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Here's an excerpt:
"No it's not going free-to-play any time soon," stated Funcom's communications director Erling Ellingsen. "There's currently no plans for making it free-to-play."
"Who knows what the business model will be like in a year?" Tonquist elaborated. "Or in two years or five years? But right now, yeah, the subscription model is..."
"But of course we're always looking at it," Ellingsen butted in. "It's a fast changing business and we have to adapt ourselves. But right now there's currently no plans."
That could be a red herring - a lie. Funcom's a publicly traded company, so a revelation like TSW turning free-to-play could affect stock prices. Thus, secrecy. Plus, Tornquist mentioned above that TSW "can also work without a subscription model", and Age of Conan - Funcom's other MMO - turned from subscription to free-to-play. So Funcom knows how to do it.
But there are reasons why I believe Ellingsen: why I believe The Secret World really won't be turning free-to-play any time soon.
For one, Ellingsen said The Secret World was now profitable. I doubt that means Funcom has recouped development costs, but it probably does mean the game is paying for itself to run, because Funcom downscaled development to suit its income. I wasn't allowed to know team numbers (or subscription numbers), but was told The Secret World team was still the biggest in the company, although smaller that what you'd need to build and launch an MMO.
"The team is delivering exactly the amount of content we had planned before launch," insisted Tornquist.
"From a month to month point of view it's the same; what has changed is that there may be some bigger updates or features planned that we've had to delay or maybe also cut completely."
It was Funcom expanding on that last comment that helped convince me The Secret World would stick with a subscription model.
"When we talk about monthly updates it can be things that we worked on for a year that go into a monthly update," Joel Bylos began.