Why would anyone pay $300 for a lifetime sub to a game going F2P?

“Fight for Life: Just $299!”

That’s the tagline of Cryptics latest scam.  They’ve reactivated their lifetime subscription to Champions Online — you know, that game that didn’t do so well and as a result is planning to go “free to play” to offer people a limited sample of the game in hopes of luring them in to pay for something.

Even if CO wasn’t going F2P… who would pay $300?!  I just don’t get it.  I do not see any present or future value.  I say this every time we see a new “life time” subscription offered for a MMO — A MMO!  At most, and this is generous, it should say “2 Years Pre-paid”.  LotRO went F2P.  Hellgate shut down.  Champions Online was a flop and now they’re raising the price and going F2P… what next?  Granted, some people who played LotRO for two years got their money’s worth and then some.  I couldn’t play that long because I “finished” the game.  In hindsight there are several games that would have been worth “a large up-front payment in faith” (that’s what I’ll call them) like EQ and DAOC but hindsight is never justification.

Someone has definitely been hittin’ the sauce.

  • To give credit to Turbine they did try their hardest to give back as much as they could to LOTRO lifetime subers but, yeah, in hindsight I’m glad I never took up the offer. At to think I was close to subscribing to CO or STO for lifetime subs too. It just ain’t worth it now.

    I hope the lifetime subscribers to CO get a refund or something.

  • That is sad. I thought about doing a lifetime to Hellgate London, actually. Naturally, once it shut down I was glad I didn’t. But just the concept of a “lifetime” subscription to a game that is not going to last “a lifetime,” much less be maintained or supported for such a period is insane. While certain games could probably get away with it, considering after a few years of paying 12-15 bucks you’ve gone beyond the lifetime sub price, it’s just not a good idea. For the consumer, you’re dumping tons of money in to a game that you’re:
    A ) not sure you’re even going to like all that much once the honeymoon is over.
    B ) not sure is going to do well commercially and even last long enough to get your RoI.

    And for a developer you’re taking a quick up-front infusion of cash in exchange for long-term costs that you may not be able to reliably make up over time. It’s like opening a marathon by sprinting, only to find yourself tired less than halfway through.

    I don’t get what the draw to lifetime subs is, the pricetag is just too high.

  • I’d drop 300 on an eve online lifetime subscription in a heart murmur. 300 isn’t that much if you plan to play the game for a long time, you just need to pick a well established game to do this on.

    I think the concept worked well for LotRO, you didn’t lose on that one anyway.

    But in general i agree that its to much of a risk, especially in today’s market where everyone thinks I’m going to drop money on specialty items.

  • Crikey – presumably this exempts the “Lifetimers” from the various obligatory microtransactions that will festoon the “F2P” version of the game – but it’s still a huge sum.
    For those with money to burn I guess.

  • Slightly off topic.

    But how do you pronounce MMO? Like the cow-sound with a long ‘M’? “mmmmmo”. Or letter-by-letter? “Em Em Oh”.

    The reason I’m asking is because if it’s the latter, it should be “An MMO”. If the former, “A Mmo”.

    just sayin’

  • I bought the lifetime for Champions back when it was originally $200 and it was worth every penny. I’d be hard pressed to do so now, but there are a lot more green names popping up on the CO forums than there were a couple weeks ago. To each their own.

  • @Pierre: “Em em oh” is the proper way, but I’m sure people say all kinds of weird things. Use of the “A” in front doesn’t depend on its pronunciation. I think it should always be “a” and not “an” since M is not a vowel or the exception.

    @Anjin: You would have to play for 2 years though to say it was worth it, right?

  • Yeah the lifetime sub for $299 sounds like it might be a bad deal. I recall hearing you could get to the level cap in one week when the game launched. (Not sure if that is really true)

  • Hypothetically you are getting lifetime gold membership when the game is free to play, (which is basically the same as being a subscriber now) + 400 cryptic points a month to spend in their store. Hypothetically thats worth ~18 bucks a month. So, if you are willing to spend that for 20 months, you’d get your money’s worth.

    Ok ok, I’m not even trying to justify this, its not even close to worth the cost, but at least there is SOME rationale behind it, from their perspective at least.

    Of course, it could be as you say, a scam to get one last chunk of change before the thing shuts down for good. Though I actually think CO will be around for a while, if for no reason other than Cryptic seems willing to support it minimally to milk some money while they work on other projects, so I doubt we’d see a full on Flagshipping.

  • I totally feel I got my money’s worth out of my LOTRO lifetime subscription. Even post free to play, I still have access to all the same stuff, no subscription fee, and 500 Turbine points a month on top of that. For $199, three and a half years later it feels like a win. But I have played on and off over that whole time frame.

    It could have easily gone the other way. Lifetime is a gamble.

    Going lifetime with STO was not a win for me. Not yet at any rate.

    And going lifetime with a game that is announcing that they are going free to play soon? Well, I mean… if you really love the game, it might be… no… I can’t even complete that sentence, not with a $299 price tag.

  • The scary part is why go lifetime now when the game is not doing well obviously and going to f2p. The greatest fear would be a complete shutdown in 3-6 months. Reminds me of AC2 where Turbine launched an expansion, sold all they could then shut the game down shortly after.

    If people take this offer now you have to start selling sand in the desert… there is a market for anything!

  • $300 / $15 = 20 months of playtime (not including purchasable outfits)

    I didnt manage to like the game for more then 2 months due to lack of content, let alone 20 :O
    (loved the mix n match skillsystem and it was a decent game engine)

  • If WoW presented a lifetime subscription option for 250 USD I’m quite sure that it would be an amazing hit. Not that they would do that however considering that the people buying it will not quit before they play past the value, but hypothetically it would be a life time option that would have near assured value.

  • Having purchased two lifetime subscriptions myself (LotRO and STO) I feel maybe some obligation to speak on behalf of lifetimes.
    In my case lifetime subscription removes the urge or need to play game the all the time to get enough fun out of monthly subscription. Now I can play other games and I know that I have all the time I want to get back to the ‘lifetime game’. I am not saying that this would apply to all players and even to the most of the games. With LotRO I am happy with my lifetime and with STO I am happy with recent developments in the game but clearly would have been better with monthly subscription. So at least for me buying lifetime subscription is not all about the investment but changing the point of view when considering how I want to play.
    When considering lifetime price with CO, only thing that comes to mind is that there are better opportunities with Nigerian email scams. Half the price and it still is quite high but 300$ is ridiculous.

  • @ArMo Yes I’m personally not against Lifetimes per se (I nearly bought the LOTRO one just before the rumours it was going Free started) but when it’s such a poor game as CO and pitched such a high price it deserves some ridicule.
    LOTRO was a decent game and the Lifetime was also cheaper (at one point here it was £50 so under $100).
    So I maintain that there won’t be too many CO players who think they will play CO long enough to get their $300-worth.

    I am hoping WoW will go F2P/Lifetime when they start sucking the playerbase into their new MMO! One can hope 🙂

    And here in the UK we say “Em Em Oh” (is there any other way?) and I say “An MMO” 😛
    I’m glad the unwieldy mouthful that was MMORPG has started to fall out of use though!

  • @Armo: I understand the mentality change and think it’s probably the most valid reason. However, for me I feel that paying $15 for a month of fun at a time gives me more control over my money and more control over the mentality. If I pay $15 a month and play for 6 months, I’m only out $90. I can come back 6 months later and play for another 2 months and still only be out $120 total. I can then come back several months after that for a month, and so on, and still have payed less than a life-timer.

  • @Keen,

    I’ve seen your argument more or less used in favor of a free to play model where players can spend proportional to the amount they’ll play that month, instead of the whole 15 bucks up front. Granted, scale matters, and 200 up front v. 15 monthly is in some real way different than 15 up front v. microtransactions daily (weekly?).

    Regardless, it seems to me that “control over the money” is exactly what Armo is trying to avoid. The mentality of “the money is spent, now I can do whatever I want” is maybe a little odd, but I can REALLY relate to it, and it does feel somewhat liberating. Granted, there is a pretty high cost in the case of lifetime MMOs for the privilege. I think thats the point though, for some people its worth paying more for (potentially) less, if the result is less stress about playing video games in their daily life. So, your example, while certainly true about paying less money in the long run, doesn’t really speak to the overarching point Armo made. Thats ok, I’m just trying to clarify, or express it slightly differently.

  • It’s true that if you have $200 or $300 to throw around as though it were nothing then perhaps it is easier to say “money spent”. I can turn that $300 into several games and several months of subscriptions whereas someone who lumped it all into one game may or may not play long enough to get their money’s worth. To each his own on that one.

    And yes, the same argument is valid for free to play proponents. However, it’s only valid if they look at it in the most simplistic sense and focus solely on the exchange of money over a short period of time. When you look at the big picture they’re simply apples and oranges. F2P is never about the money to me personally. It’s always been a qualitative argument to me whereas proponents of F2P love to make it into a quantitative one.

    I believe the big picture point is met quite well by what I said. I control the rate at which I spend by paying a subscription. He does not. He controls his impulse to play, but nothing monetary. As for the psychological aspects being tied in, I could easily say that by having to consciously spend that money each month to play I can therefore ask myself “Is it really worth it right now?”. I find that very liberating and I have on more than one occasion answered “no” to the question and unsubscribed — all the richer for it.

  • My point is that there is some extra value added by the reduced stress for those of us who dislike dealing with money to not have to think about the cost every time we play the game, or once per month, or whatever, that can make up the difference between the money saved by paying monthly.

    Yes, it assumes you have the money to spend in one chunk at the time of purchase, thats a given. If absolute efficiency of money spent to entertainment is your main criteria, a lifetime in any game is probably not going to be worth it most of the time (and 300 dollars for CO at this point is pretty ridiculous no doubt). However, my point is there is added value beyond just the monthly fees to having it, which is a consideration especially for certain kinds of people especially who dislike having to think about it.

  • @ Keen – Way late to reply but you are correct. Getting a lifetime now means betting that you’re going to play for almost 2 years to break even. That’s a heck of a bet right now.

  • Lifetime subscriptions are almost always a bad financial investment for the player.

    Furthermore, for GOOD games, they are a bad investment for the company as well. Imagine if WoW had sold 2 million lifetime subs in 2004. They’d be losing money on all those customers.

    The lifetime sub is really something there for suckers, put out by games that desperately need a quick cash infusion. The reason a company sells one is precisely the reason why a customer SHOULDN’T buy one.

  • I would drop $300 on a lifetime sub for SWTOR before it even comes out, but not for CO…or any other Cryptic product.