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.