Zomg Subscription fees? WTF?!?

Posted: December 5, 2011 in Gaming
Tags: , , , , , , ,

So from just generally speaking to friends who are gamers and in some live stream chats I’ve noticed that there are people out there that are turned off of a game because of a subscription fee or micro transaction cash shop. With the launch of SWTOR coming up and having it appeal to a very broad audience, there are many that are new to MMOs. The idea of having to pay more past the initial investment may seem strange. Figured I’d do a quick post about my thoughts on the subject.

Subscription fees are usually around the same amount which is $15 a month which in the grand scheme of things isn’t all that much. There is usually different sub options like a three or six month packages that lower it by a few dollars. For those without access to credit cards or prefer to not use them online for whatever reason, there are game time cards which are around $40 for two months.

Why pay past the initial investment cost of the game? Well in the MMO space there is a lot of cost post launch that the company needs to pay for. Server upgrades and maintenance for one. The most important in my mind is the developers that are still working hard day and night on the game. There is always work that has to be done to fix bugs, and more importantly the days, generate new content. These people are still working hard months and sometimes years after an MMO has launched to make the game bigger and better for their players. These sub fees allow the companies to keep a quality development team working on fixes and possibly expansions to make the game better.

There are different business models out there for a lot of MMOs. There are plenty quality free to play MMOs out there but in my experience they are not on the caliber of most sub based games. In my experience you get what you pay for. While a lot of these games have a micro transaction store to buy game items I feel it just isn’t the same. Some of the free to play games were subscription based that moved to a F2P model and found success others launch with a F2P model. I’m not saying that F2P games aren’t good. There are a few that I really enjoy like Champions Online and DDO.

Guild Wars 2 is a triple A MMO title that will be coming out next year that won’t have a subscription fee after the initial purchase. Like the first Guild Wars. Which is awesome. I think it will have micro transactions like the original GW but for a F2P type model it definitely will be one of the best out there. The first Guild Wars still has a big following and I’m sure GW2 will thrive. I just couldn’t get into GW. Great game. Just wasn’t for me. When GW2 launches I might have to give it a go. It looks amazing.

All I’m saying is that there’s a reason that some games choose to go with a subscription model. If it really is a quality title that players feel it is deserving of their hard-earned money, it will thrive. Look at World of Warcraft. Despite some subscription losses in the past few moths they are still around 10 million. Some people have played it since launch and are burned out and want something new. Some didn’t enjoy the last expansion Cataclysm. Whatever an individual’s reason for moving on from WoW, it’s still an awesome game. Ten million people wouldn’t still be paying each month to play if it wasn’t. Side note – WoW also has a cash shop for mounts and pets on top of the sub fee. All of these transactions are optional and you aren’t missing out on actually game play content if you choose to not spend extra.

Whether a game has a subscription fee or not, if it’s a game you enjoy you shouldn’t feel gouged or ripped off for paying it or buying something that you really want in the cash shop. There are a lot of people who work hard to keep our MMO spaces fun and ever expanding places. Find the game or games that you really love. Subscription fees aren’t a bad thing.

Help the devs. Pay a sub or the two bucks for that silly little hat that you want for your character. No one gets hurt and you get to look awesome in that shiny swag that you just scored.


Thanks again for reading.


*Note – No disco lions were harmed in the making of this post.

  1. taugrim says:

    Great article!

    “There are plenty quality free to play MMOs out there but in my experience they are not on the caliber of most sub based games. In my experience you get what you pay for.”

    You hit the nail on the head.

    I have seen issues with F2P implementations in the past, which typically have a Cash Shop where you can buy virtual items with real money:
    1. to be competitive at endgame, the CS items are pretty much required, to the point where the F2P feels like a ninja P2P game
    2. if you don’t buy the CS items, you have to endure painfully tedious grinding

    The classic example I can give is for Allods Online, which had the additional complexity of the game being developed by one company (Astrum Nival) and operated by another (gPotato):

    The common concern I have heard from non-gamers for P2P games is that if you run a monthly sub for a year, you are paying $180. That sounds crazy for a piece of software or game. I totally get that.

    But if a person were to pursue other hobbies or entertainment venues instead of online gaming, in a lot of cases they’d spend at least that amount of money. E.g. seeing 2 movies in the theatre every month. Hitting the bar seen every weekend. Etc.

    • Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it. I still enjoy some F2P games but I agree with you about the grinding/endgame. Those XP boosts and buffs that you can sometimes buy really make a difference. I myself love having my character look as cool as can be so will buy cosmetic items from time to time. I’m not a big fan of “pay to win” items but in order to keep up and hold your own sometimes it’s necessary.

      I really like the model that DDO uses. Anything in the cash shop from new dungeons to new classes can be purchased with points that you can buy or earn just by playing. Takes longer but if you enjoy it and play a lot you can earn everything you want with an option to subscribe which gives you all content.

      I’ve noticed some games are taking on that business model. There is a cash shop but also choice to subscribe so you can choose your own level of investment in the game. The MMO space is getting more diverse as time goes on and there really is a lot of great stuff out there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s