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The Secret World Column: A Cash Shop Makes Sense

By William Murphy on September 08, 2011

Was anyone really surprised that EA and Funcom have decided to run The Secret World with both a subscription and micro-transactions? I don’t mean that in a snarky way either.  I mean that in a, “this could work really well in the alternate Earth setting” kind of way.

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Think about it. This is a modern-day setting. The shopping malls, clothing lines, and general consumerism of first-world culture will still reign supreme in TSW.  According to Funcom’s official statement on the matter, the store will only ever be used for convenience items and vanity fluff. Which really is right in line with most of what we buy every day anyway in the real world.

I think it would be absolutely awesome to see different sorts of clothing labels available in the store.  I’d run amok as an Illuminati dressed sharply in my D&G suit… guns concealed discreetly beneath the double-breasted blazer.  Or if they really were smart, they’d dive into so many different themed articles of clothing.  It’s not immersion breaking, because we’re in the real world.  You could see a guy running around in a Ronnie James Dio t-shirt and not blink an eye.  Because it could happen in TSW.

And while I know there are folks who get miffed whenever a subscription games puts in a cash shop, I’m of the mind that it’s happening with our without me so I’d better get used to it.  There are caveats to my acceptance though:

  1. Make the cash shop items something I can get in-game with enough time and effort. Even the clothes.  If there’s a way for me to earn them, even if it takes a while, that’s a good thing.  Heck, seeing how long it would take for me to get my douchey-looking Raybans might make me cough up the dough even faster.
  2. If you’re going to offer “convenience” items, make sure they’re something simple like teleportation scrolls or health potions, but still stuff we can get in the game too.  I don’t know why, but it chaps my rear when I see people buying XP potions, so keep them out of it.  Make it more about name changes, server transfers and the like.
  3. Contradicting number one, but if you must make items in the cash shop exclusive because that’s what the suits want, make them worth the money we spend. If we’re talking cosmetic items, make them the kind of things we would want to wear, stuff that we’d be proud to show off.

I’m sure there are more prerequisites that you guys have, and I’d love to hear them.  Funcom’s done pretty well in the past with Anarchy Online and Age of Conan when it comes to these stores.  And while I’m a little old school in that I’d like a game to be one or the other, I respect that Funcom is aiming for their store to be mostly about cosmetic doodads and convenience items.  What do you think of Funcom’s announcement on a cash shop in The Secret World? Does it affect your desire to play the game? Will you take part in it, if the goods are worthwhile?  Let us know! You never know who’s reading our comments here either.

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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