Friday, July 6, 2012

The Secret World

Getting a little bored of City of Heroes, and need something to add variety to EVE Online, so I decided to try out Funcom’s new The Secret World.

First impressions created by the account creation and download page are all strongly negative.

First, the “Buy Now” page doesn’t appear to work in Internet Explorer.  Given market-share numbers, it’s surprising to me that they didn’t test this, but they obviously didn’t.

Second, when you fill out the account creation form (got to it by using Chrome), you have to fill it all out, click “Create Account”, and then and only then does it validate any of your data.  If your password has a punctuation mark in it other than a hyphen, you get an error, and have to fill out about half of the form again.  (I think the allowed piece of punctuation is a hyphen.  The error message was far from clear on the point.  Poor font-choice being the problem.)  If the username you want is already taken, you have to fill out the form again.  And so on.  No “check availability” on usernames, no “password must be X to Y length, and cannot contain punctuation” on the page before you even begin typing it, nothing.  Just keep trying till you get one that works.  Filling out about half the form over and over again each time.

Not a big deal, we’re not talking a 1040 form here, but definitely a poor user-experience, and a barrier-to-entry no serious business should allow.

So, after six tries, I finally got what they wanted and my account was created.  In the spirit of helping them and their future potential customers, I then clicked their “Contact Us” link on their official website, and filled out a detailed e-mail telling them some things they could do to make the experience better.  A few minutes after sending the e-mail, from their official “Contact Us” page, I got an auto-responder reply that said they no longer accept e-mails as a means of contacting them, and please go fill out a form on their support website.

The client is downloading now, and I’m worried that I may have just burned fifty bucks for a crap experience.  Conan (their other game that I both beta tested and played) was launched with serious bugs and playability issues.  I was hoping they had learned from that, but I’m now worried they probably haven’t.

These guys aren’t serious about making things easy on their customers, aren’t serious about their sales process, aren’t serious about their software QA, from what I’ve seen so far.  Hopefully the game itself will change my mind.  We’ll see.

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