Age of Conan turns corner, says Funcom

More players staying for longer, it claims.

In Funcom's latest financial report, there's some encouraging news regarding the performance of its troubled MMO Age of Conan - although nothing as concrete as subscriber numbers.

The report for the first quarter of 2009 says that the fantasy MMO's subscriber retention has improved and "a significant increase in new customers in Q1 compared to Q4 has led to a stable and solid subscriber base". Players are spending longer in the game on average, too.

The company reported earnings of USD 7.7m, largely from Age of Conan subscriptions. That's actually a dip from the USD 8.7m it made in the last quarter of 2008. But the painful USD 23m losses of that period have been replaced by a modest USD 1.5m operating profit.

Elsewhere, the report indulges in some self-congratulation about the Secret World reveal at GDC and mentions two free-to-play MMOs that Funcom has in development.

The games, revealed in 2008's final report, are a Java-based game aimed at kids and a browser game with a broader market. The latest news is that they are "progressing well" and expected to go into beta at the end of this year.

Funcom launched a charm offensive on Age of Conan last month aimed at encouraging players to give the game a second chance, opening free trials (we still have some keys if you want one). We took a look and found it much improved. Another substantial update to the game is expected soon, including a complete overhaul of its RPG system.

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