Ugh. I feel dirty. I just took The Secret World's newly launched "social tool" The Secret War for a spin, and it forced me to do some things even a childhood of grisly newfangled murder simulators never prepared me for. It is, in short, everything you hate about Facebook gaming - except that's the whole game. I'm feeling a bit ranty right now, so join me after the break for the gory details. Oh, and consider brewing up some coffee so you can spit-take it in enraged astonishment.
OK, so the goal of the "game" is to accrue points en route to unlocking weapons and other trinkets in The Secret World once it launches. If those virtual carrots on a stick aren't enough of a reason for you to bite, Funcom's also offering beta access, a fully paid trip to its studio in Montreal, and the chance to get your name in the game (no, not as a playable character; everyone on earth can do that) - but on a random draw basis.
So then, how do you earn points? Why, by pestering everyone you know with incessant Facebook posts, of course. See, you have to deploy "agents" in different territories and increase your secret society's influence, and that's where your friends (soon to be bitter, potentially murderous enemies) come in. In order to add them to your stable - in effect, turning them into currency - you have to spread "propaganda," which of course takes the form of Facebook wall posts and messages. If your friends click - for instance, say, because their cat steps on their mouse or they are afflicted with temporary blindness - then you've succeeded. On some level. I guess.
But wait, there's a catch! You can only use an agent once per hour, so clearly, you need to invite more and more and more. Otherwise, how will you ever unlock that incredibly existent non-faction T-shirt you're so thrilled abou-- OK, I can't finish that sentence. Has anyone ever been thrilled about an in-game T-shirt? In the whole of this brief yet increasingly dark period in human history? Why is this a thing?
This is terrible. For a game all about subterfuge and underground politics, the message here is unbelievably in-your-face. "Want some largely inconsequential stuff? Then advertise for us. For hours. Repeatedly." This is gross. It's not even a game.
My first mission was - I kid you not - to "like" The Secret World on Facebook. In retrospect, I find that a bit amusing, seeing as I like it a whole lot less now.