Spin Doctors: The Secret World Edition

Do you know what I like more than an MMO being treated as a single-player game in nearly 100% of its (blogged) reporting? An MMO with an official State of the Game developer post seven (7) days after launch.

I know that developers of The Secret World are not the first to write the following, but I was especially amused this time around (emphasis added):

We’re going to be releasing fresh and tasty new content FREE to our subscribers on a regular, monthly basis. The first update is due on Tuesday, July 31st, and we will be releasing more details about that particular update later this week — including a couple of fun surprises. (You’re going to love it.)

[…]

* Mission packs on a monthly basis! The first few packs will contain new investigations for every adventure zone in the game — but we also have more action and sabotage missions planned for the near future. These missions will feature fully voiced cut-scenes and new media pop-ups, and will match the quality of the missions currently in the game. Oh, and like everything else in our monthly updates, these packs are FREE for our subscribers!

Allow me to summarize my feelings with the following:

MMO Logic.

I have, of course, been cheerleading the concept of single-player MMOs for quite some time now. But I almost wonder if The Secret World has gone too far, and otherwise fallen into the Uncanny Valley abyss between the two (*ahem*) worlds.

Instead of being interested in an MMO that is going the incredibly novel route of monthly updates, my very first thought was “$15 DLC packs each month.” In the abstract, all subscription MMOs function in this manner, right? And companies like Blizzard certainly are not doing anyone any favors by letting 6+ months lapse between content updates.

But… it’s not just me, is it?

I am not playing the game, but I would rather FunCom put out twice the content every two months even if they end up sitting on the completed work. It feels too fast. And weird, like an MMO with a $13.84/month subscription. Or a doctor who keeps insisting on showing me his medical license. It bespeaks a curious lack of faith in the product itself.

P.S. I smirk every time I see the following patch note in any MMO:

* And speaking of dungeons, we’re also working on a dungeon finder tool, allowing players to more easily put together a team to handle the instanced content

Does that make me a bad person?

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Posted on July 11, 2012, in Commentary and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. There’s probably an unnamed company hidden somewhere who is making a killing out of their “Automated developer announcements generator for MMOs”……
    It must definitely include checkboxes for words, here they used “free”, on WoW it’s more “fun” which is used.

  2. I took the “free to our subscribers” bit as further indication that they intend to go F2P/freemium/hybrid/whatever-you-want-to-call-it in the near future and the “free” monthly updates will be one of the benefits of subscribing.

    Which is ironic considering that if they follow through with these monthly updates they’ll join Rift as one of the few sub-based MMOs who are trying to earn players’ $14.99/mo rather than taking it as a given.

  3. At this point, I’m happy to pay $15 a month for “free” content updates in TSW. I’m enjoying the game immensely, apart from the fact that I think I’ve managed to gimp my character thus far (can’t solo any “very hard” grade missions). Maybe should have followed a pre-made deck…

    As far as the single player MMORPG thing, I don’t think it’s gone TOO far. The nature of most TSW missions makes them ideal for a single player experience, but they add in some dungeons that require socializing (at least until the LFG tool goes in) and PvP (haven’t tried it yet myself) to round out the MMO part, and I’m really ok with that.

  4. This does seem like a case of those who do not know history being doomed to repeat it. As soon as they go 30 days without a substantial update, which is statistically near certain to happen eventually (if not immediately), a subscriber might ask what exactly their subscription got them this month. DCUO had a somewhat epic case of this, compounded by Smedley’s assertion that they would come through with monthly updates for the PS3 customers because that’s a given with a monthly fee, when none of SOE’s then-subscription PC titles were updating monthly.

  5. I’m not quite sure what you meant with your comment about LFD (unless it’s just about history repeating itself) but I rather miss it. I recently tried to get a group as dps and it’s a matter of waiting for the LFM then desperately trying to be the fastest respondent as 40 people ask for the spot. I then tried tanking which went ok but left me feeling really drained. We wiped 4 times on the last boss then killed it on the 5th try which would have been absolutely fine if doing it with friends but felt very uncomfortable doing it with strangers. Even though no one complained or group quit just the expectation that they might rather killed the fun.

    With LFD I can quest knowing that a group will at some point pop up without me having to think about it. That’s a big enough improvement that I’ll probably let my sub lapse after the free month and come back when it’s available.

    • Oh no, I absolutely 100% agree that LFD is both good and necessary. I smirk because I know how many people get upset at the thought of LFD propagating itself across the genre, and each additional game that “falls” to it marginalizes their (dumb, IMO) objections.

    • As DPS you need to know how to sell yourself. A leader who is just searching for a DPS isn’t necessarily one I’d want to join as DPS because that means he has low expectations and the other DPS may therefore me low quality. For example, I see difference between melee and ranged and I’d want not to play with 3 melee or 3 ranged. Since the leader gets lots of whispers from DPS he can pick someone who qualifies instead of just first come, first serve.

      Keywords you can use to quality yourself: “experienced in MMO”, “know tactics”, “QLx” where x is your QL, mention your weapons, mention your role and state if you can off heal or off tank. Or just read general chat for inspiration.

      When you make your own group there’s communication beforehand. You have full incluence on who’s The people who are invited feel honored they were invited, and there is a leader who kicks out a slacker. You also had to put effort into getting to the entrance (tho in TSW only 1 person has to). Anonimity between strangers also means the content is easier because strangers don’t want to play hard content with each other, tho that anonimity already exists in TSW because all servers are linked into one big server.

  6. I think they’re stressing the “free” part because the forum was in an uproar over the rumors of these mission packs being for purchase from the cash shop. Instead, they are “free” since they are not charged on top of the subscription price. Still, I applaud their determination. Blizzard is okay with charging the same monthly amount for updates that are few and far between.

    As far as the single-player MMO deal, I don’t really like how many solo instances there are in the game. Besides that, though, an MMO is only single-player if the players don’t group. The content of TSW is soloable, but is much more manageable (and fun) in groups. Not to mention the game boasts some of the best 5-man dungeon content I’ve seen to date.