Buy to play is becoming more popular in the MMO space. The Secret World adapted their business model today to be more in-line with something like Guild Wars, requiring expansion content to be purchased. They’ve also kept their cash shop, and even allowed people to opt-into a sub to receive cash shop benefits — but not the content.
Guild Wars 2 uses a buy to play option, and will likely sell content like they did with the original; However, ArenaNet is still providing event content for the holidays free of charge and may continue to provide content updates for free.
World of Warcraft remains a subscription game, having no trouble at all topping the industry, along with several other titles still holding on to their ability to keep players paying for access.
Despite the proven and irrefutable success of the subscription model, the MMO landscape is changing and along with it expectations. This leads into what I want to discuss today.
What justifies a subscription for you? When are you willing to pay $15 a month for access to a game? Do you require regular, free content updates? Must the game meet a certain caliber of quality? Personally, I look at it as a total package deal. If what is being offered is unavailable anywhere else, then I’ll gladly pay to get in. If what I find when I get in is fun, well worth my time, and something I want to continue to do then I’ll continue to pay. I see subs as a way to reward a company for creating a game that keeps me wanting to play, and a way to show developers when they’re not.
I’m curious to hear what you would require from an MMO to justify paying a subscription. I’m not asking which is better or wanting to debate their merits — I’m asking what is it about a MMO that keeps you paying a subscription or what would entice you to pay for one if you’re not. I hope we can uncover some interesting points, shed some light on what is lacking in today’s games, and figure out what we want enough to pay money for in future MMO’s to come.