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Over at Waypoint, VICE's gaming website, Natalie Moore chronicles the decline of The Secret World for roleplayers. Unfortunately, the article doesn't really bring any real, raw numbers to the table, instead opting to simply report the impressions of some players and the overall feeling that the game is slowly dying. As a subjective, impression-driven piece, though, it's an interesting read:
As a roleplayer, I wanted more—and The Secret World gave it to me in the form of a game that was a loving homage to the works of James Herbert, H.P. Lovecraft and Raiders of the Lost Ark, among many, many others. The roleplay community was big, vibrant, and operated mainly out of the in-game bar, The Horned God.
I remember when The Horned God was full of people. This is what it was like:
As the biggest, seediest watering-hole on this particular subway stop, the tavern was a revolving door for London's more furtive denizens. A Romanian refugee regularly bent her arm at the bar with a German professor of numerology. There, in the corner booth, a counselor for a local youth group tries to convince her friends to come along on her church retreat to the mountains—those rumors about the Morninglight being an apocalyptic death-worshipping cult were ridiculous, she insists, they've completely turned her life around.
The Secret World's servers are still up. Content trickles in a lot slower than it used to, but it still arrives—in the form of clothing packs, dungeons, in-game holidays. You can go to the quest hub and see a few people talking idly in the Looking for Group channel, and the chat room on the big offsite roleplay hub still has half a dozen members hanging around. But almost everywhere you go, things are looking thin.
Back in London, outside the Crusades nightclub is a faded poster advertising an in-game event - a giant party on December 21st, 2012 in honor of the Mayan apocalypse. The poster advertises THE END OF THE WORLD. It may be almost four years later, but the few players who still log in are waiting for the end to come. The Secret World's climax—a bloody battle in Tokyo for the fate of the world itself—has come and gone. For years, it was a story that we were all writing together. Today, it's hard to shake the feeling that the final page is approaching fast.