#1 Posted by Atary77 (502 posts) -

Back in the 90's the idea of playing an online game with just 4 to 8 players seemed like a wonder. So when a game comes along that pretty much lets you play with the entire world, it blew our freaking minds back then. There was Ultima Online, Everquest, and soon many other games would come and follow in their footsteps. And of course World of Warcraft came along, and then took everyone's money basically and is still a juggernaut to this day. However as times have changed so has the technology to allow people to play online. Course when you're creating an entire virtual world for people to inhabit that needs to stay consistent, you have to have a server to run all that and so players need to pay a subscription fee so that Blizzard or whoever else can keep that world going.

However in recent years many MMO games have moved away from this business model and instead go free to play allowing players to buy the game once, if at all and play the game without a fee. But they still need money to keep servers running right? Of course they do! That's why they will sell you all kinds of costumes, weapons, XP bonus packs, etc. in order to bring in revenue. The best part of all is that it really does work. Sony has found a good amount of success using a F2P model with Free Realms and DC Universe Online as well as Perfect World with a very large variety of games that they maintain.

Of course there are still a good number of companies who still want a subscription out of it's player base because they simply think they're worth it... or they just want to make as much money as WoW does which is usually the case. But as many companies have learned it's not easy chasing that WoW dollar. Players in this day and age still find the barrier of entry rather high simply because they have to pay a monthly fee ,especially when that's money that could maybe be used on their TV service, Internet Provider ,or other things that may be more important than just a game that is as much a time investment as it is a money investment.

But when a game is free you'd defiantly check it out wouldn't you? I know I certainly have. I even went back to Star Trek Online myself after it switched to a F2P model. Based on what I've heard lately the game is doing better now than it ever did on a subscription. The same success can be said about DCUO who saw it's numbers sky rocket after it became a free game and is doing pretty well based on various websites I've read.

Still there are good number of games like WoW, Star Wars the Old Republic, EVE Online, Secret World, Rift, and many others that still use the subscription model of business. WoW still maintains a good sized audience to justify it's subscription and doesn't need to resort to giving that up just yet, however there have been numerous stories of people abandoning SWTOR as the game may have failed to keep their interest. But it begs the question of if all these games and if ANY MMO game that comes along can justify charging a subscription anymore?

One thing that comes to mind is how some folks like EA would consider going F2P something of a failure at least that's the impression I get from them whenever it's brought up by the various journalist of the web. But that's so far from the truth! Going F2P isn't a failure state, it's just a sign that the business has changed and if you want your game to continue you're going to have to change with it. Another thing that comes to mind and something that's been mentioned during the GiantBombcast here is that the novelty of an MMO was playing with large numbers of other people and interacting with them in a persistent world. However in order to remedy certain problems such as waiting in a line to fight a boss, developers had to section off levels, dungeons, what have you in an "instance" taking you out of the world and putting you and your group in another area. Guild Wars built it's entire game around this idea and they don't even need a monthly subscription.

With so many more games building their worlds around instances it feels like it may not even be necessary to charge a subscription, at least that's the impression that I've gotten. But what do you people think? Has the technology gotten to the point where a MMO game doesn't need a subscription anymore? Are publishers pulling our legs? Or is it still the much needed necessary evil?

#2 Posted by CL60 (16906 posts) -

I prefer P2P honestly. $15 a month isn't that difficult for me to pay, and I would rather just do that than have a cash shop.(Knowing me I would probably spend far more than 15 bucks a month in a cash shop.)

#3 Posted by Atary77 (502 posts) -

@CL60 said:

I prefer P2P honestly. $15 a month isn't that difficult for me to pay, and I would rather just do that than have a cash shop.(Knowing me I would probably spend far more than 15 bucks a month in a cash shop.)

Indeed you probably would spend more in some cash shops that a lot of F2P games use. I know I spent forty dollars on DCUO for a few of the expansion packs that it put out and if something else peaks my interest I may throw down the cash for it. There are a lot of folks who may go on a shopping spree in those shops and as a result the game manages to pull in a good sized profit.

#4 Edited by Dagbiker (6956 posts) -

I first want to say, I can tell what generation your from because you said World of Warcraft and not Ultima Online.

Personally I wouldn't mind paying a monthly fee, but I hate having to buy expansions for games. That's what got me into Eve Online for a while, or at least a month. But that game is pretty complex. And if you aren't willing to risk anything you wont gain anything.

I just bought a bunch of games from the steam sale, but when I am done with them I fully intend to buy The Secret World. Because I think that looks cool.

#5 Posted by Atary77 (502 posts) -

@Dagbiker: To jump a little off topic, WoW was one of the first real MMO games I was able to play mostly cause I was an adult with a stable job and steady income as opposed to my younger and more vulnerable years back in the 90's when I was in my teens and didn't really work that much. Not to mention the only computer we had in the house at the time could really only play stuff like Doom II and even then I needed a boot disk. Remember those things?

#6 Posted by yoshisaur (2699 posts) -

I have never had a problem with paying $15 a month for a game as long as the developers act on their promise of adding content. After a box purchase, I have the full right to stop the subscription at any time so I really don't understand the venom aimed towards it. However, I do enjoy a good F2P game and generally purchase items if the game deserves it.

It's all about how to view the investment, really.

#7 Posted by ajamafalous (11929 posts) -

Honestly, I would rather have a monthly fee than F2P with a cash shop. 
 
I do, however, think a lot of MMOs would be better to drop to $10/$5 a month instead of always trying $15.

#8 Posted by Dagbiker (6956 posts) -

@Atary77: I just remember always wanting Ultima Online and hearing stories about things that happened in the world.

#9 Posted by Grimhild (723 posts) -

@CL60 said:

I prefer P2P honestly. $15 a month isn't that difficult for me to pay, and I would rather just do that than have a cash shop.(Knowing me I would probably spend far more than 15 bucks a month in a cash shop.)

Same. Although I realize that times are different as far the games making capital, I miss the idea of the P2P structure being able to reliably deliver new content and stable servers on a regular basis.

The idea of F2P games itself doesn't offend me, but I hope it doesn't backfire on games that may have worked well as a P2P game. Planetside 2 hits close to home on this topic, specifically. I would buy the box and pay a monthly sub, like the first one, but I guess if they get enough revenue from micros to keep the servers and the brass at Sony happy, then it'll be fine. I just hope it works out that way. On the positive, the F2P model will just help make the battles that much more massive, which is what the game is about to begin with.

#10 Posted by Phatmac (5723 posts) -

Not for me personally. The thought of paying that much for a game is insane.

#11 Posted by Atary77 (502 posts) -

@ajamafalous: That honestly would get me to try other subscription games if they only charged that much. I know some would argue that's close to what you would pay if you got an annual subscription rather than a monthly sub. But still a good idea.

#12 Posted by Hunkulese (2693 posts) -

I hate the design of free to play games. Your experience is usually hindered unless you pay for micro transactions or you're paying for stuff that feels like you're cheesing the game. Everything is designed to get you to pay extra. $15 a month is next to nothing and if I don't think a game is worth that then I wouldn't waste my time with it even I bought into the "free" illusion.

#13 Edited by selbie (1876 posts) -

The way I see it, a monthly sub is better in the long run if the game maintains its value either through content or community interactions. In saying that, there is a lot more competition in the MMO space now so F2P would be a more sensible option for new MMOs (or for MMOs that cannot sustain their P2P system). A good P2P MMO in my opinion should sell itself more as a social community or club, and not so much as a game.

Flat fees are always more attractive to me than 'hidden' payments because you end up paying more in the long run for F2P. It's probably stretching things a bit to call it a scam, but F2P is certainly geared to draw you into making more purchases. Especially when new content can only be realistically accessed through RMT.

#14 Posted by mitsuko_souma (135 posts) -

mmos are for the birds

#15 Posted by Deusx (1903 posts) -

Absolutely not, games are expensive as they are.

#16 Edited by CJduke (786 posts) -

As long as the game is good, the $15 a month is a much better deal. I would rather know I have all the content available to me at all times for my $15, rather than having to buy parts of the game at different times. I'm sure players who get really into F2P games spend more than $15 a month because they can overcharge content using that business model.

#17 Posted by Flacracker (1639 posts) -

Free to play games in general annoy me. I hate seeing "Buy with silver or GOLD," and then it takes hundreds of hours to get silver and to buy everything with GOLD it costs hundreds of dollars. Take Tribes Ascend, I would gladly just buy the game if I could get everything unlocked right away or through a regular unlock tree.

This brings me to another topic. This game is a good example of it. Wolfenstein Enemy Territory. Free game. And you get everything as soon as you download it. One of my favorite multiplayer shooters ever. I would of payed money for that game. But that's not the point; I remember playing that game because it was fun, not because I wanted to unlock everything. Why cant there be a modern multiplayer game without all of the shitty unlocks and perks and SHIT. Its all shit designed to keep you coming back to the game for all of the wrong reasons. Free to play games: Fuck that shit.

#18 Posted by CaptainCody (1505 posts) -

@CL60 said:

I prefer P2P honestly. $15 a month isn't that difficult for me to pay, and I would rather just do that than have a cash shop.(Knowing me I would probably spend far more than 15 bucks a month in a cash shop.)

This. The only people bitching are jobless teens. I play plenty of LoL to know that F2P will just bring out the worst communities. I've had enough fucking BRs for a lifetime.

#19 Posted by Marz (5648 posts) -

If there is consistent updates to a video game then i would gladly pay the subscription fee if it's a game I actually like. There is a problem where some of these MMO's just stagnate for awhile with no new content so it makes it harder to digest a subscription fee for long periods of time.

#20 Posted by Hippie_Genocide (564 posts) -

I think the subscription based MMO is a dying breed. Other than WoW, most recent attempts at it have failed, and switched to F2P. I feel SWTOR will be the newest MMO to join this group. I think the only new MMO that might succeed with subscription will be Blizzard's successor to WoW, and even that is not a given. I'm of two minds on this - on the one hand, the nice thing with F2P is I can play when I want to. I don't feel like I need to play it all the time to justify that recurring fee. But then again, when I see someone with the same gear as me, I do take solace in knowing they put in the same amount of work to get it as I did. Not that they got it from a microtransaction whereas I grinded my ass off for it.

#21 Posted by GnomeonFire (704 posts) -

It's justified if you're WoW. The game has dominated the market going on 8 years now, purely on its standard of quality being as high as it is.

#22 Posted by Terramagi (1159 posts) -

The only game that has ever felt like it warranted a monthly fee to me was RIFT.

Then again, doing the math, the game put out content on a bi-monthly basis. So it was like $30 until a content patch at worst. WoW put out content once every 6 months. It cost $90 on average until a content patch, and those became increasingly rare to the point where there's only 2 or 3 before you have to shell out $40 for another expansion pack.

#23 Posted by MordeaniisChaos (5730 posts) -

Something like WoW can't easily happen without constant money coming in, and cash shops are fUcking annoying. Something like Guild Wars though? It does just fine without constant inflow of cash. Much smaller, less to track across servers, and with an expansion focused business plan.

#24 Posted by TaliciaDragonsong (8698 posts) -

I think their release price is often too high when paired with the mandatory first month to activate the subscription (often going as high as 90 bucks total just to get started) is kind of high.
You're a fan, you want to support, you end up paying a whole lot, almost makes it worth to just wait for the deals to start appearing.
 
Ontopic though, a game like WoW is worth the 15 bucks totally.
I've spend years in that game, way more than I would ever put in a non mmo for the same amount of money. 
I usually see it like this: MMO's (usually) offer endless content for 12,99. That's value if you know you're going to have time to play it the coming month.

#25 Posted by EchoEcho (817 posts) -

$15 a month for everything a game has to offer is much easier for me to swallow than knowing I would spend much, much more if I wanted to experience everything in a game via an in-game cash shop. Free-to-play is nice as an extended demo of a game, but you butt up against the limitations of the F2P service very quickly if you aren't willing to spend gobs of cash anyway.

LotRO is one of the only F2P hybrid games where you can acquire a decent amount of stuff from the cash shop without ever spending money, so long as you're willing to grind for it. They offer the cash shop currency (Turbine Points) as rewards for completing deeds, and those points are shared across all servers; if you really want to, you can create characters on multiple servers to grind through the early deeds for points to spend in the shop on your primary character(s). Not a bad deal, all told, and I know people who have played all the way to end game with that method -- but I still wouldn't want to play the game that way personally.

I'll acknowledge that the F2P model allows folks who might not otherwise get to play a particular game to do so, and so in that regard I think it's a plus. As a person who has no problem -- and in fact prefers -- paying the monthly fee to enjoy an MMO, it does bug me that in hybrid model games there is still content that is being withheld from me unless I'm willing to spend even more money in the cash shop, even if that content is primarily cosmetic. I also don't like short-cut "convenience" items being offered for real money, especially if the content it's providing a "short-cut" for has been getting increasingly grindy. Creating a problem so you can then sell a solution for it in the store is pretty damn low.

#26 Posted by bio595 (307 posts) -

The title of this thread seems sort of dumb (only sort of, not fully).

Anything that uses a server architecture incurs a periodic cost (electricity, maintenance, bandwidth etc).

A periodic payment plan matches your periodic costs perfectly.

Of course its a question of scale. WoW servers are doing far more work than say CoD matchmaking servers (which on 360 gets covered by Gold subscriptions anyway)

CoD can probably cover their lower server costs with sales money, whereas I don't imagine WoW could with its much heavier load.

With F2P there isn't a guarantee that you'll be able to cover your periodic expenses.

If you were to ask me instead If I thought that subscriptions are a good value proposition for me, then I'd reply with yes $15 a month isn't really that much for the amount of content available to me

#27 Posted by Fearbeard (826 posts) -

Personally I'd rather have a subscription then a cash shop that's designed to slow your progress unless you pay money. At least with a subscription I know the cost up front and can decide if I want to pay it or not on a monthly basis and then have unlimited play time for the month.

I think it's still a valid business idea, just not on the scale that companies were expecting. You have to find a way to make it work with tens of thousands of users and not millions of users.

What I do think is a dead idea (particularly for smaller name MMO's) is the initial cost of the game up front. If games offered the game client for free and then free gameplay to either al evel cap, or couple day trial then I think they would build a much larger initial audience and hopefully pull in quite a few subscriptions. I understand why Star Wars would want to collect the money for the initial sale of the game, but I just don't think it's a good idea for smaller games.

#28 Edited by Aronman789 (2676 posts) -

I won't play straight up F2P MMOs, but I won't play subscription MMOs anymore either, at this point it just feels like they're milking me, and hey, if I pay $60 for a game, I should be able to play it whenever I want. Now I'm much more for the GW2 way, you buy your game and play whenever you want with no added fee. Sure there is a shop, but it's nothing but cosmetics and boosts, there isn't even a way they could make you better in PvP because everyone has the same gear.

#29 Posted by Aegon (5468 posts) -

It was never justifiable.

#30 Posted by Little_Socrates (5675 posts) -

Only if they were exactly what I wanted (perma-death, new combat, brutal difficulty, emphasis on characters becoming legendary due to their longevity, probably a fantasy setting) or significantly cheaper ($5 a month to play a quality MMO that actually has good combat rather than MMO combat is fine by me.)

#31 Edited by SeriouslyNow (8534 posts) -

@Atary77 said:

@CL60 said:

I prefer P2P honestly. $15 a month isn't that difficult for me to pay, and I would rather just do that than have a cash shop.(Knowing me I would probably spend far more than 15 bucks a month in a cash shop.)

Indeed you probably would spend more in some cash shops that a lot of F2P games use. I know I spent forty dollars on DCUO for a few of the expansion packs that it put out and if something else peaks my interest I may throw down the cash for it. There are a lot of folks who may go on a shopping spree in those shops and as a result the game manages to pull in a good sized profit.

False logic:-

  • Those expansion you purchased are one time costs and can be played and replayed with no ongoing fees. Their collective costs is still cheaper if you play the same game 3 months down the road.
  • DCUO did not make a profit while it was P2P which is why it went F2P.

The subscription model only works for games which can maintain a core audience and there are very few MMOs which have been able to do so; chiefly OU and WoW with a few others barely hanging on. The subscription model is dead.

#32 Posted by zyn (2591 posts) -

Depends on the game. Most MMO's DON'T warrant the subscription as they eventually become free-to-play (with micro-transactions).

#33 Posted by Giantstalker (1601 posts) -

EVE is the only one I can say I'd justify anymore, and only because of the unique PLEX/ISK economy (which, conversely, allows you to pay with in-game currency if you can make enough).

Is doing it that way actually healthy for the game? Well... so far, so good...

#34 Posted by Vexxan (4618 posts) -

I used to play A LOT of WoW and I quit about 1½ year ago but I still feel it was worth the monthly fee because the game was continuously updated which kept the game being fun. However, there are a lot of MMO's out today with monthly fees that I would never in my life consider paying for each month to play. The only MMO that has impressed me since my WoW times is Guild Wars 2 which I would be happy to pay a monthly fee for.

I believe monthly fee MMOs will go away eventually, maybe with the exception of whatever Blizzard's new MMO will be.

Online
#35 Posted by Nentisys (888 posts) -

@Giantstalker said:

EVE is the only one I can say I'd justify anymore, and only because of the unique PLEX/ISK economy (which, conversely, allows you to pay with in-game currency if you can make enough).

Is doing it that way actually healthy for the game? Well... so far, so good...

The PLEX system is pure genius.

#36 Posted by Benny (1950 posts) -

The monthly fee simply wont work for any new MMOs once Guild Wars 2 is out, having people's eyes opened to a game that does micro transactions right and is a full scale MMORPG will make it a big ask from any new MMO developers to justify a monthly fee, regardless of your opinion of the game. At that point you really will have to ask the developers "what am I getting for my money?"

The cost of maintaining servers for online games has fallen a lot since the release of WoW and many of these companies are on record saying they charge monthly fees simply because they can. Because it's accepted. Because they're greedy? Perhaps not, but any new MMORPG that releases with a monthly fee will be almost surely shooting itself in the foot.

I'm still surprised at how little GW2 gets mentioned in threads like these. It's release will mark the end of the Monthly Fee payment plan for the forseeable future.

#37 Posted by Atary77 (502 posts) -

In light of the recent news regarding Star Wars The Old Republic I think it's fair to say yeah you can justify a monthly subscription.... just good luck supporting it =/

#38 Posted by fenixREVOLUTION (735 posts) -

I think they can, but the players have the final say, just ask EA.

#39 Posted by TehFlan (1944 posts) -

It never made sense to me that you had to buy a copy of a game and then pay to keep playing it, so in my mind subscription fees were never really justifiable. Of course, the only MMO I ever really got into was Runescape, so maybe my opinion isn't really important. On that note though, a subscription fee makes more sense to me if the game doesn't cost anything up front. In that case, I'd prefer it over the free to play/micro-transactions model.

#40 Posted by Irvandus (2875 posts) -

No. Maybe Blizzards new game but with the rate at which they roll out content I can barley justify it for WoW.

#41 Posted by Ravenlight (8040 posts) -

As long as enough people are willing to pay to support the subscription model, it will still be around.

#42 Posted by SirPsychoSexy (1328 posts) -

I will happily pay a subscription if it is a game I truly love. Nothing worse than knowing someone has something you don't just because they payed more money.