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  1. #1

    Subscriptions in Games

    As I follow-up to the RPS article about Wildstar going F2P, I started thinking about what does and doesn't work about current subscription methods, especially for MMOs, because I'm not opposed on principle and I actually wouldn't mind paying a monthly fee for games that do objectively have high on-going maintenance costs like MMOs, but for me there are two main drawbacks...

    Obviously one big thing is that many sub fees are too damn high. I'd love to play Final Fantasy XIV, but the sub fee is equal to the money I spend for games already. I wouldn't mind paying 5 a month, but 12.50 (iirc) is unacceptable for me, unless I decided to play that and only that for the foreseeable future.

    The other thing is that a fee based on real-life time (weeks, months, etc) creates this weird obligation to play the game as much as possible, to get the most out of the time you purchased - and also, to play that game and no other game.And it's also not sustainable in terms of real life: what if I want to go on vacation for a week, if I have to study really hard for an exam, or if *anything* happens so that I don't have as much time to play for a while? We're not all unemployed otakus with no life, no obligations and no interests outside of gaming. My sub would be going to waste. A simple, more flexible solution would be to offer two kinds of subscription: the existing type, for your most hardcore players, and a subscription based on in-game time that does not expire in real life time. So, say a monthly sub costs 10, you can offer 30 to 60 hours of in-game time for the same price (1-2 hours a day for a month), and people will use those hours when they see fit.

    So, do you subscribe to any game? If so, are you happy with it? What would you change? If not, why not? What would encourage you to sub, if anything?

  2. #2
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    I haven't played any subscription based games yet. Pretty much for the same reasons you outlined. As soon as money is involved, you instinctively want to get a good deal, or "your money's worth". So you kind of feel an obligation to play. That's not a state of mind I desire.

    Still, if you think about it: playing a game as much as you want for a month for 10€ is not a bad offer, as long as you can cancel your sub anytime.
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  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Fumarole's Avatar
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    I never have and likely never will subscribe to any game. I'd feel far too much angst if I didn't put in time and feel that money was being wasted. I'm far too old now to play any game that feels like a second job (which many MMOs certainly can be as far as time obligation). Besides, I binged on MUDs back in the day and know I'd be addicted if I let myself play a modern MMO; and MUDs were free! At least with my backlog of singleplayer games I can take my sweet time playing them.
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    Fees have not changed much since Everquest.

    But players have access to a lot more games today than 10 years ago. And players have moved onto other online only games to eat up their limited time. Guild Wars buy once or F2P fits better with the current market so that players with limited time can drop in and out whenever. But you also have to make the game satisfy hardcore players, giving lots of things to do and grind on.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Wenz's Avatar
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    I wanted to play eve using plex or whatever the game currency was called but what I saw in 2 weeks under the guide of a friend were events, researches and other contents that either took too long or were lost during no gaming time. I'm not sure it's about subs as much as dick devs.
    Last edited by Wenz; 28-05-2015 at 05:09 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MelodyMeows View Post
    The other thing is that a fee based on real-life time (weeks, months, etc) creates this weird obligation to play the game as much as possible, to get the most out of the time you purchased - and also, to play that game and no other game.
    This is the biggest issue I think. MMOs are leftovers from a time when games were released at a trickle pace, not a massive flowing river. Not only are there tons of quality games, indie and AAA, being released in any given month now, you also have to compete with all the other MMOs that have gone F2P.

    In other words, people are finding it harder and harder to justify spending all their time in a single game. As they should. Variety is the spice of life, after all.
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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Eight Rooks's Avatar
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    I'm pretty sure APB offered in-game time, rather than subscriptions of a set length, when it first launched. Other than that, yes, you're pretty much spot on - I may not quite fit your stereotype, but I don't have a particularly exciting life :shrug: and I still don't like the idea of being tied to a monthly fee, for all the reasons you list. Even I have responsibilities, and other things I'd rather be doing. Maybe if the game was so amazing I was happy to potentially throw money away just for the privilege of being able to play it...? But I just don't see that happening with any MMO ever again. Pretty much anything I might possibly play has been confirmed as F2P.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DanMan View Post
    Still, if you think about it: playing a game as much as you want for a month for 10€ is not a bad offer, as long as you can cancel your sub anytime.
    But nearly all these games also require you to pay $40-60 up front, plus expansions. Either/or would probably be fine, but not both.

    In the days of Ultima Online and EverQuest, servers and bandwidth were genuinely expensive, but that's changed a lot. The marginal cost of each player is probably pennies per month. I'm much happier with the Guild Wars model: buy the game once, optional expansions, optional inoffensive microtransactions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moraven View Post
    Fees have not changed much since Everquest.

    But players have access to a lot more games today than 10 years ago. And players have moved onto other online only games to eat up their limited time. Guild Wars buy once or F2P fits better with the current market so that players with limited time can drop in and out whenever. But you also have to make the game satisfy hardcore players, giving lots of things to do and grind on.
    I think that's it. WoW was in a perfect storm; since then games and gamers have evolved, and I really don't think a US$15 sub is going to hack it anymore for most of us.

  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Faldrath's Avatar
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    Yeah, subscriptions do kind of try to "force" you to play the game for a long time. There's a silver lining, though - when I was completely entranced by WoW, I actually spent *much less* on games, since, well, I didn't play anything but WoW. So, in that way, a subscription can be somewhat "cheap", compared to what you usually spend in games.
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  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus alms's Avatar
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    My general (i.e. not just games) attitude towards subscriptions is pretty negative, servicification and all that.

    Quote Originally Posted by MelodyMeows View Post
    Obviously one big thing is that many sub fees are too damn high.
    Quote Originally Posted by MelodyMeows View Post
    The other thing is that a fee based on real-life time (weeks, months, etc) creates this weird obligation to play the game as much as possible, to get the most out of the time you purchased
    It's a circle where each one feeds the other: were the sub fee not high enough, players would not be wed to the game (or as much). It's very convenient to have locked-in players for a number of reasons.
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    I can draw my own pictures, so tend not to pay too much for "art". But I cannot play a musical instrument to save my life, so would happily pay to listen to some great music.

    Though, in both instances, doing those "hobbies" with friends is free. We effectively do a mutual exchange with people making food, others providing entertainment. It's call being social. ;)

    Though in some instances money facilitates the exchange when dealing with skill sets outside the regular circle of friends or for larger exchanges.

    TL:DR version= I can play games with friends for free. I have at least a dialup 4000(?) bud modem, so I'm already paying for and have the communication provided. I have the hardware also (client or host as required). What I cannot do is make computer games or program them. So guess which one I'm happy to pay for and which one I see as rather an extortion?
    It is a technical difference, but's there none the less.

  13. #13
    Lesser Hivemind Node Lethe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Faldrath View Post
    Yeah, subscriptions do kind of try to "force" you to play the game for a long time. There's a silver lining, though - when I was completely entranced by WoW, I actually spent *much less* on games, since, well, I didn't play anything but WoW. So, in that way, a subscription can be somewhat "cheap", compared to what you usually spend in games.
    Yep; subs aren't dying because they're too expensive, they're dying because they don't make nearly as much money for developers as F2P/P2W. Hearthstone has replaced WoW.
    Last edited by Lethe; 28-05-2015 at 07:10 PM.
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    subscription based games will always try to make you an addict, thats in their nature. they want you to be a mindless slave. fuck them.

  15. #15
    Lesser Hivemind Node Lethe's Avatar
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    If you're talking about a monthly subscription, the developers only care that you play enough each month to justify the subscription to yourself, which in practice tends to mean an (attempted) combination of appealing individual gameplay sessions, regular content updates, and long-term objectives.

    On the other hand, F2P/P2W will want you to play as much and as often as possible, in order to provide the maximum opportunity for you to succumb to the lure of paid content.

    Subscription-based games are happy for you to play 8hrs/month, every month. F2P would like you to play 8hrs/day, every day. I'll leave it to you to decide which tends more to encourage exploitative design.
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    to me its all the same, seriously. maybe i am too old school, but all the systems to continuosly milk people have been suspicious to me from day 1. i never paid for subscription, F2P, P2W, IAP or DLC. when people realized how much money was in the game, they came up with these greed concepts. my wallet votes and it says no.

  17. #17
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    That feeling of being forced to play something isn't always a bad thing though. It creates very invested players which in turn helps the game thrive, and likewise how many times do you hear people saying they just can't find the time to commit to getting into bigger games. Having a monetary 'nudge' can be somewhat helpful.

    I know that sounds weird, but to give an example, I got a Marvel Unlimited subscription at the start of the year. Have always wanted to get into reading the huge history of Marvel comics but time was as limiting a factor as money. Five months on and I've read 1200 comics this year so far. Having a lot of fun, but part of the reason I'm not stopping and just reading something else (or spending more time watching TV or playing games) is that I'm paying ten quid a month and want to get my monies worth.

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    That's not necessarily a healthy or advantageous thing Deano. :(

    Careful it's not Stockholm syndrome.
    It is a technical difference, but's there none the less.

  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus L_No's Avatar
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    I've never played a subscription based game, and I probably never will. I don't like the sense of obligation you get with a game you pay a subscription for. I want to be able to drop a game for a few weeks without feeling I'm wasting money every moment I'm not playing that game. My gaming habits are such that I can suddenly put many hours into a game I haven't touched in months, like I'm doing with Guild Wars 2 right now. If I had had to pay a monthly fee for it, I probably wouldn't have gotten back into it.
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    I'm really tempted to subscribe to Planetside 2, but also eeehhhh I dunno if it's worth it. D:

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