This is the last week the Grand Master Pack (aka lifetime subscription) will be available for The Secret World. It’s also on sale right now for 150$/€.
Ironweakness, who started playing TSW just about three months ago, ponders whether the GM pack is still worth getting. He might not be the only one, so i thought i’d share my opinion.
The financial situation of Funcom seems to be stable for the time being. As Sylow puts it in the comments:
according to news from their Q4 report of 2015, all of their MMOs (Anarchy Online, Age of Conan and The Secret World) are lucrative.
This, along with The Park being not a super-hit but still a good success, allowed them to restructure their loans. The companies survival thus is ensured till the start of 2019
Other Source: Massively Overpowered
First things first- this is my personal opinion, obviously some or many people are going to disagree with what i write and they might have a point. It comes from someone who is a Grand Master since the game’s release as a subscription game but still hasn’t left Solomon Island for Egypt. So i have virtually no experience of endgame in TSW and really still am a Noob.
Furthermore, i’m going to assume that everything will remain as it is- that Funcom won’t be going into bankrupcy and The Secret World will remain buy-to-play. There have been mentions of TSW going free-to-play in the official forums (not by employees, mind you) and if that was the case, the whole evaluation would make no sense as monetization would probably change in ways we can’t foresee.
If you’re worried something bad might happen to the company or the game, don’t buy. Chances are that you won’t regret not-buying the pack, but if the game/company turns sour, you might regret buying it.
Things to consider
How long have you been playing (and paying)?
The new membership benefits seem nice, and they are, but they are aimed more towards characters still moving through the game. If you’re at “endgame”, finished all solo-/story-related content and don’t intend to level an alt (although i’d highly recommend it if your first character wasn’t with the Illuminati), the membership bonuses won’t do really much for you.
The closer you are to “finishing” the game, the more you already spent on subscription time and DLCs, the less value the GM pack will offer.
The Secret World is a buy-to-play MMORPG. As such, it can be very cheap entertainment. Considering the track record of releasing about 3-4 DLCs per year of operation, you’d have to pay only 40$ to 60$ a year to get all the new content. If you already own all current DLCs, up to Issue 13, and don’t plan on subscribing and/or buying extras like DLC Collector’s Editions or Item Shop stuff, it would take you three years to get even with that 150$ investment into a GM pack.
Then, of course, there are the new membership bonuses:
A 30% increase to all Experience earned. (This replaces the Time Accelerator)
A 50% boost to all Black Bullions gained.
20% extra capacity for Black Bullions and Marks of the Pantheon.
8-hour Mission Cooldowns.
18-hour Raid Lockout Timers.
2 Lockout Timer Resets every 30 days. This item resets all active Cooldowns (Missions/Raids/Scenarios).
A 10% storewide discount for everything in the item shop (20% for Grand Masters).
1200 Bonus Points every 30 days.
Free Anima Leaps!
Plus, Loyalty Stuff.
- 30 days – unique sprint and faction-colored letterman’s jacket
- 60 days – hoverboard and faction-colored panoptic core suit
- 90 days – draug pet and a second Agartha conduit ability
- 180 days – permanent portable bank portable and exclusive battle armor
- 1 year – gold vespa (scooter) and steampunk weapon skins
If you really like what TSW has to offer, i think the side-mission packs aren’t part of the bought editions of the game. So there still is some content you’re missing, even if you own all the current DLCs. That should be factored into your decision, as well.
If you’re going for the minimalistic way of simply owning what you play, the subscription and the item store hold nothing of interest for you, already own the majority of the currently available content or approach the “end” of the game very quickly, the GM pack might not be the right thing to buy for you.
Your plans with TSW
The Secret World strikes me as a “play-to-finish” MMORPG- it’s very good at atmosphere and story, but if i would be playing it actively (and i will add it to my roster soon ™, as i’ve shown FF14 the door), there is no “endgame” that i find interesting in TSW. There are seasonal events and the dungeons- and the raid probably as well- are very nice experiences that don’t let you wade through a horde of trash mobs and waste your time. They’re quick story- and boss-heavy affairs, i just don’t see a point in doing them multiple times.
Still, even playing the game in this way, there would be several reasons for me to play TSW regularly. Content drops, the really nice and loyal community, roleplaying, secondary characters. I’d say TSW is one of the best and easiest games to get into community roleplaying that’s out there. You don’t need to create alternative characters in TSW as one character is able to do everything, but maybe you want to experience everything again, in a different way, try another set of weapons, or for roleplaying purposes? Or do the right thing and join the Illuminati?
If you plan on playing all current and future content Funcom delivers for TSW, consider playing more than one character for whatever reason and tend to subscribe when playing anyway, the GM pack is worth more than just a consideration.
What do you like?
I’ve owned the GM pack since release and haven’t even left Solomon Island- and i still feel as if i got my money’s worth. The reason is all that fluff i buy. See, Bonus Points that are granted via subscription/GM expire after 6 months, so they’re basically capped at 7200 bonus points. Even in times when i don’t play TSW, i check the item store on their homepage from time to time to see how many points i have and if i need to spend some of them. In this way, i’ve amassed virtual items in droves. Collector’s editions, clothing, outfits, “mounts”, consumables, sometimes AP injections, whatever. Some times, buying things made me log into the game again to see them in action.
So if it’s not just the basics you like, a subscription/GM pack might well be worth it, especially if you consider the stand-alone prizes to be somewhat too expensive, although Funcom’s quite fair on that front (20$ for six account-bound scooters isn’t really expensive in MMO land, but they’re still 20$ i wouldn’t spend).
I really like to not-worry about something. If i were to subscribe to a game, everytime i’d sit in front of the PC i’d think i would “have to” play that game i’m currently subscribed to. When i’m playing a game, i don’t like to think about whether or not i’d like to subscribe right now, buy some kind of content, weigh in on advantages and disadvantages of buying this or that. And, as mentioned above, i like fluff. I wouldn’t spend 5$ on a virtual dress, for instance, but i’ll happily spend my bonus points on it. I have also checked the auto-buy option in my account, so everytime new DLC gets released, it will get added to my account.
Grand Masters may also go into “point-debt”- you can spend all your points; new DLC will still get bought via the auto-buy option. Of course you’ll need to balance it out with future point allotments, but you’ll always get it. Furthermore, Grand Masters get a 20% discount in the item store.
This is what i like most about the GM pack i bought when the game released: TSW, for me, is a worry-free zone- the only thing left for me to decide is whether or not i’ll want to play it.
Of course, there’s a downside: if you subscribe in the normal way, what gives me stress about having to log in might result in some positive stress for you- and the GM pack might make you think that you don’t “need to” play TSW right now. As i’ve said, that’s an advantage for me, and the game is totally fine with you leaving and returning at another time, but buying the GM pack might actually result in you taking longer breaks from the game.
To buy or not to buy?
So, should you buy the GM pack before it isn’t available any longer on friday? You’re the only one who can decide. I feel there’s still a lot of value in it (if nothing surprising/bad happens), but it really depends on what you already own, your play-style in TSW, your preferences in spending money/obtaining fluff in game and, last but not least, on your financial situation. After all, 150$ is a considerable amount of money to spend on something like PC gaming and i only suggest spending it if there’s nothing more important you’d have to “sacrifice” for it.
And, something else to ask yourself: would you have been interested in the pack if they didn’t announce that they’re taking that option out? If not, don’t buy. The sale and the discontinuation of the GM pack are marketing instruments to get you to buy it now. If you’re undecided or still pondering, sleep over it, don’t decide until your next subscription is up for payment and/or thursday, whatever comes first.