The Subscription War in My Head

Is paying a subscription to an MMO is even worthwhile anymore? Increasingly over the last year, I am coming down on the side of “no.”

The biggest reason comes down to the personal issue of available time. I did play quite a lot of EverQuest II on the Live servers over the summer, but summer’s over, and I’m getting crushed by the press of school, work and trying to make as much time for Mrs. Ardwulf as I can. The fact is that I have done very little gaming over the last two weeks since the Fall quarter started, and none at all in that period until this past weekend, except to briefly drop into Champions Online to buy a hideout that was on sale.

This won’t be changing until at least next summer. So while I have been and plan to continue to squeeze in a bit of gaming here and there, I’m not able to put enough time into a game to warrant a subscription. I figure that’s something like 10 hours a week, and there’s just no chance of getting that right now.

Too, there’s my habit of dabbling in a lot of different games. Subscriptions are bad for that. I would like, at some point, to pick an MMO and stick with it exclusively for a nice long while, but the schedule does not permit it at this time.

But free-to-play games… now there’s where I see a goldmine of opportunity. I currently have installed and have fiddled with over the last few months Age of Conan, Guild Wars (not strictly f2p, but it’s already paid for,) EverQuest II Extended, D&D Online, The Lord of the Rings Online and Champions Online (which I am also not playing “for free,” but again it’s already paid for.) Fallen Earth and (probably) Star Trek Online are dropping their f2p models this months, and City of Heroes did last week. For not-exactly-an-MMO alternatives there’s All Points Bulletin and Global Agenda.

That’s a lot of games. More than a person could or should realistically play. But as far as subscription-only titles go, the only ones that I think are worthwhile are Vanguard, EVE Online, World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic, and that last is still untried (by me, at least.) For different reasons, all appear to be far away from moving to free-to-play models.

Given that my lifestyle right now fits better with the free-to-play titles, how much am I investing? Well… nothing. I have invested in both Champions (in the Lifetime subscription) and LotRO (in box purchases and points afterwards,) which are the two games I’ve been playing the most of recently, but in neither game am I spending anything right now, and I don’t see where I need to. In Champs I get free points every month which seem to suffice and my last LotRO buy was Isengard; aside from that I have basically the whole game unlocked save for a few odds and ends, and a nice bank of points on top of that.

Why I should be shelling out fifteen bucks a month again is something I don’t have an answer for. Sure, I’ll probably check out the next WoW expansion, hook up with EVE again someday, and I’m still on the books with a nominal SWTOR preorder. But right now it looks to me like I have too much stuff to play for free.


5 responses to “The Subscription War in My Head

  1. So does this mean you’ll log back into DDO so that the guild announcement won’t say that you’re delinquent when others of us log in? 😉

    BTW, the new Artificer class is wicked fun!

  2. I currently have accounts in LOTRO (bought Moria and a points card with Christmas money), Pirates of the Burning Sea (bought $5 worth of burning sea notes), City of Heroes (bought the box on the special $1.99 sale), League of Legends (bought nothing), Champions Online (bought nothing), APB (bought nothing), and Battlestar Galactica Online (bought nothing). Do you ever delete anyone from the guild? If not my account may still be there too. Considering World of Tanks, Fallen Earth, and maybe Star Trek Online for checking out later. Oh, and made a brief foray into the free trial of Guild Wars many months ago before LOTRO f2p went live, too. Will probably do a trial of SW:TOR when it’s available to get a look at it, but won’t be paying a subscription for anything. Way too much available for free or pay as you go, and I’m too penniless for a subscription anyway.

  3. Just the way I’ve been feeling. I’d rather spend $15 in things that won’t go away in my F2P games then pay a sub that runs out in a month and locks me out of the game. For a person without much “gaming” time, some F2P games are simply a perfect choice right now. What you pay will wait for when you have time to come and play.

    I’ve been playing a lot of LotRO on my free time, but it is still too little to justify a subscription. I spend at least 2 months on each questing area, which earns me enough points to buy the next one, and so on. Since I just reached Mirkwood and bought Isengard, I guess I won’t ever have to spend money in the game again, until level cap is increased. By the time I actually run my alts, I won’t be spending a dime in the game. EQ2 Extended is even better, I generally come by just to enjoy festivals and decorate my home, with no sub pressure at all. I did buy points for it, but again, they wait and fit into my schedule, instead of being a set subscription price that will lock down the game later.

    I understand a lot of people prefer to just pay a set amount of money and not worry about cash shops, but what REALLY bugs me is that, after paying for years, you practically lose all you did in a game if you stop paying. That is just silly when you got a busy schedule, finally find an afternoon to play games, and well, the game won’t be there unless you pay for a whole month. F2P will be there, and the money you spent on it too, since the things you get are yours to keep (unless they are consumables, which I don’t purchase).

    • You’ve pretty much laid it out exactly right, Carolina. Subscriptions feed the “want it now” itch, since people get access to everything instantly. But buying the things you want as you go works out cheaper in the long run if you have patience.

  4. The future will be niche titles with monthly fees, and mainstream titles that are ‘Freemium’ or with variations of the Cash Shop model. But that’s just my theory.