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The supernatural massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) The Secret World may become the latest in the genre to switch to a free-to-play model, the CEO of Funcom has hinted.

The supernatural massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) The Secret World may become the latest in the genre to switch to a free-to-play model, the CEO of Funcom has hinted.

 
Ole Schreiner, head of Funcom, told GamesIndustry that the company is “quite comfortable with where we are now,” but that the team “definitely have the tools to turn The Secret World into a free-to-play game – or even a hybrid – should we decide to do that somewhere down the line,” and that it is not ruling out “a change in direction.”
 
Schreiner gave the example of Age of Conan, which was converted to free-to-play “with significant success,” but said that The Secret World, which launched in July, “is now a profitable operation” after a re-structuring effort at the company, which involved lay-offs and other cost-cutting measures, such as reducing admin expenses.
 
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He said that it is “becoming more challenging” to develop a subscription-based MMO, as players expect more value compared to a free-to-play game, and the increasing quality and longevity of many free-to-play titles is making it “more difficult for subscription games.”
 
The language used in the interview suggests the company has seriously looked at, and is continuing to look at, a move to free-to-play, especially as big triple-A titles like Star Wars: The Old Republic move to a hybrid model, which offers free access to core gameplay, letting users buy other parts piece-meal, and continuing to offer a subscription for those who prefer a single pass to all content. This is a model which developer Turbine has had great success with for Dungeons and Dragons Online in 2009 and Lord of the Rings Online in 2010.
 
Of course, a switch to free-to-play involves a certain amount of re-coding, and Schreiner said that the game would likely have been a little different if that business model had been adopted from the start. This means that even if the switch occurs, we likely won't be infiltrating any virtual secret societies for free until next year at the earliest.
 
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Source: GamesIndustry