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[Editorial] The Secret World: Musing on Funcom

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe CitadelPosts: 22,963MMORPG.COM Staff Epic

Yesterday's investors' report from Funcom contained some bad news for the company in that its highly touted The Secret World had not lived up to hope-for expectations. We take a look at that news and more in our latest editorial. Check it out!

I really don't know what to say. Every part of our 8.5 review for The Secret World is something I stand by. I believe in that game, in the developers' vision for a different kind of MMO, and in the love and attention that's gone into its world. I always expected TSW to be a niche MMORPG, one that would be fiercely guarded by its fans. I also expected that the Funcom Investor predictions of a million-plus sales were overly optimistic.  I just didn't think that 200,000 copies would be all the title saw in its first couple of months.

Read more of Bill Murphy's and Suzie Ford's Musing on Funcom.




  • HeroEvermoreHeroEvermore salem, ORPosts: 672Member
    Yeah have to agree. I never thought the game would only have 200k right now. I think this proves that players prefer high fantasy settings for thier mmorpgs. Im not saying YOU do (mr follow up poster). I am saying in general. Swords and Magic are things we don't get in our real life. I kill zombies every day. Welcome to Oregon. :P
    My main issue with TSW was...everything. Different is cool. Sure. Just don't expect to get a large majority of mmorpg gamers playing because let's face it. Boobs looks better in high fantasy. Fact. (It's a fact cause i said fact. fact.) Ok bye bye.

    Hero Evermore
    Guild Master of Dragonspine since 1982.
    Playing Path of Exile and deeply in love with it.

  • DerrosDerros Posts: 1,174Member Uncommon
    Very good game, if it had released (and was ready) 6 months ago, or 6 months from now, things would have been different.  There were just to many high profile games coming to soon.  It was being played more like an in between game by many people.
  • deniterdeniter KouvolaPosts: 1,041Member Uncommon
    I'm not surprised at all. TSW plays pretty much the same as SWTOR and we all know how big of a success that was. It should be obvious by now that this formula just won't work.
  • BereKinBereKin SplitPosts: 287Member
    TSW does deserve better. Its interesting and very good mmo and I dont think it lack of succes is do to players prefering fantasy setting. The main reason is that Funcom came with TSW in dawn of GW2. Iam not saying which mmo is better,just that Arenanet with GW2 is long awaited by many and it all ready has big fun base in GW, so not many are willing to spend money on TSW which is by the way P2P, when you have GW2 who is B2P. Funcom should look up to Arenanet and its model of bussines, maybe than would TSW have chance it most certainly deserve.
  • arcwestarcwest lubbock, TXPosts: 61Member
    this game is really a gem waiting to be discovered by many people, my realistic hope now is that it goes free to play and gets a spike in new players trying it out. Funcom did a really good job on the title and more than anything TSW is refreshing and new. i hope it can be salvaged because this sub-genre of mmorpgs is something i would liketo see more of. Crossing my fingers for World of Darkness Online someday.
  • BadSpockBadSpock Somewhere, MIPosts: 7,974Member

    I really don't understand all these "ahead of its time" comments - if anything TSW appeared to me as being a game stuck in the past.

    Linear, story-driven, grind quest-hub to max level, sandwich hit-point-swapping combat, whack a mole Trinity, and grind instanced end-game PvP and PvE.

    You know what would have happened if TSW had the IP recognition/popularity and marketing/hype of TOR? The exact same thing that has happened to TOR. Burn brightly, then burned out.

  • Paragus1Paragus1 Philadelphia, PAPosts: 1,741Member Uncommon
    I agree with Suzie in terms of the release date.   It's really a rough time to enter the market, especially with a sub model.   If they could have rolled this out a lot sooner I think they would have been a lot better positioned.
  • darqartdarqart reno, NVPosts: 5Member
    I am a current subscriber to TSW. I intend to keep the subscription going.
  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,949Member Rare

    I'll say it again, it's not a probem with the game it's a problem with funding and marketing of an unknow IP.


    Recently I thought about if TSW had another year to bake. It's so far ahead of the curve graphically and in character development  that if it did release a year or even two from now it would still be cutting edge. Money again wouldn't allow this. Funcom is an indy that doesn't have unlimited money for endless development time. I've even thought what if FC did sell to EA or another big publisher would they have had more funding which would have gave more time to fill out the pvp content? 


    TSW is ahead of it's time for better and for worse. I truly admire the vision of these guys, being able to start a project five or six years ago while releasing something today that is still new and fresh, BioWare couldn't do it. 


    TSW is still by far the most immersive world I've had the pleasure to be apart of with a character development system that's a pvprs dream. Here's to seeing more pvp and more player created content in the future. 


    I too stand by every glowing statement I've made. They were all well deserved.


  • Raziel317Raziel317 NottinghamPosts: 5Member Uncommon

    TSW not only deserves better it deserves much better! All those hypocrite reviewers out there who have been screaming for a new take on the genre only to turn around and score TSW down should be ashamed of themselves. Bugs and issues aside TSW is a breath of fresh air in a stale environment and should have been applauded for all it has brought to the MMO market.

    Sure somethings should have been made clearer in that I don’t think people get that the in-game shop isn't like an F2P shop and contains very little you would expect to see in one. Sure EA didn't help by slapping a huge price tag on it, sure it has bugs but they all do when they released as does every game in every genre! Sure Funcom had a lot to prove but they have proved it with TSW, just look at the fan reviews to see that it is much better than the reviewa (MMORPG’s aside) say it is.

    You only have to spend a bit of time with TSW to realise it has some of the best writing, voice acting, mission design, implementation, atmosphere and stunning locations of any MMO released and it deserve a lot more respect than it has been given!

    I am proud to say I am lifetime subscriber!

  • roo67roo67 londonPosts: 402Member
    Funcom increased the price of the subscription fee in the EU zone . It far outstripped the likes of WoW , ToR and Rift etc . This was also shortly before GW2 released as a buy to play game . It was such an unbelievably stupid move that makes me think someone in charge should lose their job as it has in no doubt ruined both boxed sales and the amount of subscriptions the game has . Somes got his head so far up in the clouds hes or she should no longer in a position to make decisions of such a nature . The game itself would have done well as a buy to play title as would many other mmos like TOR . Untill developers realise this we will see many games turn to a free to play model with in 2 years of launch . The free to play revolution will eventually be so flooded with different games that even many of them will fail as they are essentially subscription/mircotransaction based games with a very long free trial . Buy to play is the future . I cant see many or any new subscription based games managing to attract enough subs to viable . Even enormously successful games like WoW are going to be hit hard in the coming years .
    As for TSW I loved the setting it was a fun game but it was not worth a subscription fee.
  • kevjardskevjards carlislePosts: 1,452Member Uncommon
    spot on..i bought a lifetime sub yesterday mainly because it has me hooked..last game to do that was lotro..and i got a lifetime on that one as well.i,m in for the long haul.i really hope this turns out to be a great success regardless of the naysayers.
  • DauzqulDauzqul Detroit, MIPosts: 1,526Member Uncommon

    The problem is the theme and setting. Most people just don't like Modern World MMOs, Post-Apocalyptic MMOs, and Sci-Fi MMOs (Unless it's Star Wars). It's because of this that I paid no real interest in The Secret World.

    I know wer're all tired of them, but the Sword & Board / High Fantasy is where the appeal is.

    People want longswords, two-handed claymores, broad swords, short swords, katanas, recurve bows, reflex bows, pikes, halberds, partisans, tower shields, magical staffs, daggers, plate mail armor, leather armor, etc...

    Many just aren't into wearing jeans wielding shotguns in their MMOs.

    4ft Gaming Mouse Pad -
  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Arkham, VAPosts: 10,910Member Common

    I don't cotton to the idea that an MMORPG deserves anything. I agree that the game was pretty well written, had a unique idea and a fresh setting. Funcom did something wrong though. Maybe it was advertising, maybe it was just not tying into a common theme that the current gaming population would want. I don't know, but they missed something.

    I know what I'm hoping they'll do, but that's motivated by what I want, not what I think would be good for the game. If they did a B2P thing like GW2, I would probably play the game, especially since it's on Steam.

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

  • roo67roo67 londonPosts: 402Member
    Originally posted by kevjards
    spot on..i bought a lifetime sub yesterday mainly because it has me hooked..last game to do that was lotro..and i got a lifetime on that one as well.i,m in for the long haul.i really hope this turns out to be a great success regardless of the naysayers.  

    I managed to get a lifetime sub for 75 pounds (half price) with lotro a few years ago . I think a similar priced subscription would make this game worth it . I certainly would take up the offer .

  • Tawn47Tawn47 LincolnPosts: 512Member

    I haven't played TSW, so I cannot comment on the game itself except to say I can't see what the 'ahead of it's time' fuss is about.  It has skill based progression..  ok, cool.. but not a gamechanger IMO.  Anyway, ill put this down to my ignorance of the game.

    I think there are 3 main reasons it hasn't done well.

    1 - releasing close to GW2

    2 - Box price, subscription and cash shop.  Seems excessive.

    3 - Funcom.  Sorry, but some of us got burnt with AO.  Others got burnt with AOC.  It'd take a lot to restore any trust.

  • TheocritusTheocritus Gary, INPosts: 5,002Member Rare
          8.5 is way too high of a score for this game....ITs a niche game at best taht will appeal to a few, but overall TSW just isn't a very good game.....Add in that they want a box price, monthly sub, and cash shop and its way overpriced.....Also don't expect a great comeback....MMOs usually get one big shot at customers (at launch or beta impressions) and that has already gone..... Most gamers move on at this point to bigger and better things (like GW2 or MoP).....I also cant believe people are buying lifetime subs for this game at this point......
  • MardukkMardukk Posts: 2,059Member Uncommon

    It likely is a combination of things that destroyed the sales of this game.  A company with a bad reputation, the release date, the payment model, many non mmo friends of mine didn't even know about the game and the fact that people apparently prefer cartoon fantasy settings.


    Despite what some other misinformed zealots may spout on this site, I don't think it was the game itself that was the problem.  Even with all the factors coming into play, I'm still shocked that it didn't sell better. 

  • SamhaelSamhael Huntsville, ALPosts: 869Member Uncommon

    First off, I think TSW is an awesome game. However, by its very design, it was limited. While most of the content is repeatable, it also gets increasingly longer cooldowns by zone (~20 hours for New Solomon, 48 for Egypt, 72 for Trannsylvania). So if you play every day, you will quickly be propelled through the game itself. Since every character can do everything, there is really NO replay value... so for those with altitis... no joy.  

    I believe the game's best chance is to flip to F2P and start putting the new content out in purchasable packs.

  • tman5tman5 mesa, ALPosts: 604Member

    Bill's musings about why some gamers have stayed away from TSW - still nursing wounds inflicted from past crap releases - is very true in my case.  I am interested in TSW, but likely won't touch it until at least the end of the year.  This gives time to fully vette it's gameplay, community, and dev support.  And until a free trial opens up, it's a non-starter.

    The days of heavy presales and blindly jumping into the lake of hype is over for this old gamer and, I suspect, many like me.

  • Crazy_StickCrazy_Stick Privacy Preferred, NCPosts: 1,059Member

    I saw the same sentiment echoed by both of you up front. "You stand by the score the site review gave for the game." Alright then. Who questioned your objectivity and why do you feel a need to defend yourself now? From my perspective the simple truth is that good products can under preform for a variety of reasons. Release date doesn't cut it as an excuse for what every knows is a niche product with limited appeal up front. So you like it and the market doesn't yet. I don't think you are out of touch...


     I'll admit in my view it's a well done one or two month wonder for the average MMO goer that might have been better off being released as a single player RPG. That's because there isn't really anything to do in game other than follow along with the story (good as it is.)  The current games where this same thought applies on the market are preforming on par with TSW if you understand. There is a disconnect in the MMORPG world right now between what players want and what they are getting that can't always be traced to spending habits.


    I do not think TSW is a bad game. As much as I like what they did and tried to do they dug their own hole. Maybe like RIFT, they can make a comeback. I hope so. But that last FUNCOM statement about changing the focus of the company's products really is tellling. (Not to be a prophet of doom.)

  • Superman0XSuperman0X San Jose, CAPosts: 1,916Member Uncommon

    You have made a very astute comment (yet failed to understand what it meant):

    Originally posted
    Funcom cited at one point in their predictions for TSW's sales the success of box sales for Age of Conan. But that was a different time, a different IP, and people hadn't just been burned by several lack-luster MMO releases.


    Funcom was a participant in the mass market P2P failure of he past few years. They helped to turn unhappy consumers into an angry mob that demanded change. This has caused them (and the rest of the market) to turn away from P2P (a valid business model) because it has been overused to such an extreme.


    F2P is the 'hot' new fad for a reason. Customers are angry at how they have been treated, and have moved on to something different. Companies such as FunCom are still expecting their old tricks to work... and believe that they can sell a Million copies of this game to customers, despite the fact that they know only a few hundred k will actually like it. The expectation of product sales is not based on the demand for the product, but rather the ability of marketting to sell the product, regardless of its actual value.


    TSW is a decent game. However, it is a niche game, and one that needs more polish. No one could have reasonably thought that it would sell a Million copies, unless they believed that they thought they could do so through trickery. They have blamed the results on poor reviews.... but have not actually adressed the issues that caused the poor reviews.


    Bottom line is this:

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.



  • HarttzHarttz Jacksonville, FLPosts: 91Member
    Another thing I think that really hurt them was that they used their beta tests for testing rather than for advertisement. I think a lot of people who played the beta weekends to try the game came out very unimpressed. I first played the 2nd beta weekend and didn't really like the game very much. I managed to pick up a closed beta key and decided to give the game another try and really started to like it much more after they started polishing it and I had more time in the world. For most people you only get one chance at a first impression and I think TSW's first impression wasn't very strong during those open beta's.
  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Arkham, VAPosts: 10,910Member Common

    Originally posted by Mardukk
    It likely is a combination of things that destroyed the sales of this game.  A company with a bad reputation, the release date, the payment model, many non mmo friends of mine didn't even know about the game and the fact that people apparently prefer cartoon fantasy settings.Despite what some other misinformed zealots may spout on this site, I don't think it was the game itself that was the problem.  Even with all the factors coming into play, I'm still shocked that it didn't sell better. 

    That's just it. Funcom has a good game on their hands. It's niche and not too many people know seem to know about it, but it's a good game. Maybe the only thing they need to do is advertise in standard gaming media or Youtube commercials or something.

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

  • IllyssiaIllyssia LondonPosts: 1,524Member
    Bill, it surely is the end of Funcom as we know it. They have crashed and burned on TSW and will now head in a different direction.
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