Guild Wars dev questions subscription fees for MMOs

ArenaNet global brand manager Chris Lye claims in many cases subscription-based model does not fit MMO games, World of Warcraft is exception.

A subscription-based model may not be an optimal idea for today's massively multiplayer online games, ArenaNet global brand manager Chris Lye told Polygon in a new interview. The Guild Wars 2 manager said developers need to carefully consider a business model before taking their game to market.

Subscription fees for MMOs may not be the best idea, Lye says.

"I do feel that any developer who wants to be successful in today's market needs to take a really hard look and say 'Do we really want to use a subscription, is that the best thing for this game?' In many cases I don't think it is," he said. "For all we know there is a type of game out there that will continue to benefit from a subscription model, I've just not heard of it yet."

Elsewhere in the interview, Lye acknowledged that there is still money to be made in the subscription-based MMO market, with Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft representing one example.

When Guild Wars 2 launches on August 28, it will cost a fee up front but will not require a monthly paid subscription to continue playing. Gamers will be able to make additional purchases via microtransactions, but Lye notes not all will make this additional investment, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

"Some amount of your audience is willing to pay for microtransactions and some of them simply won't. And that's okay," he said. "As the developer of the game you have to totally respect that. There's a good portion of the audience that will never pay for microtransactions. But you know what, they add value to the overall game and franchise by being in the game and providing people to party up with and running guilds and adding to the social fabric of the game."

Earlier this week, BioWare announced that it will add a free-to-play option for Star Wars: The Old Republic this fall. This news came on the same day that publisher Electronic Arts announced that the game's paid subscriber base had fallen below 1 million.

For more on Guild Wars 2, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.

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Discussion

227 comments
BYoungMan143
BYoungMan143

I like the way GW2 is doing microtransactions.  There are many ways to continue getting better gear and exp in the game, such as PvE, PvP, gathering and crafting, and exploration.  Microtransactions don't really modify or enhance any of these.  Instead, they add mostly cosmetic features, such as sunglasses or a new hat (stat-free) or a mini-pet that does not join in combat.  There are a few enhancements, such as a 1% exp or karma increase for a set period of time, but they are small upgrades that wear off and don't drastically change the experience or give an edge.

 

It may change in the future, but for now it's great.

Kristoman
Kristoman

GW2 is not pay to win. There's is absolutely nothing within the cash shop that gives players any advantage over one another. Oh sure i can lvl faster or boost crafting faster....oh yeah thats so horrible. PvP jumps everyone up to max lvl so its still completely irrelevant. The money exchange for in game gold only gives bonuses to certain aspects. You can't buy certain materials for crafting meaning you still have to get out there and do the work. Besides if the money exchange begins to hurt the ingame economy it'll be removed or edited. P2P= waste of money. I played GW 1 and nvr found that i had nothing to do while w8ing for an expansion. Between PvP, missions, hard mode, droks runs, etc. i had too much to do. The fact i can pay for extra stuff when i have the cash is good, and when i don't im not losing out. Remember 15 a month is 180 a year plus the game which is 40-60 and expansions. This is a more ideal model. Forced to spend vs Spend as you need/want to.

wiouds
wiouds

Pay to play or play to gain there just different where one is not better or worse than the others.

vishisluv7
vishisluv7

Haha. It's funny every time this is pointed out by a dev, those still paying a fee to play a game always jump in with the "pay to win1!". Lol, gotta justify throwing away a fee every month rather than join the 21st century.

Caldrin
Caldrin

Sure some people wont buy stuff in the cash shop but others will and will probally pay the equivalent of a sub fee for himself/herself and another person who does not use the shop.

 

At the end of the day they need to make money to run the servers and they know that a cash shop will make them jsut as much cash as a sub fee. maybe more..

sicness277
sicness277

What a shock... someone in charge of promoting a game that has no sub fee is claiming that games with sub fees are basically ripping people off.

 

Let's just all ignore what people who pay sub fees expect from an MMO, more content than what was previously provided with the game/expansion, and forget how this game won't have any added content until they release an expansion.

 

 

fiendless7
fiendless7

its either pay a monthly fee of 15 dollars, or  end up forking over hundreds of dollars a month just to compete in these "pay to win" games. id much prefer the 15 dollars.

Landsharkk
Landsharkk

So far, I've have not seen any reason to spend any money on microtransactions within GW2.  I believe everything can be found or bought with in-game gold.  

Lothos_Delion
Lothos_Delion

Don't like micro transactions and I believe that subscription based mmos are on there way out. Folks are just getting tired of monthly fees. I personally don't have much time to play anymore and monthly fees just don't sense.

tgwolf
tgwolf

Well, yeah, once there are so many free to play games available, who in the world will pay for a game subscription? Obvious omission of obvious examples and their addictions to worthless games.

poeticas
poeticas

Guild Wars was always good for its b2p feature ... and never once i have seen it as some "Pay To Win" game ... because all that CS offers is some damn costumes or w/e ... The game world itself is HUGE ... has a lot to offer from quests to dungeons to exploration ... underwater exploration and a lot of other things not to mention its HUGE PVP ... and oh Wait its an MMORPG for which you pay only 60 euro or w/e ... isn't it funny while single player games cost 60 euros and you get with one time pay an MMORPG which you will enjoy for quite some time.

talamalopilis
talamalopilis

"There's a good portion of the audience that will never pay for microtransactions. But you know what, they add value to the overall game and franchise by being in the game and providing people to party up with and running guilds and adding to the social fabric of the game."

 

uhmm what he should have said is that people already bought the game for $60 and thats something, not this social fabric bs. its not like you get the game for free...

Falru
Falru

You know what subscription fees DO work for?Adobe's Creative Cloud.

midnight_trashh
midnight_trashh

Who cares if it isn't or it is pay 2 win. Get a job, a life, a career, and work for a living

thekazumalord
thekazumalord

I'd just be happy for more mmorpgs for my PS3 console.. Seems like all MMO's are for PCs, just not fair. At least we have the awesome free-to-play DC Universe Online for PS3...

jhcho2
jhcho2

Another "Cha-ching Cha-ching!! Pay to Win" statement

edge2002
edge2002

Woah...peeps kill me... This game is SO NOT pay to win! For starters, by sheer design,  it can NOT be "Pay to win"...sorry.. I always see people saying things like "Oh...well...you can trade your Gems for in game gold dur dur..." (ok maybe they don't actually say dur dur,but you get the picture), however, they NEVER seem to mention that you can also buy Gems with in game gold GASP!! Like others have stated,it may be pay for speed but it sure as heck isn't pay to win,so who cares?

 

Seriously though, this game's cash shop is just like the first Guild Wars' .  I played that game for 6 years and never used that cash shop, and having already seen whats in this cash shop (GW2's) , I doubt I will have a reason to use this one either. I will support them through buying their expansions.

rat5112
rat5112

The problem with MMO subscriptions is knowing when to pull the plug.  How often do you have t play in order for it to be worth your 15 dollars.  I've played GW2, I had fun and the setup of microtransactions doesn't seem like it will mess up the balance too much.  So I remain hopeful and can't wait for the 28th

Cozm1kaos
Cozm1kaos

Is this game going to have dungeons? 5 mans 10 mans? or just simple questing system?

 

Emrikcah
Emrikcah

 @tgwolf I dont see why so many care what other people do with their money.

kaos823
kaos823

 @buccomatic  go back to the cave where you came from no one cares what you say go back to yellow kitty online its the best game for guys like you :D

yoohoo94
yoohoo94

 @buccomatic Where are you getting your information from? There will be no mounts in the game at launch, or probably ever. The devs much prefer you to take in the landscape that they worked so hard on making instead of breezing through or over it. And there definitely will not be any flying mounts. And as for the microtransactions, GW1 had a similar business model to GW2, and GW1 was not a pay-to-win game. Arenanet has said that they will be steering far away from pay-to-win, rather the things you can buy via microtransactions are things that do not massively change gameplay for anyone. And no one will be forcing you or anyone else to pay for these microtransactions, so chill out, you don't know what you're talking about.

tgwolf
tgwolf

 @buccomatic I'm glad I could follow your reasoning, now I have MORE reason to buy GW 2 and never pay a fee.

yoohoo94
yoohoo94

 @talamalopilis The audience he's talking about are the people that have already paid $60 to buy the game...

megakick
megakick

 @jhcho2

There is no pay to win in GW there is im too lazy to unlock every skill bundle and vanity items. World of Warcraft has subscription and microtransaction.

Subscriptions are a old bad idea and when the game fails and go to free to play you just look greedy and pathetic, SWTOR.

 

x-TwilighT-x
x-TwilighT-x

 @Tripwolf I played pvp for fun, it wasn't like serious competition. Otherwise, I just played the PvE most of the time. Nothing I couldn't handle with regular merchant items or trades. I don't think I need to spend any money to beat the game. Thus, making it not Pay to Win. :)

schesak
schesak

 @Tripwolf It absolutely is NOT pay to win, in any way shape or form.   As others have said, the only thing anything in the cash shop can arguably said to give in terms of an advantage is time.   At the end of the day, you cannot make the argument that doing anything faster is the means to winning.

The best you can argue is that you have the means to winning "sooner" than someone who doesn't pay.  That's still not pay to win; as long as the non-paying people can get to the exact same place without paying. 

Traditionally MMOs are dominated by people with more time on their hands then a normal person.  

As a general rule, in our society, people who have a lot of money don't have much free time, by contrast people who can't afford much, probably have a lot of free time on their hands.  Given this, it seems to me that time-saving items are the most logical things to put in a cash shop and they don't make a game pay-to-win.....they make it a fair playing field between the two contrasts.

Blue-N-Yellow
Blue-N-Yellow

 @Tripwolf None of the things you listed are "pay to win"; those are all "pay to save yourself some time". Same thing with XP boosts.

 

P2W consists of things like gear and / or gear enhancement features that can be outright purchased. Crappy P2W games will have these gear enhancement things that have a really, REALLY low success rate, UNLESS you buy something from the cash shop that increases your rate. So the company artificially makes it a frustrating and time-consuming endeavor, enticing you to just give up and spend money to do it. As far as I know, GW2 won't have things like that.

 

As far as blueprints / enhancements, all competitive WvW guilds will have guild coffers to cover these costs anyway, so paying for them by selling gems wouldn't give you an advantage over anyone.

Enundr
Enundr

 @Tripwolf gems "buy gold" from other playesr who spent time farming it , so still not seeing your pay to win theory. people will still have to spend time  over the ones that spend cash. the spend cash option is there for ppl who dont have time , but still not be that game breaking to be a pay to win situation.  you just seem to have a hard on trying to say any Free to Play model is the same as Buy to Win model.  do some actual research and try to think before you keep posting all this random crap trying to say its B2W when its nowhere near that concept.

Erebus
Erebus

 @TripwolfThese are HIGHLY  inefficient conversions. Gold and influence are best earned by playing the game, not converting them from gems. Even if people were to spend stupid amounts of money to convert gems to influence, it's pay to advance faster, not pay to win. There is nothing you can buy that will give you an advantage over me that I can't earn.

tgwolf
tgwolf

 @rat5112 Yeah, like, right before you start entering your credit card information. Then, you go get one you never have to pay for. Then your plug is pulled and you saved the first fees. Wow!

Blue-N-Yellow
Blue-N-Yellow

 @Cozm1kaos I believe there will be 8 different 5-man dungeons on release, each with two different difficulty settings.

rat5112
rat5112

 @Cozm1kaos 

There are dungeons.  I'm not sure how many players they need.  The first time you go through a dungeon its on story mode which focuses on the dungeons narrative.  After that when you go through the same dungeon you'll have 3 options on how to do the dungeon.  These will affect the dungeon layout on the mobs you face.  Also there are dynamic events that are affected by your choices and just random chance.

Hornsqualid
Hornsqualid

 @buccomatic This is WoW logic if I ever heard it. Thank you for reminding me why I stopped playing. 

tgwolf
tgwolf

 @buccomatic No. It isn't. Actually about ANY other game is better than WoW. You can't think of another because "WoW is all you can think about.

ToughCritic28
ToughCritic28

 @buccomatic Haha, I knew one of your kind would find their way onto this forum.

 

Please keep playing WoW, I beg you.  I want the Guild Wars 2 community to be full of rational people with good taste; so tell all of your WoW loving friends it sucks too.

vishisluv7
vishisluv7

 @Emrikcah  @tgwolf Exactly. These people need to stop the hate on the newer, better b2p scheme. Let go of the past and get with the times!

terminus
terminus

 @qweasd54  @buccomatic

 I'll enjoy my pandas and the lame GW2 game I have, I have a job, it's nothing to pay 50 cents a day. I understand, you have a drug problem, and need all your money for that. Keep bashing WOW, in the end, it will still be there, GW2 will be paper weight....a forgotten clunky crap attempt at a competitive mmo.

Erebus
Erebus

 @Enundr You just explained it better than I. Thank you. Guild Wars 2 is in no way Pay 2 Win.

schesak
schesak

 @Fowsed I suspect you are looking at a troll, not a fanboy.

Maddv1lla1n
Maddv1lla1n

 @Tripwolf  @schesak I Will also like to add that Microtasactions that trade Gems for money is there so people DONT buy gold from gold farmers that work for those gold selling companies !

Maddv1lla1n
Maddv1lla1n

 @Tripwolf  @schesak I got a chance to play GW2 BWE3 it was fun and  as a little test for the microtrasactions i spend 10$ for RL $ on gems {{ altho i could have baught them with in game gold }} anyways i traded them for gold yes to upgrade one of our watch towers in WvWvW ,so my tower was at  max upgrade and it only stayed that way untill invaders in an organized group came to our server world and it took them some time but becuase of their numbers they destroyed and captured our watch tower. Sothat goes to show that trading gems for money doesnt mean shit . Also the Xp bost that you buy only last for 30 while you kill monsters and what not ,and i would say its not worth it becuase you get most of your Xp from doing quest , like someone said before the microtransactions are more for people for dont have time to invest into the game and want a speed boost as far as keeping up to people who have put some time into the game . its not a big deal if you dont want it dont buy it simple as that .

tgwolf
tgwolf

 @Tripwolf They did that in GW, virtually. So given that, those who choose the micro transactions are in better shape than those that keep paying monthly.

schesak
schesak

 @Tripwolf PvP is the only place where competition with other players actually matters, and you get max level for PvP without paying....you make no sense.

Enundr
Enundr

 @Erebus the store is just there for cosmetic stuff , alot of it generally can be random drops , at a rarer drop rate , but not totally impossible for them . atleast nothing from what ive seen.  mini pets might be the hardest ones to get so i think theyre mostly stuff in the mystic chests on chance and buy from the store. its still going to be the same thing in a sense as it was previously , there for ppl who like the cosmetic stuff , in some way for ppl that like the costumes (like from GW1)

tgwolf
tgwolf

 @schesak A troll is flattery, trolls don't need to have their heads attached to function.