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The Secret World – sales not in line with Funcom expectations

August 10, 2012

Funcom has provided a report with some indications of how The Secret World is doing, from a sales perspective. The short summary is – not that good.

One of the reasons they point to here is that the score on Metacritic was not that good and lower than what they had hoped for.  In the last quarterly report they had given two scenarios they had done some calculations for – one similar toConan-like scenario with high sales (a bit over 1 million boxes over the first year and on average 280K subscribers) and a better-than-Conan scenario (about 1.3 million boxes over the first year and almost 500K subscribers).  Now they say that early indications points to box sales less than half of the Conan-like scenario.

I did not expect then to sell over a million copies of the game and if they sell 500K copies of the game the first year I think that is fairly reasonable actually in todays market. Not because the game is bad, far from it. I think the game is great – but I think it is also a game that does not go out of its way to attract the big masses. It does not go out of its way to channel players into the various aspects of the game in a no-friction approach. I like that actually, but I think it would be foolish to assume that that is something for everyone. Combine that with a box+subscription+store business model and they have a bit of an uphill battle in the current market place.

On the positive side financially they expect player retention to be better than for Age of Conan. The ratio of digital download sales have also been higher than expected, as has been sales of add-on packs – e.g. master and grand-master packs (the latter being lifetime subscriptions). Operational costs for The Secret World is also significantly lower than for Age of Conan – or at least lower when AoC was launched. Partly this is probably because there was less hype and fewer servers now for The Secret World, plus that they probably are able to make more efficient use of the hardware they have.

The game is going to be available on Steam later also. That probably will not hurt sales.

While the announcement certainly reads as disappointment from Funcom side I do not think it is that much out of line with what I would have expected, unless they end up significantly lower than 500K copies sold. If they reach and can keep a significant portion of those 500K players – for a subscription-based game which is not targeting every kind of MMO player out there – that is a pretty awesome result I would say.

However, Funcom are the ones to decide whether it is or will be a success or not – at least in financial terms.

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Categories: The Secret World
  1. August 10, 2012 at 22:26 | #1

    I do think that the partnership with EA didn’t help them at all as many people seems put off by the mere mention of a link to EA. The Steam availability may help with that a little.

  2. Tom
    August 14, 2012 at 18:05 | #2

    One thing to consider is the unreliability of metacritic. It has been reported the same people vote repeatedly and skew the actual numbers. As an example, as sad as this is, I work with a colleague who is very mad with Funcom and he told me he voted over 100 times and gave the game a very low rating each time. Whether his story is true or not, other reports of the same type of behaviors have been reported on many different gaming sites. Its also interesting that on several sites, the user scores are much higher than the reviewer’s score. That tells me the people playing the game are enjoying it and perhaps the reviewer’s score were based upon personal biases.

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