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.

Scammers Are Everywhere

Scammers Are Everywhere

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.

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Related Posts

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  4. Alternative Monthly Subscriptions
  5. Star Trek Online – Pros and Cons

17 Comments

  1. Longasc says:

    Given the lack of interest you had in Siege of Mirkwood I wonder how you regret not having taken the lifetime membership.

    Lifetime memberships are made in expectation that most players have enough of a MMO after 9 months already. There are studies about that.

    This said, the way STO plays it would fare by far much better with a Freemium or perhaps even Guild Wars model. The latter one is unbeatable anyways.

    • Gordon says:

      Hehe. Well, you’re right I wasn’t interesting in Siege of Mirkwood but that doesn’t mean I’ve given up on LotRO. Everyone recognises it as a great game and I still want to get stuck into it at some point because I know deep down it will be good. I guess the price barrier is the problem for me now and if I had a lifetime sub, I wouldn’t need to worry about that.

  2. Stabs says:

    Not a scam.

    A scam is when you buy something and it really isn’t what you’ve been shown. If you pay for a lifetime sub for STO you have had the opportunity to see: it’s going to be a low level moderately successful MMO that goes through the usual tourism phase then sticks with a dedicated core.

    If you buy it with your eyes open then go emo when everyone leaves a month after launch no one scammed you. You just made a bad choice.

    If however you bought what you thought was a STO lifetime sub but in tiny small print (in Swahili) it said it’s not for STO it’s for Champions then that would be a scam.

  3. Gremrod says:

    Not a Scam. But choose wisely.

    Example would be the Life time for Hellgate London, well you lost on that one. :(

    If you bought the life time for LOTR then and play it enough then it was worth it since the game is still running.

  4. Paul Schuster says:

    I have no problems with lifetime subs, its the same as a person paying top dollar for a day one copy of a new game. You hope the game is good, but there is only the quick reviews out for it. If I had gotten a day one lifetime sub for say eq2, eve or wow I would have saved easily 3 or 4 times that amount.

    As far as a quality issue is concerned, I don’t think that a modern mmorpg player will ever be satisfied with a launch title no matter how polished it is. We have been too spoiled by 5 and 6 year old games, that we come into the game expecting, with out realizing it to walk into years worth of organic hot fixing, and firm proven opinions on what a toon can or can’t do. I don’t think it is possible for this level of polish can be achieved on a mass scale such as a mmorpg with any number of years of quality checking.

    And in specific for STO, CO’s lifetime sub was first offered before open beta, and was set to close before head start, it was only the lack of communication with the community that caused it to be extended. So it is nothing new from what I have read from how they handled CO’s lifetime, it is a hedge on the possibility that you will be playing for more than (in this case) 16 months as a paying sub, and allows them to bank the money as if you where if you decide the game is not for you.

    Finally the best thing that cryptic did in my opinion is capping lifetime at launch. By doing that the arguments that they are not putting enough into the game just because they already have your money, will die out around the same time as the tourists leave, so in about 3 or 4 months.

    • Gordon says:

      I have no issue with capping the lifetime offer but I think they should give people a chance to play the retail version without pressurizing them with a time frame. I just think it shows that Cryptic aren’t confident that people will like the game enough to subscribe.

  5. xXJayeDuBXx says:

    I have no problem with lifetime subs myself. But regardless of what the Cryptic fanboi says, I agree that the presentation leaves something to be desired. Why not offer the lifetime sub option for at least the first month of release?

  6. Kiseran says:

    Depends.
    If you are creating a game where you know right from the start that it will go by a leisurely pace so there won’t be always enough to do for hardcores, then lifetime-subscriptions make sense as you give those hardcores the opportunity to play the game for some month, play something else once the content runs out and still be able to come back easily when new content is avaiable. Thats a vaild kind of lifetime offer in my book.

    However with Cryptic I suspect they just want to lure some extra cash out of those customers that will leave in the first half year. Generally I think if they already announce that their offer will only be avaiable if you buy before you see then the chances are good they are trying to trick you. If the offer would still make sense after you saw what you got then it would also be available after release.

    • Gordon says:

      I think the price point is quite high too. I’d love to pay, say, $150 for a lifetime subscription to one of my favourite games like EQ2, WoW or EVE Online. I think that would be a steal. I mean, I was subscribed to EQ2 for over 3 years and paid out at least $540 to SOE! I was also on Station Access for a while so it would easily be more than that I reckon.

  7. Tesh says:

    I still prefer the pricepoint of Guild Wars’ “lifetime sub”, and the continued availability (and occasional sales; picking up a copy of the original game for $5 was sweet, sweet capitalism at its finest).

    Lifetime sub deals like this only make sense in the subscription framework… and since I don’t like that to start with, paying $240 for a single game is beyond ludicrous in my book. For the same cost, I can (probably) buy a copy of every other Star Trek game *ever made*, and maybe even some movie or series DVDs. Those would keep me happily entertained in Trekdom for a long time. And I can come back to them when the servers finally shut down.

  8. Amosov says:

    According to the forum reps the lifetime sub will be available after the game launches, it’ll cost more though: http://tinyurl.com/yb6fv8m

  9. xorah says:

    I was one fan of Star Trek.The movie.I have seen some prewievs of this game on youtube and all i can say is:OMG this mmo look a like one atari game of 1991.In fact this game it is a sci-fi space shooter without any option of the spaceship to land it.Considering all this factors.The movie was awesome.The game looks the worst mmo ever ,and the price of subscription i think this is worst then one scam.This is a robery.

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