Posted December 10, 2012 by Peter in News

The Secret World hints at a secret plan [Updated]

The Secret World hints at a secret plan
The Secret World hints at a secret plan

Normally when a company releases information, it is doing its very best to sell a product, brand or an idea. Sometimes though, the advertising just leaves you going “erm… wait… what?”. Joining those doing things the second way are Funcom, the company behind The Secret World MMO, as they release a mock video blog of game director Joel Bylos talking about the end of the world.

Yes, blame the Mayan calendar. Again.

Presumably being the first in a series – indeed, hopefully so given how this one has posed more questions than answers – Bylos talks of the December 21st end date, a conspiracy involving Hollywood with films such as 2012 and Knowing, the potential end of the world via Mr T, and the sudden need to let as many people play the game before “the end” as possible. As such, towards the end of the video he tells some dismissive marketing people to “drop the [bleep] subscription! Drop the sub!”

Quite what this might mean in practical terms isn’t clear yet. The Secret World was launched in July this year, and while getting decent-if-not-outstanding reviews has not attracted the player-base hoped for. As one of a dwindling number of subscription-based titles on the market, it seems to imply that the title may be going free-to-play as fellow Funcom MMO Age of Conan did in 2011.

However, whether this would be permanent or simply as an extended trial period during December (taking the video on face value, as a way of getting as many people to play the game as possible until “the end of the world”) is uncertain. At present, the game’s website still includes the pricing for subscriptions, and players who have paid for lifetime subs would undoubtedly be put out if the title suddenly stopped costing anyone else anything.

Indeed, it may even be another option entirely. There is also a news post on the game’s website announcing a new augmented reality game, which is says “[y]ou do not need to be an active The Secret World player to take part” – though there are currently no other details.

The video certainly poses more questions than answers, and there is little logic of an advertising campaign that could potentially make a player willing to pay for a subscription hold off due to an uncertain possibility of the game becoming free; but it also seems a complicated way of advertising a side-game.

At present, all we can do is wait and see; and wonder if this is just a means of drawing attention back to The Secret World. In which case, it would be mission accomplished.

UPDATE: It was literal – dropping the subscription fee. The game has not gone free-to-play, but is now following a model closer to Guild Wars – you need to buy a retail copy of The Secret World, but beyond that there is no obligation to pay any more. However, a subscription of-sorts will now buy various perks, and future content will be paid for individually.


Peter can be described as an old, hairy gamer, a survivor of the console wars of the 1990s, and a part-time MMO addict. He has an especial fondness for retro gaming and observing the progressions in long running gaming series. When scandalously not caught gaming, he can also be found reading comics and fantasy fiction, or practising terrible photography.