The Secret World's Joel Bylos has taken to the official game forums to participate in a thread with specific regard to last week's April Fool's Joke where a "mankini" was being sold in the in-game shop. The mankini, a poke at gender equality and revealing outfits, created a veritable storm of indignation when the item was not only removed from the in-game shop, but also from players who had purchased it. In the letter, Bylos goes over the timeline of the issue and offers a word of apology.
Many of you have been asking why we decided to pull the Mankini outfit on Friday last week, and I understand some of you have been very frustrated by that decision. I have been avoiding commenting until I could be sure I had spoken with all involved and gotten all the information correct.
To be clear: the Mankini outfit (and the wetsuit) was definitely an April Fool's joke, and it was always my intention to have them be available for a limited time only in the store. However, it was never my intention to pull them from players who actually bought these items.
Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication between my team and Funcom management on how this was to be handled. Funcom management feels strongly that the Mankini outfit goes against what The Secret World intellectual property (IP) is all about and they did not want this item to stay in the game permanently. We all agree on the fact that The Secret World should be the best urban contemporary horror MMO out there, and they want to make sure that everything we bring into the game stays true to the setting and the atmosphere we have created – however it is safe to say that there is sometimes disagreement on nuance.
For that reason, Management made the decision to pull it from the game entirely.
I do not think we should have pulled it from those of you who had already purchased it. I have made that very clear, and I have also voiced your opinions to everyone involved. I am making sure we take every step necessary to make sure we do not end up in a similar situation again.
The wetsuit has also been removed from the store, as planned, but we are not going to remove it from those of you who already own it. However, if you wish to be refunded, please do contact our customer service for assistance.
The Gender Equality outfits were supposed to be a commentary about poor choices in the past and our commitment to being a better company in the future. The item was pulled due to concerns over the integrity of the IP - not because of the gender or skimpiness of the outfit. Let me reassure everybody that we take gender issues seriously (the entire point of the April Fool’s joke was to make fun of ourselves and respond to some comments that you have made in the past in a lighthearted way)
We all apologize for the inconvenience this has caused. I hope that this has explained the situation to you all, and reassures you that we won’t allow anything like this to occur in the future.
Addendum - Feel free to continue discussing it in this thread, of course, but if anyone has further concerns or feels that something hasn't been addressed, please contact me via PM.
You can read more and participate in the thread on The Secret World forum.