I pay thirty bucks a month to subscribe to an eight-page newsletter. “Thirty dollars!” you cry. Pssh… well worth it. The learnings have already gained me new clients for my business. As Darryl Kerrigan said of the police radar in The Castle… “Just paid for itself.”
Monthly subscriptions are controversial, and invite these value choices. While often called outdated, new MMOs keep releasing on the subscription model.
The Secret World is trying to carry the subscription model forward by committing to monthly content updates. Marketing these as ‘issues’ in the style of old pulp fiction comics, they’re inviting you to make the obvious comparison with paying $15 for a monthly magazine.
What you get for your $15 subscription
Issue #1: Unleashed added the following new content to the game:
- Five new investigation missions.
- One new action mission.
- One new stealth mission.
- New lore-book entries to collect.
I’m not including bug fixes or content that was slated to go into release but didn’t make deadline—like the auction house. Likewise, I’ve also cut ‘hard mode’ reworks of existing dungeons out, for failing to be unique. So… just counting the new stuff added to the game, how much extra playtime does your $15 get?
The five investigations are the most significant part of Unleashed. Without using spoilers or walkthroughs, they each took between two and four hours to complete. The two other missions took about thirty minutes each. All in all, I got approximately sixteen hours of new solo play.
Good solo play? Well, the quality of these missions varied. The high point—the Hell and Bach investigation—was four hours of excellence, making me grab the old pen and paper to solve it with drawings and notations.
On the other hand, the Crime and Punishment investigation felt akin to spending two hours searching through an infuriating haystack. Still, any mission that sends you to ‘The Mancave’— complete with soiled underwear and old pizza boxes—deserves a thumbs-up. All in all, I was happy with the missions. I’ve paid a lot more for single player games with a lot less.
Is sixteen hours of content enough to keep a subscription?
MMO value is a personal choice. For some, value lies in the endgame, gearing up through repeated raiding. Solo players are happier running missions. Others just PvP all day. The great difficulty in MMO design is making something with wide appeal without reducing to the herpaderp denominator.
The Secret World’s issue updates are aimed at the casual type of player that likes to log in for an hour or two after work—not the hardcore raider or PvPer. Indeed, the game’s director, Ragnar Tørnquist, has stated that the game is exactly for these players, who, in his words—are just like him.
The Secret World’s target customer is probably employed, has money, not a lot of time, and would think nothing of dropping fifteen bucks on sixteen hours of narrative gameplay. If that sounds like you, then likely you’ll find the updates are worth the monthly subscription.
Check out our review of The Secret World right here.