Funcom of the Future: Love Will Keep Us Together or Bad Romance?
So, before I go into the future of Funcom, I think I owe an explanation of my history with their games and communities. This doesn’t come from the mind of a fangirl or a hater or an ex-fan. It comes from a person looking at the last several years holistically, much like one looks back on time with a significant other.
I first found The Secret World at PAX Prime 2011 and was intrigued by the concept, but I was fully entranced in the new changes in City of Heroes that would prove pointless a year later. When that year passed, I found myself heartbroken, moving from game to game and found a new passion in TSW. I started playing, had a Lifetime sub a few months later and was heavily involved in the early days of the Twitterverse.
Through those years, my love deepened for the game, its community and even the people working on it. Halloweens came and went and each year it was better than the last. The other events were hit or miss, but you overlook the faults of those you care about. And then there was that fateful year when things had gone quiet, content had been reduced to less than a trickle and repetitive boss fights. Then Halloween… didn’t. It was the moment when a lot of our hearts were broken. Again or for the first time.
Secret World Legends delivered on a slow revival and slow meting out of previously released content. Somehow, it worked and I found myself playing on occasion. Even those of us who stayed around for SWL are weary, skeptical and pessimistic. I call it optimistically cautious (something very different from cautiously optimistic). Funcom was our unfaithful lover welcomed back home.
I was playing more Funcom games and I started streaming the SWL regularly getting involved with the community on a more meta-ooc level helping with events and promotions. I came to terms with the idea that (The) Secret World (Legends) would likely never be my everyday game again, but that was okay.
The Megaversary Event came and it seemed like the community had recovered some of its spirit and spark and projects blossomed from there. I would say it was more invigorating for myself than New Dawn, though I really appreciated the work that went into that. I know a lot of us veterans are looking forward to learning what Dark Agartha will be, and I have seen a few that are possibly allowing themselves to be overhyped, but I don’t think anyone is hanging any hopes and dreams on it. I’ll play, I’ll enjoy (or not) and then keep on playing.
Through all this, largely thanks to Conan Exiles, Funcom has had a resurgence and after literal years of worry, is debt free once more. Mutant Year Zero is coming out very soon and while I don’t think anyone is expecting it to be game-changing, I’m sure I’ll get $35 worth of fun out of it.
There has been some criticism over Funcom’s focus on Conan properties and licensing while moving away from their original IPs. The Funcom we knew was going broke and it would have suffered the fate of several other recently closed studios and producers if they hadn’t adjusted course. The use of a strong IP with high marketability bringing them back from financial disaster should be commended, along with the fact that they produced a faithful adaption of Conan to the survival genre.
So now, we move on to the future and my predictions based on the roadmap lined out during their financials.
Mutant Year Zero: I’ve already played this game and I know I like it. MYZ is brutal and unforgiving, much like the XCOM games it looks to emulate, while delivering on some fun story in an established world. I look forward to playing it through a time or three.
Two Conan games and the Heroic Signatures game: Do I need these in my life? I don’t know, but if they look fun, I’ll put some money on them and play for a bit. Will I snicker a bit if one of them is a Battle Royale or other trend-chasing game? Absolutely. I’m certainly not going to condemn Funcom for taking what brought them back from the brink of extinction and running with it.
2019 Halloween game: Much like MYZ and the new Conan game, I think Funcom now understands the value of keeping IPs healthy. While my hope is for a Secret World or The Longest Journey game, I’m pretty sure it will at least be worth playing. It’s Funcom and Halloween. They’ve already paid the price for screwing that up once.
Open-World Multiplayer Blah Blah: It’s just marketing word salad right now. Buzzwords don’t pique my interest or speculation. When we know more, that’s when I’ll start talking about it. I may be enjoying Funcom and its games recently, but I know better than to get hyped over the hint of ‘something that sounds vaguely like what I’d be interested in playing.’
Secret World Legends, Anarchy Online, Age of Conan and Conan Exiles: Funcom seems to be finding a balance between starving the players and starving its employees. If they can keep me coming back every few months to play some engaging content, I’ll be happy enough. And if they keep the full court press on supporting community events that we’ve seen recently, I’ll be ecstatic.
Is this love? No. And I think that’s a good thing. A friend often says a game’s worst enemy is someone that used to be a fan. Really though, it’s the fan that put everything into a game for years and developed a misplaced dependency before they ended up in the friend zone, as it were.
I look forward to the next few years playing the games made by my friends at Funcom. But I’m going to keep seeing other people ;)
-Hikari Kenzaki (with editing by Natalyia Kenzaki)