Things are certainly not looking to good these days for Funcom. The company had been betting a boatload on the success with the subscription based The Secret World. Former Funcom CEO, Trond Aas, is currently targeted for insider trading allegations. However recent updates from the new CEO, Ole Schreiner announces "We have the tools to make The Secret World free-to-play."
Even though the Secret World had launched to a somewhat mixed reception, it would be safe to assume that it was not a big hit with the fans as anticipated. The initial sales of The Secret World were way below Funcom expectations, and was forced to lay off half of its staff as well as the games lead designer. Dismal enough that the share prices tanked from over $17 at the beginning of July to $2.23 today.
As it turns out, the former Funcom CEO Trons Aas is sure to be facing insider trading allegations, for attempting to sell 1.5 million shares of the company prior to the launch of the Secret World on July 2nd. This is where is seems to be a bit murky, for Trond Aas. On July 2nd, Funcom announced that Trond would be stepping down as CEO,and would instead serve as "Strategic Advisor to the Board and Chief Strategy Officer.". Some might say that Aas had stepped down to get himself off a primary insider list, and sell his shares in the company without attracting scrutiny.
"As a primary insider, all of Trond's purchases or sales of Funcom shares would have had to be announced to the Oslo Stock Exchange (OSE). After getting off the primary insider list, Trond tried to sell 1.5 million shares," the anonymous source said. "However, his sale was discovered by another shareholder that subscribes to other shareholder lists, and when Trond's sales became public, Funcom's stock price tanked."
No more Secrets for Trond, as he is now under investigation by the Oslo Stock Exchange and Norway’s Financial Services Authority. Aas insists that he is innocent of any wrongdoing and was unaware of The Secret World success [or lack thereof] at the time that he sold his shares.
On the brighter side of Funcom's recent adventures and The Secret World, current CEO Ole Schreiner stated:
“We definitely have the tools to turn The Secret World into a free-to-play game – or even hybrid – should we decide to do that somewhere down the line. We did that with Age of Conan with significant success.”
Insightful interview with Funcom new CEO Ole Schreiner, can be found at http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-09-17-ole-schreiner describing in more detail on the future of Funcom and the tools to make The Secret World Free-to-play.