What justifies a subscription?

Shut up and take my moneyBuy 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.

Ahm' Keepin' Me MoneyWhat 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.

  • These days it’s mostly about time. If it’s something I’ll play maybe 20-30 hours a week then I’m entirely happy to subscribe. Ironically, I would very happily have subbed GW2 and would still be paying now and probably well into next year.

    If it’s something I’ll play only a few hours a week or drop in and out of a lot then I can’t really justify a sub. That said, I keep my SOE All Access pass up even though I’m not playing any SOE MMOs regularly – that’s a unique situation, though, because if I let it go I can’t get it back again due to the PSS1 debacle.

    The short answer is, I’d sub to many of the F2P titles I’ve played in the last few years IF there were far fewer MMOs to choose from and a sub was all that was on offer. It doesn’t have all that much to do with the quality – either it’s good enough to play 20-30 hours a week of it’s not. The difference is that a while ago no-one was offering me a wide choice of MMOs that good for nothing and now they are, so I’m finding it increasingly hard to convince myself that any sub is worth paying, even though in theory I’m quite happy with the subscription model.

  • I don’t play F2P or B2P MMOS at all. Do not want!

    I’ll subscribe to an MMO for a month if it’s fun and/or a bunch of my friends are already playing. I’ll keep subscribing it continues to be fun and the content updates come at a regular pace.

  • Sub fee itself is small and is pretty irrelevant for me. For a modern polished DAOC $50 would be easy, even a 100 if it was really good. Just not having annoying cash shop crap would justify sub for me 🙂

    Problem is that for a few years now I could not be bothered to even download or buy any MMOs (since Aion which some old guildies convinced me would do RvR right). Most of the stuff now is just junk, I get more enjoyment from Skyrim it is sad.

    In requirement form:
    1. RvR with 3 sides
    2. Distinct culture/classes/story per side
    3. Half a year/year updates (side grading gear, new classes etc)
    4. Significant leveling barrier to create attachment to character/side
    5. Skill based rvr progression with exponential scale ala RAs (not gear)
    6. NO FUCKING INSTANCES/battlegrounds/scenarios etc. EVER
    7. Game does not die on decent machine when 100 players are fighting

    If you want to have a Premium MMO (say $60 subscription) add
    1. GM run events, triggering invasions, offering bounties for objectives, playing powerful NPCs
    2. Monthly world changes (keeps being destroyed and rebuilt)

  • I spend $15 on lunch some days so it’s rarely the issue for me with an MMO. Ultimately the deciding factor for me with MMOs are whether or not my friends are playing as well. I’ve jumped into many games that I thought were decent and worth $15/month but didn’t stick with them because I couldn’t get my friends to play and just never found a group of people I fit in with.

    I started MMOs with EQ in the year 2000 back when paying a monthly fee for a game was still a relatively new concept and one many people scoffed at. I’d happily pay $30 or $50 a month if it was a game that could keep a group of my friends playing. Over the years I’ve experienced this a handful of times beginning with EQ, then DAoC, EVE and finally WoW. I’ve spent the last couple years as an MMO transient, always hopping to the next big thing but never sticking around for long because nothing has held the interest of my group of friends for any length of time since pre-Cata WoW.

    I’ve gone full circle now and have recently returned to my first MMO, EQ, which I’m happy to pay $15/month for to have Gold access (for now anyway).

  • I won’t say that money is no object – being reasonably prudent about not overspending on things I sort of want is why I can afford to buy whatever I really want – but the $15 is not really the issue. My time these days is limited, and I would rather spend that time on my schedule. I don’t appreciate it when the real world constraints of billing cycles intrude on my gaming time decisions.

    There are still occasions where I spend an entire month chewing through one specific game – I’m just wrapping up a one-month sub in SWTOR for example. In general, though, the game needs to have added a large amount of stuff since last I played for this to be worth my time. In general, I spend MORE on “buy to play” games (I’d count Turbine’s offerings in that category” than subscription games, but I don’t mind paying the premium in exchange for flexibility on when and how to play the content.

    Now, if the question is what a game would have to offer to get me to become a perpetual subscriber, I’m not sure that there’s anything. In today’s marketplace, there’s nothing incremental that any one studio could add each month that offers more variety than picking up an entire different game. The only case I could imagine would be if I ever got back into playing with specific people on a regular basis, but in that case really my loyalty is to the friends I’m playing with rather than the game itself.

  • The sad thing is…I would pay a subscription for any quality game that I enjoy. I feel that the move to the F2P or “Buy to play” is suspiciously in line with my perceived “quality” of MMOs. By quality I am not referring to polish but more to innovation, interest, and excitement. To me the quality of MMOs has been going down (towards boring) and it seems totally logical that this is accompanied with a move away from subscription models. I know this isnt why F2P is becoming more popular but still (seems that MMOs need to attract new customers with F2P because of the vast anmount of MMOs on the market and the by now destroyed customer trust)

  • These days, games hold my attention anywhere from a few days to 3 months tops. I prefer Subscription-based or FTP (and no initial cost is even better) for these reasons, but as someone mentioned above, money isn’t something I consider at all. I’m just looking for entertainment, period.

    Guild Wars – $50 – played 1 month
    RO (pServ) – Free – played 6 months
    Diablo 3 – $50 – played 3 weeks
    EQ (p99) – Free – playing since 1 month ago
    Planetside 2 – Free – play every night since launch
    Rift – $50 x 5 (Multiboxed) – played 1 month

    Upfront cost games are cons, imo. They should have the balls to make their revenue dependant on how long they can hold a customer.

  • If I’m willing to play a game, I’m probably willing to pay $15/month. The difficulty has become games designed around a pricing model of $15/month, so stretch X amount of content over as many months as possible, which leads to a play experience no longer worth $15/month.

  • I tend to bounce around games a lot. I rarely play Free2Play games like EQ2, DDO and LOTRO unless I am subbing. Matter of fact I don’t think I have ever played them solely as free to play just because I figure that for the money I rather just spend the $15 up from and not think as much about the cash shop.

    I played GW2 for a few weeks and spent way too much money buying bags and extra slots and all. Heck in less than a month I spent enough in GW2 to account for at least 8-9 months subscription if not more.

    I go back and forth to WoW usually a couple times a month. When I do I usually multibox. Been doing that again just to check out MoP even though I had swore I wasn’t going to. So between 4-5 WoW subs for a month or two, along with updating Xpacs Blizzard usually gets a fair amount from me on a monthly basis.

    I have made a few mistakes like a year sub to AoC back years ago, that I think I played for two weeks before I quit playing. I wouldn’t do one of those again, but I still prefer spending $15 and risk only spending a week or two, than playing straight up free to play and feeling like I need to spend money in cash shops for XP bonus, or zone unlocks or whatnot and end up spending way over a sub fee.

    Personally I like SOE’s All Station Pass. $20 gets you access to a lot of games. Even though I do it off and on, it is nice knowing that I will fully get my $20 between EQ2, VGSOH, DCUO, and PS.

    I don’t mind free to play games over all but honestly I think games that aren’t free to play tend to have better communities. When you get people that are often getting something for nothing they tend to be asses more often than if they were paying for said game.

    That is the beauty of games like Guildwars 2, even though there isn’t a monthly players still have that box price purchase so they are less willing to be jerks and get themselves banned.

    I still think the days of blizzard selling an instant boost to near end level are coming. Heck technically they already are here. You can do a Scroll of Rez and instant level a toon to 80 for free as long as you had at some point owned the original game. So if they are willing to do that for free to bring back players, they have to know that there would be $$$ involved in just selling characters that start at Level 80. Sorry getting off track there.

  • I’m subscribed to Planetside right now. It’s the first MMO in a very, very long time I’ve been subscribed to. I bought SWTOR and TERA, but canceled both before my free month expired.

    I would be happy to pay for EQ on the Al’Kabor (Mac, Planes of Power) server, but it’s true F2P so I’m plugging away on it for free (with no cash shop or restrictions like the PC servers).

    I don’t like RPGs with cash shops. I’ve learned to tolerate it in Planetside, possibly because I don’t care what gear people have. In an RPG though, where I need immersion, if people are breaking out real life money to equip their characters, that’s a game killer. I’ll pay whatever per month, just give me and everyone else the same starting point.

  • Unfortunately I do not think its monetization methodology that is keeping developers from making games with design characteristics that you like, Keen (and zugzug). It’s unfortunately a problem of very simple math.

    Lets assume two product launches, both featuring a $60 box price and a $15/month sub. Game A is a Theme Park game that launches with 1 million box sales while Game B is a Sandbox game with a niche very dedicated fanbase that launches with 250k box sales. Assume Game A suffers from very high attrition — losing fully 50% of its subs each month before stabilizing with a small dedicated playerbase of 100k subs. Game B on the other hand does well and retains 100% of its players. I suspect that most game industry folks would see this as a scenario that is relatively pessimistic for Game A and optimistic for Game B.

    Here are the revenue/subscriber charts numbers:


    Game A: $60m/1m
    Game B: $15m/250k


    Game A: $67.5m/500k
    Game B: $18.75m/250k


    GAME A: $71.25m/250k
    GAME B: $22.5m/250k


    GAME A: $73.125m/125k
    GAME B: $26.25m/250k


    GAME A: $74.625/100k
    GAME B: $30m/250k

    At this rate it will take another 20 months — a total of TWO YEARS after launch — for Game B to pass Game A in total revenue. And that is painting a neutral to good picture for Game B and predicting a “failure” for Game A.

    In reality, most companies will project a better performance than I did for Game A simply because subscribers usually don’t drop off quite that fast and games bottom out at a bit better than what I described. The numbers that I was describing are an Age of Conan level failure.

    I think it’s easy to see why game companies choose to make “3 Monther” theme park games over and over and over again while ignoring the complex sandbox niche. Sometimes we forget what a huge portion of game revenue comes from actual box sales, and as long as mediocre but well marketed AAA titles can reliably sell a lot of boxes then game companies will have a hard time justifying the opportunity cost of developing a niche game.

    It’s the exact same problem that the shooter genre has with Call of Duty etc. As long as there are 10 people who will buy a “brand name” turd for every 1 gamer who refuses to play that sort of thing, there is little reason to deviate from the formula.

  • For me cost isn’t really an issue. I’m not saying that I will just buy any game to try it, but I’m more than willing to pay for a game that I will want to play. As long I enjoy the game I really don’t care what it costs.

    These days unfortunately there just aren’t a lot of games that grab my attention enough to want to play them. A little to much “been there done that” feel to all recent games.

  • I’m seeing a lot of comments saying that the price isn’t a barrier at all, all it takes to justify the subscription is a good game, and the reason why price goes down is in direct response to a drop in quality; A sort of ‘finding equilibrium’ if you will. Companies and players fighting against the sub model (or trying to justify something else) sure do try to paint a different picture.

    I think just about everyone so far has had no problem with a subscription, and I haven’t seen a single unreasonable expectation yet. Is there no one out there with more stringent needs that would have to be met in order to subscribe?

  • @Keen — of course there is. I am 100% confident that the sample you get here (IE: people who read your blog and comment) is not even remotely representative of the game-consuming population as a whole. There are plenty of folks out there who won’t play a subscription game and they may or may not have a particularly well thought out rationale for that position. I suspect there are substantial numbers of people who just pick up a box in the store, see that it has a monthly fee, and put it back down.

    Removing sub fees from games has very little to do with companies deciding their product is not good enough to justify a fee and a whole lot to do with a calculated belief that they will make more money with a different model of monetization. There are a number of ways that calculus could work — it could rely on more people to buy the box or it could rely on the average player spending more in a cash shop than $15/month. I’m sure there are other possible explanations that I haven’t considered.

  • I think the point to keep in mind here is ‘lock in’.

    Once a player subscribes to a single game, the chances of that player buying and subscribing to a second drops dramatically.

    That’s basically what lead to the current “Free to Play” trend.
    Sub based games tend to subconsciously force you to play them. I know when I first subbed to wow, I felt like every time I tried to step away to play something else, I was wasting my money.

    By allowing players to ‘pickup and play’ for very little cost, the developers hoped to allow people to maintain a couple of these games at once, spreading the money around a bit more.

    My biggest concern with ‘free to play’ games is the effect it appears to be having on game design. It’s a very, very tricky line to walk between offering content that people are willing to pay for and nickel and dimming people to pay your bills.

  • @Swarmofseals: Let me clarify: I know those people exist. I want to hear from them. I get a ton of anti-subscription people who constantly like to bash back and forth when I speak out against the F2P model. I’m approaching it from a different angle this time. What would it take those people who do not currently subscribe to an MMO, or who don’t want to subscribe to an MMO, to actually subscribe. What would justify the model to them.

    @Anon: I share your concern. That is the very basis for my belief that F2P is inferior to the subscription model.

    To turn the question I’m asking upside down, what would get me to appreciate the F2P model is if I could find one that doesn’t impact gameplay in such a way that the game pushes players into the shop while still providing the same scope and quality of production as any Sub game, then I’d play.

  • I would pay a sub to a great game. Atm gw2 is a good game and its free so I see no need to pay a sub. But for a really great game, I would pay a sub.

  • For me it comes down to how many games I can spend time with. I have friends that play swtor, eve online, rift, world of tanks,planetside 2,mechwarrior online and others. It would be a little rough to sub to all these games (providing all the games had subs), so I do the free thing with those that offer it. I currently sub to rift, and have a sony station pass for all their offerings. If the games offered no free to play option I wouldn’t have the opportunity to play with my friends on any of them every once in a while. Free to play works for me for that reason, I have the opportunity to play with friends that I wouldn’t ordinarily be able to play with at all. I don’t mind shelling out the sub fee for games myself, but only for games that I personally enjoy, not the games that I jump into every now and then to play with a buddy that happens to enjoy a different game than I do. Sometimes its the friends you hang out with, and not so much the game your playing.

  • Although I would pay a subscription to play an MMO I look forward to (i.e. Neverwinter and Elder Scrolls Online) I would prefer not to pay. Taking WoW out of the mix since its anomolous on so many levels, its been proven time and time again that F2P or B2P brings in more players and more revenue to the studios.

    I would of never gone back to TSW but tonight I spent 3 hours playing and thought to myself now I have 2 games (GW2 being the other) to call home and I am not tied to any particular game and can take a short break from one and not feel like I am losing any money like I would be if I payed for a sub. An example, at no point in my history of WoW did I ever leave for longer then a few weeks because that sub kept me playing for far longer then I ever wanted too and in the end I couldnt keep up the charade. If WoW or any other MMO has a F2P model I can easily jump in and out when ever I choose.

    Subscriptions are the #1 reason for MMO’s not gaining any traction across the gaming community as a whole and one only need to look at any particular non-MMO gaming forum to see this.

  • I prefer the B2P model that GW2 follows. I do not want a Pay to win model, however.

    While I prefer the B2P model, there is still perhaps one MMO I’d still gladly pay a subscription for. Imagine DAOC RvR with Realm Points for extended skill sets (not included in GW2 which has me disappointed a bit), but with PvE that was with substantial sandbox type content: building houses and other structures from several different types of materials … similar to Rift or perhaps even more sandboxy … an economy of materials that REQUIRED trade between people making guilds and alliances tied closely with each other. If possible, I never want to feel like its possible to obtain all of your players skills and it would be better if they were ever changing depending on equipped elemental stones or player skill based training. As for the PvE, I want endless possibilities in the economy, building designs, player crafted products, etc. Its a large order, but that is what is required to make me feel a sub is worth it.

  • For me what justifies a subscription is a game that can keep me interested month after month. For an MMO a lot of this has to do with the social aspect of the game. When I was playing WoW, I paid the subscription and stayed playing not just because of the content that I enjoyed, but because of the people who I played the game with. It was the same with Rift (the only other MMO I stuck with for more than 6 months, stayed with it over a year). So for me personally it is whether or not I can find fun people to play the game with.

    However that is not the only aspect. The game itself also has to be fun enough to make me want to play with those people. That is why I stopped playing GW 2 mostly is because I found it to be even more repetitive for the most part than either of the two above games and is one of the only MMO’s I have played that I couldn’t even finish leveling, and I only had fun with the realm pvp battles the few times it was done in a group.

  • Pay 2 Win – The difference is made in whether or not you are paying for the best gear possible, or you are paying for what is not the best gear possible (or even just leveling boosts).

    If you are able to buy the best gear possible (and I can’t think of any game where you can), there is no point in playing – work a few shifts at McDonalds and you can become uber.

    If you are not able to buy the best gear possible, then who cares. Let those people pay their money. The developer is getting what they need to fund their projects, and some people you don’t even know are getting the experience they want. If the items are tradable, you might even see them on the market at some point.

    I’m fine with Pay 2 Win, as long as greater achievement can be realized with more time investment.

    DDO did it well: it was F2P when I started, so I flung money at the developer and purchased a starter equipment set that was FAR better than what I could find, but was only for the early levels, so all it did was sped up the leveling process. Perfect, cause I don’t have time to grind through shit anymore.

  • I am one of the subscription disliker. I cannot see a MMO that would make me pay 15$/month. I will pay 15$/month to have access to a full catalogue of MMO (or games if you are in). For example I would be ready to 15$ (up to 30$ ?) for a complete access to Steam Catalogue.
    The problem is not money or revenue, but value and time. First, I never know when I will play a game I buy. I highly value the freedom to play a game when I want, and not when I pay.

    I am ready to pay 40 to 60$ for a very good game once. 5 to 10$ for a good game, once. And I do not want my time to be limited for this amount of money. You want me to pay a subscription ? At 5$ a month for a very very good game, I may accept it.

    I just do not enjoy gaming enough to pay more.

  • The last MMO that held my attention for more than a month was Rift. Hung on for three months. I am back playing it now, bought a years sub. Before that EQ2 was which I would typically play for 8 months then wander away only to come back when the expansion came out. Then I would play for another 8 months or so. Rinse and repeat. Wow I lasted almost a year then left for several years. Came back, left, never could stick with it after the initial year. AC2 I played from start to finish and would likely still be playing it today if I could. For the last while my typical play time with an MMO is buy the game, play the free month, leave for the next MMO. Nothing has held my attention past the first 30 days. As much as I love all the MMOs out there I feel at least for me the problem may be that there is too many. If I look at my MMO gaming history my time spent in a certain game has dropped with the increase in the number of MMOs available. The market has too many choices. Also I am finding that as I get older there are so many other things I could be doing besides playing an MMO. So not only is the MMO market over saturated with games but my playtime is also filled with other non game related things I could be doing.

    After all that I didn’t touch on what a game would have to do to get me to subscribe. Rift got me for a year simply due to free expansion and the fact it worked out to $10 a month or $15 with a couple of months free so I don’t feel like I am wasting my money if I am not playing.

  • Zederok those numbers are not showing what you think they are. There are far more F2P MMOs out than sub games, yet the money is almost equal. What does that really tell you?

  • “To turn the question I’m asking upside down, what would get me to appreciate the F2P model is if I could find one that doesn’t impact gameplay in such a way that the game pushes players into the shop while still providing the same scope and quality of production as any Sub game, then I’d play. ”

    I agree that this can be a problem with the F2P model, but the “solution” is not a subscription model because it’s guilty of the same thing. Both F2P and sub-based MMOs are designed around maximizing profits through their business model. F2P designs around the cash shop while subs design around time sinks.

    Weekly lockouts, rep grinds, and all these things you find in sub MMOs like WoW are all arbitrary gates and timesinks that serve no other purpose than to stretch out rather thin content over a period of months in order to keep you playing. Dangle that carrot in front of them for as many $15 a month as you can.

    Both are problems, both are annoying, and I don’t think one is better than the other.

    (Personally I think GW2 has better scope and production values than most sub games, but that’s another matter. I still enjoy WoW too.)

  • @Fidjit: To immediately address your last point, GW2 isn’t free to play. It’s a hybrid leaning closer to the sub model than F2P. They keep you playing and hope that over time you spend money in the shop, and they’ll charge for expansions. All of that justifies the fact that I agree with you.

    As for the other points but without going onto a huge tangent, I’d rather be limited on how many times I can do content in a week than have to worry about who is buying an advantage for $30 in the cash shop, or how I won’t be able to be as good as someone else unless I spend the money. I’d rather put in the time — actually playing the game — than outright paying for it.

    @SynCaine: Assuming any of those numbers are remotely accurate, and I have my doubts, it all goes back to the picture the F2P side paints.

    As more of a general statement to everyone, is it fair to say then that the subscription model isn’t dead or dying, but what’s dying is the quality of the games – sub, F2P, and B2P.

  • @swarmofseals This assumes that both cost same to make. I am not advocating a real sandbox game like Shadowbane. Those are just requirement for what I want 🙂 real sandbox games are just too much work for me, and they are hard to make.

    Cost wise catering to hardcore niche is always cheaper, SWTOR spent massive amount on things that hardcore just do not give shit about. Same with many other games. I would guess that Niche vs something like SWTOR is is an order of magnitude in price difference. These games that sell a lot of boxes cost a lot to make and to market(market being the key)..

    @keen there is another model that someone could try, which would just be to charge for time. Lets say 20hours per week x4.. 80hours. 25c per hour

    $15 a month that one lunch or a bottle of good wine. Most people who work do ot even think about these expenditures, they are pretty trivial. Maybe instead of calling it a subscription call it something else

  • “As more of a general statement to everyone, is it fair to say then that the subscription model isn’t dead or dying, but what’s dying is the quality of the games – sub, F2P, and B2P.”

    I’d say that’s fair. Like basically everyone else here, I am happy to pay a subscription for a great game. I’m currently subbed to WoW, for example. I’m not willing to pay one for a mediocre game, and unfortunately there are a lot of mediocre MMOs out there.

    I think it has to do with competition, as well. When there weren’t a lot of MMOs around then consumers couldn’t really be as choosy. It’s a lot harder to get by with a mediocre product in the MMO market then it used to be.

  • Sorry for the double post, but to add – there are also a *lot* of free MMOs out there I never touch because they’re simply not well designed, fun, or worth the time.

  • $15 a month is literally less than I pay for any other one thing I do monthly in any aspect of my life. It’s a bargain, and I prefer these games be that way.

    The funny part about the “free to play” movement is that there’s nowhere to go after free. Then what do they do?

    In will inevitably swing back the other way, but not before some more perhaps irreparable damage is done to the genre and industry.

  • Just to add, the f2p movement is an absolute cancer on the genre. It’s negatively affecting not just the quality, but the design of the games themselves.

  • ZugZug — I don’t think it’s really fair to use SWTOR as the example for a Theme Park game costwise since it’s by far the most expensive MMO ever developed… and it was certainly shooting for way more than a million box sales. I do not see any reason to think that in general a Theme Park/3 monther game necessarily costs more to develop than a Sandbox game. I DO think that almost all the big budget titles are Theme Parks… but that has more to do with the fact that the folks with the resources to develop big budget titles develop Theme Parks almost exclusively whereas the only people who even attempt to make a run at Sandbox games are smaller houses who can’t afford a big budget.

  • @Lethality: Is the F2P movement causing a drop in MMO quality or is the F2P movement a response to a drop in MMO quality…?

  • The thing I think we keep crashing into is this;

    Games, on the whole, are designed and coded by people who love games.
    You would be hard pressed to find anyone in the games industry who does it “for the money”. There are simply easier ways to earn a whole lot more. They do it for the love of it.

    However, Games are *paid* for by business people. To business people, games are like any other product. They are a means to an end. That end being profit.

    The final piece of the puzzle is that people, if given the choice, will pay nothing. It’s simply human nature. For every 1 person who’s willing to pay, you’ll have a dozen who couldn’t care less about supporting the creator. So long as they get the content they want.

    Imagine if you had a free to play game that said;
    “Ok, you get all the content, forever, for free. All the updates, everything. You don’t have to pay anything. However, if you love our game, please donate to help us keep it open and free”

    Guess what, you’d go broke. Want some proof?

    That game was $10. It was amazingly well designed, excellent fun.. and basically stolen whole sale…

    So, with this in mind, what’s a business savvy person suppose to do. You basically ‘strong arm’ people into paying money for your product.

    They used to that with DRM, but it turns out that’s a pointless exercise that people hate. So instead, you come up with a model where people “pay to play”, as a service. No sub, no gameplay. This model *clearly* works (ask Blizzard), but also has the effect of choking out the rest of the market.

    How do you go about getting people to try your new game? You basically offer it up free*(with a catch).

    Games in the beginning were about the games. They were small, easily built and funded by people who did it purely for the love. They are no longer that. They are a multi-billion dollar industry, run by business men and profit margins. It’s happened with every other form of media, from books to movies.

    The second you start doing something “for the money”, you lose some of the heart of what made it worth while in the first place.


  • @Argorius: I would say it more of a cause than it is a bi-product. Competing on price is the worst way to compete, and if you look at what happens when you DO compete on price you’ll see it can be traced right back to F2P.

  • I dont play F2P games because they are not free to play. At some point you will hit a designed wall that forces you to the cash shop to stay competitive or progress to end game. They are Free to play and pay to win or pay to not suffer. That always enters my mind so i never bother with them.

    Furthermore to answer your other question Keen, I dont think the subscription model is hurting because of lack of quality but more-so f2p has caught up and puts out identical quality in some cases. therefore a person evaluating a game will jump into a f2p without thought and will hesitate to try a paid or monthly pay game. Once they are sucked into the f2p they pay and shell out more per month by nickels and dimes then a normal monthly fee and dont realize it.

    The issue here is most consumers and gamers in particular are not calculating their budget. League of legends vs HON is a perfect example. LOL was f2p at launch, hon was 30$ and everything was included. Tons more people got into LOL because it was free to get in. Why is LOL so wealthy now? The average person in there is buying a few skins or heroes or runes to play every month. At what 10$ a pop? I am sure if a player tallied up what they spent on LOL it may be in the hundreds of dollars as opposed to HON where you payed 30 and that’s it.

    Back to the point, for subscription games, my expectation is some free content every so often. Proper balance patches, little downtime and a solid working game and NO cash shop option! Hard to find nowadays!

    Lastly i feel IOS games are having a huge impact on the PC model. Nickel and dime games, with nickel and dime dlc with nickel and dime cash shops. PC is seeing this as a huge win win for them too.

  • @swarmofseals Yes SWTOR is an extreme case but I am not talking about sandbox vs theme park either. DAOC in my definition is not really sandbox, SWG, Shadowbane.. Darkfall are.

    I am talking about targeting a niche audience vs just trying pile up box sales by making game for “everyone”. Everyone is much more expensive. I think you can make a nice targeted game for maybe 7-8mil vs normal “everyone” game run closer to 50-100.

  • People will pay 15$ a month if the quality is better by a certain margin compared to other games. And by that I mean all games and not just F2P or B2P as all games compete for the time a player has to play games.

    Quality of sub games stayed the same or even went down.
    Normal retail games remained the same. B2P and F2P constantly become better.
    Who ever thought something like mechwarrior online and planetside 2 could be played for free 5 years ago?

    The competition became to competitive to justify the added 15$ a month pricetag.
    In other words step up your game or get out. (and many do.. they switch to F2P)

  • @Anon “That game was $10. It was amazingly well designed, excellent fun.. and basically stolen whole sale… ”

    Did world of goo have a demo? People tend to download whole games as a demo.

    I see less games give a demo to try and some of that do give a unrealistic idea of what the actual game is like. Basicly they just like to advertise the good bits. People get burned after buying said game thinking its like the demo.

    result: —–> download.

    They should release a shareware like demo like they did way back.. (dukenukem3d time) it had the first few levels of a game and if you wanted to keep playing after that you could pay ingame to unlock the rest.