The Secret World launched as a subscription rather than free-to-play MMO because the latter model simply wouldn’t have covered costs, the game’s creative director has said.
According to Funcom’s Ragnar Tornquist, the only way a free-to-play model would have been viable for The Secret World was with the addition of pay-for-play DLC as well as real money item stores – neither of which the developers were keen to incorporate.
"It wasn't right for us to come out and be a free-to-play game, because then we would have to find other ways to support the on-going content,” he said.
“People are going to have to pay more in order to support the on-going development. I think that at least for me and at least for traditional MMO players, a subscription fee is something they understand."
Tornquist also pointed out that so far, no triple-A MMOs have launched with a free-to-play model, adding that the subscription model supports a big team that can continue to work on content long past launch.
However, he was under no illusions that the game would eventually transition to free-to-play.
"Of course [having Conan go free-to-play] has taught us a lot. Five years from now, ten years from now, will Secret World be free-to-play? I'm sure of it," he said.
"But that's a long time. For the time being, we're committed to this business model, and as long as people are willing to pay us in order to provide them with expanded content and on-going content, we'll keep that business model."
The Secret World is available now on Windows PC.