Alternative Monthly Subscriptions
Whilst pondering the cancellation of my EVE Online subscription, I idly considered the possibility of MMORPGs having different type of monthly subscription fees. We already see this for cell phones, Internet packages, cable/satellite deals etc so, to me, it seems like a pretty rational and logical thing to request. Off the top of my head, here’s a basic concept (obviously the numbers are totally fictitious):
- Unlimited – $16.99, no restrictions
- Prime time – $12.99, all day weekends, after 5pm weekdays
- Weekend – $8.99, can only play on Saturday & Sunday
- Off-Peak – $4.99, can only play Monday-Friday, 12:00am to 5pm
As a consumer, do you think this sort of monthly subscription model would appeal to you? Personally, although it does complicate things more than a single flat fee, I think it would be nice to have the option to mix and match subscriptions between my MMORPGs. I’d likely be far more inclined to keep multiple subscriptions active if I could, say, pay less to play one of them on weekend or all of them after working hours only.
The problem with sort of model, as Psychochild pointed out in one of the comments yesterday, is that it lacks any sort of business case for the MMO developer. Not only does it have added costs for them to maintain but it’s entirely likely that they would lose money. No doubt many MMOs have lots of players who pay the full monthly subscription yet barely log in and, if they switched to less expensive package as a result of this, the developers wouldn’t make as much cash. It doesn’t cost the MMO company any more if you play 100 hours a month than if you only play 10 as the fee is flat, no matter what.
I guess the curious thing for me though is why these sort of subscription models work for cell phone companies and gym memberships etc. The obvious answer is competition. The more companies competing with each other, the more competitive deals the consumer gets. However, this doesn’t seem to appeal to MMORPGs even though there are dozens of games out there for the player to chose from. The cynic in me would wonder if there’s some sort of fixed agreement in place between them all or that no one wants to be the first to buck the trend and start a bidding war but that’s another post (I’ll supply free tin-foil hats for everyone when I write it).
So what do you think? Would you like to see alternative monthly subscription models and is it viable?