On Friday, Funcom published an update on their latest MMO The Secret World, for their investors.
The text talks about the significant decrease in the Funcom share price after the release of the game, on July 3rd, 2012. Funcom would like to attribute this drop to the low metascore the game received at Metacritic and other such public statistics sources. The Secret World has a Metacritic score of 72 our of 100, though the user score is higher and stands at 8.4, with 673 ratings. Still, this puts it just under the ‘mostly positive’ category, even though the game did indeed mostly get positive reviews if you look at the individual texts about it, but the average was pulled down by some scathing reviews with low scores at the bottom end.
This is one of the reasons why Funcom just launched the game on Steam, and the report also mentions the similarities and differences from the Age of Conan launch, which was a disaster by any standard – this one is much better and looks like the game might be here in its current form for quite a while.
“First indication of churn is more positive than for Age of Conan, and the in-game store is performing as expected,” Funcom writes. “The add-on packs are performing better than expected. Also higher than expected sales are going directly through the online download stores like EA’s Origin and Funcom’s own storefront, generating more profitable sales for the company.”
“A possible scenario going forward is that the game will sell less than both of the two above mentioned scenarios the first 12 months following launch, but with high customer satisfaction, it will generate a more stable subscriber base than the game Age of Conan. Over time, this will enable Funcom to retain more customers and generate higher revenue.”
Personally, I think that this means that The Secret World has the potential to do ok in the long run. It’s better to have a game with a strong plan for the future and a wobbly launch than to have a game that knocks everyone’s socks off up front but has very little depth or replayability (yes, The Old Republic, I’m looking at you). Unfortunately, Funcom CFO Björn Toften mentioned on StockLink iMarkedet that this means layoffs, so it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
Also on a personal note, Funcom has consistently delivered original and fresh content to the massively multiplayer online market, even though their games have not always been bug-free on release, so I really hope that this works out. We need companies that dare to innovate.