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[Column] The Secret World: A Complex Issue for Funcom

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,658MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

Last week during a stockholder meeting, Funcom admitted that The Secret World had not lived up to all of the expectations that the company had hoped it would. In our latest Secret World column, we take a look at the shareholder meeting, the news that was disseminated and what it all means. Read on!

Some folks were saying that this was a resurgence of the “Failcom” monicker that Funcom acquired through their MMO practices. A number of people mentioned that this might be good for them, as it meant that the game would go undergo a free-to-play transition sooner and thus allow them to play without paying. A smaller subset of individuals was basically wishing it would go free-to-play simply because The Secret World came from “Failcom,” and that's exasperating to read.

Read more of Victor Barreiro Jr.'s excellent analysis in The Secret World: A Complex Issue for Funcom.

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

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Comments

  • ZealowZealow OsloPosts: 6Member

    Great article.

    While Funcom indeed comes from a troubled past, there is no doubt that the secret world is by far their best mmo yet. It has had one of the smoothest launches in mmo history, the players that invest some time in seems to love it and at least as far as the 2 first months go, they seem to be on track with their monthly content updates. 

    Heres to hoping it will pick up some steam (hah, see what i did there), and get the describer base it deserves and needs to keep the world alive, growing and evolving like they planned.

     
  • jawalijawali slubicePosts: 195Member Uncommon
    imo TSW is a good game with bad pvp and combat. Overall I had a good time in this game but subscription+ cs is imo a bad idea, anyway I have lots of fun in Rift atm, so mayebe I give this game a try in the future

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  • DakirnDakirn Kansas City, MOPosts: 374Member Uncommon

    This was a good article.

     

    I'm so tired of hearing people wishing that a game will fail.. they don't even take into consideration what they're asking for.  They're asking for hundreds of employees to lose their jobs and ability to provide for their families.. simply because they don't "like" the game or have some deep set grudge against the company because of a game you played 5 years ago.

     

    If you don't like a game, state your reasoning and move on.. don't spend your time bashing the game and wishing for failure.  It doesn't help the industry at all.

     

    MMO developers have to be some of the most selfless people on the planet to work such long hours for very average pay to make a game that so many people end up hating, wishing for the failure or of wishing personal bodily harm to those who work on it.

     

    It's sad to read so much, especially on this site.. especially in an industry where something "new" is rare.  Everyone wants a company to try something different and then hope for their failure at the same time.

  • KuppaKuppa Boulder, COPosts: 3,292Member Uncommon
    The aricle was OK. But I could not stand your f2p rant, I just don't agree with it. You basically made the f2p transition look like the greatest evil that could happen to a game.

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  • unknown769unknown769 buford, GAPosts: 45Member

    great article even funcom already prepared to have TSW being f2p it thing dont go right ,cause they either way see it coming too ,and already say it will be change (like aoc) and gonna try to fing a way to take theyr money back lol hilarious. but life its like that just deal whit it some people dont like game it become f2p then its kk do wtv you want  to whit the game  ,at end its not our foul like they pointed its theyr for try to make a profit game by sub  fee whit no potential at all.

    --------------

    you can be certain that an F2P shift will change things. By then it could indicate that investors want to make their money back, and will work towards treating gamers (and the development and community teams) like dollar signs and less like people. It could mean that content may become gated by pay walls. It could also mean that the folks who make the decisions and are in charge of turning a profit on the game would try to further the use of psychologically deceitful practices that prompt us to engage in addictive behavior rather than the pursuit of fun. 

    (ilove that part dont get me wrong but they really see it coming)

     
  • LoboMauLoboMau Marinha GrandePosts: 396Member
    Great article. I agree with almost everything. By the way...F2P is not so EVIL! :)
  • Superman0XSuperman0X San Jose, CAPosts: 1,611Member Uncommon

    Your article is interesting.. as it is very self contradictory.

     

    Funcom clearly expressed that negative reviews are going to have an effect on sales. This in turn is going to have an effect on stock price. Nothing about this should be a surprise to anyone, nor should be any real concern. What should be looked at is WHY this is true for this game, but not others (i.e. why is this actually news).

     

    When a game is P2P, money is made by convincing someone to pay for the product first, then find out if they enjoy it. This is done via marketing, of which a big contribution to this is reviews. Players read reviews to find out about the game, before deciding if they want to spend money.  The release of TSW was not as successful as predicted, because the reviews were not as positive as predicted.

    When a game is F2P, money is made by convincing someone to pay for the product after they have tried it out. This requires less indirect marketing, and reviews are not as important, as the customer can try the product, and decide for themselves first.

     

    One of the reasons that F2P is suddenly in vogue (the current popularity is very fadish) is because customers have had very bad experiences with P2P in the recent years. They have paid for games (like Age of Conan) based on reviews, only to find that they did not actually enjoy the game. At this time customers are even MORE critical of the reviews, and are looking to form their own opinions first... which is supported by F2P.

     

    You end the article on two points:

    F2P could/would bring in bad elements (treat gamers like $, use of psychologically deceitful practices). Your statements here show clear bias, as these same elements are used in P2P games to make money.

     

    You should form your own opinion (and not rely on reviews). This is actually the unique selling point of F2P (vs P2P).  What you should be suggesting is that Funcom could overcome the poor reviews by making changes to the game (fixing the issues that caused the poor reviews) and then promoting the game via free weekends (i.e. start moving towards F2P) so that players can make up their own minds.

     

    It is clear that you wish good things for this game. However, it is also clear that bais towards the changes that might make that happen are not exclusive to the business unit.

  • victorbjrvictorbjr Quezon CityPosts: 186Member Uncommon

    Hey folks! Victor here.

    Just wanted to drop a quick note to the commenters worrying about me making F2P sound so evil.

    As it stands, the nature of free-to-play gaming is also a complex issue deserving of discussion, because there are many ways to implement a non-sub based payment matrix. There are some nice ways to do it (cosmetic cash shop, non-intrusive cash shop interface/notices), but there are also some pretty bad ways to go about it (focusing on gameplay that rewards addictive behavior, gear unlocks).

    I personally fear for the worst policies mostly because the direction of F2P gaming tends to lean closely towards that model in a number of really good games that have made a sub to F2P transition. 

    A writer and gamer from the Philippines. Loves his mom dearly. :)

    Can also be found on http://www.gamesandgeekery.com

  • ElsaboltsElsabolts Greencastle, INPosts: 2,595Member Uncommon

    Funcom will never change until there Suits and upper Managment are and will continue to Hype and others will continue to fall for it and buy advertizement. Its the nature of the beast.

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  • palulalulapalulalula vukovarPosts: 655Member
    It is over with golden time of mmo. In fact only Blizzard can survive all of this mess. Next big mmo will be ''Titan'' or first in the line of virtual reality mmo's. Sad, but for all other companies only solution is F2P and cheap products. Maybe mmofps can profit from this, who knows...
  • hfztthfztt GlostrupPosts: 841Member Uncommon

    F2P done wrong is EVIL!

    F2P done RIGHT in the RIGHT game can be a good thing.

    Most F2P seems to be stuck somewhere in the middle though, which I suspect is not a total coincidence.

  • TibernicusTibernicus Fall River, MAPosts: 433Member
    Originally posted by Zealow

    Great article.

    While Funcom indeed comes from a troubled past, there is no doubt that the secret world is by far their best mmo yet.

    Uhh, what?

    I mean, as a standalone game, in a vacuum, sure, it's interesting.

    But judge it as an MMO? No way. It's got almost none of the features that MMOs are supposed to be about. It feels more like a singleplayer game. In fact, its made by a singleplayer dev, and probably would have done better as a singleplayer game with optional COOP. But then they wouldn't get to charge a monthly fee, and that's what its all about. Pretty much the same deal with SWTOR.

    The reason TSW isn't doing well is because it's just not a very good MMO.

  • RemyVorenderRemyVorender Riverside, RIPosts: 3,266Member Uncommon

    I'd still rather just pay $15 a month and be able to earn EVERYTHING in game, than be able to go into a store to obtain it. It breaks immersion. ...and I know, no one cares about immersion anymore. I know.

     

    And in my humble opinion, TSW is living proof that most customers don't want challenge or complexity in their games anymore. 

    Played: AA, AC1, AC2, Aion, AO, AoC, CO, CoX, DAoC, DCUO, DN, EVE, EQ1, EQ2,
    ESO, FE, FFXI, FFXIV, FF, GW1, GW2, Istaria, L2, LoTRO, MO, MxO, NW, Rift, RoE,
    Ryzom, SB, SWG, SWTOR, TERA, TSW, WAR, WoW, WURM...

  • TibernicusTibernicus Fall River, MAPosts: 433Member
    Originally posted by palulalula
    It is over with golden time of mmo.

    That time ended in late 2003.

  • victorbjrvictorbjr Quezon CityPosts: 186Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Superman0X

    Your article is interesting.. as it is very self contradictory.

     

    Funcom clearly expressed that negative reviews are going to have an effect on sales. This in turn is going to have an effect on stock price. Nothing about this should be a surprise to anyone, nor should be any real concern. What should be looked at is WHY this is true for this game, but not others (i.e. why is this actually news).

     

    When a game is P2P, money is made by convincing someone to pay for the product first, then find out if they enjoy it. This is done via marketing, of which a big contribution to this is reviews. Players read reviews to find out about the game, before deciding if they want to spend money.  The release of TSW was not as successful as predicted, because the reviews were not as positive as predicted.

    When a game is F2P, money is made by convincing someone to pay for the product after they have tried it out. This requires less indirect marketing, and reviews are not as important, as the customer can try the product, and decide for themselves first.

     

    One of the reasons that F2P is suddenly in vogue (the current popularity is very fadish) is because customers have had very bad experiences with P2P in the recent years. They have paid for games (like Age of Conan) based on reviews, only to find that they did not actually enjoy the game. At this time customers are even MORE critical of the reviews, and are looking to form their own opinions first... which is supported by F2P.

     

    You end the article on two points:

    F2P could/would bring in bad elements (treat gamers like $, use of psychologically deceitful practices). Your statements here show clear bias, as these same elements are used in P2P games to make money.

     

    You should form your own opinion (and not rely on reviews). This is actually the unique selling point of F2P (vs P2P).  What you should be suggesting is that Funcom could overcome the poor reviews by making changes to the game (fixing the issues that caused the poor reviews) and then promoting the game via free weekends (i.e. start moving towards F2P) so that players can make up their own minds.

     

    It is clear that you wish good things for this game. However, it is also clear that bais towards the changes that might make that happen are not exclusive to the business unit.

     

    Heyo. Just saw your comment after I posted. :)

    As far as I know, Funcom is working on resolving issues with the game and with that single-server tech/chat issue thing. The issue 2 announcement that was also recently unveiled seems to bode well for the game, as they're trying to fix and add to existing gameplay systems (ROCKET LAUNCHERS!) :D

    Anyway...regarding your points Superman, I must admit that you have an excellent assessment, but it's predicated on the idea that game reviews and sales are causally linked.,  I'm gonna state here that my writing was based on the idea that a casual relationship between game reviews and game sales has yet to be firmly established, and I should have said that earlier in the piece. Apologies. 

    As of today, I believe, they've also got a 3-day trial set up for people, which should help increase visibility of the game amongst interested parties. :)

    Lastly, I will agree that even Sub games work on some level using an addition mechanic to keep some people playing. :)

    That said, thank you for the comment. 

    A writer and gamer from the Philippines. Loves his mom dearly. :)

    Can also be found on http://www.gamesandgeekery.com

  • TalulaRoseTalulaRose Long Island, NYPosts: 480Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Dakirn

    This was a good article.

     

    I'm so tired of hearing people wishing that a game will fail.. they don't even take into consideration what they're asking for.  They're asking for hundreds of employees to lose their jobs and ability to provide for their families.. simply because they don't "like" the game or have some deep set grudge against the company because of a game you played 5 years ago.

     

    If you don't like a game, state your reasoning and move on.. don't spend your time bashing the game and wishing for failure.  It doesn't help the industry at all.

     

    MMO developers have to be some of the most selfless people on the planet to work such long hours for very average pay to make a game that so many people end up hating, wishing for the failure or of wishing personal bodily harm to those who work on it.

     

    It's sad to read so much, especially on this site.. especially in an industry where something "new" is rare.  Everyone wants a company to try something different and then hope for their failure at the same time.

    This site needs to start doing a better job at moderating its community. Most of the times its a band wagon mentlity of trashing a game for lolz.

  • gaeanprayergaeanprayer Somewhere Out There, PAPosts: 2,320Member Uncommon

    "The third main point was that user scores were relatively high at 8.4 out of 10 on Metacritic and other sites and, according to Funcom, was “a positive indicator of high customer satisfaction, and a solid foundation” to build The Secret World on due to the greater possibility of a stable subscriber base."

     

    What people are forgetting is that TSW starts off on an incredibly high note. It just doesn't end that way. Those metacritic scores mean nothing for just that reason, and they (and you) are silly to base any opinion on the game's potential on them. Just because someone rushes over to talk about how much they love the game doesn't mean they're going to go back and adjust their scores should their opinion of it change. By then it's out of sight, out of mind.

     

    Right now TSW is facing the same dilemma most MMOs do, great at the beginning and by mid-game you're just trudging along toward an unfulfilling endgame. That's why they're already bleeding people despite the "positive indicator". That'll probably take care of itself after several months of updates, but that depends entirely on Funcom's speed in pushing out content. Up to this point, a fraction of recent MMOs managed to do so fast enough to avoid the inevitable F2P conversion: Conan, DCUO, CO, SWTOR, most likely TERA, etc.,etc. Due to the nature of TSW's core content and the amount of effort that goes into creating it, specifically those deep storylines and investigative missions, I don't see TSW being able to keep up with the demand.

    "Forums aren't for intelligent discussion; they're for blow-hards with unwavering opinions."

  • TibernicusTibernicus Fall River, MAPosts: 433Member
    Originally posted by TalulaRose
    Originally posted by Dakirn

    This was a good article.

     

    I'm so tired of hearing people wishing that a game will fail.. they don't even take into consideration what they're asking for.  They're asking for hundreds of employees to lose their jobs and ability to provide for their families.. simply because they don't "like" the game or have some deep set grudge against the company because of a game you played 5 years ago.

     

    If you don't like a game, state your reasoning and move on.. don't spend your time bashing the game and wishing for failure.  It doesn't help the industry at all.

     

    MMO developers have to be some of the most selfless people on the planet to work such long hours for very average pay to make a game that so many people end up hating, wishing for the failure or of wishing personal bodily harm to those who work on it.

     

    It's sad to read so much, especially on this site.. especially in an industry where something "new" is rare.  Everyone wants a company to try something different and then hope for their failure at the same time.

    This site needs to start doing a better job at moderating its community. Most of the times its a band wagon mentlity of trashing a game for lolz.

    Trashing a game because it's a bad game.

    We hope for games to fail so that there's a positive change in the industry. Those developers will ultimately be the ones to suffer either way, so long as publishers that don't know what they're doing are dictating what the devs are making.

  • BarCrowBarCrow Tampa, FLPosts: 2,212Member
    So..whats to keep publishers (or whoever) from making "arrangements" with metacritic to report just shy of a bonus enducing score..leaving developers stiffed of deserved revenue (in the form of earned bonuses) ...while the extra cash remains in the pockets of those less deserving?
     
  • FadedbombFadedbomb Aiken, SCPosts: 2,081Member
    Originally posted by Kuppa
    The aricle was OK. But I could not stand your f2p rant, I just don't agree with it. You basically made the f2p transition look like the greatest evil that could happen to a game.

    "Free to Play" IS the greatest evil that could happen to a game that was DESIGNED around PayToPlay.

     

    PayToPlay demands higher quality than FreeToPlay games do, and the rise of "Sub + CashShop" is even further pushing the envelope for bad products. If your product is good, and you know it's good, you won't ask more than $15/month. EvE knows they're a "niche" product, but they also know that they're a damn good one for the niche that they're in so they only charge $15/month and give FREE expansions.

     

    You think TSW would do $15/month + FREE expansions? Heck no, TSW isn't a quality enough product for full & true "PayToPlay". TSW was designed around the idea of immediate cash flow from P2P+CashShop+Boxes for the first year, and then a transition to "F2P" next year (or later this year) to sustain the product. Don't believe me? Wait a couple more months for the announcement. TSW is as themepark as an MMO can get, and linear themeparks have a hard time keeping content up to pace with even "Casual" gamers unless they cater to every age range & type of person like WoW has and are mega-huge-successful money wise.

     

    If you build a game from scratch AROUND the concept of a "Cash Shop" then you can go the 'Free'-To-Play route because then you're never considered a failure like SWTOR, but you're also not a good product.

     

    I've NEVER played a "F2P" product that was developed around the idea of "F2P" from the start that was worth a single dime. The only playable "F2P" titles out now were actually P2P failures that went F2P to keep from closing down, and they're the only "F2P" titles out now that are half-playable.

     

    We need a different name for "Free To Play" as the word "Free" is wholefully misleading, and quite frankly "F2P" is a lie entirely, nothing is EVER free.

     

     

    The Theory of Conservative Conservation of Ignorant Stupidity:
    Having a different opinion must mean you're a troll.

  • Ahil6Ahil6 Dearborn Heights, MIPosts: 14Member Uncommon

    First and last time I will buy a lifetime sub for a game. Lesson learned.

    :(

  • BarCrowBarCrow Tampa, FLPosts: 2,212Member
    NVM 
     

     

     
  • DominionlordDominionlord madera, CAPosts: 179Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Dakirn

    This was a good article.

     

    I'm so tired of hearing people wishing that a game will fail.. they don't even take into consideration what they're asking for.  They're asking for hundreds of employees to lose their jobs and ability to provide for their families.. simply because they don't "like" the game or have some deep set grudge against the company because of a game you played 5 years ago.

     

    If you don't like a game, state your reasoning and move on.. don't spend your time bashing the game and wishing for failure.  It doesn't help the industry at all.

     

    MMO developers have to be some of the most selfless people on the planet to work such long hours for very average pay to make a game that so many people end up hating, wishing for the failure or of wishing personal bodily harm to those who work on it.

     

    It's sad to read so much, especially on this site.. especially in an industry where something "new" is rare.  Everyone wants a company to try something different and then hope for their failure at the same time.

    +1

  • TibernicusTibernicus Fall River, MAPosts: 433Member
    Originally posted by BarCrow
    So..whats to keep publishers (or whoever) from making "arrangements" with metacritic to report just shy of a bonus enducing score..leaving developers stiffed of deserved revenue (in the form of earned bonuses)  and the extra cash in the kept in the pockets of those less deserving?
     

    Not a thing, reviewers get payed off all the time. Just look at the AoC and SWTOR scores.

  • AthcearAthcear Washington, DCPosts: 420Member
    I think we're getting to the point where it's silly to release a new MMO as purely subscription based.  It demands two things from a player then.  A big upfront monetary commitment (usually 50 or 60 dollars) and a big upfront time commitment (the month of play that comes with the game).  The frontloading of these requirements is a big turnoff.  I, like many others, am already playing my MMO of choice (in this case, LotRO).  My friends are there.  I don't know if I have enough time in the next 30 days to get enough out of a new MMO, since I would be playing it in the cracks around work, school, friends, social activities, and my current game.  I don't want to commit that much time and money to something that I may not get to use.  On the flip side, if it were adapted to a freemium style model that many games are now taking, I would have it installed right now and be playing it from time to time, and would likely happily shell out 5 dollars to unlock the next zone or whatever.  I played the free weekend and really liked the game.  But because I need to buy the game in 30 day chunks, and the first one will cost me 60 dollars, I'm going to pick that 30 day chunk very carefully, and it probably won't be until December or some such.

    Important facts:
    1. Free to Play games are poorly made.
    2. Casuals are not all idiots, but idiots call themselves casuals.
    3. Great solo and group content are not mutually exclusive, but they suffer when one is shoved into the mold of the other. The same is true of PvP and PvE.
    4. Community is more important than you think.

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