Lifetime Subscriptions – Scam Or Opportunity?
Andrew from one of my favourite blogs, Of Teeth and Claws, wrote an interesting article about his take on Cryptic offering a lifetime subscription for the forthcoming Star Trek Online. He thinks it’s irresponsible of them to offer a deal to try and lock in players before they’ve even played the game, especially when it’s not getting very good beta reviews. The deal costs $240/£147/€167 and ends the day before the game’s official release.
I agree with Andrew’s point that this is certainly a pressure tactic by Cryptic and that they’re trying to take advantage of our natural instinct to be drawn to ‘good’ deals (it’s why supermarkets notoriously plague us with 3-for-2 offers and why we always ends up buying stuff we don’t really need). Underhanded it may be but, personally, I don’t feel that it’s Cryptic’s (or any company’s) duty to be responsible in the deals that they offer. At the end of the day, human beings are all responsible for their own actions and we can’t hold others accountable for our own weaknesses.
However, the fact that Cryptic have offered a lifetime subscription before Star Trek Online has even been released has certainly caused the controversy and has a lot of people pondering their intentions. Is this really a move designed to give us, the players, a good deal or is it an unscrupulous attempt to get us to part with our cash?
I think it’s a little of both. Certainly to some, the STO lifetime subscription will be an excellent deal just like the Champions Online and Lord of the Rings Online ones were too. However, there’s also no doubt in my mind that Cryptic are trying to lock players into a blind financial commitment in order to give themselves the time required to fix and improve the game. It’s obviously going to be a lot easier for them to hold on to players that have already paid upfront than it will be to entice those back that have tried it and left and I think the move shows an obvious lack of confidence in the product.
Still, there’s opportunity to be had with lifetime subscriptions if it’s the right game offering the deal. I kinda regret not taking up Turbine on their LotRO lifetime subscription deal because I know it’s a good game and I would’ve enjoyed the freedom to dip in and out of it whenever I wanted. I would also jump on a WoW or EVE Online lifetime sub in a heartbeat, as I’m sure many people would.
Lifetime subscriptions are always going to be a hot topic because companies will want us to comit within a small window of time (i.e. not play for 6 months and then decide we’ll take the cheapest deal, thus loosing them money) and players will always feel disgruntled if they’re pressured into a decision.
As for Cryptic, I’d say that the Star Trek Online lifetime subscription is an opportunity for the right person but I think the spirit in which it’s been presented leaves a lot to be desired.