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MMO Subscriptions

Runic's Logo.

An admission: I'm a rather large fan of MMOs. From my early days on BBS MUDs and LORD, to my time with Sierra's The Realm Online, meandering to UO, and eventual tasting of most of the larger MMOs we currently see, I've been a fan of the potential they seem to promise.

The difficulty I've had has been with subscription models these days. It creates this self-inflicted guilt where if I am not playing my game, I am wasting the money on which I spend on it monthly. As someone who plays many games, enjoys writing about them, and wants to make sure he's aware of current trends in the industry overall, I don't want to feel locked in to an MMO that requires such.

Given such, I haven't touched WoW in years, for instance (depending on whom you ask, that may or may not be for the best). Instead, I've been much more prone to try out other models, and try to keep an eye on how they seem to be faring in this part of the world.

According to Massively, reporting on an interview with Charge-Shot, Runic Games Max Schaefer is making hints that he no longer believes in the sub-based model himself. He directly calls on the fact that WoW is the elephant int he room, and it informs his thought process, "I don't think really anyone can do [subscriptions] anymore because pretty much everyone that does subscriptions has one for WoW."

Before this year, the MMO on which I'd kept my eye most closely was Star Wars: The Old Republic. While I'm still interested, I'll admit to my attention instead being diverted to Guild Wars 2. I could wax poetic on why I look forward to what it promises, but I'll leave that for some other time (and you can read our GDC coverage instead); instead, I was grateful to hear that it would stick to the buy-in model they'd already used with the first game: buy the game, no monthly fee.

Naturally, this sort of model puts the onus on microtransactions. I don't mind those as much given a few principle rules: they don't make it difficult to progress in the game (which really does seem the route Dragon Age: Legends wishes to take with its store) and doesn't unbalance the game. From the example Guild Wars the first seems to have set out, extra character slots, using your own characters as henchmen, and other such features seem to be the rule.

Which makes me wonder, how much are subscriptions and/or various pay models affecting your own decisions as regards the ever-increasing (even if many are seemingly shovelware-esque) MMO landscape?

3 Comments

kybarsfang said:

I hope this means I won't have to shell out a lot of money in order to play the Torchlight MMO every month, microtransactions or no.

Nectan said:

Big MMO player here so hoping there will be more different types of subscription options in the future. Since the economy is becoming tighter, I have to be more strategic in my subscriptions and what I play.

Klarth said:

It would be nice if there was an alternative to the monthly fee scheme that goes off more how much you actually play than just having access. I understand they need revenue to support the infrastructure (servers, updates, tech support and GMs, etc), but if I'm busy with school or work over a period of time, I shouldn't have to outright cancel the game for a time.

I shouldn't feel compelled to play anyway, burning the candle at both ends, to "get my money's worth". I had a brush with MMO addiction via Final Fantasy XI, and that was my motivation. I didn't make friends, I didn't go out. I played morning noon and night, only breaking for work, minimal sleep, and essential errands.

Granted, it was also about me being somewhat disenfranchised in the place I was living then, cut off from where things were really happening, but the money was a factor, too. I hated paying ~$15 monthly for months I might only play a few times.

Right now, FFXIV is still free because of all that drama, but I will face that decision again once it starts costing because I have work and college now, too.

But, back to the point, subscription is definitely a factor when I consider MMOs. I definitely won't play more than one subscription based game at a time. This is what led me to the microtransaction modeled games, namely Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine Online. I had a lot of fun with that game before moving on, and I only had to pay for stuff when I wanted to, so I was in control of the cost. And the game wasn't broken for freeplayers, either. The pay stuff was mostly extras.

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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Klarth on MMO Subscriptions: It would be nice if there was an alternative to the monthly fee scheme that goes off more how much...

Nectan on MMO Subscriptions: Big MMO player here so hoping there will be more different types of subscription options in the future. Since the...

kybarsfang on MMO Subscriptions: I hope this means I won't have to shell out a lot of money in order to play the Torchlight...

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