21 May, 2012

The Secret World - or how to make money by screwing your fans

I've been playing during the past weekend, the amazing new game The Secret World. Although it was only the second beta weekend it still offers a polished feel, that you rarely get from unfinished games.
The story is amazing and captivating, from the start, and it's a fresh breath of air with all those fantasy-based MMOs.
It's set in the near dystopian future, where 3 "societies" fight for the power to decide the future of humanity. This, if they can actually manage to fight away the dark forces that threaten the Earth.
The societies are:
- the "reborn" Templars:
- the greedy Illuminati:
- the secretous Dragon:
The beta only offered the Templars, as your faction, but the story felt tied together, with proper narrative and I didn't actually feel any regret that I couldn't try the other factions.
The game is a mixture of Silent Hill, Grand Theft Auto and Resident Evil, taking the best in these games, adding an amazing plotline to the atmosphere, gameplay and progression of the game.  You're less troubled about grinding and leveling up, because you want to follow the story and see where it gets you.
Now, my biggest problem with the game:


It doesn't make any sense from a creative point of view  to make this a MMO. It would make a perfectly fine single-player game franchise, with all the possibilities it you have to expand the story in other regions (you only visit 3 major locations in the game: New England, Egypt and Transylvania). By making it a MMO you lose the crowd that would play the game sporadically and you also miss the console owners. Sure it may get you more money in the short to medium term, but as a MMO it would be too hard to expand it after the first installment and there are lower chances of the sequel to be successful
But, apparently this is the way EA wants to go, having also published another game that would be a lot better as a single player game: Star Wars: The Old Republic. I know a lot of people that bought it just to play through the quest line, and then left. So, game developers and publishers, stop making so many mediocre MMOs when you can fit the same storyline in a great Single-Player game. Or at least take the path of Diablo and provide Co-Op modes if you want to ensure re-playability. GET IT RIGHT!

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