An Idea For A New Subscription Model

Rogue in RIFT

A screenshot of RIFT as, right now, it really is the only game I'm playing for free

I’m not a fan of free-to-play. Never have been, it’s unlikely I ever will be and, to be perfectly honest, my mind boggles as to why it’s so popular. OK, I get the money aspect of subscriptions but let’s be realistic here, it’s not as if F2P really is free. You still pay one way or another, probably the same amount as a sub eventually, quite likely even more. I mean, even before I could play a game like Everquest 2 or Age of Conan I’d have to shell out for the race and class that I prefer. And then more for broker access. And more for bank slots. And character slots. And bigger quest journals…

F2P also comes with all the headaches and distractions of having opportunities to buy extra items shoved in your face constantly and the driving motivation of developers ambiguously twisted. Give me an old fashioned, straight up subscription over F2P any day. Even if you only played two hours a week, it’s still great value, so much to the point that I think anyone who doubts it probably needs to re-evaluate their concept of value for money. Even playing only a single measly hour a week, you’d be hard pushed to find activities that were cheaper than $3.75 an hour. I guess you could go for a walk in the park… but make sure you don’t stop for a coffee on the way.

But I’m digressing here. As much as I’m an advocate for the subscription model (or better yet, free-to-try combined with a sub model à la RIFT), I know there are some people out there who are so money sensitive and tight with cash that they’d make Scrooge McDuck look generous. So to them, and the rest of the world, I offer this wondrous MMO subscription concept: the more people that play, the less everyone pays.

Imagine a game that had a sub model that cost the average $14.99 a month to begin with but for every 100,000 players past the first, the price started to drop. Now it would take some clever foreign maths genius with an insight into MMO margins to figure out an appropriate sliding scale that still meant the developers turned an increasing profit as the price decreased but I’m sure it could be done. I’m also sure players wouldn’t object to paying $5 subscriptions on popular MMOs.

Of course, this type of financial model wouldn’t likely be of interest to Blizzard (they’ve got nothing to gain) but I reckon it might attract other MMOs who were looking for incentives to help build their playerbase up. And that’s where this subscription model truly shines: it encourages players to invite their friends, it encourages them to form long-lasting communities and it encourages developers to focus on attracting and pleasing their players rather than making gimmicky, over-priced items to sell. It’s win-win for everyone.

So there you have it, the perfect subscription model. Unless you’re Blizzard.

-Gordon

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MMOs That Badly Need Expansions

Vulmane

Not even a wolf riding a wolf makes me want to play Vanguard again

I’m a big believer in expansions for MMOs. Whilst free patch content is always nice and more than welcome, I accept that it has its limitations and that we can’t expect to get bundles of new stuff – new classes, races, game mechanics, locations and level cap increase – for frees (well, not unless you play EVE anyway). Perhaps most importantly though, expansions also help re-ignite MMOs, gaining positive attention and drawing in new players, helping them grow. There’s a reason why games like Everquest and Everquest 2 have survived for so long and kept me personally interested for years. I also wholeheartedly think that it the continuous and reliable release of solid expansions that stopped EQ2 from slipping off the face of the planet. But that’s another blog post.

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WoW PvP

A reminder to all that WoW's colour palette should probably be avoided by those with epilepsy

Although it’s early days with SW:TOR and I’m still somewhat off to the level cap, I’m an avid PvPer and queue for Warzones almost constantly when I play it (they’re a lot of fun). Taking a breather and switching back to WoW Battlegrounds for a few days though highlighted something I always suspected: it’s ridiculously unbalanced compared to The Old Republic.

It’s no surprise really. SW:TOR is a new game and designed from the ground up to cater to both PvE and PvP and, whilst I’m sure there will be balance issues of some sort (it’s unavoidable really), the PvP is a lot less frustrating than, say, WoW and none of the classes seem to stand out as being ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than any of the others. At least not yet. Of course, it’s not perfect and you still have to deal with the issues of level divides and gear progression but, unless you play PvP specific MMO like League of Legends, I’m not sure it’s ever going to be possible to solve those problems.

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Bat Wings

Hey SOE, Aion called and wants its IP back

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RIFT Justicar

The incredulous, exuberant, marvellous paradigm of multi-role perfectionism - the RIFT cleric

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Darth Lachris

Even fictional computerised Sith find my charms irresistible

According to general chat on Balmorra, Darth Lachris is a well known hussy. I don’t mind. My Bounty Hunter may be a big softy at heart, refusing to kill people unless absolutely necessary and showing mercy where he can, but he still tries to pork anything that moves. Twi’lek, Hutt, Sith, anything goes. Apparently Lady Lachris feels the same way.

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Bounty Hunter

Even evil Bounty Hunters feel the need to chill out in bars

I don’t like doing reviews because I don’t really feel qualified to write them – not as a gamer that is, but as a journalist. I’m far too opinionated and biased to be comfortable scoring games plus MMOs are a huge endeavour and I don’t think reviewing one within a few weeks of release does them justice. Still, I can’t get SW:TOR out of my head (which probably says a lot about how strong a hold it has on me and how good it is) and strangely feel the need to blab my thoughts about it, detailing its many aspects, good and bad. So anyway, I guess this is my so sort of ‘non-review’ review:

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