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EA and Funcom = What?

William Murphy Posted:
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I’m going to keep this one short and sweet this week.  It’s been known for a while now, but EA is partnering with Funcom to publish The Secret World whenever it launches.  I’m more than aware why people might be afraid of this development, considering EA’s track record with MMOs.  But let’s look at in that wild and wonderful bullet-point fashion, and consider the possible positives and negatives of such an arrangement.

The Good?

  • Funcom is getting the knowledge and experience of one of the largest and most successful software publishers in history when it comes to marketing, distribution, and so forth.
  • EA, despite ample reason some would say not to, is still supporting Warhammer Online, Ultima Online, and though they’ve closed Earth & Beyond, it seems they value their MMOs if they can get them operating in the black.
  • EA, love them or hate them, have tons of money.  If there’s anything that TSW needs to get the word out beyond the ARG and other viral campaigns, it’s the money to spend on ads.  TSW’s concept is hard to put forward to Joe Average, but slap a flashy trailer on during an airing of Monday Night Football and chances are a few people will notice.

The Bad…

  • EA likely means we’ll only be able to buy TSW (digitally at least) through the company’s new Origins digital distribution platform.  Frankly, as a fan of Steam and not wanting to have a multitude of these services on my PC… come on, really?
  • EA also tends to like to get things out the door, and since Funcom is not BioWare I worry that Ragnar and crew will be rushed to hit some arbitrary deadline.
  • EA is seen as “Evil Big Brother” in the game’s industry… though probably less so now that Activision is doing its thing.  But will the backlash of partnering with EA drive away potential clients?

As I see it, both the good and bad possibilities rely on whether or not EA keeps to the publishing side of things and lets’ Funcom take the time it needs to get the game out when it’s ready, not when the number is up.  With something as complex and difficult as an MMO, I worry that EA simply doesn’t have the patience to let a developer see it through.  I know it’s not easy to just keep feeding a game money when you want to see an ROI, but sometimes the best course of action is to do just that so that the MMO is more likely to retain subscriptions.

Anyway, that’s all for this week.  It’s going to be a slow month or two until PAX Prime, but I’m sure we’ll think of stuff to talk about.  What about you guys?  What do you think of EA publishing TSW?  Love it, hate it, indifferent so long as the game is good?


William Murphy

Bill is the former 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.