The game City of Steam is now in the Steam Greenlight queue, which means it will be available through Steam if it gets the green light. Playing the game through Steam will provide provide some extra features, which is outline in a CoS forum post.
Since the game is browser-based and with a free-to-play payment model, anyone* can still play it though even without Steam. The game is currently gearing up for its 3rd closed beta weekend, starting this Friday/Saturday (depending on your time zone). In time for this next round of closed beta, the people at Mechanist Games have released a new trailer for the game, see below.
If you are interested in a beta key, send me a private message in the game forums (Sente), as I may have beta keys.
* anyone with a browser which is supported by the Unity3D web player.
As of now, paying a subscription for The Secret World is no longer necessary. Everything currently in the game will be available once you purchased the game. There will be free updates, but also paid-for story oriented content, plus the regular stuff in the game store.
They have also added some XP/AP boosts it seems. One can still subscribe to the game as before, called a member. Members and Grand Masters (life-time subscribers) will get a monthly allowance to spend in in the store, as well as some perks.
As a Grand Master myself, I think it will be interesting to see how this works out for Funcom. It sounds like an attractive approach for those who want to play the game without a subscription fee, a gentle shop approach and in addition to items in the store they will charge for what is the game’s strong area – story-oriented content.
See also the FAQ for the new payment model.