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The Secret World Column: Release and Beta Cometh!

By William Murphy on August 18, 2011

The launch for The Secret World is in April 2012 and the beta sign-ups begin on August 26th, 2011.

Good Lord, it feels like I’ve been waiting to say that forever. 

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Yes, ladies and gents, as we reported Tuesday EA and Funcom have given us a pretty solid (but not concrete) date for the launch of The Secret World.  They’ve also gone ahead and let us know that day one of PAX Prime 2011 is also day one of beta sign-ups for the general public. 

Is there a better way to say, “CAN. NOT. WAIT?”

Sure there’s a ton of talk about Guild Wars 2, The Old Republic, and TERA, but The Secret World’s setting and ARG methodology has me absolutely amped to get in and see whether Funcom can pull their ambitious designs off.  An MMO that asks players to take to the web and solve mysteries?  Yes please.  Throw in a seriously brilliant class and skill design, a gorgeous aesthetic feel, and a fantastic setting and story, and this could be a fantastic game.

But Funcom needs to make sure it’s finished, too.

I don’t think my pals in Oslo will be upset with me if I go out on a limb and say that Anarchy Online and Age of Conan’s launches didn’t go as planned.  When investors and deadlines get involved, they tend to not mix well and both games were put out probably a bit too soon.  From all that we’re hearing around the industry, it seems like TSW is right on track for its April 2012 release date. 

The biggest problem with both of their past MMOs wasn’t the game systems so much as it was the game’s level of polish.  They weren’t ready for Primetime, and I think Ragnar and all the others know that with The Secret World and an ever-crowding space they need to get this one right from day one.  Let’s do some math, shall we?

The game’s been in really small beta testing stages for a while now, according to Funcom themselves.  But the wide-base user testing comes at the end of this month.  Guess-timating means that TSW could see as much as eight full months of beta testing before it hits store shelves.  That makes me feel better just typing it.  Of course, that’s if by some magic the beta test itself began right on the day or weekend of sign-ups opening.  Chances are the actual length of beta testing will be closer to six months time, and that still speaks loudly.  A lot can be broken and fixed in half a year’s time.

Now for the last part of this all-over-the-freaking-place column: is April the best time for The Secret World to pull back the curtain?

My gut says yes.  I’m of the belief that The Old Republic will be out before Thanksgiving, and I have a gut feeling (which is probably way off) that GW2 will drop no later than January (if that late).  TERA however is due to drop around the same time: Spring of 2012.  From what we’ve seen of En Masse’s game though, it’s bound to be after a completely different audience than Funcom.  Still, launching two AAA MMOs within each other’s “hype frame” could backfire for one or both no matter how divergent the mechanics or settings. 

Really though, enough of this pondering.  It just feels good to know that our wait to dive into The Secret World has a clear and present finish line.  Will you be picking up Funcom’s latest come next April?

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