So the big news of the week for me is that The Secret World is no more, instead 'rebranded' as Secret World Legends. For an official 'letter' see here.
For those who didn't know, The Secret World (TSW) was an amazingly fun game that was released all the way back in 2012.
It was an MMO, Massively Multiplayer Online game which required you as players to use real world skills such as translation, research, music reading etc, to decode puzzles in the virtual setting of modern day.
You will notice I have been using the past tense of 'was' rather than the current tense of 'is'.
That is because as of yesterday, the parent company FunCom have basically put the game to rest.
In the above linked statement, and it seems a fair few interviews which you can find if you just search for the game, they announced that support for TSW is being stopped, and instead they are releasing a whole new game Secret World Legends (SWL) with updated graphics, revamped combat, streamlined questing, and best of all, it's free!
Or so that is the press release anyway.
If you go to their homepage secretworldlegends.com you will see a trailer for the new game, a trailer which shows off 1 thing, the game's inengine opening cutscene, no combat, no new quest progression, only graphics.
Want to know what is funny? It looks identical to as it used to, I quite literally can not see with my untrained eye, any difference.
But surely not? I mean we were promised updated visuals, and what about all those spin off games they have done, The Park, Hide & Shriek? And of course Conan Exiles? They were all done in Unreal4, surely they have ported this to U4 and it's amazingly stable and multi award winning engine?
I'm serious, it's the same engine that it launched in, back in 2012, only with more stress requirements thrown on top, so now rather than turning texture filtering up to 10, you can turn it up to 11.
Will it be an improvement? Probably, but will it be noticeable? Probably not.
For those who have followed my blog for a while, you may be aware of Ghosted Algorithms, my secondary blog which was covering the story of my TSW character. As with many MMO players, I developed a strong affinity with my character in the game, namely because the story was very intriguing.
And what is happening to him? To my brave yet geeky Simon who with his team of Illuminati defeated some of the scariest supernatural threats to the modern world?
He's being left in the old client.
Yup no characters are being progressed over, instead FunCom are trying to sell it as a 'new start' and a chance to play through the fun again.
The thing is, and I've been saying this for a while, the team who have been recently working on this game have drastically changed the direction of the game. When me and my friends started playing it, the game's focus was on story and atmosphere, and in the past couple of years, the content they have released rather than being story focused, has instead focused on grind and repetition, transforming a truly wonderful multiplayer experience, into a grindfest more synonymous with a Korean MMO.
In other words they lost the gameplay that made them unique, their USP of you will.
So now, rather than providing new story content, which is what we've been asking for, for over 2 years at this point, they are instead asking us to repeat everything we have already done.
It actually feels unreal that I am typing this. They are literally asking us to replay the same story arcs all over again, meanwhile promising that if we do so, they will provide new story content at some point.
The thing is, they told us the same before, that new story content was coming, and on that promise I maintained my reoccurring subscription to the game for 2 whole years with next to nothing to show for it as the content being released was just grind material that did not interest me or my gaming group.
Yup, that's over £275 sent to Funcom with no return for me.
Seems a bit silly I know, why pay that money to FunCom if you are not going to see a return?
Because I hoped I might see a return.
A very large number of the long playing members of TSW have purchased what is called a 'Lifetime Membership', basically you pay something like £220, and stay a member for the length of the game. No more purchases required. Which as I just covered is roughly equal to less than years of reoccurring subscriptions.
When TSW released, my youngling was less than 1 year old, and I frankly didn't have the disposable cash to throw down £200+ on a lifetime membership, however I did (and do) have the disposable income to send £11.50 a month Funcom's way. To give you an idea, I have over 50 months under my belt. That's over £600 in subscription fees alone! I could have bought 3 lifetime subs with that.
But even when my disposable situation changed and I could afford to buy a lifetime, I still decided not to, why? Because I wanted to see Funcom do well.
I know a thing or two about economics, and I know that £200 per person is not enough to support a company long term, they need a lot more, over a much longer time period, and I wanted to help that become possible.
For years I was promised that TSW's story would continue, and I knew that would only be possible with regular money, so I kept paying hoping to see that return.
Yeah, I know. That's the sort of thing a gullible fool says.
Around 3 months ago, I woke up. I had been paying for roughly 2 years with nothing to show for it other than empty promises, so I decided that enough was enough, and cancelled my subscription.
Now we get the news about SWL, including the acknowledgment that Lifetime Members will retain their lifetime status in the new game, while people like me, those who have contributed more than 3 times that of a lifetime payment in subscriptions alone (that is not including micro transactions, which probably take the value I have spent over £1,000) have nothing to show for it, other than the 'fun' of repeating the same missions again, only with in-noticeable graphical increases.
You see, it is my opinion, rightly or wrongly, that lifetime membership accounts are part of the problem, and a large reason we are here today.
Basically Funcom have been struggling to keep their lights on. This is evidenced by massive layoffs, a change of subscription, a refocus on 'spin off games', and now this 'relaunch'.
Why might this be? Could it be because there are a lot of people who either have free accounts, or lifetime subs, and therefore haven't contributed to the running of Funcom in many, many, years?
Who's fault is this?
Should the blame lay at the feet of the gamers who unlike me either had the disposable income at the time, or decided that it was a better return to make the 1 large payout rather than smaller (but more) payments in the long run?
Of course not!
The blame lays fully at the feet of Funcom for thinking that they would be able to keep everything running at full speed without everyone paying every month.
So what would I like?
Do I think that Funcom should give retroactive Lifetime Subscriptions to those who have paid say, double the value of a lifetime account? No, not at all - but it would be nice.
No, what I think Funcom should do, is support the game they pledged to. That means adding new content to TSW, NOT putting it into a limbo where it will eventually die of attrition.
People who want to play through the story we have been waiting (and in my case, paying for) shouldn't have to play through what is basically the same game, yet again, even more so because this new game isn't even launching with the upto date content of the current game.
- Yup, basically any content released over the past 3 or so years is not going to be available at launch.
Funcom are promising that we will see his content released soon after SWL goes live, but they have been promising we would see that content 'soon' for literally two years, so I have no faith in their word whatsoever.
You know what I want to do? I want to go onto social media, or even in person, and start shouting at Funcom. To tell them how I feel, and how pretty disgusting this treatment is to those who have supported them, but I know that not only would they not listen, even if they did, they wouldn't care.
Plus that would just make me an asshole for trying...
Goodnight TSW, you were the best MMO I ever played...
- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley