Funcom No Longer Blames Metacritic for The Secret World's Problems

Karloff

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Funcom No Longer Blames Metacritic for The Secret World's Problems



Funcom says mixed MMO reviews mean that a game can be improved, not that the reviews are wrong.

Back in August The Secret World developers Funcom blamed poor Metacritic scores for their falling share price [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/119015-Funcom-Blames-MetaCritic-For-Share-Price-Drop] and said in a press release that it was "disappointed" with its low Metascore. Time has passed since then, and Funcom game director Joel Bylos now says that it's "not fair" to blame Metacritic for the game's reception.

"The reality is that the game had mixed reviews and as such is indicative that the game is divisive," says Bylos. Mixed reviews, in Bylos' view, are reasons to think that the game could be improved. There's no sense shooting the messenger, and though Bylos still finds the wide variation between reviews - some giving it glowing reports, others panning it - "almost incomprehensible," Bylos isn't inclined to blame Metacritic for something that is outside of Metacritic's control.

Evolution is what's needed, and Funcom is prepared to make it happen. "On the development team itself," says Bylos, "there are constant discussions and team management keep constantly updated lists of what they want to address." This includes keeping a close eye on community feedback to see what the players are saying is important to them.

Bylos is putting a brave face on, but it's a bad situation for Funcom to be in. Since launch, Funcom has seen its stock price plummet from a high point of $17.70 per share as of July 3rd to a September 20th low of $1.68, though as of right now it is worth slightly more at $2.12 per. The company has seen half its staff laid off and had its Funcom might get out of the MMO business altogether. [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/119539-Former-Funcom-CEO-Faces-Insider-Trading-Allegations]

Source: Gamasutra [http://gamasutra.com/view/news/178530/The_Secret_World_and_the_tough_road_ahead.php#.UGmOlFHviSp]


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unacomn

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They weren't blaming the critics, they were blaming metacritic. There's a difference. One is a person with the right to an opinion, the other is a plague upon the human race.
 

itsthesheppy

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The problem is, I don't think most poeple buy games based off metacritic. They play them based off the brand and the brand's reputation. Secret World is a demonstrably sub-standard MMO. It's story-driven with a crappy story. The voice acting and the writing is abysmal. The combat is boring and very substandard.

The fact that the world design, the atsmosphere, and the monsters are cool doesn't make up for the fact that it's a pretty crappy MMO that could not execute on its ambition. It's sad, but it happens.

Captcha: go gadget go

Stop trying to be cool and retro, captcha. you suck at it.
 

Something Amyss

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DVS BSTrD said:
Achievement unlocked:
20 G- Funcom has grown the fuck up
I believe this one is called "common sense."

itsthesheppy said:
The problem is, I don't think most poeple buy games based off metacritic. They play them based off the brand and the brand's reputation. Secret World is a demonstrably sub-standard MMO. It's story-driven with a crappy story. The voice acting and the writing is abysmal. The combat is boring and very substandard.

The fact that the world design, the atsmosphere, and the monsters are cool doesn't make up for the fact that it's a pretty crappy MMO that could not execute on its ambition. It's sad, but it happens.

Captcha: go gadget go

Stop trying to be cool and retro, captcha. you suck at it.
I agree on the notion of people not buying based on metacritic, but the first problem is simply that it's an MMO, period. MMOs have a massive uphill struggle to begin with, even with a good brand on their side. the strength of the game is weirdly enough a second-tier concern.
 

pezofdoom

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Aaaand this is why I rarely read articles from the Escapist. I read the gamasutra article, and frankly the fact that of everything they talk about THIS is what you focus on is really inconsiderate to both the journalist who wrote that article and to development staff they interviewed.

Your title is sensationalism at it's best, everything written has a negative spin that would make a reader NOT want to look into The Secret World as a game. I get the feeling you never played it or really hated it and because of that you've let that poison slip into your writing and makes someone who might consider trying the game shy away because it sounds like they're dead before they've gotten halfway through the race.


For anyone who HASN'T read the gamasutra article I recommend you check it out since it goes into a lot of great detail with how the developers are working to address some of the critiques given in their metacritic reviews and by people who actually play the game.


The game's Metacritic score was lower than the team hoped for, Tornquist admits. "Being different can sometimes be a big disadvantage, particularly when the threshold for losing patience with a game is low," he says. "We don't blame the reviews, of course. It's obvious that The Secret World is quite divisive, and it's also obvious that we could have done more to ease players into the reasonably complex mechanics in a smoother and more user-friendly way."

Tornquist says he has a hard time understanding why the game has been so divisive. "If you read most The Secret World reviews you'll see that nearly every critic found a lot to like and love, but for various reasons the scores would sometimes end up somewhere between 60 and 80, which naturally affected our Metacritic average," he says. "Curiously, we also have a lot of reviews in the 80s and 90s -- and even a couple below 60 -- which boggles the mind. That one game can be so many things to different people, from the 'best game ever' to a 'great disappointment', it's almost incomprehensible."
 

craddoke

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Perhaps now we'll see Longest Journey 3/Dreamfall 2? It sounds like Ragnar Tornquist won't be busy much longer.

P.S. And if Ragnar happens to see this - why the hell aren't you having a Kickstarter for Longest Journey 3? You would raise like a bajillion dollars.
 

Sartan0

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pezofdoom said:
Aaaand this is why I rarely read articles from the Escapist. I read the gamasutra article, and frankly the fact that of everything they talk about THIS is what you focus on is really inconsiderate to both the journalist who wrote that article and to development staff they interviewed.

Your title is sensationalism at it's best, everything written has a negative spin that would make a reader NOT want to look into The Secret World as a game. I get the feeling you never played it or really hated it and because of that you've let that poison slip into your writing and makes someone who might consider trying the game shy away because it sounds like they're dead before they've gotten halfway through the race.


For anyone who HASN'T read the gamasutra article I recommend you check it out since it goes into a lot of great detail with how the developers are working to address some of the critiques given in their metacritic reviews and by people who actually play the game.


The game's Metacritic score was lower than the team hoped for, Tornquist admits. "Being different can sometimes be a big disadvantage, particularly when the threshold for losing patience with a game is low," he says. "We don't blame the reviews, of course. It's obvious that The Secret World is quite divisive, and it's also obvious that we could have done more to ease players into the reasonably complex mechanics in a smoother and more user-friendly way."

Tornquist says he has a hard time understanding why the game has been so divisive. "If you read most The Secret World reviews you'll see that nearly every critic found a lot to like and love, but for various reasons the scores would sometimes end up somewhere between 60 and 80, which naturally affected our Metacritic average," he says. "Curiously, we also have a lot of reviews in the 80s and 90s -- and even a couple below 60 -- which boggles the mind. That one game can be so many things to different people, from the 'best game ever' to a 'great disappointment', it's almost incomprehensible."
Almost 100% agreement from me. Come on guys you can do better then this.

OT: I think it will be more important where things are in six more months. That will make or break them.
 

Nimzabaat

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It?s really sad that this is happening. TSW is an awesome game that, unfortunately, went after a niche market. Apparently there aren?t enough intelligent gamers to justify creating an MMO for. The story lines are great, the puzzles are pretty challenging (and what other game has puzzles?). It?s just a shame that everyone needs to be spoon-fed to enjoy something now.
 

Karloff

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Sartan0 said:
pezofdoom said:
Aaaand this is why I rarely read articles from the Escapist. I read the gamasutra article, and frankly the fact that of everything they talk about THIS is what you focus on is really inconsiderate to both the journalist who wrote that article and to development staff they interviewed.

Your title is sensationalism at it's best, everything written has a negative spin that would make a reader NOT want to look into The Secret World as a game. I get the feeling you never played it or really hated it and because of that you've let that poison slip into your writing and makes someone who might consider trying the game shy away because it sounds like they're dead before they've gotten halfway through the race.


For anyone who HASN'T read the gamasutra article I recommend you check it out since it goes into a lot of great detail with how the developers are working to address some of the critiques given in their metacritic reviews and by people who actually play the game.


The game's Metacritic score was lower than the team hoped for, Tornquist admits. "Being different can sometimes be a big disadvantage, particularly when the threshold for losing patience with a game is low," he says. "We don't blame the reviews, of course. It's obvious that The Secret World is quite divisive, and it's also obvious that we could have done more to ease players into the reasonably complex mechanics in a smoother and more user-friendly way."

Tornquist says he has a hard time understanding why the game has been so divisive. "If you read most The Secret World reviews you'll see that nearly every critic found a lot to like and love, but for various reasons the scores would sometimes end up somewhere between 60 and 80, which naturally affected our Metacritic average," he says. "Curiously, we also have a lot of reviews in the 80s and 90s -- and even a couple below 60 -- which boggles the mind. That one game can be so many things to different people, from the 'best game ever' to a 'great disappointment', it's almost incomprehensible."
Almost 100% agreement from me. Come on guys you can do better then this.

OT: I think it will be more important where things are in six more months. That will make or break them.
Agree with this. Everything on The Escapist about this game has been lacking in integrity.

Nimzabaat said:
It?s really sad that this is happening. TSW is an awesome game that, unfortunately, went after a niche market. Apparently there aren?t enough intelligent gamers to justify creating an MMO for. The story lines are great, the puzzles are pretty challenging (and what other game has puzzles?). It?s just a shame that everyone needs to be spoon-fed to enjoy something now.
The Secret World was unfortunately developed with standards, and thus took a long time to complete. The amount of quality content is staggering for an MMO when you look at how competing games recycle like mad. It's a lovingly created game especially in story and quest design that deserves better. Unfortunately, it was released between TERA and Guild Wars 2, which are two games who improved MMORPG combat drastically (even if they didn't do much else) and The Secret World was unfairly held up to those standards. The Secret World, even if it went into production before Star Wars: ToR, didn't get nearly enough credit for what it did to story-telling in MMOs because BioWare proactively copied them. The Secret World was the wrong game at the wrong time, and unfortunately had a little too much development love put into it. It's really sad to see how a game could have actually been received better if it had been released sooner in an unfinished state, just to 'beat' the competition.

itsthesheppy said:
Secret World is a demonstrably sub-standard MMO. It's story-driven with a crappy story. The voice acting and the writing is abysmal.
You should try the game once, maybe you could qualify that opinion of yours.
 

Podunk

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I'm looking forward to getting The Secret World- You know, once it goes Free 2 Play. The WoW model is dead(except for WoW, obviously) and it is beginning to look increasingly foolish to attempt to pry 60$ out of your customers hands on top of a 15$ monthly fee.
 

itsthesheppy

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Metalhandkerchief said:
itsthesheppy said:
Secret World is a demonstrably sub-standard MMO. It's story-driven with a crappy story. The voice acting and the writing is abysmal.
You should try the game once, maybe you could qualify that opinion of yours.
I did. I played it for a weekend while it was free. I got a character to, oh, level 20ish I think? I had gone Templar. I build out the rifle and handgun powers.

I found the writing to be incredibly cheesy and overwrought, with a great deal of unnecessary purple prose, and really poor delivery on the part of the voice actors, who clearly didn't get the memo that they were reading schlock and played it completely straight. And while the monsters and atmosphere were really compelling, the way the zones flowed, and every aspect of the way the game controlled and how combat worked, was poorly executed. Character animations were clunky and uninspired, and there was no real theme to what characters could do. Everyone could just kind of do anything because of magical bees, or something. Lame.

It was like somebody at some point had a really cool idea about global conspiracy and horror-inspired supernatural intrigue, and then someone in the room said "Let's make it an MMO!" and the bad ideas just got rolling from there. It's kind of hard to get immersed in the "Secret World" gist of the game when the 'secret' is out, and there are 5,000 'secret' super-powered operatives all running around fighting zombies.

Also there was no opportunity for the player character to exert any kind of presence into the world. You have no personality, or totally unable to respond to dialogue in any meaningful way; the game is a carny ride and all you can do is be along for the ride.

But hey, at least you were nice enough to edit your post away from calling me a troll.
 

Karloff

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itsthesheppy said:
Metalhandkerchief said:
itsthesheppy said:
Secret World is a demonstrably sub-standard MMO. It's story-driven with a crappy story. The voice acting and the writing is abysmal.
You should try the game once, maybe you could qualify that opinion of yours.
I did. I played it for a weekend while it was free. I got a character to, oh, level 20ish I think? I had gone Templar. I build out the rifle and handgun powers.

I found the writing to be incredibly cheesy and overwrought, with a great deal of unnecessary purple prose, and really poor delivery on the part of the voice actors, who clearly didn't get the memo that they were reading schlock and played it completely straight. And while the monsters and atmosphere were really compelling, the way the zones flowed, and every aspect of the way the game controlled and how combat worked, was poorly executed. Character animations were clunky and uninspired, and there was no real theme to what characters could do. Everyone could just kind of do anything because of magical bees, or something. Lame.
For one, there is no such thing as "level". There is quality levels of gear you can wear, which is proportional to your skill level in weapons or talismans, and they only go to 10. I'm going to assume you meant "skill level 2". If that is the case, you haven't even left Kingsmouth, and Kingsmouth is completely unrepresentative of the game's expositional quality, as the entire place is one big parody of every zombie and splatter movie ever. This is true for the first three areas, Kingsmouth, Savage Coast and Blue Mountain. (And joke's on you for not getting the humour) It is after Blue Mountain you get your first faction unique story mission and you go to Egypt. This is where the game's deep mysteries begins to unfold. Oh, how sorry I feel for you that you didn't even get this far.

People really need to stop scraping the surface and deliver bilious opinions off-base about games. You wouldn't whine about how bad a movie is after watching only 10 minutes? Because comparatively, it's exactly the same.
 

itsthesheppy

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Metalhandkerchief said:
itsthesheppy said:
Metalhandkerchief said:
itsthesheppy said:
Secret World is a demonstrably sub-standard MMO. It's story-driven with a crappy story. The voice acting and the writing is abysmal.
You should try the game once, maybe you could qualify that opinion of yours.
I did. I played it for a weekend while it was free. I got a character to, oh, level 20ish I think? I had gone Templar. I build out the rifle and handgun powers.

I found the writing to be incredibly cheesy and overwrought, with a great deal of unnecessary purple prose, and really poor delivery on the part of the voice actors, who clearly didn't get the memo that they were reading schlock and played it completely straight. And while the monsters and atmosphere were really compelling, the way the zones flowed, and every aspect of the way the game controlled and how combat worked, was poorly executed. Character animations were clunky and uninspired, and there was no real theme to what characters could do. Everyone could just kind of do anything because of magical bees, or something. Lame.
For one, there is no such thing as "level". There is quality levels of gear you can wear, which is proportional to your skill level in weapons or talismans, and they only go to 10. I'm going to assume you meant "skill level 2". If that is the case, you haven't even left Kingsmouth, and Kingsmouth is completely unrepresentative of the game's expositional quality, as the entire place is one big parody of every zombie and splatter movie ever. This is true for the first three areas, Kingsmouth, Savage Coast and Blue Mountain. (And joke's on you for not getting the humour) It is after Blue Mountain you get your first faction unique story mission and you go to Egypt. This is where the game's deep mysteries begins to unfold. Oh, how sorry I feel for you that you didn't even get this far.

People really need to stop scraping the surface and deliver bilious opinions off-base about games. You wouldn't whine about how bad a movie is after watching only 10 minutes? Because comparatively, it's exactly the same.
Don't feel sorry for me. Feel sorry for Funcom that didn't make a game that was engaging enough to earn my money.

Yeah, I didn't get past Kingsmouth. And not just because I actually live in the Northeast and I know what our accents sound like and haha, those aren't it. But not, mostly it was because it was boring, and slow, and just kinda lame. I'm sorry you like it, but I didn't, and if Funcom's stock price is any indication, I'm not alone. It kinda goes to show how un-engaging the character progression was that I blanked on the system it used; remembering now, I got into the tier 2 skills for pistol and rifle and was just bored out of my mind with them.

It's been pointed out by those better at phrasing it than I, but telling me that I just didn't wait long enough to get to the good part isn't an endorsement. That's like those guys who say that FF13 gets really good after the first twenty hours. If hour 1 isn't good, I'm not gonna see hour 2. I'm not going to waste my time. There are thousands of games. If Secret World really was the only show in town, sure, I'd play. But it's not. It's not even in the top ten.

Secret world just seemed like a couple good ideas executed horribly. Horribly enough that it actually turned me off; I went into it with hopes. Not HIGH hopes, but some hopes, quickly dashed. I found myself laughing (ironically) at the terrible writing and the bad acting; being disappointed by the uninspired character design and costume options; being bored by the loot system; being really disappointed with the combat (cribbed almost wholesale from City of Heroes, who did it better anyway); turned off by the inhuman, awkward animations; and generally bored by the entire experience.

Feel bad for Funcom that they apparently hid the 'good' parts of the game far enough away that people like me didn't reach them. Feel bad for their laid off employees, tanking stock, and grim future. Feel bad for the squandered opportunity of what could have been a cool property, underutilized. But don't feel bad for me. I'm playing Guild Wars 2 and having the time of my life.
 

maddawg IAJI

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Metalhandkerchief said:
itsthesheppy said:
Metalhandkerchief said:
itsthesheppy said:
Secret World is a demonstrably sub-standard MMO. It's story-driven with a crappy story. The voice acting and the writing is abysmal.
You should try the game once, maybe you could qualify that opinion of yours.
I did. I played it for a weekend while it was free. I got a character to, oh, level 20ish I think? I had gone Templar. I build out the rifle and handgun powers.

I found the writing to be incredibly cheesy and overwrought, with a great deal of unnecessary purple prose, and really poor delivery on the part of the voice actors, who clearly didn't get the memo that they were reading schlock and played it completely straight. And while the monsters and atmosphere were really compelling, the way the zones flowed, and every aspect of the way the game controlled and how combat worked, was poorly executed. Character animations were clunky and uninspired, and there was no real theme to what characters could do. Everyone could just kind of do anything because of magical bees, or something. Lame.
For one, there is no such thing as "level". There is quality levels of gear you can wear, which is proportional to your skill level in weapons or talismans, and they only go to 10. I'm going to assume you meant "skill level 2". If that is the case, you haven't even left Kingsmouth, and Kingsmouth is completely unrepresentative of the game's expositional quality, as the entire place is one big parody of every zombie and splatter movie ever. This is true for the first three areas, Kingsmouth, Savage Coast and Blue Mountain. (And joke's on you for not getting the humour) It is after Blue Mountain you get your first faction unique story mission and you go to Egypt. This is where the game's deep mysteries begins to unfold. Oh, how sorry I feel for you that you didn't even get this far.

People really need to stop scraping the surface and deliver bilious opinions off-base about games. You wouldn't whine about how bad a movie is after watching only 10 minutes? Because comparatively, it's exactly the same.
The "It gets better" argument is never a good argument to fall back on, especially when discussing story in video games. If a game's story fails to grip the player within the first few hours and it lacks the gameplay mechanics to keep players interested, then it isn't a good game to that player. If it is lacking in one, it must be capable of making up for it. Games like Portal and Borderlands, which almost completely lack any narrative, make up for it with their fun gameplay, while games like Heavy Rain and Amnesia make up for their small amount of game play through exposition and atmosphere. Don't blame the people for this game's failure when the game obviously failed to appeal to them. They gave a game a shot and it didn't deliver in their opinions. Where they decided to throw in the towel and quit is irrelevant.
 

Karloff

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maddawg IAJI said:
The "It gets better" argument is never a good argument to fall back on, especially when discussing story in video games. If a game's story fails to grip the player within the first few hours and it lacks the gameplay mechanics to keep players interested, then it isn't a good game
Sorry that's just not true. Have you seen the movies Memento or The Machinist? They are very comparable to The Secret World in that they offer very little explanation "up front" and evolve the story gradually as you go along. There are many small stories in The Secret World, but the big one is supposed to be a mystery. That is the whole point of it. And if you failed to understand that before playing or don't like that kind of exposition, then you shouldn't have played it to begin with. It's not for you.

The Secret World is one of the better-written stories of our time in gaming, whether or not you have the patience to play through the tutorial first is irrelevant.
 

kortin

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Well that's just sad. They're admitting that their game is horrible, rather than blaming it on Metacritic (which is a large source for problems within the industry in general).

For shame Funcom.
 

MysticToast

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Metalhandkerchief said:
maddawg IAJI said:
The "It gets better" argument is never a good argument to fall back on, especially when discussing story in video games. If a game's story fails to grip the player within the first few hours and it lacks the gameplay mechanics to keep players interested, then it isn't a good game
Sorry that's just not true. Have you seen the movies Memento or The Machinist? They are very comparable to The Secret World in that they offer very little explanation "up front" and evolve the story gradually as you go along. There are many small stories in The Secret World, but the big one is supposed to be a mystery. That is the whole point of it. And if you failed to understand that before playing or don't like that kind of exposition, then you shouldn't have played it to begin with. It's not for you.

The Secret World is one of the better-written stories of our time in gaming, whether or not you have the patience to play through the tutorial first is irrelevant.
First, I haven't played TSW but I've played enough games that weren't engaging in the first few hours to know what it's like.

That said, Memento doesn't work for your example because it was engaging from the get-go. It never bored me or left me wishing I was watching something else. There's a difference between not knowing what's going on (or just being bored) and getting introduced piece by piece to a great story.