The Secret World gambled on the pursuit of a design vision rather than commercial concerns - and lost, according to original lead designer Martin Bruusgaard.
Speaking to the the PA Report, Bruusgaard said a developer's original vision almost never makes it to market.
"It’s a shame to say, but I think it’s very, very few cases where you can sit down and make the game that you really want to do, and it turns out to be a success,” he said.
“Unfortunately I think that in order to be a success in today’s market, you need to make the game a bit more commercial.
"You have to consider what sells. You just have to. Not doing it is a huge risk. Yes, you might get lucky and everything works out great, but I would not do that again," he added.
Bruusgaard feels the end product might have benefited from even more mass appeal tweaking, noting that the famous level-free progression system is problematic.
“I think we probably should’ve gone for something that was maybe a bit more familiar," he said, noting the MMO's unusual lack of classes and suggesting that having levels might have helped.
"It’s all familiar, but with a twist, and I don’t think we should’ve twisted that many things," he said.
"I have to stress I really like the game the way it is now, but if I’m thinking about making the game a more commercial success, I think we should’ve gone more commercial."
In fact, Funcom did compromise on its vision; according to the former staffer, the team was aware that it had to make a game with wider appeal, not just the one it wanted to play, personally. The Secret World went through a significant amount of playtesting and iteration, becoming less "intricate", "complicate" and "convoluted" until it had been "commercialised".