The Secret World could one day go free-to-play, says Funcom CEO Ole Schreiner.

Speaking with Gamesindustry, Schreiner said that the studio had left its options open during development of the game so a different model could be implemented relatively easily.

“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,” he said.

“We did that with Age of Conan with significant success.”

Trends and expectations around the MMO genre were evolving quickly, and Funcom was regularly re-evaluating its business model against the changing currents of the marketplace, said Schreiner.

“I believe there is a market for free-to-play, subscription and hybrid business models. What's most viable for your project depends on what sort of game you're trying to make, what your focus is and how you're going about putting it together.”

“I do think that as that as free-to-play offerings keep raising the bar in terms of quality and longevity, it's becoming more and more difficult for subscription games to live up to player's expectations. If you're demanding a monthly fee from someone they obviously expect more value than they get from a similar free-to-play offering,” he added.

“There is no way getting around the fact that a growing number of gamers expect MMOs to be free-to-play, or at least buy-to-play (such as Guild Wars 2), so building a successful subscription-based MMO is becoming more challenging.”

Schreiner also announced that following Funcom’s recent staff cuts, The Secret World was now a profitable operation.

“Of course, operating in the MMO business means you have to stay adaptive and evaluate yourself, your community and your competition, so we can't rule out a change in direction somewhere down the line. But we're quite comfortable with where we are now and what we're providing our players.”