, at least the premise but it wasn’t told in a good way. Overall the beta was not fun at all in any way aside from it’s premise.

    Most of the active members of my SWTOR guild has hopped on this game and I don’t understand why (though they’re more of an MMO play than I am, but still). I thought maybe I’m missing something and with the coverage it’s been getting I thought I was the only one who thought the combat was off or this game in general. Glad I’m not.

  42. Lord of the Fungi says:

    I played Secret World and I really liked it, I definitely got my money worth for the month of gameplay included with the game. The thins is, after finishing the story why should I remain subscribed? There is not much to do, other than grind nightmare dungeons, and I hardly find it fun. Due to the design of the story and the classless mechanics, there even is no reason to play an alt whatsoever (which puts it at a worse position that, say, SWTOR, where at least there was some reason to alt, even if most of the zones got boring). When there will be some solid amount of content added, I may resub for a month, but that’s it. Any theme park MMO has to deal with the fact that people will quit when they finish current content, and it’s hard to do something about it.

  43. Victuz says:

    Subscription model is just part of the issue that most MMO’s are facing. The real problem is the fact that despite the different settings and adding more particle effects they’re all the same. Sure if you like the setting or it’s your first time, playing a hotkey based MMO where the player doesn’t have ANY real impact on the world presented might be fun for a while. But this model is old and boring. It really needs a change.

    Another issue is the fact that devs don’t seem to realize that A) MMO’s fail all the time B) they’re really expensive to make. Why make an expensive MMO and HOPE that people latch onto it for a while, when you can spend far less money and make a good single player game, hell add multiplayer to it. If it’s good people will buy it and stick with it, perhaps you can monetize it later like valve is doing with TF2.

    And lastly… people are impatient. Especially people who invest money it seems. What happened to the era where investors expected a return of their money in a year, two or even more. Now it seems like it has to be RIGHTNOWOMGWHEREISMYMONEYFFS.

    Hopefully soon development studios and investors all over the world will realise that we don’t want to play the old MMO’s any more. Either give us good single player experiences (and we’ll buy them) or change the way you make MMO’s. Because this is not working.

    • Victuz says:

      PS. You’d think that Funcom out of all the companies in the world, would realize after releasing Conan (that flopped) that releasing another mmo ,that is not that mechanically different from the one I mentioned, would contribute to exactly one thing:
      Jack shit.

  44. Hardmood says:

    what people expect?

    1. aoc release was a fail -> many people dont even think abiout buying the next release from FC, not matter what quality lvl it has
    2. EA as publisher (or whatevr u can call that joint adventure)
    3. SW is a mediocre mmo, with some interesting aspects (like swtor). but not enough
    4.FC support? who knows

  45. KDR_11k says:

    No wonder. When TSW is at its best it feels like a point & click adventure with an annoying tendency to throw enemies at you (so it’s almost a stealth game, if you get noticed by two enemies at once you can just give up). When it’s not at its best… Well, the combat isn’t very fun. Overall it fails to make a case for why it should be an MMORPG instead of a singleplayer open world game. Other people are just background noise (and I turn the chat off on purpose just in case someone is going to write spoilers in there) that might as well not be there and in singleplayer you don’t get lag.

    I have not continued past the free month but to be fair I was never planning to. I got the game for fairly cheap near launch and just wanted to play it for the investigation quests. Then the steam summer sale happened and when I returned on the last two days of my free month I just felt that I didn’t enjoy this. Sneaking around enemies (killing nets so little XP that you don’t need to bother with it, just do your quests and you’ll get tons) is only fun for so long.

  46. Bahoxu says:

    Very sad. I really enjoy the secret world and hope to be able to keep playing it for a long time. It is a sparkling gem of thoughtful play in an interesting world, lost in a sea of dumbed down MMO’s for lolkidz.

    Unfortunately that requires some degree of success or the games evolution will slow down and stop.

  47. aepervius says:

    I was wondering why suddenly recently I started seeing nobody, absolutely nobody around. I am stuck in Transylvania first zone with trying to do 1 instance (facility) and a few hard group quest (the girl who kicked a vampire nest and so forth). Now i know. Probably a lot of people left once their free month was over.

  48. Crainey says:

    When you have a market as saturated as the MMORPG one you really need to truly innovate (something this genre lacks) to make AAA sales numbers, or even begin to start talking about matching the success of WoW.
    Another huge problem is people are so bored of the same gameplay being repacked they get over-hyped around promising game releases such as TSW, GW2 etc etc. Guild Wars 2 is no doubt a good game but the expectations due to the hype are truly outrageous.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      True. It’ll be interesting to compare people’s thoughts and reviews from after the launch of GW2 to writings prior to it.

  49. vodka and cookies says:

    I have no interest in MMO’s I wonder why they don’t cobble it together into a single player game they might make some money back from it.

  50. Reefpirate says:

    This past weekend I was shopping around on Steam. I bought Hero Academy and Awesomenauts and I think I’ll continue to have fun with both of those for a while into the future. As I was looking around I spotted The Secret World. For a split second I remember thinking “Oh yeah, that game is out now. That might be kind of fun to try and — wha?? $60? Riiiight.”

    It’s a rare occasion when I spend that much money on a game these days. And certainly I wouldn’t spend that much on an impulse buy like I used to with PC Games. It’s great that the average price/quality ratio has come down so much. I don’t think it’s right to blame Metacritic for this. Sure, maybe it shouldn’t be used as a direct measuring stick for success, but you should also consider your pricing and the overall quality of the product.