TOR Lucas Arts and EA should re-think the MMO subscription model

Discussion in 'Games' started by Timstuff, Mar 19, 2010.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Timstuff Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 7, 2008
    star 1
    They should come up with a better subscription model than just having everyone pay $15 a month for unlimited access, like every other MMO seems to do these days. People like me have a lot of other games we like to play, and we have lives to live. If I pay $15 a month and then I go a month where I only play the game for 12 hours, that $15 is a huge waste of money, which is why I don't play MMOs. They should have alternative plans for more casual players where it's more like a cell phone plan, where you buy a set number of hours for a small price. The $12-15 unlimited plan would be the most expensive, but below that there could be $1.99, $4.99, and $7.99 plans which give you a limited number of hours to play with. When you run out of hours, it asks you to authorize a new payment, and you have the option of renewing, upgrading, downgrading, or freezing your account until you feel like renewing. This would be much more convenient and affordable, and I think it would result in a lot more people playing who wouldn't otherwise.

    I stopped playing Final Fatasy XI because I was not playing it nearly often enough to justify paying $10 a month for it. I got more bang for my buck from the other games I was playing, because I didn't feel like I was wasting money if I went a week without playing them, and unfortunately I think that that's why a lot of WOW users play a lot longer than they should. They are paying regardless of whether or not they improve their character and want to get their money's worth, so the pricing structure kind of encourages binging and addiction. I really hope that Lucas Arts, EA, and Bioware consider alternatives to the typical MMO pricing plan, because I am very interested in The Old Republic but I am also leery of the problems that playing a subscription-based game will cause for me.
  2. Qui-Gon_Reborn Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 11, 2008
    star 6
    But isn't the monthly payment system just standard for all MMOs?
  3. DarthBobbalot Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2002
    star 5
    No, just about 95% of them though. And even though I dislike hearing how people will boycott games just because there is a subscription fee, I have to think to myself that, except for WoW, most other MMO's don't take off and do too well after release. Maybe more MMOs would do better if they didn't have the subscription fee attached to it.
  4. CeiranHarmony Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2004
    star 5
    I agree with the first poster about subscription etc.

    the Guild Wars MMO is awesome and and enjoys a huge fanbase that can compete with WOW which is worse compared to Guild Wars in my opinion.

    there you just pay for the game like with single player games and whenever an update/add-on comes out with new maps, worlds etc. you can buy it or leave it. I love that system, but the first posters described "buy-hours-model" would work, too.

    another trouble with subscrition is the payment options, because if it is creditcard only many are also left out. especially in europe where credit card paying is not standard like in the US.
  5. Timstuff Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 7, 2008
    star 1
    WoW has game cards that you can buy in stores, so I'm sure KOTOR will have something similar. What's iffy for me is how much it will cost and what kind of time investment it would take to get my money's worth out of the fee.
  6. CeiranHarmony Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2004
    star 5
    while I know that too much commercials suck, why not try new ground that some single player games already walked and do a partial financing of the game through real life commercial artwork/posters used in-game. Of course they might be Star Wars styled and have to fit in the scenery then.

    I'd have no trouble with Space McDonalds or something like that if it fits in and helps to make the game affordable taking some monetary weigth of the gamers. though this is a difficult move that carefully needs to be charted and checked regulary so that the Gamemakers and not the companies do have control over that part of the game then. After all it needs to fit in to work.

    PS: And it'd be awesome if you could order a Pizza in-game and continue playing until you hear the door bell ring :p
  7. Darth_Zandalor Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 2, 2009
    star 4
    Lucasarts doesn't control the subscription method. That duty is most likely assigned to EA, who will want to wring every cent out of the game. If it were up to Bioware, we probably wouldn't have a monthly subscription. But since EA is handling it, there's not much we can do.
  8. LordTroepfchen Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 9, 2007
    star 4
    We can pay in other modes in Europe. At least for WoW, Lotro and Eve we do not have or need credit card payment. So, I guess they´ll cover Europe through the usual channels. Paypal, Einzugsermächtigung that stuff . . .

    It is rumored to become the most expensive game in game-history. So I seriously guess that whoever has to carry that cost, will obviously fight for every cent. Even Bioware wants their firm to exist a year after release . . .
  9. Winged_Jedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 28, 2003
    star 4
    Agreed LordT. Bioware keep talking about how this is the biggest game in their history, with the most investment being put into it. And that's very nice and exciting, but this is the other side of the coin. All that work costs money.
  10. Scummy Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2008
    star 4
    I'd rather pay monthly for a polished game with frequent content updates then pay once for an inferior product. It's true that some games like Guild Wars do well without a monthly fee, but they also end up compensating by releasing 'chapters' you have to buy. Besides that, Guild Wars has always been a poor man's MMO and it reflects. I'm not saying Guild Wars is a bad game, it is what it is. I just want a higher caliber experience from The Old Republic.

    As for the people who recommended ingame advertising, no no no no no no no. Let's not forget the 'RPG' in MMORPG. Nothing breaks the mood of role-playing like getting an Egg McMuffin ad.

    Scummy
  11. Jedi Gunny Yahtzee Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    May 20, 2008
    star 8
    Agreed. If ToR costs a lot of money to produce, then EA will try and get their money back plus some profit.
  12. Timstuff Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 7, 2008
    star 1
    In-game advertising would destroy TOR, because as someone said a McDonalds billboard has no place in the Star Wars universe, even if they try to make it look in-universe. The Matrix Online had a lot of in-game advertising problems and people said it detracted greatly from the experience, because it did not feel like The Matrix when you saw a commercial for The History Channel playing on a giant TV screen. The Matrix is not the real world, and in the movies they deliberately covered up all of the car brand logos so that it would feel more sterile and artificial. The Poweraid machines in Enter the Matrix were a major eyesore, as well (although not much could have saved that game anyway).

    I'm not saying that TOR should have no subscription fee. Obviously, the game's content and servers aren't going to pay for themselves, so for a high quality experience they're going to need direct funding from users. However, that doesn't mean that a one-size-fits-all payment plan is the only way to go. They could increase their userbase and get people who have never played an MMO before to jump in if they'd offer lower-tier subscriptions that casuals players could afford. It would be a win-win, because EA and Bioware get a larger subscriber base, and the players who can't afford the unlimited subscription can still play the game. Using the same plan as Blizzard uses with WoW means that ultimately, the only people who are going to play are the ones dedicated enough to pay a $15 a month fee.
  13. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    I think WoW China might charge by hourly blocks rather than monthly (not totally sure on this front, it's hearsay-of-hearsay), so alternative models do exist. I think it may work out more expensive for the truly hardcore types though, and that would be the death of just idling ingame talking to people.
  14. Timstuff Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 7, 2008
    star 1
    It all depends on how reasonable the hourly rate is and whether or not the typical $14.99 unlimited subscription is still available for hardcore users to purchase if they desire it. Talking to people on your cellphone with a limited plan costs money as well, but if you're barely talking 1/4 as much someone with an unlimited plan then it makes sense to use the plan that is more expensive by the minute but cheaper overall. I don't want to buy 200 hours of gameplay every month when I'll only be using 30 of them or less. For the person who can afford to put over 100 hours a month into the game, the unlimited plan is a good value, so they have a perfectly valid reason to invest in it. For someone like me though, who only plays a few hours of video games a week, I'd rather be able to spend $5 to buy 40 hours of gameplay and feel like I got my money's worth.
  15. Lord_Lahmien Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2008
    star 1
    The hourly rate is a bad idea. It brings to mind the days of when AOL chraged by the hour and I received a monthly bill of near $1000 followed the next month by a $500 bill those hours wrack up faster than you think. Hopefully LA/EA/Bioware offer a lifetime sub at around $200 and I will pick that up, I currently have a one for LOTRO and it has already paid for itself.
  16. Robonino Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 29, 2009
    star 1
    Lifetime subscription is a fine idea. Not that I'll get to play at all on my Mac or anything...
  17. YYZ-2112 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2004
    star 4
    The monthly sub fee ensures the game gets attention after launch. It pays the wages of the staff who will maintain the game and upgrade the game over time. It pays for the server costs and the building they are housed in. And although I respect the consumer's desire for a more flexible pricing plan, the developers need to be able to project earnings in order to pitch expansion ideas to the money lenders.

    The idea of 'ingame' advertising sounds like an easy fix. Even if they could be integrated in a way that didn't disrupt immersion or distract players from the experience of the game, the last thing the MMORPG genre needs is to have the hand of corporate commercial giants affecting the content of these games. Because even if they don't have a say in the creative process now, you can bet good money that they will if it becomes a standard in the financial structure. As it is, the current lenders often have a say in how games are made and what is made but for now those lenders are generally companies who understand games because it is their business. If companies that makes soda and cheeseburgers have an influence on how games are made, than the quality of the product in general will decline affecting consumer interest until there is no market for it; essentially killing the industry.

    I'd love to see daily or even hourly subscription systems work successfully, but I feel the genre is a long way off from employing that kind of model. When pretty much every MMO out there charges fifteen dollars a month for unlimited access, there is very little incentive for lenders to agree to a system that offers less income. Because the fact is, casual players will contribute much less income in a system that works that way. And if funding becomes a problem, so does getting a project like The Old Republic off the ground. Chances are that the financial agreements concerning profit percentages and subscription methods are agreed upon before an MMO even goes into pre-production. Any kind of hourly subscription model that lenders might agree on would likely result in increased costs for a good portion of the player base.
  18. Timstuff Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 7, 2008
    star 1
    You'd think that publishers would be on the lookout for alternative business models though, because that could potentially expand the customer base by huge margins. $15 for one month of gameplay is a big commitment, especially if you're someone like me who knows they won't get their money's worth out of it. Even Netflix has tiered subscription options, and yet to my knowledge there are no pay-to-pay MMOs that have any such option. The only ones that come close are the ones that are free to play but charge you real money for in-game items, and I really can't see Bioware going that route.

    IMO tiered subscription options should be the future of MMO's, and yet none of the publishers seem interested in trying it. I think the reason they do not offer a tiered subscription program for any of these games is because the publishers think that if someone is interested in the game, they'll pay the fee even though it's expensive. However, in practice this ends up being "We don't want cheapskates playing our game. If you can't pay $15 a month, we'd rather you didn't play our game at all." The reality of the situation is that more people would play if they had membership tiers, but they only want to do business with the people who are willing to pay the most.
  19. wedge41388 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 15, 2010
    star 3
    I think the new game APB is trying a new subscription model. Now unless I missread it, They allow you to purchase blocks of time that you can use, and they even make it so when you run out of time in the middle of a mission they wont kick you out, they let you finish up. Im pretty sure they also have a monthly plan. They also have "social zones" which do not eat up game time. but since this game isnt released yet im not sure how well it works.
    Personally i would probably prefer a monthly subscription just to start, but after the first month when i emerge from my apartment to go back to work to pay the bills, a hourly plan would be more feasible.

    Although at this point i would probably promiseoff my firstborn son to play this game :p
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.