The Secret World's Financial Woe

TSW Performs Below Expectations In Funcom Investor Report

Though players have lost themselves in The Secret World, apparently Funcom expected much more.

In a recent investor report, Funcom acknowledged the drop in share price that coincided with the launch of TSW, but attributed the depreciation to an unlikely source:

"Following the launch of The Secret World on the 3rd of July 2012, Funcom's share price has decreased significantly. The company attributes this mostly to the aggregate review score, the "Metascore", for the game at MetaCritic (www.metacritic.com) together with other public sources for tracking the performance of games.

While there are very positive reviews, there are as well mixed or average reviews from various press outlets, giving an aggregated score for The Secret World of 72 out of 100, which is to be considered low, and not in line with the positive feedback received during the beta phases from both press and players."

To acknowledge that the game hasn't been universally received with glowing praise is one thing. To blame a Metascore as a direct cause of a pronounced stock price fall is entirely another.

Screenshot

The report goes on to reveal that there were two models for expected performance predicted for TSW and it has been unable to garner enough sales to meet either prediction.

It seems that retention is the current silver-lining for Funcom, with assertions that current players are satisfied with the game and that "First indication of churn is more positive than for Age of Conan, and the in-game store is performing as expected."

How glowing this praise can be considered - particularly considering the notoriously poor launch of Age of Conan - is highly debatable, but Funcom looks to better loyalty from subscribers, digital sales - including through Steam - as a path to solid revenue.

What the report reveals is just how difficult it is to successfully launch an MMO in the current climate, particularly one with a subscription model.

Based on your experience of the game, just what does the future hold for TSW?

Let us know in the comments below.

                                                                                             Scott "Jarimor" Hawkes, Editor In Chief

 

 

Comments

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Not so sure
# Aug 15 2012 at 6:41 PM Rating: Excellent
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I'm going to have to disagree with most of you. I don't think that the low numbers are due to the fact that is a subscription based game (with the exception of euro players because I don't know much about the rates). I think there are a few reasons that the game isn't doing as great as it should.

1. EA. They decided to get EA to help publish the game. This hurt in two ways. The first is that many people hate EA with a passion and will avoid games that have their logo figuring that EA ruined it. The second is the publisher is normally the one in charge of marketing. The problem is the game just didn't do much advertising, EA dropped the ball.

Of the dozen or so people I used to play games with, the last time I asked only 3 had heard of the game (because I kept telling them about it). One wouldn't play because he's poor and can't afford to buy new games anymore. The second is going to buy it but he is working 72 hour work weeks atm so he waiting til it slows down. The third keeps laughing at me saying "Wow it really is a secret, noone besides you knows anything about it".

Don't get me wrong, the Secret War thing they did on facebook was a great and novel way to advertise, but they stopped it several weeks before the game came out. They should have kept it going until launch and built on it to get momentum for the game. And that was pretty much all the advertising I've seen besides some interviews here and there with the devs.

2. The beta weekends made it look like there was a lot less content than there actually was. In order to test the content more thoroughly they were withholding quests in the starting area and releasing more each weekend, but really didn't mention it to the weekend players. So people playing the beta weekends to see if the game was worth buying were probably put off.

3. Miscellaneous: It is a niche game that depends on people thinking. Many people hate to think. Ragnor making many claims about what will be done for release or shortly after; other companies do this often and without putting in the effort so many people are jaded. Also do to the moving combat it is extremely had to multibox (I used to be able to play a full group in WoW), so there is little or no reason to have more than one account.
Climate change in business model
# Aug 13 2012 at 6:47 PM Rating: Decent
1 post
I do agree with Funcom, that the review scores did not accurately reflect the quality of the game, or how it was received by those that bought, subscribed and were playing. I think that a lot of the scoring was from disappointed gamers, who had decided not to buy. It also alarms me a bit, that investors are putting so much stock into review score sources (pun not intended), IF that is indeed the full story.

A lot of gamers were disappointed that Funcom did not go with the F2P model, especially since they had AoC and Anarchy Online already in a F2P model. Then of course, there is the RMT store. A lot of gamers just felt that this was "greedy" of Funcom, and that the game would eventually go F2P anyway, so they'd just wait.

We saw the same thing happen with SWTOR. Folks bought, played, "finished" it and decided that they were going to unsubscribe and wait for SWTOR to go F2P. The mindset of the average MMO player, these days, is that games are going to release as subs, rake in as much cash as they can, then go F2P for sustainability.

I think that the Game shops are slow to realizing this, and forgetting that in business, especially in the game industry, the customers drive the evolution of business models. Those that quickly adapt will survive, those that don't, will shut down.
Main problem
# Aug 13 2012 at 11:50 AM Rating: Decent
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6 posts
I'm not sure if TSW going with a sub model was its down fall. It has a lot that would warrant a sub, and the monthly content patches are a great example. I think its biggest problem is the combat and the animations. It just doesn't feel right, little to no feed back when you land a his, all the animations are pretty much the same for many skills only with different colors, and the over all movement just looks awful. I think if they revamp the combat and skill animations to better suit a more action combat style, or go for more guild wars 2 combat it will have better reception from players and maybe get more people looking and trying it out after the free month.
Insanity
# Aug 13 2012 at 11:21 AM Rating: Decent
4 posts
The game looks like it was built for a Wizard 101/DDO style "buy the game map by map F2P" model (with subscribers getting full access). If they had done that, they would have gotten some of my money. Trying to release with box plus sub was crazyness. They should have known from recent problem MMOs like Gods & Heros plus their own experience with AoC that it wasnt going to fly.

TSW
# Aug 13 2012 at 9:57 AM Rating: Decent
Scholar
16 posts
Subscription-based MMOs are dying. To launch TSW which looks not-so-great and sell it for 50$ plus subscription fees in 2012 is kinda stupid. SWTOR died for the same reason.

Edited, Aug 13th 2012 11:57am by KsanterX
TSW
# Aug 13 2012 at 10:50 AM Rating: Decent
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75 posts
Hey KsanterX,
I agree it is increasingly difficult to launch a sub model for MMOs now. With some high quality MMOs coming out F2P at launch, the old stench of the free model is disappearing.

It's just the direction the industry is heading.
TSW
# Jul 07 2013 at 9:08 PM Rating: Decent
3 posts
I know I am replying to an ancient comment, but hey...

A yeah later, TSW still has .a dedicated community that prosper in the F2P model.
It worked for GW2 and it is working for TSW. People might casually play 2 MMO's now.

I'm speaking from my own experience with both those games. They have very distinct appeals to me and I'm taking my time with TSW now that I have gotten my GW2 character to Nigh-godhood.
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tsw subscription numbers
# Aug 13 2012 at 9:14 AM Rating: Decent
3 posts
They put this game subscription prices in the uk and eu far to high (this is what i think) .If it was the same price as wow or rift ect then i think they would have had a much better number playing .The game is a good game but i can not justify paying £11.49/pm or £10/pm for a 6 month sub. that is almost 50% more than wow and nearly 100% more than rift ( for the six month sub ). if they wish to gain numbers they must look at reducing there sub pricing ,but thats only my thoughts.The more people playing the more money they get from the cash store as there will be more people playing in the game to use the store as well as there income i think would go up from the subscriptions as more people will be playing to off set the price reduction.

Edited, Aug 13th 2012 11:15am by ellassarr

Edited, Aug 13th 2012 11:17am by ellassarr
tsw subscription numbers
# Aug 13 2012 at 10:52 AM Rating: Decent
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Hi Ellassarr,
I was very much surprised on the sub price point in the EU when it was revealed. Though, as I've stated, any subscription model is difficult to justify in the modern MMO era, except for a few notable exceptions (and those being already established games).
Wrong Strategy
# Aug 13 2012 at 8:53 AM Rating: Decent
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3 posts
Well, even good (background)ed games (SW:TOR/World of Warcraft), going F2P or allowing trial modes, TSW locked itself to players who wants to try before buy... Its way too normal, if they think they made master work, they are wrong- not everyone has time/money for spread out like free. So its road to Free2Play for another game or they'll accept the fact they are going down, and try some other systems.
Wrong Strategy
# Aug 13 2012 at 10:54 AM Rating: Decent
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75 posts
I think that is the expectation of the community in regards to most games that launch with a subscription model "When is it going F2P?" being the standard question asked.

Thanks for the comment MBGnoll.
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