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[Column] The Secret World: Doing Right By Gamers

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,583MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

This week's column devoted to The Secret World takes a look at how news outlets sometimes opt to frame Funcom's game in a negative light despite the fact that, indeed, TSW seems to have already turned the corner. See what we've got to say and then leave your thoughts in the comments.

Like it or not, the way things are reported or framed creates a certain viewpoint that allows people to associate positively or negatively to a given article. A byproduct of being human is that we tend to create these viewpoints or write in a way that creates these associations without meaning to. We also tend to have something called confirmation bias, in which we favor information presented to us that confirms our existing beliefs or hypotheses. 

Read more of Victor Barreiro Jr.'s The Secret World: Doing Right By Gamers.

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

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Comments

  • kulhatkulhat TaastrupPosts: 36Member

    If Funcom made brilliant games we would not have to discuss things like this, yes?

    I'm not trying to sound smart, but it is what it is when you look closely.

     

     

     

  • pressiepressie wirralPosts: 1Member

    I think they deserve kudos in getting back on track in delivering Issue 3. Issue 4 sounds great and hopefully they can keep up the content to justify the subscription. Because the content up till now, has been top-notch.

  • Reas43Reas43 New York, NYPosts: 297Member

    There are very good points and merits to those outside interviews you linked to your post. 

    However - I would HARDLY say that you've been part of the "problem".  If anything you've been very despairingly loud and unambiguous about how you are every bit as perplexed as the high execs as to why this game did not perform and why it "deserved better" - to paraphrase you. 

    In fact in SPITE of this website most tenacious efforts that game has unfortunately tanked in the wild and editorial typescontinue to be as blindsided to it now as they were when the turn of events became clear.  It is obvious that much remains to be learned. There are obvious reasons for TSW mediocrity which continue to be ignored or gloseed over. Those interviews and your own blog demonstrate that.

    Stay away from the whole topic of TSW, from MMO's in general for a whole week.  Don't even read news about it.  Nothing.  Then go back and log into the game and see how it feels.  I think  you'll be closer to your answer then.

     

  • JeroKaneJeroKane OsloPosts: 5,353Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by kulhat

    If Funcom made brilliant games we would not have to discuss things like this, yes?

    I'm not trying to sound smart, but it is what it is when you look closely.

     

     

     

    It's a good solid game, with a very loyal playerbase.

    Just because most of the reporters didn't really bother investigating the game more, didn't understand it (typical WoW syndrome) and bashed it to no end.

    The user critics are an atonement to that. Gamers actually played it, liked it and gave it a good score!

    I tried GW2 and got bored within 2 weeks, while I am still having a blast with TSW after 3 months.

    The RP dimension I am on is very active with good population and being in a nice Cabal helps too. :)

    So people can doom and gloom and say the game is dead. Well I don't see that every night I log in and play.

    Cheers

     
     
  • XasapisXasapis VolosPosts: 5,561Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by kulhat

    If Funcom made brilliant games we would not have to discuss things like this, yes?

    I'm not trying to sound smart, but it is what it is when you look closely.

    Talking about briliance ... Funcom is among the few innovating companies in the mmorpg world, both in technology and features. They also don't seem to be afaid to gamble with unfamiliar to mmorpg veteran features.

    Their problem is usually the execution and polish.

    Them stopping doing mmorpgs just mean one less innovator on the market and the bigger domination of copycats and feature recyclers.

  • erictlewiserictlewis Cottondale, ALPosts: 3,026Member Uncommon

    WEll compared to other games TSW is actually pushing out updates like they said they would.  The digging deeper update was off by 2 weeks but that was do to an expliot they found and fixed. 

    Anybody knows my track record with Funcom knows I used the word failcom a lot with them over AOC,  however TSW is so much better than AOC.

    At least TSW is trying to do right by the player base.  We need more stuff in game.   Just having 3 zones so far you tend to repeat a lot of stuff over while grinding out the wheel.  I yet to run any dungions or lairs but eventually I hope to do that. 

    It is a nice game, I play it when I am not wanting to play eq2.

  • OrtwigOrtwig Cambridge, MAPosts: 1,159Member Uncommon
    I am surprised *marketing* is not mentioned more as a reason for the low adoption. I think a good tv ad combined with a decent trial (free Kingsmouth?) would bring in subs. Those who try TSW tend to really enjoy it and stay on.

    For every loud person on these forums saying the game stinks there's a quieter crowd who are subbed and enjoying the game.
  • OzmodanOzmodan Hilliard, OHPosts: 7,183Member Uncommon

    Yep, the game is a lot better than most people think.  Funcom's problem is that they are too tight with this game time.  A free trial of more than a few days is mandatory.  There really are very few games that offer the different feel of TSW.

    It is not a perfect game, but if you want something a bit different you should give it a try.

  • RemyVorenderRemyVorender Riverside, RIPosts: 3,265Member Uncommon
    Great game. I have 60% of my wheel unlocked. Though...my time is currently spent with GW2.

    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...

  • Grand_NagusGrand_Nagus Dublin, GAPosts: 329Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by JeroKane
    It's a good solid game, with a very loyal playerbase.
     

    Juding from your avatar, I'm guessing you are one of those loyal players. If so, how is what you said different from what any loyal player will say about the game they play?

  • ElsaboltsElsabolts Greencastle, INPosts: 2,594Member Uncommon

    This was Funcoms 3rd attempt at making an online MMO that meet all the lead up hype and promises. Alot of foks are still waiting ! With fewer Funcom staff now.

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  • SlickShoesSlickShoes EdinburghPosts: 1,037Member Uncommon

    It still has the highest sub fee of any MMO and a cash shop at the same time.

    I enjoyed my month with the game but that's it, I would play it again if it were below normal sub price or free to play.

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  • TithenonTithenon Fountain, COPosts: 109Member
    Well-written article, though I see it's been completely lost on several of the poster's, here.  Sad.
  • BlindchanceBlindchance WhywouldyouliketoknowPosts: 1,081Member

    A good, solid MMO is not enough today to survive on the market, especially if your producer has impossible profit expectations.

    The major fault of the game is the lack of cotent and many generic features like the bland pvp. Pure theme park MMOs have no future, they have no ability to to produce content faster then players get through it.

  • PyukPyuk Eugene, ORPosts: 690Member Uncommon
    Overall I think TSW is a very solid, fun game  - except for the combat model. I thoroughly enjoyed the missions, exploring, etc., but when it came time to fight something (and that came up a lot), I found it cringe-worthy on the scale of SWTOR's hotbar cooldown-fest combat mechanic. I really wish Funcom thought outside the box with their combat model (DCUO, Tera). I might still be playing the game.

    I make spreadsheets at work - I don't want to make them for the games I play.

  • JeroKaneJeroKane OsloPosts: 5,353Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Blindchance

    A good, solid MMO is not enough today to survive on the market, especially if your producer has impossible profit expectations.

    The major fault of the game is the lack of cotent and many generic features like the bland pvp. Pure theme park MMOs have no future, they have no ability to to produce content faster then players get through it.

    What lack of content?  Most people screaming this either haven't played the game or missed half the hidden missions throughout the zones! /facepalm

    A couple weeks back I rerolled and started fresh with a new char and when I was back in Kingsmouth I ended up discovering tons of new missions I had overlooked the first time. And I still haven't found and done all the available missions in that zone.

  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Arkham, VAPosts: 10,910Member

    I think people in general are more likely to focus on negative information, especially in regards to MMORPG. I wouldn't have known that the game is now profitable and that the game's population is now growing if not for this article. They've managed to do this without doing a F2P conversion and they've kept up their updates.

    Everyone is so focused on how the game didn't get the launch it wanted, they don't seem to want to believe that it's possible for a game to turn things around.

    I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  • KuppaKuppa Boulder, COPosts: 3,292Member Uncommon
    I don't understand the point of the article. Is it to instill some confidence in Funcom? To not look at the company but to look at the game? To not trust media outlets in there interpretation of news? What exactly is the author trying to say? seems like there are many ideas and words but there isn't a clear point to the article.

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  • BurntvetBurntvet Baltimore, MDPosts: 2,938Member Uncommon

    I laugh, alot, about the bit in there about "unintended bias" and "framing things negatively" in regards to FC, from anyone at this site.

    Here, at MMORPG.com there is the exact opposite bias: "everything is framed positively" and games are typically reviewed with an eye on giving the highest possible score and overlooking the sometimes glaring weaknesses/faults a game might have.

    Call that: the intended bias. "MMORPG.com: where there is never a bad review of a "AAA" mmo."

    And go look at the review page for the list of "major" mmos at this site, you will see that the "official score", with one exception, is ALWAYS higher than the player scores. And not by a little, most are in the .6-.7 higher range. Except one, once (and that was close).

    So, I see it as a big "pot meet kettle" moment when any writer here talks about rating or review bias in the smallest degree.

     

  • smh_alotsmh_alot Area 51Posts: 976Member
    I think AoC was overhyped, and TSW was underhyped. If AoC had never happened, I think response on TSW would've been different as well, but it did happen and you can hardly blame people for letting it play a role in how their stance is colored towards Funcom and as a result TSW.

    It's not a good way of judging, true, but being too sceptical and negative or being too fanboish is simply what happens all the time. If people had bad experiences with a game or the company behind it, they'll take that experience with them in their view of that company's future endeavours. Same for when a game or company did good by someone. History is never completely forgotten, only time will blunt the edges.

    In a way, the check for the extra credit of goodwill that Funcom got before AoC's launch, they have been paying in later years.


    As for TSW, I agree that the game as well as FC's actions got regarded in a more negative light than deserved, bc of FC's checkered past. But not completely: check Metacritic user scores, check the general vibe on forums and compare it with how it was with AoC after its launch. Sure, there are some people who'll always see Funcom and all its games in a negative light, but there are also quite a number of people who've come around and who acknowledge and give kudos to what FC tried to do with TSW, or who can appreciate FC's and Tornquist's handling of everything around TSW more than how everything was handled around AoC and with its launch. Still, it's a gradual process.


    Also, things should be regarded from an MMO gamer's perspective accustomed to this day and age: for a number of MMO gamers, TSW has a lousy way of making them fall in love with it. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and TSW's first impression can be clunky and isn't flawless. Character animation and combat can feel off, not as smooth as in other AAA MMO's. People expect the feel of shooter mechanics when they get to play with guns, it's the FPS/TPS genre effect. If you still have to use MMO mechanics, you better make them as smooth and slick as possible to compensate. If you don't, you'll lose some points with a new TSW gamer.


    Anyway, things are like they are, no use crying over spilt milk. Best is simply to do it like Trion does: make sure to have an agressively active content update schedule, with sometimes new updates, features and mechanics that can wow and tempt MMO gamers, and people'll start giving kudos in any case where kudos are deserved. Oh, and they should take a good, hard look at Trion's PR & Communication team and look at how these did things: now those are people who know how to put their product in a good spotlight and highlight the positive stuff. Some of Trion's PR team's actions were simply brilliant.

    What I also can never understand, is why MMO companies don't toy around with the sub fees: P2P or P2P hybrid if you must, but why not do it for a lower fee, like 11 euro or 10 pounds or 12 dollars a month? Or even make it so that a part of the fee can be gained back with ingame activities and achievements?
  • Reas43Reas43 New York, NYPosts: 297Member
    @Burntvet; that's right. But your statement only applies when the title belongs to a high profile/deep pockets publisher or a personal "pet" game. Their personal pet game does not need to be from a deep pockets publisher, so their bias can go either way, up or down. In the case of game's with wealthy publishers (one exception: Activision Blizzard) who are generous with perks or fees this site is unambiguously positive. Only with those titles coming from smaller publishers without the resources do they demonstrate free reign in assigning unfavorable ratings or soundbites unless they're an editors pet game. I was reading an interview with one of the TSW producers I think it was Eurogamer. He mentioned how TSW was critiqued without gloves, but in the case of GW2 which launched with a broken AH which lasted weeks that that gaffe somehow never weighted the scores it was given.
  • BurntvetBurntvet Baltimore, MDPosts: 2,938Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Reas43
    @Burntvet; that's right. But your statement only applies when the title belongs to a high profile/deep pockets publisher or a personal "pet" game. Their personal pet game does not need to be from a deep pockets publisher, so their bias can go either way, up or down. In the case of game's with wealthy publishers (one exception: Activision Blizzard) who are generous with perks or fees this site is unambiguously positive. Only with those titles coming from smaller publishers without the resources do they demonstrate free reign in assigning unfavorable ratings or soundbites unless they're an editors pet game. I was reading an interview with one of the TSW producers I think it was Eurogamer. He mentioned how TSW was critiqued without gloves, but in the case of GW2 which launched with a broken AH which lasted weeks that that gaffe somehow never weighted the scores it was given.

    Yup.

    There are plenty of other games, some smaller, many F2P asian grinders and such, that do not get "the treatment".

    But the list and scores are there to see the truth of what I was saying: "major" MMOs, i.e. the ones that get hyped up with the columns and features and "first looks" and exclusive videos and all that stuff, score significantly higher than the player reviews for the same game, in all but a single case.

    It is pure and observable "positivity bias", only in the the opposite direction from the one cited by the author in this piece.

    But it cuts both ways: "over-emphasizing the positive" and "minimizing the negative" is just as bad or worse, than "assuming a negative stance" on a product, because if someone reads an "overly" negative piece, the worst that happens is they don't buy the game and it does not cost them anything.

    With reviews and columns and all the rest that  "over-emphasize the positive" (which MMORPG.com is known for), the end result is the reader ends up buying a bad/mediocre game and that DOES cost the reader money.

     

    Apparently, the folks here don't see it that way.

  • TheocritusTheocritus Gary, INPosts: 3,734Member Uncommon
          So I guess if we didn't like TSW then we aren't really gamers??
  • smh_alotsmh_alot Area 51Posts: 976Member
    Well, since this a TSW thread I checked it for TSW, and it doesn't seem that far out of place: an mmorpg.com rating of 8.5, a user rating of 8.3.

    Personally, I prefer those reviews where the reviewer is able to surpass his/her own biases, either negative or positive (a hardcore sandbox fan giving an honest, praising review of a themepark MMO, now that'd be a nice touch), and give an honest, fairly objective summing up of both pros and cons of an MMO, great qualities as well as weaknesses.


    But in the end, it's always the duty of a gamer himself to know his own tastes and preferences, and to make a proper judgment call on all the information around and make the right decisions for themselves.
  • AsamofAsamof La Canada, CAPosts: 738Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Theocritus
          So I guess if we didn't like TSW then we aren't really gamers??

    people throwing that around are just the fanboys being bitter mad that the game isn't flourishing

     

    with that said though, it is a shame the game isn't doing better. it's not a very polished game, but it's definitely refreshing to play. also the only MMO i've played that manages to tell a decent story as you play through it (didn't need 300 million dollars to tell that story either)

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