'The Secret World' developer promises 'bright future,' teases updates

The Secret World developer Funcom laid off "around half of the company's personnel" earlier this month, but a letter from creative director Ragnar Tornquist insists that the game has a "bright future."

The Secret World developer Funcom laid off half of its staff earlier this month, but a letter from creative director Ragnar Tornquist insists that the game has a "bright future."

Tornquist acknowledged the studio "has been through a turbulent couple of weeks," and chalked up the significant layoffs to the need to scale down its staff as the company shifts from full development to post-launch support. In originally confirming the losses, Funcom said it was trying to retain as many production employees as possible, in order for development on future projects — "smaller, more focused online games" — to be able to proceed.

In spite of the personnel difficulties, Tornquist maintained that the studio's smaller team will not prevent it from producing the promised monthly updates for The Secret World. The first one, "Unleashed," launched at the end of July. While the second issue, "Digging Deeper," won't be available for another two weeks as a result of the layoffs, Tornquist promised that the third piece of content — a Halloween-themed update in which "there are cats" — will launch on time. Future issues will include updates such as new auxiliary weapons, character customization improvements, a "huge and exciting" Christmas feature involving achievements, and a new adventure zone in Tokyo's Ground Zero slated for release next spring.

Tornquist also said that Funcom is listening to feedback from the game's community "in order to make The Secret World even more inviting to new players," and promised that the studio "won't mess with the core game" while doing so. "We're not going to play it safe," he said. "We won't back down from our original vision."

Finally, Tornquist repeatedly expressed his belief that The Secret World is a unique game, saying, "Even if our players go off to dabble in a bit of high fantasy, we'll still be here when they come back." This appears to be a reference to titles such as World of Warcraft and the just-released Guild Wars 2, which Funcom cited among the reasons for lower-than-expected sales of The Secret World. The company has sold over 200,000 copies since its launch on July 3rd, but believes that sales over a full year will be less than half of its predictions.

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