The Secret World Legends reboot is coming to PC soon and Funcom provided Inquisitr an in-game tour to check out all the changes. One of the big items on is the reasoning behind the move to a free-to-play model and how the new economy works. Game Director Romain Amiel provided those answers and more during our hands-on walk-through of the reboot.
The decision to go Free-to-Play for Secret World Legends
Funcom had a tough decision when it came to The Secret World. The MMORPG was praised for its story and dark atmosphere, but knocked for important gameplay features like combat, an unintuitive user interface, and overly-complicated character progression system.
At the same time, Amiel admits Funcom did not do a good job of marketing the game, which impacted the game’s revenue when it moved from a subscription model to a buy-to-play model. What the developers found is players wanted more content, but then didn’t buy the expansions as they were released.
When it came time to discuss the future of Secret World, Funcom believed and the game and the development team wanted to continue to tell the story that is already planned for many more years. The decision was to go with a free-to-play model to make new player acquisition easier and gave Funcom the opportunity to go back and fix player complaints related to combat and other features.
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Amiel described this this as an ideal situation for the developers since it provided an opportunity for the developers to “rework the game from the ground up to fix all those issues we just had to deal with. It was easy for the team to say we had to do this.”
However, he recognized this was less than ideal for existing players who invested five years into The Secret World and were now being asked to start over.
“It was the balance of trying to figure out what we were going to do. Can we win our current players over to make the realize this is the best shot the game has to have a healthy longevity? This is the way we need to keep telling those stories and then what we can we give them to make sure they get on board with us,” Amiel explained.
This hotly debated topic took the Secret World Legends team at Funcom a long time to figure out. However, Amiel says everyone is excited about what it means for the future and how the changes will allow them to use even faster development processes.
What free-to-play means for Secret World Legends content
Secret World Legends and all future content releases for the game will be completely free once the game launches via Funcom’s platform on June 26 and Steam on July 31. The game will release with all Season 1 content minus the Tokyo zone and only one PVP zone.
Amiel explained that the importance of the Whispering Tides event, which opens Tokyo, to the end of the first season of content meant holding off on releasing the zone. This provides the entire game population a chance to level up so enough players are ready to meet the end-game challenges.
Shamballa will be the only PVP zone available at The Secret World Legends launch since, it is the latest and most enjoyable of all the zones. PVP zones like El Dorado and Stonehenge will be reworked to match the new reticle-based combat and Funcom will also use this opportunity to make them more enjoyable based on player feedback.
Season 2 content will be ambitious and arrive by the end of 2017. When asked if the move to a free-to-play model will affect the quality of new content, such as the use of cut-scenes or voice acting, Amiel said the amount of effort and quality will not change. The only thing changing is how Funcom monetizes the game.
The first few months of the Secret World Legends‘ launch will see weekly updates to add new playstyles, weapons, and other new features. This includes the Tokyo zone, PVP zones, and fun items like the ability to save and use player-defined sets of clothing.
Secret World Legends’ economy allows players to trade money for time and vice versa
Amiel admits free-to-play is difficult to do without making people feel like they are being tricked into paying money. Secret World Legends will use different currencies to manage which are essentially measures of player’s money and time.
Real-world money is spent on the Aurum currency. This allows players to buy vanity items such as clothing, sprint animations, pets, and mounts. Additional character slots beyond the initial one will also require a purchase. There will be no weapons or powers that can be purchased with Aurum.
Marks of Favour is the currency earned in-game by completing missions, dungeons, and other activities. This is Funcom’s measurement of player time. These are used to purchase additional keys to open dungeon loot chests, as players are limited to 12 a day, or unlock additional weapon playstyles past the starting two.
The Auction House provides the real trick with Funcom’s free-to-play economy in Secret World Legends. This can be accessed in the Agartha social zone or from anywhere inside the game via the menu or shortcut. Here players can trade Aurum for Mark of Favours and vice versa.
This is Funcom’s way of allowing players who don’t necessarily want to spend money in the game to trade their time to purchase vanity items. On the flip side, it allows players who don’t have much time to play, but do have the money to purchase items and dungeon loot keys.
“We are hoping this will be healthy enough for us to continue that story and release those updates for free and tell the story for many years to come,” Amiel told me. “We have several years planned out for where the story is going and I hope we see this to completion.”
[Featured Image by Funcom]