Funcom "committed" to subscriptions model

Ragnar Tornquist on why The Secret World didn't go free-to-play

The Secret World creative director Ragnar Tornquist has explained why the subscription model is key to the game's development.

"Of course [having Conan go free-to-play] has taught us a lot. Five years from now, ten years from now, will Secret World be free-to-play? I'm sure of it," he told RockPaperShotgun.

"But that's a long time. For the time being, we're committed to this business model, and as long as people are willing to pay us in order to provide them with expanded content and ongoing content, we'll keep that business model."

He also pointed out that so far no triple-A MMOs have launched with a free-to-play model, and argued that the subscription model supports a big team that can continue to work on content long past launch.

"Whether or not that's the business model that's going to be around in five years, I can't say," he admitted.

"But it wasn't right for us to come out and be a free-to-play game, because then we would have to find other ways to support the ongoing content. Whether it would be DLC and charging people for that, or an item store and charging people for that, [I can't say]. At any rate, people are going to have to pay more in order to support the ongoing development. I think that at least for me and at least for traditional MMO players, a subscription fee is something they understand."

The Secret World launched on July 3.

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Latest comments (12)

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 5 years ago
What happened to either firing all your people, or just doing an expansion, or a sequel? In terms of getting additional content for paying additional money, the value proposition of MMOs is even worse than on-disc DLC.

I say, it is not whether you can launch a triple-A games as free2play, but whether you want it from an optimized monetization strategy point of view.
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James Ingrams Writer 5 years ago
Would be cheaper and more profitable to keep coming out with stories from the world of Stark and Arcadia, with April, et al.
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Dean Russell Co-founder, eSports-Network5 years ago
Even thought it isn't from a big name studio, I would say that with 3 million players Runes of Magic could certainly be classed as a AAA title. The downside is I'm not sure if these figures are correct.
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Emily Rose Freelance Artist 5 years ago
RoM has a lot of players but it doesn't have the polish of a AAA title, numbers isn't how that status is measured, it seems it's more about how much it cost to make.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 5 years ago
As good as the game looks and plays, I sort of wish Funcom would have considered a solo or co-op play offline experience similar to the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games. As it is, I can see the game doing quite well as a subscription-based experience, but I do wonder how long it will last once players start burning through content faster than updates can be made (which should be in what, two or three months if that the way some people play these days)...
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd5 years ago
I prefer the Guild Wars 2 (and 1) model of pay up front, then have non-gameplay purchases and expansions to fund continued development. I don't mind paying for a game. I don't like to KEEP paying for a game. When I have a subscription I feel like I'm bleeding money any time I decide not to play heavily on a given month. Because of this, I simply don't even look twice at monthly fee MMOs anymore, including ones that I would otherwise be interested in like this and SWTOR.
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Despite the immediate whining of people who think F2P means getting something for nothing, thats not how it works.

In all entertainment, you get what you pay for. I would *much* rather be asked to make a financial commitment to the game in return for an equal commitment by the developer then have the game turn into an in your face "gamevertisement" that hast to be constantly badgering you to spend money in the store in order to survive. Plus the sad fact is that the quality of the game community always deteriorates when a game goes F2P.

I quit Age of Conan for game management reasons, it going F2P did not bring me back. When DCUO went F2P I immediately stopped paying, and soon after pretty much stopped playing.

When Secret World goes F2P it will probably be the day I stop playing it. In the mean time, viva la Ragnar.

Some of us DO get it, and appreciate it!

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Jeffrey Kesselman on 10th July 2012 1:20am

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Btw F2P account counts are meaningless. Thats not the number of current players, thats the number of ALL players who ever installed the game as accounts are never closed.

The only really meaningful number in that case is concurrently logged in users. and thats generally a closely held secret.

Oh and if numbers means triple-A then Farmville is a quintuple A title...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jeffrey Kesselman on 10th July 2012 1:19am

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Theres a reason why GW has been hacked all the way to heck.

That model is only sustainable in a client based primarily P2P networking model.

And that model is inherently insecure.

Again, Im willing to pay for the game not to be hacked six ways to sunday.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd5 years ago
@ Jeffrey Except that Guild Wars 2 does not use that client-based P2P networking model, and instead uses the more robust persistent world on a server model of WoW and other popular monthly fee MMOs.

As for the sustainability, the preorders are record-breaking for NCsoft. They are many times higher than anything they've seen in the past, and given the incredible production quality and enjoyable design of that game, I imagine they won't have trouble keeping those players around for expansions... much less the completely optional, unobtrusive, non-gameplay microtransactions they'll have.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 10th July 2012 4:10am

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Benjamin Crause Supervisor Central Support, Nintendo of Europe5 years ago
It is a proven fact that many players stop playing after their 30 day trial has run out and another batch of players will lapse after three months when they have tested the game. This will be the first challenge for this game: to keep enough players active to keep the game in the profit zone. The game got already an in-game store which doesn’t bode well with the subscription model. Customers can easily feel like they have to pay twice for the game. The possible target audience is also quite limited. I am sure Funcom is well aware of that. All those points lead me to believe Funcom uses the games launch to make up initial costs (game purchase plus early subscribers). Once they have reached a level where the number of active subscribers are not enough of a base they will switch the game to free to play using the already implemented micro transaction system. It worked for many games before too. I am sure it will so for the secret world too.
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Pre-orders and early order numbers r were pretty amazing for AOC... and we saw what happened there. Without real sale-through figures it is hard to gauge BUT unless they have outstanding sales numbers followed by a record *low* number of concurrently playing users, this model wont work the way you suggest they are trying to make it work. All it takes is an ability to do multiplication to see that is is unsustainable.

if you are correct then they are charging a one-time fee but their costs are significant and ongoing (server and bandwidth costs.) Thats a great model to go broke. If you don't believe me then I have a deal for you. Im going to pay you $10,000 now in return for which you will be legally obligated to pay my $2,000/mo mortgage for as long as I want.

Sound like a way to make money to you?

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Jeffrey Kesselman on 12th July 2012 8:56pm

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