Trouble Comes to Funcom

| 25 Jan 2013 17:00
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The Secret World developer Funcom is shutting down its Beijing studio and laying off staff in Montreal and North Carolina.

Funcom is making some big changes to its operations as it consolidates its "live teams" for the Anarchy Online, Age of Conan and The Secret World MMOs into a single facility located in Raleigh, North Carolina. The team will be comprised of employees who had previously worked on individual titles, including some relocated from Funcom's Montreal studio, and will be responsible for supporting and expanding all three games. The Montreal studio will be retained, albeit with a smaller headcount, to develop new games for mobiles and tablets.

"By bringing the developers on our live games to Raleigh it allows us to build a stronger, more unified team that can service and support our online games as they work to expand these worlds and create new experiences for the players who inhabit them," Funcom CEO Ole Schreiner said.

Unfortunately, the consolidation doesn't come without a price. Some employees at the Montreal studio are being laid off rather than relocated and despite the centralization of operations in North Carolina, cuts have been made to "certain departments" in that office as well. Funcom's Beijing studio will be closed down entirely later this year, "as a natural result of the completion of the development of The Secret World."

Funcom's troubles began with the less-than-stellar launch of The Secret World last summer, after which its share price crashed from $17.70 to $1.68 in less than three months. The game was quickly changed from subscription-based to free-to-play which brought a 30 percent increase in sales, but Funcom's price continues to languish below the $2 mark.

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I can't read about MMO news anymore, it's always a bunch of nonsense in the comments section saying "Free to Play, Buy to Play Lol".

Maan, if only this game cost like $10 to buy and was completely free after that, they would have been successful man.

AzrealMaximillion:
Hopefully the Elder Scrolls Online looks at this and The Old Republic's way of pricing and realizes that the pay to play subscription style is on its way out in a big way.

There is nothing wrong with the subscription model as a concept, there are MMOs that use it like EVE online, Rift, Darkfall and so on and they are successful in their own rights. Where these companies are going wrong is that they keep on expecting their games to be huge WoW killer, thats just not going to happen. I doubt even Blizzard could repeat their success either. Lots of things all came together at once that made WoW such an extraordinary success, without conditions like that (or different ones to the same effect) it probably wont happen again.

josemlopes:

AzrealMaximillion:
Hopefully the Elder Scrolls Online looks at this and The Old Republic's way of pricing and realizes that the pay to play subscription style is on its way out in a big way.

But didnt the Secret World used the subscription model and the microtransactions model at the same time? Almost like paying a subscription to be treated like you are playing a Free to Play game. Its not like everything was around microtransactions but still ends up rubbing the wrong way

Therumancer:

AzrealMaximillion:
Hopefully the Elder Scrolls Online looks at this and The Old Republic's way of pricing and realizes that the pay to play subscription style is on its way out in a big way.

Not really. The subscription based model is far, far, better overall, the problem has been companies recurringly making the same mistakes.

For a subscription based game to survive and thrive what it needs is an incredibly strong endgame experience, one that is fun, but also takes a lot of time and dedication. After all at the end of the day you need to keep people busy so they keep re-upping their subscriptions and working on their characters.

The problem that hit both "ToR" and "TSW" is that they launched without much endgame content. Both were based entirely around a fun journey through the content and enviroments, complete with voicework for quests, and interesting enviroments. However once you saw everything there wasn't much else there to do. In both cases you wound up with a small selection of pretty approachable instances that you could grind again and again for gear, without a whole lot of planning or effort (the exception to this being TSW's nighmare level, but more on that later).

Those developing subscription based games tend to look at the model of WoW and what it launched with, which was very little in the way of endgame. Not bothering to consider that it had little competition for that at the time and also rushed out it's "Molten Core" and "Blackwing Lair" raids pretty quickly, as well as other 20 and 40 man raids. This is what cemented WoW's success and kept a huge core of players renewing their subscriptions every month.

Developers need to understand that casuals by their nature have little in the way of loyalty, they keep chasing the next big thing, especially when they can clearly say they are "done" with the content in a game. Pretty much every MMO out there has made a big deal out of how to max out your character, get the best gear, and see all the content you won't have to invest hundreds or thousands of hours, or coordinate with tons of people to figure out obtuse boss fight gimmicks. While this makes the casuals happy, there is rarely any consideration for what it means when people get all of the best gear and see everything in a couple of months because it was made easy to do. Once that happens people leave. The hardcore have little to occupy their attention and work towards, and as the casuals get it they move on to the next game. Sure, people oftentimes will return IF more content is added to the game, but once it's done they leave again, meaning there isn't anything keeping them playing during the middle months to finance that new content.

As much as people might have complained they DID do those 40 man raids in WoW, and for a long time. The headache in getting 40 people together and fairly coordinated was part of the point, since it took time, and with the way loot drops worked it meant people would keep coming back to gear their characters. It ensured that there were still people running MC and BWL when the expansions came out, as people got into the huge-scale raiding and re-upped their subscriptions every month. By the time Blizzard made raids and such more approachable they had enough endgame content that they could keep people occupied from expansion to expansion. It's only been fairly recent that their numbers have been dying down.

As someone who was in Beta for TSW I can tell you that their failure has been due to not knowing what the heck they were trying to develop. I get the impression that the devs and the guys running the financial end of things (EA apparently) weren't talking to each other very much. TSW is one of my favorite MMOs ever, and I forecast it as being a big success... based on the claims that Funcom was basically developing an intentionally niche MMO for mature, dedicated, players. NOT that they were expecting large scale, fairly mainstream success. As a game it succeeded based on it's initial projections and did attract a dedicated, niche, audience, but obviously that wasn't what the business side of things expected.

TSW's endgame was (and still is) kind of pathetic. It's basically a handfull of farily short 5 man dungeons that can be adjusted between 3 levels of difficulty... normal, elite, and nightmare, which influance the rewards you get for victory. The jump in difficulty between Elite and Nightmare being pretty substantial as well. It was a giant mess, but as a niche game based on it's uniqueness I figured this was one time it wouldn't matter because they weren't planning on holding hundreds of thousands or millions of subscribers to begin with, and there were plans for frequent, monthly, content updates. Not aiming for mainstream success and a huge player base increasing their options and viability.

Their very endgame design is kind of a problem where the community itself created a kind of barrier to the real endgame content where nobody even wants to talk to you nowadays unless you've already mastered it and can meet stats that are impossible to reach coming up from the "elite" level. This because advancement at the end is largely dictated by farming vast numbers of black bullion (tokens) to obtain and upgrade your gear to the top levels, and being short dungeons full of content people have run hundreds of times, people want to get it done quick as a sort of chore.

One advantage to a large scale endgame is simply that when your filling things like 40 man raids your more likely to find spots because of the time and organization involved. This helped ensure WoW's endgame, at least to begin with, never became all that elitist. The criticisms being more along the lines that you had to have "no life" due to the dedication it took to commit to showing up 2-3 times a week in some cases to finish a raid, spending 6-8 hours at a time, making it easily the equivilent to a part time job.... but it immersed people, and kept them coming back.

Basically the thing is that the subscription model takes more effort, setting up an endgame is the hardest part of MMO design, and as a result the most overlooked, while also being the most critical.

Free To Play games do tend to be a bit more approachable, but also tend to be more expensive than subscription based games since they rapidly turn into an exercise of throwing down barriers in front of you, and making you pay to get the most out of them. People tend to rapidly forget that for every person who plays entirely to free, their enjoyment is dependant on others who invest money in the game to keep it profitable. It's a very precarious situation. Not to mention that most FTP games release very little in the way of serious content updates, especially signifigant ones, what content they produce is typically designed for sale.

I also tend to think that the subscription model has been having trouble because of WoW still, even with WoW now finally losing players, the bottom line is that it's the best endgame enviroment out there. If you want to keep having something to chase, WoW is your game. People leave WoW for a while to try the latest "WoW-killer" like ToR, advance through the content, oftentimes praising it, and then wind up at endgame, their gear maxxed out, and nothing to do but troll on space stations while perhaps occasionally running the same, tired, gauntlets again and again. Obviously people aren't going to pay a sub to do that.

Well written, and a lot of good points. It does miss one of the core elements to the equation.

Subscription numbers in a MMO are completely and utterly meaningless without also looking at the development back end. The real equation is "subscription numbers (or cash shop revenue stream)" / "what the damn thing cost to make". Now proper well balanced content and good skinner box understanding will help drive and retain this over time. But at the core of it all is can the business model you are seeking to use actually meet the costs accrued in the development of your game? SWTOR failed unbelievably horribly at this. TSW was within reasonable levels but still never hit the point needed. If your business model going in is pixie dust and magic beans, your game will fail no matter how bad or good your end game is.

I truly feel for Funcom and their employees. They have so much experience in delivering games. But I can't escape the realization that they have in some way blown the launch of every single one and had to fight back from the edge of disaster each time. Anarchy Online still stands as the single worst MMO launch ever. Somehow Funcom (with a LOT of outside help and consulting) managed to turn it around and make it a good solid niche game, and one of the best SciFi themed ones ever made. AoC was once again a truly horrid launch. The game was not what people Beta'd. It was not what they presented in initial play. It was in a word grossly unfinished. Once again through effort and a huge amount of luck they managed to swing it around to a decent niche game. The Secret World is perhaps the most tragic of Funcom's games. It launched stable. It launched playable. Heck it even launched fun. Unfortunately no one knew it launched. The marketing was low key at best. Those that encountered it couldn't quite figure where to put it mentally. It's more adult and occult nature, while a refreshing change to the more hardcore game crowd, at best confused, and at worst turned off more mainstream gamers and gamer families. TSW may yet find it's niche. Because like all Funcom games, thats what it is, extremely niche. Unfortunately it looks like they may have shot for a more triple A niche and the TSW budget may have been a bit higher than it should have been. (EA does not do cheap games)

I wonder where this puts their development project with Lego?

As a side note, everyone talks about WoW, but few realize exactly why it succeeded the way that it did. Everyone thinks that MMO's are big massive RPG's (yeah yeah I know they were originally called MMORPG's. They lied!). Bioware certainly did. They're not. WoW had better MMO development experience because of Warcraft, Diablo and especially Starcraft than pretty much all of the competition (excepting perhaps Everquest, who benefited in a similar vein from old school MUD's which are closer to the Blizzard games than RPG's). And WoW did not launch in a vacuum. It launched right up against the sequel to what was then the most succesful MMO ever. Everquest II.

I'm not surprised they aren't doing well. I bought the Secret World right after the subscription price dropped out and it's cool, just not that cool. I like the game. But I would never have found it worth while to pay a subscription fee for. TOR was no exception to that. It was great but the grind up to the lack luster end game was immaterial. In the end I payed $60 for a game then proceeded to pay an additional 30 for what is largely the same experience, ad nauseum. Couple that with the fact that MMO's in general have the highest upkeep cost out of any other genre. It literally doesn't make sense to try and turn everything into an MMO. The truth is, I was a bit heart broken by the Elder Scrolls Online announcements, and now the beta. The secret world could have been an incredible story if crafted as a single player game. The settings are pretty much amazing and story is good as well. The Old Republic was fun for a little, but all the people talking about it's downfall being the lack luster end game, are wrong. In the end, like most MMO's, the genre is lackluster. I have played MMO's for a long time, but am definitely not any kind of expert. I just know that the genre is irrevocably flawed. I'm a gamer through and through, and like most gamers, a critic. And I just see the same mistakes rolled out with each new MMO.

After reading my post, maybe I'm a bit jaded. And it's because the product never lives up to even a fraction of what it's trying to do. And when it comes down to living up to what it sets out to do, most smaller MP and SP games live up to their aspirations so much better than any MMO out there.

Therumancer:

Free To Play games do tend to be a bit more approachable, but also tend to be more expensive than subscription based games.

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Just remember that WOW sucks you in and does not give a toss about you, like that time you really wanted that item but had to do that dungeon 20 times to get it and then your subscription runs out because the Random Loot Drops in that game are impossible to get.

Proverbial Jon:
This better not effect the development of The Longest Journey: Dreamfall Chapters. God damn, someone is determined to see that I never live to witness the ending of that story!

Ragnar is no longer a part of Funcom, he's working on TLJ with his own small company, so Funcom's woes can't influence the game he's promised us all for years.

On topic, I'm saddened by this. Funcom have made some of my favourite time-wasters over the years, Anarchy Online is retrospectively where I had the most fun playing an MMO, it was a great game for it's time and TSW was (and is) so impressive for the journey. The problem was that journey had a steep entrance fee and it only took a couple of weeks to get the end. If TSW had the same level of quality with 4x the content, it would of been amazing. They could of aspired to that over time, yet with the state of their finances now, I'm doubtful it'll see much development beyond patches and fluff.

This better not effect the development of The Longest Journey: Dreamfall Chapters. God damn, someone is determined to see that I never live to witness the ending of that story!

Why is it I recall some bigshot proclaiming a few years ago that the gaming industry was immune to recession right about now?

Really, though... as unfortunate as this is, it's still the natural chain of evolution for all subscription MMO's who are not WoW.

1, Company makes big mmo because WoW is making craptonnes of money
2, Said MMO fails spectacularly
3, Company loses money hand over fist
4, Company converts mmo to F2P and starts to lick its wounds

and, as a bonus...

5, Company is now in a bad situation to deal with the global recession and starts firing people

I can't wait to see The Elder Scrolls mmo crash and burn.

Every subscription based mmo similar to WOW will fail.

From what I was told by a Funcom employee. There were not really any active development teams that worked in the Raleigh office, it was mainly their customer support and community relations staff. I will always welcome more developers in the area.

AzrealMaximillion:

Therumancer:
snip for massive length

Holy hell, could you have condensed that?

While I do agree that subscription is better for somethings, having an endgame doesn't justify people paying $15 a month at this point and time now. There's a reason that WoW is the only game to succeed with the subscription model while absolutely everyone else why tried eventually went F2P. WoW did it first. End game wasn't a factor when WoW was release, so no one could or would complain about the lack of any endgame. Subscriptions aren't appealing anymore because no one wants to buy a game, then pay per month, then pay for expansions.

And F2P games aren't more expensive than Subscription games. They can be if you willingly spend that much money, but most of what people can buy in F2P games is generally cosmetic stuff or stuff that is cheap and not needed in massive amounts. And let's be honest, TOR's problem wasn't just a lack of endgame. Endgame was a major problem, but the lack of having any MMO aspect didn't help either. TOR felt like a single player game where you could talk to other people but really didn't have to. That and leveling was waaaaaaaaay too quick and easy.

TSW came out in a pretty mediocre and seemingly rushed state, which hurt it in spades. Forget lack of endgame when the game itself is glitchier than it should have been.

To be frank having a subscription seems to be the major downfall of a lot of MMOs. Guild Wars 2 seems to be doing fine with the good old fashioned "buy it once forever" pricing. I think the Elder Scrolls Online would be foolish to charge for a subscription at this point. Just charge people for the game and maybe have microtransactions on meager things like armour dyes and it should succeed decently.

The thing is that FTP games seem cheaper because less people wind up paying into it. Without the people spending a ton of money those games would fall. This is why on a lot of FTP forums you see people talking about how much money they pay in order to support the game, as opposed to wanting stuff in paticular. This kind of model with a few people propping up the FTP games for everyone else is not something that I think can be sustained for a long term. Right now it's mostly providing a short-term cash infusion to MMO developers.

Also for the record TSW actually came out wonderfully for what they were trying to do. It's mediocre if you compare it to a AAA title intended to make audiences of casuals go "wow" but it wasn't supposed to. It was going for a niche audience with an untraditional and unfamiliar style of character advancement. It's failings being justified by it's limited scope. It's problems are largely the result of it being expected to be perform on, and be compared to, a much larger field than it was supposed to.

WoW didn't have endgame when it came out, because nobody else really had it either. It was their endgame and the way they ran it that allowed them to crush their competition and endure. The problem is those developing games now tend to base themselves over WoW when it launched, not off of what WoW did to succeed, or what WoW developed into as perhaps the greatest game of all time.

ToR as a core experience was fine, and it was well paced, even if the leveling did come quickly, but again the problem was "what do you do when you get there"? That's what killed it. To be honest in a successful MMO it's all about the endgame, the leveling portion of things is pretty much a jumbo-sized tutorial and learning process, in a character's career your actually going to spend very little time "advancing" in a healthy game and most of it raiding, PVPing, and other assorted things. In WoW it's success is basically the result of looking at your /played time, and on a max character seeing you've spent six months logged into the game without gaining a usable exp simply due to the raiding and endgame. That's how an MMO survives and thrives.

I just hope this doesn't affect my beloved Age of Conan and The Secret World, things considered, they are still two of my all time favorite MMOs.

Therumancer:
snip for massive length

Holy hell, could you have condensed that?

While I do agree that subscription is better for somethings, having an endgame doesn't justify people paying $15 a month at this point and time now. There's a reason that WoW is the only game to succeed with the subscription model while absolutely everyone else why tried eventually went F2P. WoW did it first. End game wasn't a factor when WoW was release, so no one could or would complain about the lack of any endgame. Subscriptions aren't appealing anymore because no one wants to buy a game, then pay per month, then pay for expansions.

And F2P games aren't more expensive than Subscription games. They can be if you willingly spend that much money, but most of what people can buy in F2P games is generally cosmetic stuff or stuff that is cheap and not needed in massive amounts. And let's be honest, TOR's problem wasn't just a lack of endgame. Endgame was a major problem, but the lack of having any MMO aspect didn't help either. TOR felt like a single player game where you could talk to other people but really didn't have to. That and leveling was waaaaaaaaay too quick and easy.

TSW came out in a pretty mediocre and seemingly rushed state, which hurt it in spades. Forget lack of endgame when the game itself is glitchier than it should have been.

To be frank having a subscription seems to be the major downfall of a lot of MMOs. Guild Wars 2 seems to be doing fine with the good old fashioned "buy it once forever" pricing. I think the Elder Scrolls Online would be foolish to charge for a subscription at this point. Just charge people for the game and maybe have microtransactions on meager things like armour dyes and it should succeed decently.

josemlopes:

AzrealMaximillion:
Hopefully the Elder Scrolls Online looks at this and The Old Republic's way of pricing and realizes that the pay to play subscription style is on its way out in a big way.

But didnt the Secret World used the subscription model and the microtransactions model at the same time? Almost like paying a subscription to be treated like you are playing a Free to Play game. Its not like everything was around microtransactions but still ends up rubbing the wrong way

It did at first and we see how well it went. Admittedly nearly all the micro-transaction stuff from TSW was just for cosmetics and silly vanity pets. I think the game suffered more from costing $50/60 at launch + a subscription for a game that was pretty out of left field considering its universe and mechanics as well as the fact it came out within spitting distance of GW2 which had no sub and Pandaland.. which was.. well.. WoW.

AzrealMaximillion:
Hopefully the Elder Scrolls Online looks at this and The Old Republic's way of pricing and realizes that the pay to play subscription style is on its way out in a big way.

But didnt the Secret World used the subscription model and the microtransactions model at the same time? Almost like paying a subscription to be treated like you are playing a Free to Play game. Its not like everything was around microtransactions but still ends up rubbing the wrong way

AzrealMaximillion:
Hopefully the Elder Scrolls Online looks at this and The Old Republic's way of pricing and realizes that the pay to play subscription style is on its way out in a big way.

Not really. The subscription based model is far, far, better overall, the problem has been companies recurringly making the same mistakes.

For a subscription based game to survive and thrive what it needs is an incredibly strong endgame experience, one that is fun, but also takes a lot of time and dedication. After all at the end of the day you need to keep people busy so they keep re-upping their subscriptions and working on their characters.

The problem that hit both "ToR" and "TSW" is that they launched without much endgame content. Both were based entirely around a fun journey through the content and enviroments, complete with voicework for quests, and interesting enviroments. However once you saw everything there wasn't much else there to do. In both cases you wound up with a small selection of pretty approachable instances that you could grind again and again for gear, without a whole lot of planning or effort (the exception to this being TSW's nighmare level, but more on that later).

Those developing subscription based games tend to look at the model of WoW and what it launched with, which was very little in the way of endgame. Not bothering to consider that it had little competition for that at the time and also rushed out it's "Molten Core" and "Blackwing Lair" raids pretty quickly, as well as other 20 and 40 man raids. This is what cemented WoW's success and kept a huge core of players renewing their subscriptions every month.

Developers need to understand that casuals by their nature have little in the way of loyalty, they keep chasing the next big thing, especially when they can clearly say they are "done" with the content in a game. Pretty much every MMO out there has made a big deal out of how to max out your character, get the best gear, and see all the content you won't have to invest hundreds or thousands of hours, or coordinate with tons of people to figure out obtuse boss fight gimmicks. While this makes the casuals happy, there is rarely any consideration for what it means when people get all of the best gear and see everything in a couple of months because it was made easy to do. Once that happens people leave. The hardcore have little to occupy their attention and work towards, and as the casuals get it they move on to the next game. Sure, people oftentimes will return IF more content is added to the game, but once it's done they leave again, meaning there isn't anything keeping them playing during the middle months to finance that new content.

As much as people might have complained they DID do those 40 man raids in WoW, and for a long time. The headache in getting 40 people together and fairly coordinated was part of the point, since it took time, and with the way loot drops worked it meant people would keep coming back to gear their characters. It ensured that there were still people running MC and BWL when the expansions came out, as people got into the huge-scale raiding and re-upped their subscriptions every month. By the time Blizzard made raids and such more approachable they had enough endgame content that they could keep people occupied from expansion to expansion. It's only been fairly recent that their numbers have been dying down.

As someone who was in Beta for TSW I can tell you that their failure has been due to not knowing what the heck they were trying to develop. I get the impression that the devs and the guys running the financial end of things (EA apparently) weren't talking to each other very much. TSW is one of my favorite MMOs ever, and I forecast it as being a big success... based on the claims that Funcom was basically developing an intentionally niche MMO for mature, dedicated, players. NOT that they were expecting large scale, fairly mainstream success. As a game it succeeded based on it's initial projections and did attract a dedicated, niche, audience, but obviously that wasn't what the business side of things expected.

TSW's endgame was (and still is) kind of pathetic. It's basically a handfull of farily short 5 man dungeons that can be adjusted between 3 levels of difficulty... normal, elite, and nightmare, which influance the rewards you get for victory. The jump in difficulty between Elite and Nightmare being pretty substantial as well. It was a giant mess, but as a niche game based on it's uniqueness I figured this was one time it wouldn't matter because they weren't planning on holding hundreds of thousands or millions of subscribers to begin with, and there were plans for frequent, monthly, content updates. Not aiming for mainstream success and a huge player base increasing their options and viability.

Their very endgame design is kind of a problem where the community itself created a kind of barrier to the real endgame content where nobody even wants to talk to you nowadays unless you've already mastered it and can meet stats that are impossible to reach coming up from the "elite" level. This because advancement at the end is largely dictated by farming vast numbers of black bullion (tokens) to obtain and upgrade your gear to the top levels, and being short dungeons full of content people have run hundreds of times, people want to get it done quick as a sort of chore.

One advantage to a large scale endgame is simply that when your filling things like 40 man raids your more likely to find spots because of the time and organization involved. This helped ensure WoW's endgame, at least to begin with, never became all that elitist. The criticisms being more along the lines that you had to have "no life" due to the dedication it took to commit to showing up 2-3 times a week in some cases to finish a raid, spending 6-8 hours at a time, making it easily the equivilent to a part time job.... but it immersed people, and kept them coming back.

Basically the thing is that the subscription model takes more effort, setting up an endgame is the hardest part of MMO design, and as a result the most overlooked, while also being the most critical.

Free To Play games do tend to be a bit more approachable, but also tend to be more expensive than subscription based games since they rapidly turn into an exercise of throwing down barriers in front of you, and making you pay to get the most out of them. People tend to rapidly forget that for every person who plays entirely to free, their enjoyment is dependant on others who invest money in the game to keep it profitable. It's a very precarious situation. Not to mention that most FTP games release very little in the way of serious content updates, especially signifigant ones, what content they produce is typically designed for sale.

I also tend to think that the subscription model has been having trouble because of WoW still, even with WoW now finally losing players, the bottom line is that it's the best endgame enviroment out there. If you want to keep having something to chase, WoW is your game. People leave WoW for a while to try the latest "WoW-killer" like ToR, advance through the content, oftentimes praising it, and then wind up at endgame, their gear maxxed out, and nothing to do but troll on space stations while perhaps occasionally running the same, tired, gauntlets again and again. Obviously people aren't going to pay a sub to do that.

I never thought a developer would have a higher share price before adding another MMO alongside Age of Conan

You know, I really used to love Anarchy Online, but when they introduced the Outlands or whatever it was, it really took a nose dive...

Hopefully the Elder Scrolls Online looks at this and The Old Republic's way of pricing and realizes that the pay to play subscription style is on its way out in a big way.

Trouble Comes to Funcom

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The Secret World developer Funcom is shutting down its Beijing studio and laying off staff in Montreal and North Carolina.

Funcom is making some big changes to its operations as it consolidates its "live teams" for the Anarchy Online, Age of Conan and The Secret World MMOs into a single facility located in Raleigh, North Carolina. The team will be comprised of employees who had previously worked on individual titles, including some relocated from Funcom's Montreal studio, and will be responsible for supporting and expanding all three games. The Montreal studio will be retained, albeit with a smaller headcount, to develop new games for mobiles and tablets.

"By bringing the developers on our live games to Raleigh it allows us to build a stronger, more unified team that can service and support our online games as they work to expand these worlds and create new experiences for the players who inhabit them," Funcom CEO Ole Schreiner said.

Unfortunately, the consolidation doesn't come without a price. Some employees at the Montreal studio are being laid off rather than relocated and despite the centralization of operations in North Carolina, cuts have been made to "certain departments" in that office as well. Funcom's Beijing studio will be closed down entirely later this year, "as a natural result of the completion of the development of The Secret World."

Funcom's troubles began with the less-than-stellar launch of The Secret World last summer, after which its share price crashed from $17.70 to $1.68 in less than three months. The game was quickly changed from subscription-based to free-to-play which brought a 30 percent increase in sales, but Funcom's price continues to languish below the $2 mark.

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