One of the reasons that I’ve loved writing MMORPG news over the past seven years is that you never quite know what surprises lay around the corner. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, well, Johnny Depp comes along to bring The Secret World to the television.
You can’t make this up, folks. Well, you CAN, but it’s so patently weird and ridiculous and unlikely that no one would believe you . And yet this is the reality we’re facing this week, as Depp’s production company is partnering with Funcom to make a Secret World TV show:
“The TV series is based on the universe of the Secret World IP and centers on a team of undercover agents and the shadowy war between secret societies, the Illuminati, Dragon and the Templar. Central to the plot is the battle against the supernatural in an adventure that spans across our world, multiple dimensions, and incorporates the realms of ancient myths and legends as well as today’s conspiracy theories and headline news.”
The media rights were optioned out in 2012, but apparently the strange conspiracy angle only recently caught the attention of this company, who has already written a pilot. And with that bomb of incredulity dropped, Funcom skipped away without further elaboration.
I don’t know what to say. I have a lot of thoughts, but they’re really disorganized, because this is so unexpected and exciting for many reasons. I think the second thought most people had — other than “wow, awesome!” from the Secret World faithful — is surprise that this MMO, out of all of them, got picked up for a shot at a TV show. Defiance was developed from the beginning to be both a show and a game, but here we have a very niche (if beloved) cult MMORPG that’s been out for five years and has just relaunched in an attempt to save it. Nobody could’ve made this call.
OK, I want to put it out there that we Secret World fans shouldn’t get our hopes TOO high here. I mean, it’s so great that this was considered at all, but it’s a long road from “this IP got picked up for a TV pilot” to “this pilot got picked up to be a full-fledged series.” It might never happen — never be broadcast, that is. And even if it is, we all know how iffy adaptations of video games can be. Be cautiously excited, that’s my advice.
I think it’s a great shot in the arm for Secret World Legends and has made a lot of people outside of the gaming market done a bit of a whiplash today in seeing Johnny Depp’s name connected with an online video game that features secret societies, a Boogieman, and a thousand-year-old mummy. It’s going to put SWL on the map for some people who might not even know it exists, and hopefully Funcom will leverage what media attention it can get to direct more people to the game itself.
Further thoughts, in no particular order:
- I would venture that the show would be a prologue to the game from the description and the timeline issues. Free it up to explore stories that aren’t explicitly covered in the MMO.
- If Said and Nassir aren’t the two starring characters, I’m out. Well, not really, but they would be the best leads ever.
- Also, Montag should be involved. And about a good dozen other great characters from the game. But how great would it be to see occult-wrangling Montag before he was the headmaster of Innsmouth Academy?
- Does this mean some sort of additional cash infusion for Funcom out of this deal?
- It’s going to have to be a mature-rated show.
- Another possibility is to follow the half-dozen or so main Illuminati, Dragon, and Templar characters that were starring in the pre-launch cinematics and opening tutorial.
- If at all possible, it’d be awesome if the game would feature connections and content related to the show.
- It’d be less awesome if the show completely distances itself or disconnects from the game entirely (i.e., a reboot of the reboot).
- Funcom has shown a lot of willingness to expand the Secret World IP to other properties — ARGs, The Park, and Hide and Shriek in particular. I guess it’s not completely out of left field.
I think this is a strong contender for “strangest MMO news of 2017.” But as a strong fan of The Secret World, I am excited that this is a thing, period.