The Sub Fee is the Bane of my MMO Gaming

I paid a lot of sub fee dollars to EQ, DAOC, and WoW, so please, don’t get all uppity.

I have spoken about this a lot. I am currently paying WildStar a sub fee. I have been travelling for work, and very busy with home and family. I get it – that makes it “my fault” (somehow).

My highest character is level 10.

I want to support the company financially, but at this rate I am paying $5 an hour. That in itself is entirely reasonable for entertainment (depending on the type) but it just doesn’t feel right. It’s not equitable. I am subsidizing every other gamer who can make the time to pay their 18 cents an hour. I am just as important as a customer to Carbine, no? I don’t mind welfare schemes when it has to do with survival and human decency, but I don’t like welfare in my MMOs.

The time/value sub loss rate – people like me who end up changing their minds – would at my best guess be a bigger loss than having tiers of sub fees based on some playtime parameters. For instance, I’d pay $5 a month and be limited to 15 hours, for example, gladly. And if I went over those hours, my renewal rate could go up to $10. And if I went over 30 hours, it could go to $15. And if I went over 30 hours it would then just stay at $15 because that is a heavy user fee and unlimited play.

Look, suddenly, more people are happy.

I have paid insurance for so many years and have never made a claim. It’s nice to have that safety though – knowing that if I needed a claim its there. Not the same feeling, paying an insurance premium in an MMO for hours you could use, if you had the time, but that you don’t get to bank if you don’t. Insurance is good in the real world, but I don’t like insurance style premiums in my MMOs.

It’s a fun game and I committed to two months – if I don’t feel like I am getting the value (price isn’t the problem..) then I’ll leave and Carbine will get zilch.

Until they go F2P, of course.

10 Comments

  1. bhagpuss

    The insurance analogy is interesting. I have paid my SOE subs, first per-game and then, once they invented it, the Station/All Access Pass, for fifteen years regardless of whether I play their games or not. I do see it exactly like insurance – I am insuring myself against the desire, on a whim, to log into any of their games and/or my characters. Even in a month when I don’t use it at all, the peace of mind it offers is well worth the money.

    Leaving aside psychological freaks like myself, though, a better analogy would be membership dues for a club. You’re paying a per-month fee for unlimited access to services. It’s the same as paying the subs to belong to a club or a gym. How much use you then make of that access is up to you.

    NOne of which is to suggest MMO companies couldn’t be more creative in the range of payment models they offer. Some of them have been. SOE used to offer something similar to what you suggest. They had a three-day option you could take – I forget how much it cost but it wasn’t much. It meant you could, for example, pay to play only on a single weekend. I don’t think it was ever very popular. They never extended it and it was quietly dropped at some point, probably when they went F2P.

    I’d guess, though, from the relatively small variation between schemes on offer over the last decade and a half that the administrative costs of having more than an on/off Sub are considered to outweigh the potential income.

    Reply
  2. Jeromai

    The funny thing is, I’ve even seen tiered access in gym memberships.

    I know the gym I joined has two: one for beginners who just wanted to come in and use the facilities two or three times a week, and another unlimited access come-in-every-day-for-hours-to-train-if-you-want.

    Reply
  3. Izlain

    SOE actually did a tiered subscription where you could pay $5 a month and have more limited access (not to content, but hours-wise). It was like you describe, but it didn’t last as they eventually went free to play. They marketed it to “weekend warriors” who don’t play 40 hours a week. I don’t see why that couldn’t be implemented.

    Reply
  4. Murf

    In this day and age, one of the biggest selling points to me when it comes to sub models is its utter simplicity. I don’t really want to see that be made more complicated with various tiers or other mechanics.

    I’d love to see box, expansion, and paying in advance all seriously reduced in cost, however.

    Reply
  5. CutieSquiggoth

    Would you prefer what I’ve seen some Chinese games do, where instead of $15/month, it’s $x/hour played, prepaid. So you buy yourself 20 hours of gameplay, and when you’ve used your 20 hours you buy some more.

    Reply
  6. Machination

    Perfect solution:

    Sub fee = 30 days of game time. You don’t log in that day? Then none of your days are taken. If you play every day you’ll be paying the equivalent of a monthly sub. If you play 1 day a month then you only pay for 1 day a month.

    Hourly subscriptions (China) make me feel like there’s some sort of insane pressure to squeeze the most out of each our. Monthly subscriptions make me feel obligated to play every day of the month. For some reason, daily feels… comfortable. My own pace, whatever it may be. No nagging pressure at the back of my mind as I play.

    Reply
  7. Isey (Post author)

    I played for 2 hours last night so my hourly rate went down from $5 to $3. Very effective use of time!

    @Bhagpuss my frustration (and many others, but I do admit this is my frustration. I can easily spend the $15 a month.. but its the *principle* that is eating away at me..) is that every club, even my gym membership, has options! (I am with Goodlife. There is a monthly fee to use, and an extra fee if I want to be able to use other GOodlife clubs across Canada. The fee is cheaper if I only use the local club). Options make things more inclusive and drive more customers. Think of how many TV options there are.. programming.. packages…

    @Jermoai – whoops, just copied your gym anology. But hey, it works!

    @Izlain – options are easy. It’s the “Free money” companies are worried about losing…

    @Murf – I also love simplicity. I also want fairness, and why not reward loyalty? (most companies reward loyalty. MMOs do not). Loyalty is a different post on its own though…

    @CutieSquigg – Sadly, YES in this case! They charge a nickel to a quarter an hour. That works better for me. It doesn’t work for most though. I like all you can eat buffets, but if I’m not that hungry, I don’t go there =) OF course, the problem with hourly is that if you aren’t hustling while you play you also don’t get value which leads to…

    @Machination – I LOVE that. Or a derivative of it. It is a great solution! It would probably have to be skewed to not daily (because at 50 cents a day, sub fee revenue would crash…) but I think you are onto something!

    So.. what $15.00? Where does that come from? Why not $5…..

    Reply
  8. Machination

    Personally, I love Netflix’s $7.99/month. It’s small enough to go un-noticed on my budget, but big enough to turn a healthy profit.

    I’d totally pay a 30 day daily sub for just about every big MMO on the market (just in case), even though I would never pay a normal monthly sub for them. Guild Wars 2? Totally. Secret World? Definitely. Star Wars? Why not! You get 30 days, and you can use them whenever you want. You don’t have to “resubscribe” in order to get in the game if you still have days left.

    From a company perspective, those “remaining days” are gold. They’re a reminder that you could always get back in the game whenever you want, and they’re more tangible than free-to-play mentality of “them game is still there”. It’s more like “The game is still there, AND I still have 12 tangible days left. Maybe I should go and use them up.”

    Reply
  9. Murf

    It would be a separate post, but I do think it is unfair to say MMOs don’t reward loyalty. Paying less for a subscription because you buy it in bulk IS a form of rewarding loyalty. As are the myriad of veteran rewards programs that many MMOs employ to reward the loyalty of players who’ve remained active for a significant period of time.

    Could they do more? Sure.

    Reply
  10. Isey (Post author)

    Its an upcoming post =) But really Murf, its a FINANCING program, not a LOYALTY program. It benefits the company more than the individual for the most part. (income certainty).

    Reply

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