First, a disclaimer: As a distinct type of game, I’m about as far from an expert in MMO play and design as it would be possible to be.
However, my reaction to reading about The Secret World on Kotaku (that I couldn’t be less interested) was so completely different from my recent experience watching BioWare’s trailer for Star Wars: The Old Republic (that I was excited to the point that I may well invest extremely precious time in playing it) that I think it’s worthwhile to compare and contrast the marketing, and what it reveals about what the creators are trying to sell.
Here’s the Star Wars: The Old Republic trailer:
As a counterpoint, skim Kotaku’s The Secret World piece. And just to move the comparison a little closer to apples and apples, here’s a teaser trailer for The Secret World:
For me, the different is astounding, entirely apart from the obvious differences in production values.
The marketing for The Old Republic sells a story, and sells my character’s place in it. There’s not a half-inch of gameplay information sticking out anywhere, and who cares? The emphasis on story and world are carried over to the SW: TOR website as well.
The written piece for The Secret World, on the other hand, goes totally to gameplay. Its genuflections toward story are to talk about the philosophical differences between the factions. Nothing whatever is said about whatever larger struggle is going on in the game, save that the opposition is “evil.” The teaser contains broad, “mysterious” platitudes, with nothing of substance about the game’s story whatsoever.
Yes, we’re talking about marketing here, but on the other hand, neither of these games have been released, so there’s not a lot more to go on. But I think this pair of games are a good illustration of what it would take to really turn me on about an MMO, versus what leaves me completely cold.
You’re shocked, no doubt, to discover that I’m half of the crew behind a website dedicated to the intersection of games and stories.