Funcom is ‘relaunching’ The Secret World in 2017, but it’s maintenance mode for Anarchy Online and Age of Conan

Funcom’s fourth quarter 2016 financial report for investors landed this afternoon, and it’s a doozy, especially for MMORPG players. Of most interest is the news that the studio is planning on a relaunch of The Secret World in the next few months, with a redesigned newbie experience, revamps to gameplay and combat, dailies, and a business model overhaul.

Meanwhile, the studio reiterates its notes that Conan Exiles has performed well, selling almost half a million copies in its first month of early access. It’s on track to “reach its 12 month sales goal on PC of 487,000 units within the first 30 days after launch” with “the direct project cost [$4.5M US] covered in less than seven days.”

“Due to the rapid success of Conan Exiles the Company has evaluated its investment level into the project and decided to increase it, as we believe this to represent the highest ROI for the next 12-24 months.”

Anarchy Online and Age of Conan aren’t left out of the fun:

But they will be going forward, as it appears both are headed into maintenance mode. “No further significant work is expected to be done on this project going forward,” it says for both games.

All that said, revenues were down for the quarter, as Conan Exiles wasn’t out yet.

There remain two additional games in “early concept stages” due to enter pre-production later this year, including another Conan-flavored game.

Source: Funcom. Thanks Anon!
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269 Comments on "Funcom is ‘relaunching’ The Secret World in 2017, but it’s maintenance mode for Anarchy Online and Age of Conan"

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Alexander Johansen

the Secret world sure no New stuff ever since Secret world legends is now a thing
but really there is no Clear Word on no New stuff for age of Conan ever People has been saying it was in maintenance since the relase of dragon spine

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Pedge Jameson

Anarchy Online? To quote Christopher in the Sopranos when he saw that acid burned woman outside the pizza place: “That f*cking thing is still alive???”

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CasualSlacks

As a TSW grandmaster/lifetimer and occasional reddit evangelist, I’m kind of wary of a relaunch. Yes, TSW could benefit from a publicity blitz. Yes, it could also benefit from a graphical touch-up/remaster; a complete overhaul of the character models would be nice, but it would consume a lot of unnecessary time and money. If the Devs do anything to make the combat feel more standard that undermines the depth of the ability with Active and Passive abilities, building, finishing, and elite attacks, damage types, weapon restrictions, etc. I’m against it. I have long said that combat in TSW is as much a puzzle as the quests and once you “get it” and you figure out the right build to deal with a challenge, you have your reward. But obviously, by the time I got to that point with TSW combat, I was already drinking the kool-aid and loved the game; other people have given up. There’s a irrational strain of thought in my mind that says that if you can’t put up with what I would call the little things like sometimes janky combat animations and sub-optimal character skeletons, you don’t deserve to enjoy the great things of TSW. On the other hand, the game has to be accessible for it to thrive.

I hope they fp put more of what I feel is lacking into the game like more variety in repeatable content (PVP and PVE), more cash shop cosmetics, more open and exploratory areas, and more surprises. “You want me to fist fight my way out of this prison!?” Without spoiling it with context, that bit of gameplay is an example of a nice surprise that’s in the game already. The game won me over with surprising quests and unexpected gameplay. The last thing I ever want is for TSW to stop swinging for the fences when it comes to the core game and story.

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Bullet Teeth

Agreed 100% on all counts.

However, I always thought that TSW should benefit a more ARPG-like system. With the isometric perspective, and the ability to mow down waves of enemies with your AR or club the shit out of them with your hammer, rather then firing 30 Shotgun blasts into a Sea creature.

All the clues for the investigation missions, the atmosphere, and the story would mostly be the exact same, save for the really small, cramped places, like the Treehouse & the Black House, etc.

But again, that’s just me being jaded because the combat really is a “chore” to say the least – but the stories are just so fucking good!! To this day I still think of the Amusement park, or Dracula’s Crypt and the Gypsies.

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wratts

Just now seeing this, but I can’t imagine the TSW relaunch is good news. Sounds to me like the current population base is on the bubble between sustainable and not, and they’ve decided to do one last push (think Wildstar) to grow population numbers. Given the age of the platform, I have zero faith that anything they do would bring in meaningfully new populations; at a certain point the game is what it is and audiences have either accepted it or not.

I’d much rather have seen them commit to delivering new story chapters. Maybe combat isn’t great and could use a rework, but what would get lapsed players like me to log back in is an end to the content drought

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mysecretid

I’m not too surprised that Anarchy Online and Age of Conan are going on maintenance.

In my perfect gaming universe both games would receive major updates and continue to see additional content, but I realize that Funcom probably only has the creative and financial resources to ensure that one MMORPG gets their full development treatment.

Anarchy Online was the first “true” MMORPG my friends and I actively played, but it fell behind in terms of modernization and content support, so we all drifted elsewhere.

I am concerned that revamping The Secret World will mean “making it more blandly generic and familiar in order to make it more broadly appealing”, but I’ll wait to see what actually happens.

It would be a shame to lose the unique, intelligent game that is TSW, but at least I’ve gotten to play it while it was spectacular in quality.

We shall see. We shall see …

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John Kiser

Anarchy online is working on that new engine and likely won’t see much beyond getting that rolled out. It is a pretty decentish upgrade.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

Access to all the story for free? I sure hope they’re giving people who already purchased all the story episodes something cool then when it switches over.

We all like to give them huge breaks because we’re scared the game may close down, but people who have purchased all the story content should get something – like rare cosmetic gear you can’t get any other way, various tiers of it depending on how many episodes you purchased.

Crow
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Crow

Access to all the story for free? I sure hope they’re giving people who already purchased all the story episodes something cool then when it switches over[…]like rare cosmetic gear you can’t get any other way, various tiers of it depending on how many episodes you purchased.

My god would that be a disaster. TSW has a really entitled playerbase when it comes to stuff like this because of Funcom’s own missteps in how they’ve handled grinds in their rather insane back-and-forth.

There have been revolts and waves of piss-poor PR because there was a cosmetic that wasn’t open to everyone. A large portion of TSW’s now-core playerbase are “collectors” whose motivation is to “get everything”. This has been a direct result of their lack of content and their pushing of cosmetics-over-content for YEARS now.

As someone who put a lot of time and effort into TSW, I really hope that what people who purchased the game “get” is a revamped experience that turns things around and allows for more content to be created. Last year there was ONE single new issue. That is their problem when each Issue only contains eight missions.

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Space Captain Zor

Hard for me not to believe Conan Exiles isn’t just a popular fad right now but I guess we’ll see. I think it’s a mistake for them to rely on that as their primary ROI. There is a strong market for survival games but how many hardcore survival game players actually split time between survival games instead of sticking to one at a time? If you play ARK do you also play CE? Do you also play DayZ or Rust or H1Z1?

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Droniac

It might be a popular fad, but that’s what everyone though about H1Z1, ARK, Rust and even Garry’s Mod too. All of those are still among the best selling games on Steam, right now… despite mixed-to-negative reviews on H1Z1 and ARK.

The fact you point out, that survival gamers split time between games intermittently, seems to support FunCom’s expectations for ongoing revenue. The reality that there isn’t (yet) a survival game good enough to keep players of the genre attached will push many more to try out Conan Exiles this year. It isn’t a free-to-play game that’s dependent on player retention for revenue, so that will result in hundreds of thousands more units sold and millions in the bank. Keep in mind that its competition (ARK, H1Z1, Rust) have all sold over 4 million units.

Selling nearly half a million units in one month of an early access game on a marginal marketing budget… that’s immense. The indicator we do have (SteamSpy) also seems to point to it continuing to sell well. And most other survival games seem to have shown that continued support and added features translate to even more units sold, so it makes sense for them to invest in it and expect solid returns on that.

I wonder what you think they should focus on as their primary ROI? Anarchy Online and Age of Conan are hopeless at this point. The revamp for The Secret World could be perfectly executed and draw in thousands of players, like DDO and FFXIV managed, and it likely still wouldn’t surpass the Conan Exiles cashflow over the next 12-24 months.

Past that timeframe they do have this TSW revamp, which could be a solid long-term play. And they have those two other games entering pre-production.

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Melissa McDonald

The one thing I’d like to see is new avatars. They’re sorta ugly. LOTRO is undertaking it, perhaps they might. It’s honestly the only thing I didn’t like about the game, the cosmetics. They introduced a wonderful system where cosmetic clothing and buff items/gear are two different things. But not enough clothing options, and no way for players to make clothing of various design and hue and put them out on a market or shop.

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John Mclain

Whoa… I had written off The Secret World for all eternity because of how GOD-AWFUL that game’s combat was, seriously, the secret world may have the worst combat/class system that has ever existed in a MMO form to this day.

And yet the game has good atmosphere, (Too many different enemies all packed into “farming zones” to be a “great” atmosphere sadly.) and a great storyline. But are ruined by that atrocious combat/class system. I never thought they would be willing to redo that garbage in order to make it an incredible game.

At this point I don’t think this can go anywhere but up, doubt it’s physically possible to make the combat any worse in that game, so it can only improve. I get to for once add a “garbage mmo” game back into the “optimistically awaiting” list. Something I’ve never done before in my life.

Also glad to hear they are putting more resources into Conan Exiles, that’s a great game concept, that is currently broken as all hell and needs the work/money badly to make it into an actual functional game.

Crow
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Crow

Maybe, just maybe, the game’s focus wasn’t on the combat.

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haishao

Then maybe they should remove combat entirely. This way it would only look like a 15 years old game instead of also playing like one.

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Roger Melly

Two screenshots one from probably one of the more visually impressive rpg games of 2002 Morrowind and one from the Secret World .

This basically shows you obviously don’t have a clue what you are talking about .

the_secret_world_32.jpg
morrowind-screenshot_7.jpg
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Pedge Jameson

That TWS screen is a bullshot, carefully taken and prissed up with filtering etc. I still love the graphics but that one is a bad example.

Crow
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Crow

Why are you even here?

Concerns over how things look are so shallow. If you were looking for a game that was all about combat and killing things and gogogo there are plenty of games out there that are mindless shoot/stab things simulators with great combat.

TSW has a complicated history and can never actually be what was intended, but it was absolutely a philosophical and mental exercise far before one of reflexes or twitchiness. It was a series of cutscenes and investigations that forced you to actually think. It had the beginnings of a robust RP system that didn’t go anywhere and a planned non-combat puzzle raid that was also cut. It was a game where you weren’t handed a bunch of abilities that just got better as you went, but needed to be understood and actually engaged with in order to progress. It encouraged socialization without forcing it, and was home to a nasty, brutal, and eloquently technical set of instanced dungeon/raid content. It was initially committed to the principle of horizontal advancement, never demeaning your previously hard won gear or accomplishment and also allowing for a very level playing field in terms of general difficulty tuning after making one’s way through the zones and story.

I mean, TSW without the combat would basically be Dreamfall. One of the best adventure games ever made. Ragnar Tornquist is a writer and a storyteller. He was building a world with TSW that has been pretty much halted by all the factors that have really gutpunched Funcom over the last few years. All that is left is this new-found focus on visceral combat… an element of the game that was never seen as super important to begin with.

Estranged
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Estranged

Hey, murder hobos need their fix!

Crow
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Crow

And I’m one of them! I love PvP and competitive MMO-stuffs, but I also know when a game isn’t focused on the murder aspect and I don’t try to make it into something it never intended on being.

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haishao

If I was looking for a game that is “all about combat and killing things and gogogo” I wouldn’t have suggested that they remove combat entirely.

You’re saying combat isn’t the focus of the game but the fact is you’re forced to participate in combat at one time or another. Being forced to fight stuff to advance the story is what made me quit; barely a week after I had purchased the game. It was so bad and mods didn’t help, I just gave up.
Technicalities, abilities and skills and weapons have nothing to do with it. It changes nothing how much depth you have in a combat system if the action of fighting is so bad it makes people uninstall.

Like you said. TSW without combat would be alike one of the best adventure game ever made. Too bad it has combat, worst possible combat too. The game isn’t even 5 years old yet but it feels like some cheap F2P game from 2005. Not having combat or having any other type of combats would have made it better. I don’t care about “visceral combat”. Turn based combats would have been better than it is right now.
I always said TSW is a MMO that suffer from being a MMO and I still think it. I hope they do something good with the relaunch and I’m definitely looking forward to it, but right now I’m still very skeptic about it.

I exaggerated about the look because I think the game still looks pretty good but if you think graphics is unimportant and to be concerned about them is shallow in a visual media like a video game, you’re wrong.

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Droniac

It is shallow when you make a big deal about graphics for a game that looks better than the majority of its competition. This is, clearly, not something that should be a focus for the developers. TSW’s graphics are not the reason why gamers are not trying it out or not playing it, with possible exception of the combat animations.

And while admitting to exaggerating about graphics, you also just decided to exaggerate about mechanics. The F2P games you’re referencing are from the 2008-2011 era. 2005 was the year World of WarCraft and Guild Wars were released… not Perfect World.

The notion that The Secret World’s combat is the worst in the genre is merely testament to the fact that you haven’t played Lord of the Rings Online. Nothing comes close to the disaster that is mounted lagfest. And I’m not certain I’d rate TSW’s combat below LotRO’s on-foot combat either… or STO’s ground combat, although that’s seen some much-needed improvements at least.

That being said, I do hope FunCom’s improvements to combat are significant. TSW’s combat mechanics aren’t (quite) the worst in the genre, but they’re definitely sub-par and as a whole the combat system could do with being made a good deal more responsive and impactful.

Crow
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Crow

if you think graphics is unimportant and to be concerned about them is shallow in a visual media like a video game, you’re wrong.

You’re missing the important part. Why?

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haishao

I’m not missing any important part. Just reminding you that graphics is an important part of visual medium like a video game.

Crow
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Crow

Okay. What are we discussing? Games, yes? Not photographs or films or works of material art.

Graphical interfaces for games are a “plus”, not an integral element of their existence which is necessary for them to be successful games. We can go back to analog to make the point that what is actually important in any game is the mechanics. You can breeze through award winning board games and, this is especially the case with older titles, see that the visual elements were representative and far from a priority. That little red cube is a troop unit and the blue bit of wood is my tank. I’m going to move from one octagon to the next during my turn.

Then we had text-based games such as Zork. No graphics and entirely narrative. All words, no visuals. We got base graphics which were essential for certain titles… a text-only Pong wouldn’t work… but the RPG genre continued to barrel forth relying primarily on text with visuals being a nice plus addition to make the games more appealing. RPG voice acting wasn’t even a big, usual thing until a little more than a decade ago.

MMORPGs are even clearer. If you think graphics are essential to MMORPGs then what do you make of MUDs and MOOs? We have tons of text-based MUDs (and likely more in pure numbers than graphical clients… though that may no longer be true). MUDs act as living proof that graphics are completely optional in terms of creating a MMORPG. Hell, Chronicles of Elyria is building an actual MUD client along side their graphical client.

Which is all to say that games are about the mechanics, not the pretty visuals. Graphics are not important at all. They’re nice and they’re a constant that we expect, but they have no effect on any objective view of if a game is actually good or not.

At the end of the day assigning a great deal of value to how pretty things are is just shallow. It is shallow to ignore TSW’s amazing mechanics (that aren’t common in other games at all) because you don’t think it has enough eye candy.

I remember the days when the best we really had was the Gemstone graphical MUD client which was a bash to add simplistic visuals to a 100% text-based game. And really, the existence of MUDs should be proof enough that graphics means absolutely nothing in the end other than a personal preference.

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Tobasco da Gama

So you’d be fine if all the games you play were converted to MUDs?

Crow
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Crow

If what I want to play, due to all the various factors, is a MUD I’m not opposed at all. I love MUDs and they often fit the kind of niche-of-a-niche that people desire. It is the only place to do a lot of worlds and IPs, such as Wheel of Time as a good example.

So you’d be fine if all the games you play were converted to MUDs?

I don’t see how this is relevant..? I made an argument that the core of any game is the mechanics and that visual appeal is, at best, something that rarely effects mechanics. The most beautiful game in the world will be terrible if the mechanics are bad. However, a poor-graphics game can be amazing if the systems are fantastic.

That question isn’t fair at all. I absolutely prefer and love graphical representations and in 2017 it isn’t a rare thing. I used to go to MUDConnector back in the late 90s when they had a new, tiny section entitled “Graphical MUDs” which were the first gen MMORPGs.

But back to the actual subject, TSW’s visuals have zero effect on the mechanics. It could look like EQ and I’d still enjoy the mechanics.

I guess when you grow up on MUDs and board games you understand that looking pretty is just that: it looks pretty. Graphical fidelity doesn’t have any effect on underlying mechanics and systems and turning one’s nose up at a game due to things other than mechanics is kind-of simplistic and shallow.

That doesn’t mean it can’t be or isn’t a personal preference. In fact, that is exactly what it is. But it is immensely rare to find a game where the fidelity of the graphics has any real effect on mechanics and systems. When you do, I’ll easily say that Graphics are important. Until then it is merely a preference (and one I have, myself. I just don’t cut off my nose to spite my face because it isn’t pretty enough.

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Tobasco da Gama

But graphics don’t matter. Surely, what you really want is the pure gameplay experience of a MUD.

Crow
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Crow

You’re intentionally being obtuse and zero-sum. You can like and enjoy good graphics without needing to think they’re essential to if a game is good or not.

I’m arguing against the idea that TSW’s “dated” graphics inherently make it a bad game that people shouldn’t play. My argument is that the graphics do not touch the systems or mechanics which determine enjoyment and engagement. If they did, we’d have an argument.

Do you not understand this? You can replace every texture with a 1999-era map and you don’t change mechanics and systems one bit. If you found a game engaging and enjoyable, you do so because of mechanics not visuals.

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Tobasco da Gama

So, graphics DO matter. So, wanting a game to have better graphics is a completely reasonable desire.

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strangesands

You can have a great gameplay with shit graphics. You can have great graphics with shit gameplay. Gameplay substance wins over shiny every time. Graphics are just frosting, but feel free to live on frosting if you like.

Crow
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Crow

Woah, woah. Again, we’re not talking about “wanting” or “desiring”, we’re talking about if graphics effect mechanics and systems.

Do graphics effect mechanics and systems? Is Dwarf Fortress inherently a bad game because it has crap graphics? If you answer “no” to these two questions we’re on the same page. But “graphics” is at the low end for what is important, and I don’t think graphics are at all important in the question of if a game’s mechanics and systems are good.

Again, if what I wanted was only in MUD form, I’d be playing a MUD. The lack of graphics do not effect the quality of mechanics and systems.

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Cosmic Cleric

That’s a pretty big wheel of weapons/ability choices for not focusing on combat.

Crow
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Crow

And the engine is an adventure game engine. The combat is sapient, not reactive or twitchy.

Everything about TSW is built for thinking your way past problems. The deck system, itself, is an intellectual/mathematical pursuit. If your deck sucks, you’ll never win. You have to think your way past problems.

Which is one of the reasons why I am and always have been against the big world-content nerf-bats. Once they eliminated the punishing difficulty it created a context where you didn’t need to think about your build nearly as much nor finely, finely tune it for specific encounters. Which leads to people focusing on the combat as “bad” when it was never a primarily physical activity in the first place.

It is the sad reality: The demographic for MMORPGs is now basically the CoD demographic. Same mentality, maybe a little less toxicity.

Valkyriez_Gaming
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Valkyriez_Gaming

Revamped combat? Piqued my interest right there off the bat. TSW is great in 9p% of the game but the combat was a little hard to bear for long gaming periods.

CAN SOMEONE TELL ME HOW TO CHANGE MY USER NAME ON THIS NEW CHAT SYSTEM?

Pretty please :)

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Orenj

CAN SOMEONE TELL ME HOW TO CHANGE MY USER NAME ON THIS NEW CHAT SYSTEM?

http://massivelyop.com/wp-admin/profile.php

I had to hunt for it myself originally… not sure why that function isn’t more prominently linked?

Valkyriez_Gaming
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Valkyriez_Gaming

You sir are a legend amongst men.