Funcom is apparently keeping itself busy with a new partnership and game. The company’s investor relations site has a brief press release with the announcement:
“Funcom N.V. has entered into an agreement with Bearded Dragon International LTD regarding the development and publishing of a new game. The game is in the ‘tactical turn-based strategy’ genre and is planned to be released during 2018. Initial platform will be PC, with consoles to be evaluated after the PC launch. More information about the game will be revealed when PR and Marketing activities are initiated prior to release. This activity is part of Funcom’s strategy of releasing multiple game titles per year, providing significant activities more often and building a larger portfolio of products.”
Funcom is best known to MMO players for its long-running The Secret World, Age of Conan, and Anarchy Online, as well as sunsetted MMO LEGO Minifigures Online and early access survival sandbox Conan Exiles. AOC and AO were seemingly maintenance-moded earlier this year, while The Secret World has been back-burnered in favor of Secret World Legends, which has formally launched today.
Your favorite game is going to die. I wrote about that. Some games are never even going to get to launching in the first place, unfortunately. But then there are these titles: games that went the distance when it came to development, marketing, promotion, testing… but somehow didn’t quite manage to stick the landing past that. These are the games that, in Transformers terms, are the hi-then-die cast of the MMO space.
That doesn’t always mean the games are bad, mind you. Some of these games were great fun. But through a combination of business model issues, publisher issues, player population, and just general weirdness, these titles couldn’t make it to a year and a half in the wild. Heck, some of them couldn’t even make it to a year and a quarter. And if you want to peruse this list and wonder why all of these titles are gone but Alganon is somehow still operating… well, we’re just as confused as you are.
Forget 2017; today I’m going to ask you to think back to 2010, when the folks behind LEGO decided it would be a great idea to release an MMORPG based on the building block universe but make it super unwieldy and hypervigilant with a weird business model that didn’t make much sense to the families likely to play it. Now fast-forward to 2011, when the team gave up on the so-named LEGO Universe because it had “not been able to attract the number of members needed to keep the game open,” sunsetting the title in 2012, only to see Funcom take a stab at the IP with LEGO Minifigures Online in 2014. It closed last September for pretty much the same reason.
So if you have a craving for some classic LEGO MMO gameplay and aren’t enthused about MineCraft and Trove and their ilk, maybe this’ll grab you: Former players under the banner of Darkflame Universe are bringing back the original LEGO Universe, with closed alpha set to begin on January 31st, the fifth anniversary of the closure.
Fans of The Secret World should be excited today, as Funcom’s third quarter financial report to investors reveals that “The Secret World team is mainly focused on a large update to the game to be released during the first half of 2017.” The update is expected to be a “major upgrade to both retention and acquisition mechanics and content of the game to counter the declining revenues” with more info coming in the first quarter of the new year.
The announcement was part of the investor package posted today; the company says it raised almost a million dollars through its share offering in August, improving its total equity since Q2. “Revenues in 3Q16 amount to USD 1,728 thousand compared to USD 2,195 thousand in 3Q15, following a gradual and expected decrease in the sales from the current Live Games. […] The cash position improved from USD 5,100 thousand at the end of 2Q16 to USD 5,208 thousand at the end of 3Q16, mainly due to the net proceeds received from the subsequent offering. The Live Games – The Secret World, Anarchy Online and Age of Conan – were the major contributors to the revenues.”
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
This week we take a look at how SkySaga is handling a particularly tricky issue regarding player trading and recipes. We’ve got that plus stories and videos from Pokemon Go, Landmark, Heroes of the Storm, and more, all waiting for you after the break!
The podcast team is back to tackle an incredibly busy week dominated by E3 news — and word that several games are heading off into the sunset. Will the good overcome the bad? The joy dominate the sorrow? The white knights conquer the trolls? Listen in and see!
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
This won’t come as a surprise, but it’ll still make you sad: Funcom is shutting down LEGO Minifigures Online this fall. The studio made it official last week.
“It is with a heavy heart that we announce that LEGO Minifigures Online will be closing on September 30th, 2016. We know that many of you are still enjoying your adventures in the game, and this has been a difficult decision for us to make but unfortunately, the time has come to retire LEGO Minifigures Online. Starting June 6th, 2016, new players will be unable to join the game and the in-game chat will be disabled. Existing players will still be able to play up until September 30th, 2016.”
While Funcom doesn’t explicitly give a reason for the sunset, in April the studio released an annual report that spelled doom for the game: “As of the time of this annual report, [Funcom] does not find it likely that any of the game metrics will improve, and has adjusted its investment in the game accordingly. The license agreement with LEGO for the LEGO Minifigures Online game ends October 2016.”
Our condolences to all gamers and developers affected.
. Thanks, DDOCentral.
Funcom’s annual report is out, and there’s a whole lot to glean from the document about the company’s state and its future plans. In summary, Funcom is about breaking even in its finances, is banking hard on Conan Exiles being a big hit, and will probably be letting LEGO Minifigures Online go later this year.
One surprise is that there appears to be yet another Secret World spin-off in the works after the success of last year’s The Park: “The company has started internal concept development and protyping for a smaller game based on The Secret World IP […] There is no target release period yet as the project is still in a very early phase.”
The report doesn’t bode well for the underperforming LEGO Minifigures Online: “As of the time of this annual report, [Funcom] does not find it likely that any of the game metrics will improve, and has adjusted its investment in the game accordingly. The license agreement with LEGO for the LEGO Minifigures Online game ends October 2016.”
Last Friday’s WildStar news made me sad. I’m sad because there are two games at war within that title. One of them is a charmingly flexible sandpark; the other one is what I think our dear editor is thinking of when she calls the game World of Warcraft But They’re In Space, since it launched with all of the worst parts of WoW‘s endgame from its original launch without much to improve upon the formula. I really like the former part of the game.
Whenever we wind up with a title in that state, of course, people ask a simple question: Why doesn’t the studio just do a reboot? It worked really well for Final Fantasy XIV, which went from an industry punchline to a success story that’s still building momentum. So why don’t more studios just reboot MMOs that aren’t working?
The answer is that it’s not that easy. And it can conveniently be broken down into several bullet points for this particular column. So let’s get to it.
Today’s headlining picture is another debut for One Shots: Funcom’s LEGO Minifigures Online. I don’t know many people outside of MOP who have even touched this title, so it’s cool to see at least one gamer was having fun with the mobile title.
“Here’s a picture of a wizard fighting a red dragon,” reader Weakness wrote. “It’s not going to win any points for originality, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this game had dungeons and that boss mechanics were quite involved. Not only did I have to avoid all those puddles of fire, but there were also water pumps that I could activate periodically to clear the fire out, all while taking down the boss and his minions. But it is rather generic as far as fantasy themes go. In hindsight, I should have gone into this fight as hotdog man. Now that’s something you don’t see everyday.”
It’s the holiday season! A time for cuddling up before a cozy fire, enjoying loved ones, sharing memories, and… just kidding. It’s time to raid Steam’s sales and get some vidya games dirt cheap!
Here’s some of the stuff most useful for MMO players this round.
It’s the holidays, and in the spirit of giving, I am going I’m going to give you ideas — for gifts! Instead of waxing poetic about the awesomeness of The Secret World or explaining the amazing things about it to folks who may not have tried it (yet), I’ll be highlighting awesome and amazing things you can get for your friends and family who already love the game! That’s right, today is a special gift guide edition of Chaos Theory, where discerning shoppers — or those who just need to be hit with the +10 sword of inspiration — can search for that perfect something that says I get you.
But I won’t stop at just TSW: Funcom has other titles that also have dedicated fans. I’ll share a few gifts that might please the Age of Conan and Anarchy Online devotees in your life. And don’t think just because there is no more LEGO Minifigures Online to play that I have forgotten about those fans. Besides, we are talking LEGOs!
Watch out world: Funcom is cranking up its game factory for 2016.
In the studio’s Q3 2015 report, Funcom said that it would be announcing the creation of three new titles — one “large” and two small — next year: “In line with the company’s strategy, prototyping and concept development for new titles is underway, with the first new game to be announced during early 2016 and two additional games throughout later that year.”
Funcom needs a good future source of revenue, as its earnings continued to decline to $2,195,000 for the quarter. The decline was attributed to “a gradual and expected decrease in sales from the current live games.”