There's an interview on GamesIndustry International
talking with Ole Schreiner, the new CEO of Funcom, discussing The Secret World
and the MMOG's subscription model versus the free-to-play scheme that many feel is the only viable future for such games. He says they considered F2P, and while a lot of how the game was created was based on subscriptions, they have the "tools" to make the switch should the decide it's necessary:
The Secret World was developed as a subscription-based game and the decisions made during planning and production was based on that business model. If we had designed The Secret World as a free-to-play offering we would have made some different decisions along the way, for example in terms of how the in-game store works and how our post-launch content plan would play out. We tried leaving our options open during development so that we could launch with a different model should we have decided during development that's what we wanted, but eventually we did settle on the subscription model and that's what informed much of the game's design.
That said 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. We all know that trends and expectations in the gaming business, and perhaps particularly the MMO genre, is evolving quickly, and we're regularly re-evaluating our business model against the changing currents of the marketplace and our own player base as well. Not only in terms of The Secret World, but also our future games.