Let me say this right from the start: Funcom has a troubled history. Their launch of "Anarchy Online" was legendary for how bad it was, and their launch of "Age of Conan" wasn't much better. Then they were unable to make AoC profitable as a subscription game, forcing it to move to a hybrid Free-to-Play model in order to make money on the title. Funcom has also disappointed fans with their long-delayed graphics update for "Anarchy Online", which is still 'coming soon', but 'soon' seems to keep getting further and further away.
In short, Funcom doesn't have the greatest track record in the MMO industry.
Then earlier this year, Funcom released "The Secret World", to great acclaim. It was a breath of fresh air in a stale MMO market: A modern horror game, in an industry dominated by fantasy and sci-fi offerings. A game where investigation and puzzle-solving is emphasized, as opposed to the old "Kill Ten Rats", hack-&-slash MMO model. A game that made players think, where reading the quest text and paying attention to NPCs was extremely important, as was looking for subtle clues throughout the game world. This was no "WoW Clone", by any means.
Like I said, initial media coverage of TSW was positive, as the beta events went smoothly and hype built for the game through the spring towards the July release date. Then everything went wrong, that is, if your only source of information about the game was from the gaming media.
The day the game launched, the CEO of Funcom stepped down. Even though headstart and launch had gone extremely smooth, with no real problems to speak of in-game, all the media could talk about was the CEO's departure, and how this was a bad sign for the longterm prospects for TSW.
Then as the first update to the game was launched less than a month after release, with more content updates to come on a monthly basis, all the media could talk about was TSW not hitting sales projections, and Funcom laying off staff to keep the game profitable. Nevermind that every single MMO in existence lays off development staff after launch, paring back to their smaller "Live" team, this was apparently an unprecedented move that had never happened before, and spelled doom for the game, if not the whole company!
Next we started seeing gaming blogs and other media talking about the prospects for "The Secret World" going Free-to-Play, implying it was an inevitability, even though sources on the development team and in Funcom management stated otherwise. When one of Funcom's management was later interviewed and asked about Free-to-Play, he stated that they had the infrastructure in place should they decide to go that route (not surprising, as "Age of Conan" uses the same engine as "The Secret World" and is F2P), and this was again twisted to mean F2P was coming to the game.
When Issue #2, the second monthly update for TSW was delayed, gaming media again heralded the "failure" of the game, and basically trashed the company and the game. While of course the delay was troublesome, the developers assured everyone that Issue #3 would be on-time for a September release, and this was generally ignored by the press.
So today, when Issue 3 launched (on schedule in September, and just a week after Issue 2's delayed launch) and one would think this would generate some media buzz... at least a basic "Hey, look! Funcom got back on schedule and things are looking up for TSW!"... instead all they want to talk about on this day is how the former CEO of Funcom is being investigated for insider trading. They of course use this opportunity to bring up every single one of Funcom's challenges over the last few months, including how they allegedly can't keep up with the promised monthly updates, without a single mention of Issue 3 and how they are in fact back on schedule. Or that the game is profitable now. Or that the playerbase is growing.
All the gaming media seems interested in regarding "The Secret World" is glorifying any negative news out of Funcom, rather than even reporting anything positive. And when there is positive news to report, somehow negative news manages to come out the very same day, which manages to override whatever positive buzz the game could have garnered.
I have to ask: What do you media types have against Funcom, anyway? Did they kick your dog, crap in your yard, or bang your prom date? Critics have widely praised how innovative and unique "The Secret World" is, and yet all you want to talk about is bad things regarding the company, rather than how good the game actually is.
I get it, though. "Guild Wars 2" is supposed to be the innovative and unique MMO this year, right? While of course GW2 is exactly that, the media seems to think there can be only one innovative and unique game on the market at any one time, and any other option is routinely trashed in their coverage. It is almost as if the gaming media wants "The Secret World" to fail, to somehow fit their narrative.
Things could have been different, you know. Funcom could have quietly displaced their old CEO, waiting a couple of months to announce his departure, so as to avoid the negative press his leaving on launch day caused. They could have waited, and then blamed him for the lay-offs, the insider trading scandal (rightly so, it appears), and basically dumped it all on his collective head... but that would have not been completely honest. So basically, Funcom did the right thing for the company, for shareholders and for the customers right down the line, with every decision they made, and at every step they have been hounded like a wild animal chased by wolves.
Funcom is far from perfect, but I would think they deserve positive coverage when warranted (as it is today), as well as the negative coverage. So I would suggest the media actually take a step back, and look at the big picture regarding Funcom and "The Secret World", and keep that in mind when they again report on the company and/or the game. "Gotcha!" media coverage may get attention, but it is dishonest and frankly sickening.