Did The Secret World fail because it was innovative, or because it was bad?

Lono called for MMORPG players to support innovation yesterday by supporting The Secret World – but did The Secret World really fail because it was too innovative?

That’s the debate that has sprung up in the wake of his post today:

  • Tobold argues that The Secret World would have failed just as hard without any innovation whatsoever” If Funcom had made the same game, just with elves and dragons instead of zombies and Cthulhu, it would have flopped even worse.”
  • Syncaine compares The Secret World to his beloved Darkfall, and argues that TSW’s failure was more about expectation-setting“The biggest difference between Darkfall and The Secret World is not levels of polish or innovation, but in expectations. Aventurine understood they were making a niche MMO, and planned accordingly.”
  • And Lono asks us to play MMO developer for a while, and consider whether if we were making an MMO with real money and real people to support, would we take the risk of making a non-fantasy MMO?“If you are a player wanting innovation in your games, you have to support games that do innovate even if they are not the best. You have to show the industry that if they innovate they will have support and get their money back.”

I’m really not sure what MMORPG developers can or should do about MMORPGs’ seemingly intractable tie to fantasy. With the exception of EVE Online, it’s very hard to think of an MMORPG that has had even moderate success outside fantasyland. Frankly, all the evidence currently points to MMOs continuing to be dominated by fantasy-based settings for the next 20 years.

**What do you think? Were TSW’s troubles the fault of its innovation, its execution, its business strategy, or something else?