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Interview of Joel about B2P


Joel Bylos, Game director on The Secret World, answers our questions on the switching of the last MMO of Funcom, released during last summer, to a new economic model: the buy to pay.

Joel Bylos - Game director TSW

The Secret World is going to switch to a "free to play" model. Will it be a "buy to play" like Guild Wars 2 (only need to buy the game and its expansions to play), a "freemium" like Age of Conan (subscribtion players and free players play together with different options) or a complete "free to play"?

It’s important to underline the fact that it’s not free-to-play. It’s buy-to-play, similar to games such as Guild Wars 2. You buy the client once and have full access to the game with no subscription fee. There is a subscription option – called membership – available for people who wish it, but it is not about access to content or removing anything from the base game, instead a membership gives the player an allowance each month for the in-game store, a 10% discount on things purchased in the store, and a couple of unique subscriber items.


Switching to a free to play model, will the shop no longer sell only clothes and pets? Will there be the possibility to buy boost xp potions, in game money or tokens, weapons, etc?

We are maintaining our stance that the cash shop should not be about buying power. We will continue to offer clothing and pets and convenience items such as character transfers and name changes.
We have had XP boosts in the game since launch, and these will remain available, but we will not begin selling weapons, money or tokens.


Will you keep the monthly updates? If they are keepen, will we need to buy each?

We remain committed to doing regular updates, and the updates going forward will be a mix of free and paid content.
An example of free content would be features, core engine upgrades (animation system revamp) and PvP fixes and changes. We will also include some PvE content in the free updates.
An example of the DLC will be Mission Packs, which add missions across the game and can be purchased.
I think the best example of the kind of business model we are pursuing is something like Borderlands 2 or Skyrim. The core game comes with everything included, and our updates will include something for everybody, as well as additional content which can be purchased.


There is the possibility to buy a lifetime subscription for The Secret World. It is still far from being cost effective for early buyers and worst for the last who give in to it. What will be done to prevent the lifetimers to feel robbed?

Lifetime subscribers will get all of the advantages of a subscriber (unique items, store allowance and discount), in addition to the advantages that they already have (10% store discount which will be added together with the other discounts, so effectively a 20% discount). The monetary value of the lifetime subscription will still be there for those who enjoy the game and it will still, given time, be more than worth the investment.


And for the subscribers whose subscription last after the switch to the new model?

If you have an active subscription to The Secret World when the switch is made (with a certain grace period) then you get all of the benefits as if you had paid for the first month under the new system, even if you haven’t.


The announce of the game to switch from pay to play to free to play 6 months after its release may be the fastest I have heard of. Why did you choose to release the game as a pay to play?

Again, it’s important to underline this is not a free-to-play model. It’s a buy-to-play model.
A change was needed, and despite the short time frame, we have been *very* careful to make sure that the players who have invested their time and money in us are taken care of.
More importantly, from my perspective at least, I want more people to try the game and not be scared away by a subscription fee. People who give the game a chance, really seem to like the game, but the numbers show that just not enough people are willing to give the game that chance.
I feel like moving to buy-to-play model will give people the chance to try the game by lowering the barrier for entry, but maintaining a client fee will discourage gold farmers and trolls.


Why choose to switch to a free to play model and not stick to a pay to play model but with cheaper subscriptions (as TSW has one of the most expensive subscription)?

I think the inertia in the industry is all about the subscription, regardless of the price. There is that nagging pressure on people that if they are paying for something, they have to be playing it all the time or they are not maximizing their investment.
That is why we are switching to a buy-to-play model, we want to ease that pressure on players, while still giving them something that they value.


When will the switch to the new model be effective? Will it start with the Season 2?

The switch in model has already gone live. There is no point in wasting time once decisions like this are made; consider it an early Christmas present. To me it was important doing it now, any way, seeing I firmly believe the world is coming to an end on December 21st, just as the Mayans predicted. So this was really the last chance, anyway, and I want people to spend their final days in The Secret World bliss before they all die a horrible, horrible death.


Merry Christmas!

rédigé par Peredur le 12 décembre 2012
mis à jour le 11 décembre 2012