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Secret World "not going free-to-play anytime soon"

Funcom insists it's sticking with subscription model for MMO despite disappointing sales

It's become ordinary for a subscription based MMO to have an underwhelming launch and quickly switch to a free-to-play model, but Funcom's The Secret World is anything but ordinary. In a post-mortem interview on Eurogamer, studio representatives insisted that a switch to free-to-play isn't on the horizon for the supernatural themed MMO.

"No it's not going free-to-play any time soon," Funcom communications director Erling Ellingsen told the site. Creative director Ragnar Tornquist then suggested there's no telling what the business model would look like in a year, or two, or five, which prompted Ellingsen to step in and acknowledge the company is "always looking" at the possibility.

"It's a fast changing business and we have to adapt ourselves," Ellingsen said. "But right now there's currently no plans."

One reason for sticking with the subscription fee is that the company believes those who paid it should be entitled to get their money's worth. That also means the company isn't planning to produce expansion packs for now, opting instead to release new content in monthly updates for subscribers.

"It's really important to us with the business model we've chosen," Secret World game director Joel Bylos said. "It sounds very emotional, but I almost feel like we need to prove that this business model has not gone the way of the dinosaur by delivering content constantly to people, and making people feel like there's value in it."

The Secret World launched in June through the EA Partners program, and sold only 200,000 copies through August. After the disappointing debut, Funcom instituted a round of cost-cutting initiatives, including layoffs.

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Brendan Sinclair avatar
Brendan Sinclair: Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot.
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