Lead designer says he wouldn't take the same risks again
Funcom’s fantasy MMO The Secret World should have been more commercial to appeal to a wider audience, the project’s lead designer has said.
Speaking to Penny Arcade, Martin Bruusgaard, who has since left the company after being put on forced leave, said that looking back, he felt the title should have been more familiar to consumers and have incorporated less changes to the genre.
He added that developers must always consider what sells, and that not doing so was a huge risk, and one that he said he would not do again.
“I think we probably should’ve gone for something that was maybe a bit more familiar,” said Bruusgaard.
“No classes, no levels, different weapons, and you have the skills. Yes we have quests, but some of the quests are weird, where you look up on the browser to get the solution… it’s all familiar, but with a twist, and I don’t think we should’ve twisted that many things.
“I have to stress I really like the game the way it is now, but if I’m thinking about making the game a more commercial success, I think we should have gone more commercial.
“That’s what I mean about not putting our twist to the degree that we did.”
The Secret World has struggled to gain traction amongst consumers since its release in July, attracting just over 200,000 users to the subscription-based MMO.
Poor sales of the title resulted in a number of layoffs at the company as “cost adjustment initiatives” were implemented. Funcom has since claimed the game is now profitable, although it will be working on smaller titles in future.
But despite not being a commercial success, Bruusgaard insisted that Funcom had made efforts to make the MMO appeal to a wider audience throughout development after receiving feedback from testers that the game was too complicated and convoluted.
“We sat down and often had this discussion, like, ‘We have to make sure people like this game. We can’t make the game only for us, we need to make sure that other people like this as well,’” he said.
“We had tons of playtests where the conclusion was ‘This is too intricate, too complicated, too convoluted. It’s not commercial viable. The product we released actually went through a lot of those iterations actually, making it commercialised more and more.
“I think you have to consider what sells. You just have to. Not doing it is a huge risk. Yes, you might get lucky and everything works out great, but I would not do that again.”