Archive for the ‘The Secret World’ Category

The Secret World drops the subscriptions

December 12, 2012 1 comment

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.

Close to the end and searching for passion

November 26, 2012 3 comments

In a couple of days City of Heroes will be end as a playable game and I will not longer have that game as a fallback when the MMO space looks a bit bleak at times.

The last months now has perhaps more than before put the spotlight, for me, the importance of the MMO game company’s interaction with its customers and game community. Not only is the presence of other players important, but also the relationship with a game company and the players of their game(s). Is there a passion for a game vision, a willingness to interact with the   players, a mutual respect?

Combined with theme/settings preferences, this has resulted in a few games that I am going to look more into when City of Heroes comes to an end.

  1. The Secret World. I love the setting and what Funcom has tried to accomplish here, so I will most certainly return to TSW in about a week. Funcom is one of those MMO developers that ranks quite high on my list – they certainly mess things up from time to time, but sometimes it works out quite well. They do not try to play safe all the time, but do try new ways to do things and they do seem to be pasionate about what they do.
    I have not come very far in my progress in TSW – my most played character is still in Blue Mountains – a zone which I thought was pretty ok actually, before I took a break to focus on City of Heroes. Not sure what the state of my cabal is at this point, but will see about that later.
  2. Anarchy Online. Another Funcom game and my first MMO. This is a game that probably does not have a huge amount of paying players and only a handful of developers working on the game. But Funcom still supports it and does not just try to keep a status quo and keep it running only.
    The new game engine as well as a revamp of the new player experience is expected to go into beta early next year (yes, I know – the usual Real Soon Now, not holding my breath). Server merges for RK-1 and RK-2 is expected to happen before the end of this year.
    While the new engine is interesting to see what comes out of it, I really also hope there will be some revamp of the combat eventually – it has been to much dependency towards auto-attacks for my taste.
  3. The Repopulation. A Scifi sandbox/sandpark:ish MMO under development. The feature list is quite neat,looks pretty niced from what has been shown so far and the developers behind it seems quite nice and passionate about what they do. I was a backer in their Kickstarter campaign and I will look forward to jump into a beta some time next year. They are amining for a late 2013 release – about a year from now.
  4. City of Steam. Another City of-game, but in this case an MMO with a steampunk:ish flavour. And it is a browser-based MMO, using the Unity engine. I have picked up a key for the closed beta. The game company, Mechanist Games, seems to be quite transparent and willing to interact with the players – I get a definite positive vibe from what I have seen so far here.
    I have only played a little bit in closed beta so far. While I have not seen any any NDAs  I will probably not write much details about it yet, since there is still changes being made and things missing. But I think it looks like a charming game with potential. CLosed beta weekends will continue in the coming month and I suppose an open beta at some point early  next year.

The Secret World bits and pieces

August 15, 2012 5 comments

A few short bits and pieces related to The Secret World:

New 3-day trial available, although this time it does not seem to be restricted to a specific weekend – just any three days and one can sign up for it now. Also, if 30+ missions are completed during this trial period, another two days are added to the trial.

I think it is definitely a plus that it is not restricted to some particular dates, but I think it would have been nice with a bit longer trial time and perhaps not only have mission quantity as a “reward” for the trial – if there should be a reward at all. If you know your way around the game 30+ missions is not a problem, but the target audience are those new to the game. I think it would be better to simply give everyone 5 days instead.

The second content update has been announced, Issue #2 – Digging Deeper. This includes a 3rd weapon option and an 8th ability slot – I assume reserved for thise auxiliary weapon. The first weapon of this type will be a rocket launcher. Sounds like it could be pretty cool. There are also at least one mission associated with that.

Seems there is also an addition of plastic surgery and hair dresser, in New York and London. The plastic surgeon’ s voice seems seems to be from a fellow Swede (Peter Stormare).

There is also a number of new missions – five missions mentioned explicitly, hinting at more than that. Overall, I think it sounds pretty good.

In addition to this, The Secret World is available from Steam now also.

Categories: The Secret World

The Secret World – sales not in line with Funcom expectations

August 10, 2012 3 comments

Funcom has provided a report with some indications of how The Secret World is doing, from a sales perspective. The short summary is – not that good.

One of the reasons they point to here is that the score on Metacritic was not that good and lower than what they had hoped for.  In the last quarterly report they had given two scenarios they had done some calculations for – one similar toConan-like scenario with high sales (a bit over 1 million boxes over the first year and on average 280K subscribers) and a better-than-Conan scenario (about 1.3 million boxes over the first year and almost 500K subscribers).  Now they say that early indications points to box sales less than half of the Conan-like scenario.

I did not expect then to sell over a million copies of the game and if they sell 500K copies of the game the first year I think that is fairly reasonable actually in todays market. Not because the game is bad, far from it. I think the game is great – but I think it is also a game that does not go out of its way to attract the big masses. It does not go out of its way to channel players into the various aspects of the game in a no-friction approach. I like that actually, but I think it would be foolish to assume that that is something for everyone. Combine that with a box+subscription+store business model and they have a bit of an uphill battle in the current market place.

On the positive side financially they expect player retention to be better than for Age of Conan. The ratio of digital download sales have also been higher than expected, as has been sales of add-on packs – e.g. master and grand-master packs (the latter being lifetime subscriptions). Operational costs for The Secret World is also significantly lower than for Age of Conan – or at least lower when AoC was launched. Partly this is probably because there was less hype and fewer servers now for The Secret World, plus that they probably are able to make more efficient use of the hardware they have.

The game is going to be available on Steam later also. That probably will not hurt sales.

While the announcement certainly reads as disappointment from Funcom side I do not think it is that much out of line with what I would have expected, unless they end up significantly lower than 500K copies sold. If they reach and can keep a significant portion of those 500K players – for a subscription-based game which is not targeting every kind of MMO player out there – that is a pretty awesome result I would say.

However, Funcom are the ones to decide whether it is or will be a success or not – at least in financial terms.

Categories: The Secret World

Star Wars: The Old Republic business model change

August 1, 2012 1 comment

It was a bit of a surprise to see that Star Wars: The Old Republic is changing business model so soon as in November this year. On the other hand, the amount of money that and customers the game seems to be bleeding now they will need to do something fast. Competition later this year in the mass-market from Guild Wars 2 is probably not going to help.

Given the amount of subscribers they have seem to lost according to Massively they have lost more subscribers than most games have had at all in the first place. It is still not quite as bad as Age of Conan, but there are still a few months left of this first year of the game. Age of Conan sold about 1 million copies in the first year and retained on average 280K subscribers during that time. SWTOR is still better percentage-wise, but presumably the cost to develop the game was substantially higher than for Age of Conan. Business-wise maybe Age of Conan was a better deal even.

Given the numbers Funcom provided in the earnings report they will be quite profitable with The Secret World even with numbers similar to Age of Conan. Now that about a month has passed since launch we may see some subscriber numbers soon – if they have been doing well and are able to retain players. if not sooner then their earnings report at the end of August should have some indication possibly – at least for pre-launch sales.

Issue #1 Inferno has been released – The Secret World

August 1, 2012 4 comments

The first TSW content update after launch is live now, named Issue #1 – Inferno. It contains a number of missions, the trading post (player marketplace) and nightmare modes of some dungeons.

For me the new missions are what interests me most, with the marketplace in 2nd place. Three of the missions seems to be in Savage Coast, which the area I am currently playing in. The rest seems to be in later areas, so I will run into them later at some point. There are also a number of bug fixes for missions, which is nice. I was finally able to complete The Black House!

I have not picked up any of the new missions yet when I played today, but I noticed another thing today which I think is new. When you disassemble a weapon with a glyph attached to it, you will get runes from the glyph as well, not just the weapon material. This was a small but nice addition I think.

Right now I do not have any problem spending SP, but my AP is piling up a bit – mainly because I do not see any abilities that are obvious benefits to my current primary build – there are areas that cen improve with some abilities, but will also weaken in some other areas in that case. Of course, it is just a matter of buying a number of abilities and try it out, since I do not lose any old abilities – decisions, decisions…

Categories: The Secret World

The Secret World is free to play – over the weekend

July 29, 2012 1 comment

Funcom has announced a few activities and events to celebrate that the game launched a month ago during the next weekend, the first weekend in August. This includes the first post-launch content update, some free fireworks in the store and an option to get some in-game stuff if one solves at least 30 missions and a leader-board for the 100 that solves the most amount of missions. Not sure if that is a good idea, at least the 30 mission limit is a bit high if one want to encourage people and enjoy the world. There does not seem to be any rewards to get on the leader-board, so that one may be for the achievement-focused crowd with a lot of time on their hands.

A key event though is also that anyone, whether they have played the game or not before, can try out the game over the weekend.

In todays MMO market with many titles being “free-to-play” in some way, it makes sense that they provide other options to allow people to try out the game. Of course, at some point one would expect that Funcom will provide a proper free trial option that would allow people to try out the game when it works out for them.

I guess though at this point they might be trying these very temporary free trial alternatives, perhaps to see how this supports or affects word-of-mouth marketing and perhaps evaluate that against regular free trials. There could be a point here in that every time they do that in that case it becomes some kind of new item, resulting in that people write about it on new sites or blogs – like this one.

Good for them if it works and I can definitely say that the game is worth trying. A weekend may not be enough for a proper evaluation, but certainly a step in the right direction compared to the 24 hour buddy key.

If you do not have an account for The Secret World you can create one right away, no need to wait until next weekend.

Categories: The Secret World

The Secret World first State of the Game

July 11, 2012 3 comments

Ragnar Tørnquist has posted the first State of the Game for The Secret World and it contains a lot of goodies. Updates are planned to come on a monthly basis, with the first update coming on July 31st.

It is great to see that new missions are going to be released on a monthly basis and that all zones will get new missions. This is precisely the type of updates I like to see – there will always be reasons to go back to zones one has visited before.

Also cool to read is that they are working on two new zones – to be announced (not released) in August.  New weapons will be announced also, although this is referred to as auxilliary weapons. So perhaps something like the junkyard flamethrower, but perhaps a bit more useful?

Raids, PvP dungeons, more pets, clothing (including those that are in-game rewards) and a few other things seems to be in the pipeline.

Ragnar refers to this as free updates, since it will cost nothing extra for subscribers. To me that is market speak, since part of the subscribtion fee would presumably be going to development costs and we all pay for it. No additional charges is what I would call it rather then.

I am happy to see that they possibly have a fair amount of good content in the pipeline and with regular frequent updates planned that is not just item store stuff. In today’s MMO market if you are subscription-based and your name does not end in “Warcraft”, that is probably needed.

Categories: The Secret World

Inventory management challenges

July 7, 2012 4 comments

Inventory in The Secret World has some nice features, but is still missing some useful features, especially when it comes to different managing builds. But even with current shortcomings it is good to use what is there today for a bit better organisation.

The inventory view in The Secret World has a nice features which allows you to create your own custom bag areas. Just add another bag and one can then re-size to a suitable size and shape, put some useful name on it and then place at a good spot on the screen. In addition, if one locks the bag it will be open permanently, even if the inventory itself is closed. Any bag that is not locked, will open and close at the same time as the main inventory – it is not possible to open and close them individually.

Personally I have organised my inventory space with a few different bags:

  • One locked bag at bottom of screen which I use for consumables
  • One bag for my gear – talismans and weapons. I have 3 columns with 7 slots for space for all 7 talismans of the three different categories (protection/tanking, healing and attack/damage). Two extra columns are included for weapons (probably more than needed)
  • One bag for the four types of crafting material to make – water, dust, fire and metal. One column for each grade/quality – one for base, one for imperfect and one for normal currently. Each row has the same type of material.
  • One bag for all the different runes to make glyphs from. Similar organisation as the crafting material above, although columns and rows have switched roles – fits better with the screen layout
  • One bag for actual glyphs
  • One bag for various toolkits
  • The main inventory window for the rest, whatever that may be

Currently my screen looks a bit like this with inventory open:

My current inventory structure

The bag windows have been distributed so that I can open the character view including gear manager and also open crafting view and still see everything, after putting crafting view in a batter spot.

Unfortunately there are a few shortcomings and not everything works as well as one could hope. Using a locked bag for consumables is not quite as good as a proper hotbar – it is not enough with a single left-click to use a resource. It could be improved here, since the intention with the lock feature was to create extra hotbar(s) for inventory resources.

Also the current Gear Manager becomes a bit cumbersome to use, since it is rather dumb and it messes up the inventory organisation. Every time you change a build, you end up doing some manual swapping and moving around of weapons and talismans. Everything that is swapped out when a new build is loaded ends up in the main inventory view.

Still, it works better than no organisation at all of the inventory content and you have a fair amount of freedom to organize contents the way you want it. It just needs a bit more polish to work great.

Categories: The Secret World

Funcom gives TSW buddy keys to current players

July 7, 2012 1 comment

Funcom has announced that they are giving out buddy keys to all current players (who have registered their game keys). The offer is valid until Sunday July15th and it seems the buddy key itself is valid for 24 real-time hours from the moment of the first login.

24 real-time hours is not so much, but at least it does not start when downloading and installing the game.  I assume they are going to send an email to existing players about this; the announcement did not say exactly how players would get the key to give away.

Update: The buddy key is available through the account page, there is an “Invite a buddy!” link under the Recruitment headline.

Categories: The Secret World