One Subscription. All Games.

SoE (or I guess Smed) took to Reddit and Twitter yesterday to test the waters with a new idea they are kicking around for the Station Pass.  Basically, you pay $14.99 and become a “subscriber” to all of SoE’s games.  The Station Pass has existed for like a decade — it’s nothing new.  The lower price, however, is nice.  The idea of feeling like I subscribe to lots of SoE titles is also something that will inevitable persuade me to more freely play other SoE games.

Despite the argument that “subscribing” to F2P games is a little goofy, there’s another more pressing issue.  Originally, the new offering included the ability to buy any one item each month up to 2000 station cash (their F2P currency) but removed the 500 sc monthly stipend.   On one hand this was awesome — I could choose any one item up to a $20 value and buy what would normally take me 4 months to save for — AND I could do that in EVERY SoE game each month!  There were some restrictions like no bundles or something but it was an AWESOME value for everyone but that Planetside 2 players who raised a hellstorm on Reddit.

The absolute tantrum thrown by the Planetside 2 community caused Smed to remove the 2000 sc item offer and put back the 500 sc monthly stipend.  Congrats.  You get a $5 discount.

Some people were throwing around statements like the 2000 sc offer reduced buying power to which I counter by saying they could have spent $5 on the store, brought their price back up to $20/m for the sub, and had a 2k free item every month in every game netting a minimum $15 virtual gain.

I’d be tempted to vote with my wallet and not buy a subscription, just play EQN, and never spend more than $10/m in the cash shop if I thought it would do anything.   Alas, the SoE community at large loses because the PS2 community wants to buy pistol ammo on sale.  C’est la vie.

Thanks Planetside 2 players — all 200 of you.  Here’s hoping Smed and his team won’t use your vocal minority for all their decisions in the future.

(Despite the poor handling of the SC stuff I do like the $14.99 all games offer.  Thanks for that.)

  • Yeah the Planetside 2 community is garbage. I played it awhile last year since I was really looking for a good FPS based all around teamwork, but of course it’s overrun but the most obnoxious type of FPS gamers.

    Having one subscription for all of their games is pretty damn awesome though. I can’t believe they switched around their policy so quickly because of Planetside 2 though. The game doesn’t strike me as having nearly as big a userbase os their other properties like EQ. And with EQNL coming up…

  • Selling yourself as network of games was something Trion wanted to do. Sadly they made boring games so that never came to pass. SOE has a very good lineup and i think this could really work for them.

  • I don’t think it was *just* the PS2 people pitching hissy-fits. On the DCUO forums, the subbies were rioting because they couldn’t pay for one game and collect SC, then spend it in a different game, along with (horrors!) having to log in once a *month* to collect the points. People are stupid.

  • My guess is that the uproar from the ps2 players is over the fact that there are no 2000SC items for sale in the ingame store. The highest amount is 750 if bundles are excluded.

    And since subscribers to ps2 get very nice daily deals that 500SC is better then a 1 time 750sc item pick. (since 2000 is impossible.)

    Makes sense to me.

    • Sure. I agree. So why not spend the $5 in the store and get those points (putting them right back at the same price they’ve been at: $20) and then have them take the free item every month up to the value of 4 months of saving.

  • The subscription for Ps2 was already $15/month at the most expensive rate. One of the main perks of the subscription was getting access to a 2nd Deal of the Day (aside from XP bonuses, ect), and both deals brought the price of the items down to 500 SC or less. Sometimes 250 SC. Indeed, there were two deals last week that were 99 SC.

    So while I can understand being upset at not getting your cake and eating it too, the 2000 SC “deal” was actually bad for Ps2 players. If it’s a “hissy fit” to argue in your own self-interest, well, I think they can live with that.

  • When Smed said there was a lot of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) he might have pointed at SOE for causing a good portion of it. The whole 500 SC a month versus a single, use it or lose it freebie worth up to 2,000 SC was a bigger deal than you are admitting.

    In a world where everything in the store was 2,000 SC, the once a month plan would be great.

    In EQII… and the thread in the EQII forums was pretty packed with complaints as well, so you can’t just blame PS2 players… where most items are under 1,000 and many are 100 to 200, things can look different. I could still only buy one item under the use it or lose it plan, be it a 2,000 SC item or a 50 SC item. But people will feel like they have “lost” 1,950 SC if they buy the latter.

    Meanwhile, I could buy 5x 100 SC items under the old plan. Or I could just accrue SC until something I wanted came up, including items over 2,000 SC. My own problem with the SC store was just finding something I would want to buy, which is why I have a pile of Station Cash sitting on my SOE account.

    Add in restrictions on the new plan, like no Player Studio items and other potential off-limits areas, and you can see how this might get people riled up. It was change… which people hate in general… with some easily understood downsides.

    All in all SOE, with their need to fix their currency after screwing it up with too many heavy discounts, thought they had a decent plan but really didn’t seem to think it all the way through… or look willing to stick to their guns, which seems to support the “thinking through” conjecture. They can make unpopular decisions. They have in the past, like raising Station Access to $29.99. But when they aren’t strong on something, they seem to fold pretty quick.

  • Why not let people choose then? They can have 500sc total or up to a 2000sc purchase in every SoE game. If the store is going to nickel and dime people then give options. Better yet, fix the store and not let exp boosts dictate big item sales.

    There’s no way I’m saving 4 months to get a big item, and there’s no way I’m paying a sub AND paying that much to get one of those big items.

  • “There’s no way I’m saving 4 months to get a big item, and there’s no way I’m paying a sub AND paying that much to get one of those big items.”

    I would buy into that sentiment if you had previously complained about having to save up SC for a purchase. Did that even matter to you before this came up? Or are you now throwing a fit of your own about something you never actually had in the first place? (Courtesy, as I noted, of SOE not thinking this through before opening their collective mouths.)

    In the end, I do not believe this deal really matters one way or another. If there is a game you really want to play, you’ll pay whatever. I didn’t see you complain about the price of those Landmark pre-order packs. You were all in for the $99 Trailblazer pack right away. But buying some SC for something you really want is a non-starter? You aren’t convincing me.

    But if you don’t want to play a game, if you don’t find it fun, then no incentive plan in the world is going to make you enjoy it. Pricing and fun are completely disconnected and there is a long history of people, including myself, rationalizing a price based on fun.

  • I think accusing me of throwing a fit is a bit strong Wil. Yes, saving SC has mattered to me. I’ve been saving SC for months now and I’m up to 3200. I’ve been saving for EQN and EQN Landmark.

    I went in for the Founder pack for EQN Landmark to show my support for the idea, get the closed beta passes for friends/guildies, be able to play a few months sooner (I’m bored) and because I had anticipated not having the option to pay a subscription to the game.

    In the end, $5 a month worth of points (500sc) isn’t going to make or break my decision to buy a pack. Losing out on a potential $20 purchase per month bothers me. I have NEVER cared about the little boosts or 100-400sc items. I care about the big ones I’ll never get or get once.

  • Maybe they could just make it so that everyone gets a “one-time-use-it-or-lose-it” coupon each month, but if you don’t use it, instead of actually losing it, it turns into 500 SC? Am I missing something?

  • So if I read the article correctly, the only negative aspect is that players need to claim their SC monthly (they can still hoard it)? I hope people aren’t still complaining about that minor change, especially given the discounted All Access Pass price.

  • “Thanks Planetside 2 players — all 200 of you.”

    Said the what, 250 EQ2 players? 4 Vanguard players?

    Actually I wouldn’t be surprised if PS2 had more subscribers than EQ2.

    • It was a jab at catering to a vocal minority — an all-too-common and old fashioned way of developing games. I make no apologies for it, and anyone taking it literally is a fool. Posting all of this on the PS2 reddit instead of keeping it generalized wasn’t the way to go.

      Developing the idea around one game, a game that won’t have the most SoE customers, is pandering to the vocal guilds keeping the game afloat and anyone watching the situation closely can see that clear as day.

  • I just don’t know who you’re referring to that is the majority. Is there a specific SOE game that you think is doing gangbusters? Or do you mean all the other games combined? Or do you mean potential EQN players? Obviously I’m not taking it literally, I’m taking it figuratively. I’m trying to figure out your meaning.


    I only read the first page, but that seems to be about 98% negative towards the (initial) change. Where are you getting the idea that this is only Planetside players who complained?

    Sorry if I’m coming across as a dick, my questions really are genuine. Hard to convey that on the internet when disagreeing sometimes.

  • Smed announced and did most of his discussion on the Planetside 2 Reddit (linked above). There were two separate posts there.

    I don’t have the numbers. I can’t tell you if PS2 represents the majority of their players. It’s probably the single-most popular game they have going right now because it is the newest, but I guarantee you more people are waiting for, have paid for, and are going to play Landmark and hundreds of thousands more will play EQ Next. PS2 will be a speck of dust compared to their other games.

    Currently, EQ1, 2, maybe DCUO, etc., all fall under the umbrella. People complaining are the ones who wanted the 500sc to split between low-point discount items. The smart people saw an opportunity to buy something every month worth up to 4 months of savings and then if they still wanted the low-cost items they could buy points and never spend more than they were initially paying.

    Furthermore, the vocal minority are the people posting on Reddit and forums. A fraction of the total players actually voice their opinion. Changing something this big in a matter of hours based on the uproar of those who happened to be paying attention is ridiculous. He should have stuck to his guns if for no other reason than to show he won’t fold to the big PS2 guilds complaining en masse.

  • Still don’t understand why they don’t just make the 2K SC coupon expire after 30 days and convert into 500 SC. That makes everyone happy doesn’t it?

  • Hmm. Keen, the fact the discussion was on Reddit may be more a reflection of things than the PS2 player base at large.

    That said, after talking to someone I know that actually does play PS2…the issue is that there’s no actual interest in the 2000SC items as compared to distributing the stipend across multiple items. From the sounds of things, the Planetside players would have been *far* more interested a Loyalty Point setup similar to DCUO (given that one of the primary aspects of this whole thing is stopping the practice of subbing to one game, then spending the SC in another).

  • I’m just not understanding your vitriol towards the PS2 community when the EQ2 community had the same response.

    Valid criticisms or absolute tantrum by Massively? The entire comments section is negative there, too and I don’t think anyone even mentions Planetside.

    Maybe they’ll have an EQN Roundtable vote on the matter. We know Sony always respects the community’s wishes there! 🙂

  • @Balthazar: There are a dozen ways SoE could handle it better. They could give you 2k points that don’t carry over every month with the freedom to buy whatever you want. They could let you choose between 500sc and one purchase up to 2k per month. They could have made the original offer without the restrictions. I agree with you.

    @Vulpis: I read both of the large threads and it looks to me like they want to buy multiple cheaper items and items on sale instead of just one item. I understand this point. Unfortunately, they now rob everyone else from being able to buy big huge items in every game, every month. One of the PS2 fans said it best, “Add more items values at 1k-2k and this is a great deal.”

    @Jenks: The massively article is criticizing the fact that the info was confusing, that if you forget to buy something one month you miss out, and being able to buy only one item. They make a few good points about missing out on buying multiple low-price items. Pay $5 per month and you get your ability to buy the lower cost items AND you get a free item up to 2k in value. If you’re someone wanting to spend money in the cash shop then you end up saving. The worst of the proposed changes, imo, was the Player Studio but that has since been reversed.

    On the whole, Massively staff and their insidious readership do not represent the EQ community.

  • And for the love of all that is unholy would someone at SOE please stop Smedley from posting every SOE release on the PS2 subreddit? Can you guys use a company blog or something? He’s posted on the PS2 subreddit again, this time about the company being more transparent.

    I can’t even begin to imagine how stressful it must be to work in their marketing/pr department.


    I want to add something really important in here.
    I think SOE is doing fine (other than posting every knee-jerk response on reddit — FFS STOP DOING THAT); it’s the players robbing me from having big items monthly that I don’t have to save for who are annoying me. I believe SOE really do/did have the player’s best interest at heart AND were trying to do better by their balance sheet. I personally liked the original proposal. I know PS2 fans hated it, and some EQ2 fans were confused by it and thought they should hate it too. I hope in the end we can all come to the conclusion that despite a shaky portfolio over the years, SOE does their best to offer a lot of diverse and interesting titles for MMO players. A $15 station pass is a great deal, and I will be getting one.

  • SOE has been known to change things on a whim due to player, may it be, complaints, requests and so on, basically when the community gets vocal. Some things for the good, others they just postpone, like selling character levels. I do think they try to keep the majority of players happy, they just make some really poor choices these days, then have to smooth things out. Which always seems to be the way of things lately.

    Take a poll, not a gauge on posting on Twitter or reddit. It just causes too much of an uproar. I’m a huge fan of their games but I think they go about changes the wrong way, like slowly peeling a bandaid off. ..

    However, I am excited to hear about the possible sub changes. I’d play more of my games on a regular basis. The free sc, eh… I see both sides, but if I really want an item I’ll just buy it. I won’t mind at all supporting a vast portfolio of games I love, especially if the change goes through.

  • It is ashamed that a really good deal of a $15/month All Access Pass has been overshadowed by negative feedback from a group of players upset that they couldn’t hoard CS, and now protest that they have to log in once a month to pick up their prize.

    I think it is interesting from a marketing POV that if no prior CS deal existed, and SOE just came out with the $15/month All Access Pass plus the added benefit of 2,000/month free CS, everyone currently bitching would be praising SOE for the generous deal. 😛

  • ” […] and now protest that they have to log in once a month to pick up their prize.”

    Well, again, the price decrease did not affect Ps2 players at all and it is undeniably more complicated to get the same benefit we enjoyed a week ago. At this point, I’m not sure if simply logging onto Ps2 is good enough to ensure the stipend is dispersed, or if I will need to go to my SOE account and manually press a button, or what.

    As for the marketing perspective, sure, people generally praise going from a crappy situation to a better one. If voting were still restricted to wealthy, white land owners, I’m sure there would be parades in the streets if people who passed literacy tests and had several forms of photo identification could vote too. But that is not the sequence of events that transpired, so it is all a moot point.

  • Rolling with what Gankatron said, I can’t even begin to understand that the following two groups exist on the same planet as me and each other:

    Group A: F2P players, who refuse to play a subscription game because when they are paying monthly subscription they feel like they are wasting money whenever they aren’t logged in. If you don’t believe these people exist, I can link you any article from Massively on a sub game and you will find several in the comments section.

    Group B: People exposed to me today by Gankatron, who apparently pay $15 a month and don’t even log in every month? Complaining that they need to log in once a month to collect their funny money?

  • I do not agree that EQN/EQNL will surpass PS2 by leaps and bounds. And honestly I’m surprised you do, Keen. Aren’t you hoping for EQN to be… well… more Everquest-like than not? If you have your way it will attract a smaller customer base. If instead it caters to a massive horde of gamers (As it seems to me to be doing) it will indeed stomp SOE’s other titles at present… but you will also hate it 😛

    Not to mention that means it would be a ghost town compared to launch within a few months if that were the case. PS2 has quite a large following from what I can gather. There really isn’t a lot of choice for massive sci-fi FPS battles with RPG elements these days.

    As for the topic, I’m sure SOE will come up with something else that will make the largest portion of consumers happiest. Just give it time.

  • Yes, I can see that for pure PS2 players the change in the deal would be unsettlingly for those that preferred the hoarding situation over being granted a monthly larger CS reward allowance; at least they got what they wanted in the end.

    Nonetheless, I believe that is one of Keen’s points, that a vocal community who I envision represents a minority opinion will set policy for the greater community.

    In the end I really won’t fault the screamers for screaming as much as I do the policymakers for listening.

    As far as the analogy goes, and of course most analogies do not stand up to close inspection, I believe the most troublesome aspect of the voter’s rights situation you describe would be the final inequity between members of the citizenry, in both situations; in other words regardless of whether the final result was relatively more or less punitive, it still was a punitive result, and the parades on the streets would eventually turn into marches on DC.

    Why this is not an adequate analogy for this situation is that after the proposed change no member of the SOE community would have been unequally rewarded or punished depending upon one’s SC reward preference; again in other words that tinge of inequity that gives emotional strength to your analogy is absent in this situation.

    I in turn would propose this alternate analogy, it would be like a gym deciding that now a membership at a specific location also allowed use of the facilities at any locations, and instead of a voucher for 5 powerbars that they could save and cash in at any time, they would get up to 20 powerbars/month, but the voucher was only good for that month of issuance.

    Is it a less favorable reward to be allowed to have up to 20 powerbars/month that need to be eaten in 30 days, as opposed to 5/month that you can eat at your leisure? I suppose it depends upon if one enjoys a good year’s end powerbar binge, but I am hard put to consider either scenario punitive.

  • …and as far as how the monthly CS collection will occur, whether on log in or by pressing a button, I will imagine that it won’t be such a logistical dilemma as to ground a reasonable protestation upon.

  • …and one final highly pertinent question, how do I upload an image to my Soviet bloc grey anonymous avatar?

  • I would love a HBO for mmorpg’s….$30/ month makes you a sub for all mmog’s…service tracks your playtime and doles out your sub payment accordingly to the games you play…You are a sub in good standing for all of the games however…and the client is on a cloud so your hd isn’t buried in 20gb downloads.

    A gamer can dream can’t he?

  • Gank: I believe its linked into your google account? i cant remmeber but that seems to be the case, if you use the same username and Email

  • […] Smedley for coming to Reddit of all places and laying down the behind-the-scenes facts. There are some people who are not happy with the way things shook out (the 2000 SC voucher sounded better to them), but no one can deny the fact that SOE climbed down […]

  • @Rawblin: There aren’t as many people playing PS2 as you think then. 😉 It’s mostly run by a couple very large guilds who battle each other and apparently sit on Reddit all day. EQN being a more “traditional” MMO will draw in plenty more people than a MMOFPS — especially since both are F2P. PS2 had nothing to hook people and keep them playing.

    @Gankatron: VERY well said. The pure PS2 players were indeed presented with a perhaps less than optimal choice, but in the grand scheme of things the large guilds on reddit dictated policy. I’l just quote this back at you as perfection: “Nonetheless, I believe that is one of Keen’s points, that a vocal community who I envision represents a minority opinion will set policy for the greater community.”

    About the avatars, they use gravatar. It ties an avatar to your email so that wherever you comment that uses gravatar will have it appear.

  • Thanks guys for the info.

    I was worried that my comments might be taken lightly without a sufficiently dignified avatar.

  • At this moment I can not see myself paying $15 for this because the only title I have played recently and still log into is DCUO. However when Landmark and EQNext launch this deal is the deal for me for sure or at least for quite a few months. I have no opinion on the cash/free item debate since I do not spend enough time in DCUO to know how it would work in their shop. The only thing I do recall is that some things in DCUO were so expensive you could not buy them because you were limited to how much money you could have if you were total f2p.. that was a bit annoying but ultimately I was f2p and I just rolled with it.

    It would be great if several studios worked together to create a sort of humble bundle subscription deal once or twice a year like this. You pay a reduced fee for 2, 3 or 4 game subs all at once in either a 6 month or 12 month package and those companies just split the cash.

  • Pretty petulant and disengenuous to anthropomorphise an entire community – they are not hive minds.

    I’m also pretty sure there’s a shed-load more PS2 players than EQ since the server I was on when I played was usually rammed to capacity (several thousand).

    Personally I’ll take a look at the offer when they finalise how it works: I’d like the chance to dip back into PS2 but also try out future incarnations of EQ for example.

  • @Nuke: I feel the same way. When EQN/Landmark come out it will be well worth it. Also, I feel the same way about the larger purchases. I could never buy them with the 500sc stipend, so I never got them. With a 2000sc purchase every month, I could buy bigger items and then spend additional on smaller stuff rather than the other way around.

    @Intruder313: No doubt about it PS2 is one of (if not the most) popular SOE game right now. What I’m saying is that come EQN (maybe not Landmark) that will change, and policy is being dictated by a group of the PS2 Community on reddit — not representing the whole of PS2 or SOE community.

  • Perhaps we should be happy that a company listened to a vocal minority over the masses?

    Isn’t that basically what we are hoping for, we deluded old retro MMO gamers?

  • “So why not spend the $5 in the store and get those points (putting them right back at the same price they’ve been at: $20) and then have them take the free item every month up to the value of 4 months of saving.”

    A counter-offer: why don’t YOU take an extra $5 ($60 for the year), turn it into 1500 SC at the next triple SC sale, combine it with the 500 SC you get with the subscription, and spend/save the resulting 2000 SC/month with no restrictions or stipulations as you see fit? Why should other people have to pay more to keep their current status so that you can have more stuff at the same price?

    I can absolutely agree that SOE seems to have a gift for mishandling business model announcements. I’m not sure that it’s fair to blame this entirely on Smedley’s Reddit account, but he definitely isn’t helping.

  • @Green Armadillo: One is an immediate net gain and the other is not. One lets more people buy more expensive things quicker and the other is about buying more cheaper things. One could be a gain of $25 (or 20 if you pay $5 more) vs. a gain of $5.

    Which sounds like a better deal to you?

    A. $15/month for $20 max spend on one item in every game
    B. $20/month for $20 max spend on one item in every game + $5 spend on anything.
    C. $15/month for $5 spend on anything.

    PS2 community and the people wanting to continue to buy lots of little cheap items went for option C. I’d rather go with option B since it would allow me to have all the freedom of C + a big purchase. The best deal money-wise is A.

    This is what I’m getting at. We lost more freedom by a loud group not thinking it through.