Overpowered: Funcom, the Elephant in the Room
By Jonathan Doyle (Ardua), OnRPG Journalist
I have a question for our readers.
As you may have seen recently, I have started talking a bit about The Secret World. I can’t help it after all. I am as excited for the game as I have been for any other that I can remember. More so, it has been years in the making and for me the expectation is high.
However I have a question. I figure we should address the elephant in the room.
What has Funcom ever done to you?
Now I know some people are going to take the easy Internet argument and dismiss me as a fanboy. “Jonathan” they will say if they are polite, “You are just a rabid fanboy”. After that, comments will go quickly downhill.
However, I do honestly want to know. No company that I can think of in the massively multiplayer genre engenders as much ire, bile and dismissal as Funcom. And I don’t know why that is in particular. Oh I have theories and I hope to expand on them, but the fact of the matter is, I really don’t understand why people are so down on a company trying its best to try new things for us.
Some of you will very rightly point towards the, by all accounts, disastrous launch of Anarchy Online. Be fair though, that was early days and it seems that people are quick to forget the tough queue times of just launched World of Warcraft and the myriad of issues and hiccups other games have had when they took their first steps into the limelight.
Others will point to various mistakes and faults with Age of Conan. I am not going to excuse those faults. How could I? More to the point, why would I? I know they made mistakes with Age of Conan, but thankfully they do too. Some of them were boneheaded in the extreme; I’m looking at you female avatar strength issues.
The thing is, that happens. People are human, mistakes are our bag. I’ve seen tough launches of games and mistakes a plenty.
Electronic Arts sits on a fence between loved and loathed by gamers. They’ve cancelled their fair share of online games, but are also the ones running The Old Republic and bringing The Secret World to our computers. Blizzard is generally considered incapable of doing no wrong on the whole, but does itself irritate gamers on a regular basis. Cryptic creates games that have magnificent character creators and then run off into their own heavily instanced ideas of “multiplayer”. Sony Online Entertainment… For every Everquest and Planetside, there is a Matrix Online dying early and a Star Wars Galaxies suffering unusual patches. NCSoft… Well their whole business is Massively Multiplayer games and so they’ve closed plenty.
However, EA isn’t feared by gamers. NCSoft isn’t assumed to be on the brink of closing every game it has all the time. Sony isn’t assumed to be staffed by malicious people.
Why then is the name Funcom such a poison for some?
In the end, I think it is because people need someone to look down on. They need a whipping boy to point at and make an example of. It really does all come down to human nature rather than the mistakes of the creators. We, as a genre of connoisseurs are convinced that we know best, that we know what is and is not worthy in our eyes.
What needs to happen then is those same connoisseurs need to open their eyes and minds. Funcom has made mistakes, but everyone has. Third time may indeed be the charm. If they fail again, they will be raked over the coals and deserve that. To be forewarned after all is to be forearmed.
Ultimately though, if it all goes well, perhaps the connoisseurs will wake up to a new realization. Funcom, if nothing else, with this new game is firmly in the vintage of “Interesting Worlds”.
I can think of worse labels, can’t you?