This was originally posted on QueueTimes on 4 March 2016. It is being re-posted here to archive the work I have done in case the original website ever shuts down.
Two of my favorite games are The Secret World and WildStar, in no particular order. The Secret World has been Buy to Play since December 2012, and has a large chunk of time riding the “free to play” wave under its belt. By comparison, WildStar went Free to Play in September 2015. The Secret World recently reworked their membership benefits, and there are quite a few things Carbine could learn from Funcom in this regard.
An Aside on RNG Boxes
First, I’d like to cover something outside of membership benefits that WildStar can take a note on. One of the big things in WildStar right now is the unhappiness with RNG boxes. The Secret World capitalizes on RNG bags and boxes as part of their holidays, and has added a feature, recently, that WildStar would be wise to look into if they plan to keep using these RNG boxes. In The Secret World, when a player purchases a RNG bag with real-life money (via Funcom points, or bonus points), the bag drops a Lucky Coin.
These coins can be turned in at a vendor to purchase some dropped items from these RNG bags if the desired item wasn’t obtained, assuming the player has enough coins. Generally the vendors contain the rarest of the drops, as well as a few recolors of some items. Also of note is the fact that RNG bag drops are not character bound, allowing players to buy or trade the items despite being cash shop items. Many players feel this is a fair system, and utilize the vendor a fair bit. If WildStar would implement something similar, I think it would help to quell some of the anger associated with RNG boxes.
Now, let’s get to the Meat and Potatoes. The Secret World and WildStar are two different games with two different systems. For the sake of comparison, I’m going to be summarizing what each benefit of membership provides to players to try to better form a base for said comparison.
Member Benefits in The Secret World
Membership in The Secret World costs 15 USD monthly, unless you are a Grand Master (someone who purchased the Lifetime Subscription while it was available), and provides the following benefits over buy to play players.
Increase to all experience gained
Experience (EXP) in The Secret World works differently than in other MMOs. EXP is used to give you Ability Points (AP) and Skill Points (SP). These are used to fill in your Ability Wheel, or in layman’s terms, to purchase your weapon spells and proficiencies. Once a player has filled their Ability Wheel to their liking, AP and SP can be applied to purchase and work towards other forms of progression for their character, including: auxiliary weapon skills (a third weapon type, including items such as rocket launchers and whips), Augments (which attach special effects to weapon spells), and AEGIS (a mechanic to penetrate mobs’ shields with specific damage types, and purchased from EXP gained specifically from quests in Tokyo). There are wheels for all of these, and players will always need EXP to fill these in, making EXP extremely important for continued character progression.
Token capacity increase
The cap on tokens members are able to gain have been increased by 20%. Marks of the Pantheon (MoP), an end-game token used to purchase gear, Augments, etc., had the cap raised weekly, and both Black Bullion (BB) and MoP had their total capacity increased by 20% as well.
Reduction to mission cooldowns
Quests in The Secret World are called Missions. Having a reduction from 18 hours to 8 hours makes it easier to pick-and-choose to complete daily instead of running missions that may not be a favorite (stealth and sabotage missions, anybody?). It is even more important when players enter the “endgame” missions in Transylvania and Tokyo which have a default cooldown of close to three days, making the cooldown reduction an extreme benefit for those pursuing endgame.
Reduction to Raid lockouts
Raids used to have a three-day lockout, and have now been reduced to 18 hours. Most games have a week-long lockout, so The Secret World was shorter to begin with. However, this will benefit progression-focused guilds working on Nightmare Kills of the newest raids, as well as gearing up alts and new raiders.
Free Anima Leaps
Anima Wells are spawn points throughout the world used to either fast-travel in a zone, or somewhere your anima spirit releases so you can run back to your corpse (or, interestingly enough, complete various missions in this form).
Increase to all Black Bullion gained
Black Bullion (BB) is one of the currencies in The Secret World gained via completing quests (from the very first quest you complete and every one after) and various objectives in PvP as well as through weekly challenges. It can be used to purchase Quality Level (QL) 10 gear, which is equivalent to end-game starter-blues in other games, as well as upgrade these QL 10 gear and glyphs (slotted bonus stats). It can also be used for fun cosmetic things—such as costumes and titles. Black Bullion is also used to upgrade AEGIS and Augments.
Item Store Discount
Members receive a 10% store discount, while Grand Masters receive a 20% store discount. I think almost anybody would agree that a store discount is a good thing. Especially when…
Bonus Points every 30 days
Members and Grand Masters receive 1200 Bonus Points (a $10 Funcom Point equivalent) every 30 days, which are valid for six months. This is a nice chunk of change to spend monthly just for paying your monthly subscription, especially with the store discount in place.
Two Lockout Timer Reset items every 30 days
These items completely reset the cooldowns on all missions, raids, and scenarios (dungeons). Some people may not use these items at all, whereas other people may use them for progression reasons, or just to be able to help friends run content.
The way The Secret World handles Loyalty Rewards is unique. Rewards are provided at 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 180 days, and every 180 days after that. However, the rewards are handed out based upon how much subscription time has been paid for upfront. Grand Masters receive all the rewards immediately. If someone purchases a 90 day subscription up front, they will receive up through the 90 day rewards. The rewards also never go away if a subscription is canceled, and when re-subbing, members pick up where they left off for rewards and subscription time towards them.
All in all, The Secret World’s system is competitive, fair, and has lots of benefits to all types of players, whether they be focused on end-game content, are new players, like to play casually, enjoy various competitive levels of PvP, or are hardcore raiders. Next time, we’ll take a look at what WildStar offers, and how they stack up.