Saturday, January 22, 2011

Will These MMOGs Ever Launch? part 2 - THE SECRET WORLD

There’s much to look forward to with Funcom’s The Secret World. The title refers to a world within our world filled with magic, monsters and mayhem. That aspect alone makes TSW notable – a game set in modern times in a world replete with things like demons, zombies and even some Lovecraftian references? Count us in. And The Secret World will divide players among secret societies, each with their own base location in the world. Sure, it’s just another take on factions and starting areas, but the twist makes the game appear fresher than some of the same ol’ same high fantasy titles rolling down the virtual assembly line.

Funcom employed some creative and highly effective marketing tactics early on, unveiling the game’s website under the ominous URL The slowly released a series of eye-popping CGI videos (followed by a somewhat anticlimactic glimpse of gameplay footage). They also played on the idea of conspiracy theories, slowly revealing more about the game by providing clues on blogs and social network feeds that lead players to sites filled with cryptic information and hints at lore and game content. Funcom has left finding and decoding these messages entirely in the community’s hands and the information rollout has provided a sort of game before the game for TSW fans.

But new information on The Secret World has dwindled over the past several months. Based on posts we’re seeing in our own forums and others we can surmise that players are beginning to lose faith given Funcom’s apparent loss of momentum. Gamers can feed off hype for quite a long time, but their allegiances tend to wander when developers fall silent. Not to mention, earlier last year Funcom began promoting a free- to-play PVP arena game, Bloodline Champions, which launched January 13, 2011. With things on the TSW front quiet, the newly launched free-to-play has gamers wondering if Funcom had lost focus where their mysterious world of demons, zombies and other mythical creatures was concerned.

If Funcom can rejuvenate its substantial hype machine and then pull off a game with an intriguing story, fun gameplay mechanics, and visual eye candy while employing lessons learned from the launch of Age of Conan (to wit: gamers will plow through your 20 levels of amazing content to your remaining levels of mediocre content pretty quickly, so beef up the mid-game pre- launch) The Secret World could be a winner. Right now, though, it’s still a little too secret.

Funcom Responds...
"We have only done a few reveals of The Secret World since we announced the game back in 2007, and many of those reveals have been intentionally disguised and shrouded in mystery. All of our significant reveals have been focused around large trade shows such as GamesCom, with very few actual gameplay reveals outside of those. This has been according to our plan: we wanted to show the world that we're working on something amazing, but we haven't really felt ready to show-and-tell. Until now.

"In the coming months gamers can look forward to getting in-depth reveals of core gameplay mechanics and content. We're lifting the veil, we're going into a new phase for the project. We're working on several videos that will go live in the coming months (starting in February), and we're getting ready to reveal everything from substantial details on our unique progression system (no levels, no classes!) to all-new PvP mechanics. We're also preparing a new website to usher in this new phase for the game. It's very exciting.

"You have probably also heard that we have signed a co-publishing deal with Electronic Arts, and we're looking forward to working with them as well on future marketing and other co-publishing activities.

- Erling Ellingsen, Director of Communications, Funcom

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