Funcom's work "continues as normal", despite raid from economic crime unit

Phil Savage at

You'd expect the studio behind The Secret World to be a fan of mystery and conspiracy, but I doubt this is what the game's developers had in mind. On Wednesday, Funcom were temporarily suspended from the Oslo Stock Exchange, and they were charged under "suspicion of infringement of the provisions of the Securities Trading Act," regarding Secret World finances reported from August 2011 to September 2012. The charges also led to Økokrim, the Norwegian economic crime unit, raiding Funcom's Oslo office and seizing boxes of documents.

Despite these events, Funcom say that things are back to business as usual. In a statement to Massively, director of communications Erling Ellingsen explained that yesterday's events were not expected to have an effect on either The Secret World or any of the studio's other games. Ellingsen also confirmed that Fumcom were fully co-operating with Økokrim's investigation.

The Secret World's new secret-agent themed update has flamethrowers and creepy bunkers

Ian Birnbaum at

Alt-fantasy MMORPG The Secret World has been out for a year and subscription-free for about six months. We enjoyed the game despite some problems, and the current fans seem to really enjoy the themed episodic updates. Just launched this week is issue 7, a superspy-themed update featuring exploding bridges, snowmobile chases, and a new flamethrower weapon.

Dreamfall Chapters gameplay footage is looking very pretty indeed

Katie Williams at

The developers at Red Thread Games have a talent for crafting scummy futuristic places that you really, really want to visit. They did it with both The Longest Journey and Dreamfall, and they're reusing the classic formula again in Dreamfall Chapters. This latest gameplay footage of the Kickstarter-funded sequel shows off a sinister section of Prague.

Interview with Funcom's Joel Bylos: One content team, three games

T.J. Hafer at

The last time I talked to Funcom's Joel Bylos, he was Game Director for The Secret World, overseeing its business model transition. In the wake of some staffing changes at the MMO developer, he has now been put in charge of content development for all three of Funcom's active products: The Secret World, Age of Conan, and the venerable Anarchy Online. We recently had a chance to ask Bylos a few questions over e-mail about his new role, the challenges of one team working on three game simultaneously, and what the future might look like for each of them.

The Secret World activity rises 400 percent after dropping subscriptions

Omri Petitte at

Funcom axed the subscription requirement for its supernatural survival-horror MMO The Secret World back in December, adopting a buy-to-play model that opened the game's content for all after a soul sacrifice to The Old Ones buying a download. It seems like it worked: in an investor notice published yesterday, Funcom noted The Secret World's "activity levels" rose 400 percent as a result of the model change.

The Secret World subscription model Q&A with game director Joel Bylos

T.J. Hafer at

Earlier today it was announced that The Secret World is dropping its mandatory subscription requirement. After a subterranean dive into a lost temple of the Elder Ones, we were able to speak with Game Director Joel Bylos through an ancient standing stone about the change. The answers below will only be legible during a brief planetary alignment, so check them out while there's still time!

The Secret World drops its subscription for a one-time purchase

Phil Savage at

In news that won't be of much surprise to anyone who's been following the game, The Secret World has dropped the need for a subscription fee. What is a bit different is how they're going about it: instead of going free-to-play, they're following in Guild Wars 2's footsteps - a one-time purchase gives you access to the full story-heavy MMO.

Dreamfall Chapters announced, a follow up to The Longest Journey and Dreamfall

Tom Senior at

Marvellous news for fans of Ragnar Tørnquist's Longest Journey series: there will be more of it! Ragnar teased the announcement on Twitter and it's been officially announced in a press release on the Funcom site. It sounds like it'll remain true to the original games. "#Dreamfall Chapters won’t be an online game," Tørnquist tweets. "It’s going to be a single-player PC/Mac adventure game through and through."

The Secret World Cat God update adds new missions, halloween event approaching

Tom Senior at

The third update for The Secret World is now live, adding two new missions and laying the groundwork for a series of Halloween events starting at the end of October. These will introduce a new villain called the Cat God, a walking cat in a nice hat with a mission to install scratching posts on every corner and run out every catnip dealer in town. If only that was his plan, but this is the Secret World. His intentions will be a lot more nefarious. Funcom say that "tricks, treats, cool new costumes and special pets" await for those brave enough to complete the event.

Funcom: "We definitely have the tools" for free-to-play Secret World

Omri Petitte at

Newly christened Funcom CEO Ole Schreiner recently spoke with regarding the fickle world of MMO development and the future of conspiracy-fest The Secret World. He said the studio "definitely has the tools" to install a free-to-play system into The Secret World if needed, but didn't confirm any solid plans to do so.

The Secret World Issue #2 update adds new cosmetic features, rocket launcher from Hell [UPDATED]

Omri Petitte at

Unraveling the mysteries of The Secret World demands subtlety, deception, cleverness, and a wardrobe of perfectly pressed clothing. That's why Funcom's inclusion of a rocket launcher to its Dig Deeper Issue #2 update releasing tomorrow seems slightly odd, unless we're meant to crack conspiracies open in the literal sense -- but hey: rocket launcher. Check out what's in store and a launch trailer inside.

Funcom lays off The Secret World's lead designer

T.J. Hafer at

Last month, we reported that Funcom was instituting "temporary layoffs" of a significant number of its staff. Recently, The Secret World's lead designer, Martin Bruusgaard, told Develop that he was among those laid off along with "most" of the studio.

The Secret World developer Funcom confirms "temporary layoffs"

Omri Petitte at

More harsh news in game development today: The Verge reports an unknown number of employee cutbacks occurring at The Secret World developer Funcom.

The Secret World review

Phil Savage at

The Secret World throws free weekend party

Richard Cobbett at

Been meaning to check out Funcom's conspiracy-fueled MMO, but nervous about actually paying? This weekend, the truth is both out there and welcoming you in for a celebration of The Secret World's one-month anniversary. Anyone can join in for fireworks, to check out the first major content patch - due out today - and see if they want to spend their spare time fighting for the Illuminati, Templars, or the other one that you're probably not going to choose because they're not Illuminati or Templars.

Check this page for more information and a download link to the game client (get this early - it's big!). Not sure if it's for you? Check out our reviewer's initial findings right here. As for what's in the new patch? That's a secret waiting only for those smart and brave enough to uncover it...

The Secret World review as it happens

Phil Savage at

The Secret World releases today. I'm deep into Funcom's MMO of conspiracy, magic and invasive insects, and will be writing down my impressions as I go. First up, some loose thoughts from my time in the early access period of the last couple of days.

The Secret World opens for business today

Richard Cobbett at

Funcom's conspiracy-fueled, please-don't-call-it World of Lovecraft MMO The Secret World launches today, though pre-orderers have already been able to sneak in and start help putting the truth back in its little box. You get to join the scheming Illuminati, the militant Templars, or the really kinda rapey Dragon and join in, with your first mission involving zombies in the town of Kingsmouth. You should probably go Illuminati, simply because their doctor is played by Jeffrey Combs and he is great.

But that's not the only Funcom news today...

Funcom making a LEGO Minifigures MMO

Owen Hill at

Funcom have just announced that they're making a LEGO Minifigures MMO. It'll be based on the extensive collection of LEGO Minifigures which includes brides, mummies, baseball players, and one called "Gorilla Suit Guy." He carries a banana.

The Secret World final beta weekend open to everyone who registers by Friday

Chris Thursten at

Funcom's conspiracies-and-monsters MMO The Secret World is coming out on the 3rd of July - and to celebrate, the developer is making the final beta weekend open to the public. If you register your interest on the official site by this Friday then you'll gain access. The beta weekend runs from 4pm GMT/12pm EDT on Friday until 7am GMT/3am EDT on Monday.

If you've been playing in any of the previous beta weekends, your progress has been saved - so you'll get to keep playing from where you left off. All three factions are available, and for the first time the persistent PvP will be opening up.

The Secret World beta weekend key giveaway

Tom Senior at

This giveaway has not closed. Congratulations if you managed to get a key!

The Secret World is going to be a lot less secret for those invited into the super secretbeta test this weekend. Uh oh. I've said too much. The Illuminati are almost certainly on the way, but I think I just have enough time to give away TEN THOUSAND beta keys before they get here. Read on for your chance to grab a key. Quick! This tin foil hat will only hold off the forces of evil for so long.