When Age of Conan was first released in 2008 the game's initial sales numbers showed great promise. But as time wore on developer Funcom found it increasingly hard to maintain high subscriber numbers in the face of strong competition - particularly from perennial giant World of Warcraft.
At the end of 2009 the company announced exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz that it was launching a new strand of casual MMO games aimed at a younger demographic to sit alongside the existing adult MMO strategy, and here CEO Trond Arne Aas explains a little more about the company's present position and future plans.
Going through cost reductions is never a fun thing, and unfortunately it's become almost a default thing for businesses in the last year it seems.
I think we've adjusted well to that - we've done several things to reduce our cost base. We've had several cost reductions, we've got an office in Beijing that's doing some fantastic work, and we've set up an office in Montreal.
All of that is with a keen eye on the cost position of the company - we're also specifically exposed to the Norwegian Kroner versus the US Dollar exchange rate, which has been a specific challenge to us. We're taking steps to make sure we're not as exposed to that as we used to be.
Yes, we did, I think we had a very good run in the summer with the re-evaluation and marketing initiatives that actually grew the subscriber base. I think that was a positive experience. But then there are times when competitors launch, and they reduce our customer base - it's the way it works with this kind of long-term subscription business.
So when we've used those marketing initiatives they've worked quite well for us, but then you are exposed to that risk of competitors in the market.
Oh absolutely - mobile phones, or newspaper or magazine subscriptions... it's very much a subscription-based business, and you have the ebb and flow of those kind of businesses. You know that summer is usually quiet because lots of people go on vacation, and you know that January is actually a great time because people are finished with Christmas... they don't have too much money to spend on other stuff, so they return to their subscription games.
So yes - it absolutely has the characteristics of a subscription business.