The Secret World is fewer than two months old, and its development team has already been hit with hard times.
Funcom has revealed publicly that a portion of The Secret World's development staff has been let go after a mildly disappointing launch. A drop in stock value, concerning post-launch sales, and less-than-stellar review scores were cited as reasons for the layoff of several people.
The developer issued the following statement:
As we announced in the stock notice that went out on August 10th, Funcom is in the process of reducing operational costs and this process includes temporary layoffs as well as other initiatives… As we are currently in the middle of this process we can not provide any further comment at the present time. Rest assured however that we have long-term plans for the company and that we remain fully committed to all of our games.
If there's one thing I've learned about MMOs over the years it's that launch week is everything. Funcom revealed a monthly update plan very quickly, but many gamers won't bother going back if it left them with a bad taste in their mouth. If there's anything the MMO genre needs right now it's competition—which Guild Wars 2 will hopefully bring next week—, so it's extremely sad to see one of the more ambitious titles struggle.
That said, I can't say I'm surprised. As I mentioned in my official The Secret World review, the game lacks grounded gameplay mechanics and struggles to offer compelling content. Not everyone may agree with me, but seeing the game's studio face challenges so soon is the first sign that players aren't finding good enough of a reason to renew their subscriptions or recommend friends.