Newly christened Funcom CEO Ole Schreiner recently spoke with GamesIndustry.biz 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.
"We tried leaving our options open during development so that we could launch with a different model should we have decided during development that's what we wanted, but eventually we did settle on the subscription model and that's what informed much of the game's design," Schreiner said. "That said, we definitely have the tools to turn The Secret World into a free-to-play game -- or even hybrid -- should we decide to do that somewhere down the line."
As part of the dwindling camp of subscription-based MMOs, The Secret World still receives content updates and regular patches despite Funcom's layoff struggles earlier this month . Schreiner also recognized the competitive challenge free-to-play presents to subscription models, saying:
"I do think that as free-to-play offerings keep raising the bar in terms of quality and longevity, it's becoming more and more difficult for subscription games to live up to player's expectations. If you're demanding a monthly fee from someone, they obviously expect more value than they get from a similar free-to-play offering. There is no way getting around the fact that a growing number of gamers expect MMOs to be free-to-play, or at least buy-to-play (such as Guild Wars 2), so is building a successful subscription-based MMO becomes more challenging."