Money makes The Secret World go ’round

I don’t know if any of you ever ordered a computer from Dell or Gateway, but if you have then you’re familiar with how you customize the setup by deciding between different components.  Do you want more RAM for more money, or the standard amount for the same price?  Bigger monitor or smaller?  Extra software package? I’ve gone through that a couple times and have always come away feeling dissatisfied with my purchase, because I could never afford all of the options I wanted, and yet the company made me very aware of them.

That’s how I’m feeling about The Secret World’s pre-order announcement.  I mean, awesome that they’re revving that up and I’m completely excited (if terrified) for the game’s prospects.  I’m looking forward to playing it, and the second I heard about the pre-order, I went to check it out.

But that’s where it gets complicated.

Instead of the semi-standard system of offering at least the standard and collector’s edition (with perhaps a middling deluxe edition between the two), TSW is going for a build-your-own package approach.  I guess this empowers players a little bit more, but it’s almost a little too overwhelming and gives me that same unnerving feeling I had with Gateway.

So let’s break it down:

  • The basic pre-order ($50): The game (and hopefully at least 30 days play time), beta weekend access starting in May, secure one character name in advance, 3 character slots, 1-4 days of early access, in-game pet, in-game t-shirt, and in-game XP boosting item.

That’s a pretty good deal for a pre-order, I think.  I especially like being able to reserve a name in advance, particularly if someone else gets in the head start before I do.  That calms the nerves.  At $50, it feels like a good deal with nice bonuses.

But wait, there’s more!  You can upgrade with:

  • Initiate Pack ($15): Blood raven pet, faction leather jacket, high-end beginner weapon set
  • Master Pack ($60): 30 days of game time, one more character slot, one more character name reservation, full talisman set, 10 XP potions, and a 10% discount on future store purchases
  • Grand Master Pack ($200): Everything in the Master Pack plus a lifetime subscription and a snakeskin jacket.

I’m… not convinced any of these are worth tacking on to the $50 price tag above.  The Initiate pack is pretty much either social gear or items you’ll quickly outlevel, and for a game with an item shop, why buy these now instead of getting exactly what you want later?

The Master Pack feels like a ripoff — it’s more than the cost of the game itself — and players looking for a sub-free experience will have to shell out $250 total.  Now, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Funcom will probably make this game F2P within the first couple years (just look to Anarchy Online and Age of Conan) unless it’s some sort of massive runaway success, so a lifetime sub is almost counter-productive.  But hey, it’s your money.

Finally, you can beef things up with:

  • One more character slot ($10)
  • One more character name reservation ($10)

Eh.  Three character slots for the core game feels limited (and is far below the standard of most MMOs), but when you consider the classless system and three factions total, it makes sense.

All in all, that could add up to a lot of money if you want to make your own collector’s edition, but I guess I can’t get on a soapbox about it considering that I spent $150 for the SWTOR one.  $150 here could get me the core game, master pack, initiate pack, and a couple extra name reservations.

However, I’m probably just going to go with the standard edition here.  None of the extra perks are so incredibly compelling that I feel the urge to splurge, and with other games coming out this summer, I want to be smart with my money.


21 thoughts on “Money makes The Secret World go ’round

  1. Ardua April 3, 2012 / 12:09 pm

    One comment I’d make on the master pack.
    30 days of gameplay, call it $15
    One character slot $10
    One name reserve $10

    There’s $35 of the $60 already. It really comes down to is a lifetime 10% off the clothes and some xp potions and talisman set worth the last $25?

  2. Buhallin April 3, 2012 / 12:14 pm

    Wow. $10 for name reservation? Seriously? I know there are people out there who think it’s that important, but really? And only 3 character slots, with $10 per additional on top of what is probably a standard sub fee?

    The world and style of Secret World is intriguing, but if this is the direction Funcom’s taking it, I’ll pass.

    But more importantly, and I apologize if some people take this badly, but given Funcom’s history why would anyone preorder this??

  3. Aerynne April 3, 2012 / 12:20 pm

    I have bought a lifetime sub for every mmo for which it was available (in a game I wanted to play): LotRO, STO, CO (I think that covers it). I have never regretted that choice, even when the game goes f2p. I usually pay for premium accounts anyway, so sub or f2p is all the same to me. Plus, when I have a lifetime account, I have no qualms about coming and going, which is my typical mmo style anyway. Don’t want to play LotRO for a few months? No worries – I am still subbed and can pick it up anytime.

    It may not make the most economic sense, but it has never failed me so it will be the Master Pack for me!

  4. DocHoliday April 3, 2012 / 12:26 pm

    For me the Master was more like a Digital Collector’s Edition (no boxed CE coming) and the Grand-master was really just giving you extra toys for the Lifetime sub. Personally I’m going Lifetime, just debating between the hound and wolf as to where I’m pre-ordering from 🙂

    With the game the way it is, why would you need more then 3 slots? No need for alts, and 3 gives you one per faction…

  5. Drannos April 3, 2012 / 12:34 pm

    Just to throw this into the mix…they’ve stated that the Grandmaster Pack will be available for purchase AFTER the game goes live – basically an account upgrade that will be available after we’ve all had a chance to try the game out in it’s Live version.

    (As opposed to other lifetime memberships…which were more or less blind purchases that were a leap of faith!)

  6. DocHoliday April 3, 2012 / 12:46 pm

    I do like that they’re leaving the GM pack available after launch, but many are looking at that pack as a way to secure their names. Since pre-orders through everywhere BUT Funcom won’t kick in till just before launch, folks are worried they won’t get the name they want.

  7. Ocho (@BigMikeyOcho) April 3, 2012 / 12:52 pm

    I completely agree with Aerynne above. Even if a game is going F2P, getting a lifetime sub, especially when you realize you really like the game, is a deal if for no other reason than the peace of mind that comes with not having to be on a play-or-lose-it mentality. $250 is really less than the standard amount and is essentially like 2 years worth of play (a lot less if you pay the full $15/month). So, $250 for the full benefit package there and a lifetime sub… sounds like a pretty nice deal.

  8. Drannos April 3, 2012 / 1:11 pm

    It’s most definitely worth it – if you enjoy the game. My LOTRO lifetime sub was by far the best single gaming purchase I’ve ever made. But I’m also glad I never bought and STO, DCUO, or CO lifetime sub. Not that they’re bad games – just that they looked good visually and “on paper” but after playing them I realized they weren’t for me.

    TSW definitely looks a lot closer to my tastes, though (already pre-ordered), and I actually appreciate that I can upgrade after trying the game – LOTRO was a leap of faith at the time, no matter how much it’s paid off since!

    As far as names go, I’m only after the one – which comes with my preorder – so I’m good to go. (Something tells me I’m gonna end up with the GM package anyway, as the peace of mind of not having a sub is well worth it in the long run, and even if it does go F2P, every game that’s made that transition has basically provided a stipend of in-game currency every month in exchange for my “subscription”.)

  9. Wilhelm Arcturus April 3, 2012 / 1:13 pm

    I am batting .500 on Lifetime subs. I think it was a great pre-order investment for LOTRO, looking back five years down the road, but it was complete fail for me when it came to STO, as I ended up not getting into the game at all and stopped playing after three months.

    When it comes to TSW, the ordering complexity does nothing to endear the game to me. But I haven’t seen much that has, and FunCom’s track record hasn’t helped. So the whole pre-order shuffle is just another reason to stay on the side lines. You all scout for me and let me know how it goes!

    Of course, my bigger problem is that I already have too many games I want to play, and there are not enough hours in the day.

  10. Buhallin April 3, 2012 / 1:17 pm

    “With the game the way it is, why would you need more then 3 slots? No need for alts, and 3 gives you one per faction…”

    And yet the Master Pack includes an extra character slot, and you can indeed purchase more. Funcom seems to think there’s some advantage to it…

  11. DocHoliday April 3, 2012 / 1:26 pm

    The only thing I could see about alts would be for crafting – but I’m not sure we know enough about the ins-and-outs of that program to really know.

    One thing I can say about the TSW team, they definitely have watched and learned from the issues plaguing the other Funcom launches and games, so while this launch might not be perfect I expect it to be better.

  12. bhagpuss April 3, 2012 / 1:43 pm

    “Of course, my bigger problem is that I already have too many games I want to play, and there are not enough hours in the day.”

    This ^^

    I’d quite like to play TSW but really, when?

  13. Kadomi April 3, 2012 / 1:58 pm

    They’re not really going to charge extra for the first 30 days of play, are they? Because if they are, that’s crappy. I don’t think I have seen enough previews to be willing to preorder TSW, I’d rather sit it out and wait.

  14. DocHoliday April 3, 2012 / 2:06 pm

    first 30 days is included

  15. Vagabond April 3, 2012 / 2:25 pm

    I wanted to check the price of lifelong sub, but didn’t find that on the uk page. Nor any customization, really, just a kind of basic+ package for 40 gbp. I wonder why..

  16. Richard April 3, 2012 / 9:30 pm

    I’m not sure we’ve seen a money grab on the level of TSW before. This is the most blatant “we want all your money” we’ve ever seen, and it’s not even by a developer who has a record to back up asking for this type of investment.

    Funcom seems to be doing so much wrong with TSW. From going with the subscription model, which they’ll end up dropping later, to being aggressive with all the DLC extras, to releasing in the same time frame as Diablo III and Guild Wars 2, to partnering with EA.

    I just don’t sense good things coming out of this. It’s a great story concept, it’s great to get rid of classes and I like the skill wheel idea, but they are doing so much wrong.

  17. Remi April 4, 2012 / 3:59 am

    I have to agree with Richard.
    This was a game firmly on my radar until this latest info release.
    Imho subbed MMOs are going the way of the dodo.
    It wont compete in the MMO marketplace. Especially with GW2 being released F2P.

    I might take a look at this in six months or so after the inevitable conversion to F2P.

  18. Llokki April 4, 2012 / 11:14 pm

    Wow, guys, really? You’re complaining about being given more options?? I don’t know why I’m surprised really, but I am. If you don’t like the options, if you don’t feel that they’re worth the price…wait for it…DON’T BUY THEM! It’s so so simple. But don’t complain that you’re being given options. Options are usually a very good thing. Free will and all that.

    Personally I’m going to wait until I’ve had some hands-on time before I put any money into this game, but if it lives up to my hopes/expectations, then I’ll likely splash out on the Grand Master pack. Even if it does go F2P at a later date, it will still likely have a sub option, which may include (as other games do) include a monthly stipend of cash shop currency, so it’s nice to know that even when you’re not playing, you’re still accruing veteran days and cash shop currency to be enjoyed at a later date.

  19. Sean April 7, 2012 / 6:20 pm

    I’ll probably upgrade to the Master Pack next paycheck.
    The only decision I’ve heard about this game that I don’t really care for is partnerring with EA, and that’s because of the Very Negative Things I’ve heard about them.

    FC has had some problems with game releases. I was almost there for AO (the store sold out before I got my copy,…had to wait for a restock….missed out on the backpack by about a week.) This comes from innovation. Could they have turned out a beautiful WoW clone? Sure. Better they try something new. Oh, and let’s look at AO for a minute. To a certain point, the game is F2P. Past that, you have to have a subscription.

    Even if the game goes F2P just past July of 2013, provided you like the game and want to continue playing past the first month, the Lifetime Membership pays for itself, and you get whatever bonuses come with it.

  20. Kate April 9, 2012 / 12:19 pm

    just a few points:
    1) Every single MMO other than GW2, that had a large development budget, has launched or plans to launch with a monthly subscription model, at least initially. GW2 is basically trying to launch without subs, as it’s “marketing gimmick”. MMO launches entail a huge server population swell that will gradually dissipate in later months. *Not* having a subscription model at launch, would be like saying “we’re not in business to make money”. And all game development companies are trying to turn a buck.

    2) I am almost certain, that the game will “eventually” adopt a free to play model. And I’m pretty sure the bean counters at funcom have it planned that way from probably sometime last year. It’s not a “oh it should have been F2P, derp”, it’s an understood, intended tiered approach to marketing the game over time. You know how when a new movie comes out it’s $10 for just you personally to see it? and 6 months later you and all your friends can netflix it for $3? same concept.

    3) A game going free to play does not invalidate a lifetime sub. Lifetime subscriptions entitle you to premium account status… Most games that have “gone F2P” are in fact using a tiered payment scheme, where you get fairly limited access to the game for free, and you can pay a monthly for full access. For example, currently I pay a premium subscription to City of Heroes, even though that game is “F2P”, and so does the majority of the game’s population. Because most F2P games are *actually* either charging free-players massively in the cash shop for content, or just giving you an over-glorified demo of the game you could be playing if you signed up for a sub. Its a good business model, gets people “into” your game who wouldn’t have checked it out if they had to buy into it. It’s not a business model for any AAA budget mmo launch though.

    4) A lifetime sub is a good purchase IF you enjoy a game long term. And a bad purchase if you don’t. I made a lifetime sub purchase for CO, and have come to regret it, because that game just fails to hold my attention. I consider that lifetime sub a waste of money. From what I understand LOTRO lifetime subs were a good value though (I dunno myself, i kinda missed that game). For TSW, I have purchased a lifetime sub again. I’m a little nervous about getting a lifetime sub after CO… but I really think TSW will hold my interest long term.

    5) 3 character slots is “plenty” when you consider that the game mechanics in TSW will allow you to play each character for MUCH longer than you would a single-class character in a traditional MMO. I am intimately familiar with progression in the game, and frankly, even with a lifetime sub, I question whether I’ll get any use at all out of the 4th character slot that came with my grand master’s pack. I honestly think that the only reason they include it is to tempt you to buy another name reservation.

    6) I bought a lifetime sub to TSW, and I am also anxious for GW2 to launch late this year. I hope then to have 2 very different, well made mmo’s to tinker with at my leisure, and no significant ongoing costs to worry about.

    7) TSW & Funcom’s history: AO launch was “rocky”, it was their first mmo. But the game is still running (having a cult following), and has been improved and expanded upon massively over the years. AoC was forced to launch, unfinished, by way of inflexible co-publishing contracts. To be fair, AoC was a year past due, and various interested parties wanted their investment returns pronto. Also the person managing AoC post launch was “problematic” and ended up being let go. 9 months later AoC was a really good mmo, with the most stunning graphics in the genre, but that was too late for 90% of the player base. That’s their mmo track record. Perhaps relevant to TSW, it’s Ragnar Tournquist’s project, and he’s known for The Longest Journey and Dreamfall which were pretty good story-adventure games in their day. For TSW, the engine is quite refined now. It’s an updated version of the engine from AoC, but with some really nice dynamic lighting tricks added. The engine side of TSW’s development involved a tiny fraction of the effort they had to put into tuning AoC’s engine, leaving a lot more man-hours to work on the game itself. Development on TSW began in earnest 7 years ago. The game has been in beta testing in one form or another for over a year now. And they moved the launch date back 6 weeks, mainly so that it wouldn’t launch right on top of Tera. I’m not getting any sense of the game being rushed to market this time, quite the opposite.

    8) I have to agree with Llokki, an article that in a nutshell is saying “They gave me purchasing choices, choices me grumpy”? really?? The combat animations (for the characters) look awkward, stiff, and lack variation. The non-combat animations look fine, and the mobs’ animations look fine, but the character attack animations are pretty un-polished. I really hope they fix these in time for launch. But if not, I can live with it. Also, the business model is on the greedy side (cosmetic items cash shop in game, plus sub, and box price). Those two issues are pretty much all of the downsides to the game. They don’t deter me in the slightest, but if either of those are a huge deal to you, then you may want to hold off. But certainly, having too many options in the pre-order is not a “downside”.

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