Chaos Theory  The Secret World's BuytoPlay keeps getting better
12/12/12

While many folks (including Creative Director Joel Bylos) have been focusing on the slightly similar but transposed date, this triple sequence of 12s is actually the most pivotal one for The Secret World fans. You see, even though all the end-of-days hoopla and special events are pretty dang cool, what transpired on the 12th has the most lasting impact on everyone far and wide; it is, in fact, what allows more folks to be a part of said special events. It was on that wintry Wednesday that The Secret World tossed subscriptions out the window and switched to a buy-to-play model.

Pay once; play forever. That's a pretty sweet deal in itself, right? But if you thought Funcom was stopping there, you'd be wrong. The company is continuing to refine the new model and proving it's listening to the concerns and desires of players at the same time. This weekend's announcement of three refinements to the buy-to-play model details how.

The Secret World screenshot
Sweetening the deal
Although a number of people who don't play TSW have remarked on how cheated folks must feel about buying a lifetime subscription only to have the game do away with subs, those who actually purchased this lifetime grand master package have been vocally happy about the change. As a lifetime subber myself, I, too, am quite pleased with it. You may wonder why that is. Basically, it's because veterans of the game are still getting everything they expected and then some.

The Secret World screenshotWhat do folks who bought the lifetime expect? Besides the few special extras that came with the package like outfits and pets, they expect to receive every bit of future content without ever having to pay a penny. Last Friday's announcement assures that very thing. Previously, we knew that members could buy all future DLC packs with their monthly allotment of free points. However, now Funcom has issued a guarantee: If any DLC is ever priced over that monthly allotment of 1200 points, grand masters will get the DLC for that maximum price. For example: If a DLC costs $20, members will pay only $10, the value of the 1200 points. While there is no real word yet on what the pricing scheme will be for the additional content packs, lifetime members won't ever have to worry about it. And if a DLC costs less? Well, then there are extra points left over for other assorted goodies in the store. Sounds like a win/win to me.

It all sounds pretty nice for the lifetime members, doesn't it? The sweet deal doesn't stop there; lifetime members aren't a privileged few who get the only benefits. Monthly membership grants the same exact perks including the DLC guarantee, with the exception of only getting an additional 10% off purchases in the store instead of 20%. Even better, unlike other games where lifetime subs are only available for a limited time before or near launch, TSW ensures its grand master deal is still available for anyone who wants to buy it.

Now, I said "everything they expect and more," and one part of "more" is more players! Besides the really good deal of all current and future content guaranteed, subscribers are getting the chance to share a game they love with others. There is no question that Funcom's change in payment model has increased the population of the game. And more population is helpful for everyone participating in everything from grouping to PvP.

No store? No problem!
Even with all that, there's more more: The announcement addressed a second concern voiced by players. Some folks have mentioned that they don't want to worry about going into the store to grab the latest DLCs when they become available. Maybe they don't want to bother with extra steps and just want to log in and play. Maybe they don't want to open the store for fear of being tempted by all the goodies. Or maybe they just worry they will forget to get the new content. No matter the reason, Funcom has developed a solution; it's implementing a system that will automatically buy and apply the content pack each month without the player's needing to do anything.

Loyalty has its rewards
That's twice now that you fans have spoken and Funcom listened. And this makes three: veteran rewards. A number of players have suggested some form of veteran reward system for The Secret World. Does this mean folks think the B2P model is insufficient? No, not really. But gamers do like to be acknowledged for their loyalty, and even small rewards say, "Thanks for supporting this game!" Recognizing loyalty encourages more loyalty; a company certainly can't go wrong making its customers feel valued. So start feeling valued, my friends, because a veteran reward system is incoming.

Although we don't have too much information on any specifics yet (apparently the devs are all out celebrating the holidays; go figure), we do know that the veteran rewards will be retroactive all the way back to launch and will include rewards such as cosmetic items and boosts along with other useful things. A full list will be released in January.

The Secret World screenshot
Of all the possible ways this whole payment model shift could have gone, I really think Funcom is going about it the right way. Obviously, not everything can come all at once, but with the move away from subs and the subsequent fine-tuning of the model, it is apparent that the studio is listening to the playerbase and implementing perks to reward those who support the game.

I know some detractors will point to the recent changes as a desperate ploy to keep The Secret World on life support. However, I don't think they could be any more wrong. The company is moving forward in a positive way to make their product available to a wider audience without compromising what players love about the game. And because of the obvious focus the devs have on meeting the needs and responding to the concerns of players, I am confident we will see even more sweet deals as time goes on.

Conspiracies, paranoia, secrets, and chaos -- the breakfast of champions! Feast on a bowlful with MJ every other Monday as she infiltrates The Secret World to bring you the latest word on the streets of Gaia in Chaos Theory. Heard some juicy whispers or have a few leads you want followed? Send them to mj@massively.com and she'll jump on the case!

This article was originally published on Massively.
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