Why do MMORPG Subscription Fees Still Exist?

MMO fees used to be normal, but times change. So why do Elder Scrolls Online, WildStar, and Final Fantasy XIV still use them? We asked, they answered.

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265 comments
nahilu
nahilu

I prefer pay subsciption fees and have acces to all game aspects rather than having to pay each features to be able to acces the full game potential.


I am a hardcore gamer I spend more than 50 hours in mmo every week since 1999 in EverQuest and subscription fees cost less than free to play games.


Free to play are good mmo for casual player


Subscription fees games are good for hardcore players.


But why play a mmo if your a casual.....


TLDR: Wow isn't a mmo.<



crognalsen
crognalsen

I've given up on MMORPGs.  They are now mostly games ruled by people who want the option to skip whatever content they want in the game.  Don't want to do this part of the game pay money.  Don't want to level your character pay money.  Don't want to farm for an item pay money.  The greatest thing about MMOs was that you felt some type of pride for all the time you invested in your character and the challenges you overcame.  That is pretty much long gone.  Now they are all hop in and hop out type of games.

Arsyad00
Arsyad00

duh, its still exist because the company need munneh.

millerdimarem
millerdimarem

I have no problem paying a subscription fee for an MMO if I feel that I'm getting value for my payment. I have played many different MMOs and have found that the trend is to expect a subscription payment for keeping servers up. However the subscription fee goes to covering logistical costs (such as server upkeep) but also it should be used to create new content to keep players interested.

argos163
argos163

Nice article :)

The guy talking on behalf of Elder Scrolls Online summed it up nicely. How much do you value what you're paying for, or not paying for? How much are you willing to pay to play a game? Nothing? 5? 10? 15? 200? If your favorite game is free to play and went pay to play, would you pay the monthly fee?

Joker0fLife
Joker0fLife

Here's the thing... 15 dollars a month for an MMO isn't that much. I used to think paying that for WoW was a lot, but I was also a teenager with no job at the time. So I played F2P games. I played enough F2P games to realize why $15 a month might actually be worth it. If the game has a steady stream of content and the content is good enough to leave an impression and keep you playing, then 15 a month is completely reasonable. Paying for Netflix or Gamefly (or both) is the same as paying for a subscription so I really don't see the problem.

jkgarrett17
jkgarrett17

Subscription-based games are fine, but when they add cash shops while disallowing RMT, they are hypocritical and should be boycotted.

Blue-Sky
Blue-Sky

Subscription model is the best. 


It keeps content and maintenance consistent. It also allows Developers to plan ahead because they know exactly how much money they will get. 


riotinto876
riotinto876

Make the subscriptions about play time and not fixed intervals. I Work full time, have a family and friends. Playing a game non stop is just not gonna happen. I may play a bit here and there, but I will definitely not pay a full month subscription just to play 10 hours at most in a month. Charge me for the time I actually played and I will buy your subscription, keep charging me for the time I'm not using your service and I will just cancel the subscription. As simple as that.

hugo_fernandes
hugo_fernandes

Humm what about Guild Wars 2 ??
You buy the game but there is no subscription model.

Tripwolf
Tripwolf

Subscriptions are the best way to go. It puts everybody on equal footing. Games like Wildstar combine the worst elements of both systems... the fact that you can buy ingame currency goes against what makes subscriptions great. It's pay to win.


15 bucks a month. Fair. Period.

psychoticvixen
psychoticvixen

I would always choose a subscription MMO over a F2P but I do admit that I often feel stuck and/or forced to play them over anything else I might play because of how expensive some are.

If it was a option some sort of lowering in cost of you don't play every day or all month would be a good idea.

ermacos
ermacos

I played ESO in the beta and loved it so I bought it. I spend my 1 free month playing it and I cancel my sub, didnt paid them for an extra month after my monthly experience.

1) It was not the dupe bug 

2) It was not the bugs at all

It was the way the game forced me to play

1) lock my entire account into guilds, so I couldn't have 1 single character without guilds. I always have 1-2 guilds to play with, but my entire account?  NO WAY.

2) I choose to be a covenant and I was forced to experience the content of the other 2 factions. I felt like a traitor  (lol).  I was sooo much felt down

3) Because I couldn't accept of locking my account into guilds, I couldn't sell anything, so all my space filled with stuff and I quit.

I personally I was expecting vendorism, an area I could hire a vendor and add all my stuff for sale and people can find and buy...Or in the worst case a AH.

so its the stupid ideas they forced into the game that made me leave, not the cs, not the bugs, but those who took these STUPID decisions.  I play swtor, its a much better game and I am a sub there.  I have my rep characters into a guild, also few imperial characters into imp raiding guild and I also run my own guild in a prive state, only me....And I love it that way.

Crossel777
Crossel777

Free to play to me come across as a really cheaply made rushed games.  They just don't seem to have anywhere near the same amount of quality control than games that you pay for. 

hoyholyhoy
hoyholyhoy

I fail to see how f2p equals p2w. There's Archeage, Blade and Soul, Guild Wars 2 (b2p), and "newly" free Tera to name a few all of which totally fantastic and cost 0 to access every bit of the content which is the complete opposite of p2w. Get your heads out those a$$es, mobile game f2p is totally different from mmo unless we're talking DCUO.

Godendag
Godendag

Better pay 14 bucks for a complete and equal experience, than 50$ bucks a month just to be more advanced than the rest or nothing and play half a game.

noppleflop
noppleflop

Because if they don't it becomes pay to win garbage.

Grodoboldo
Grodoboldo

Because Free to play sucks.


/thread

cooders
cooders

I just wish they would do something like a tiered pay system for casual gamers, something like: 1 - 3 hours: free, 3 – 10 hours: $4.99, 10 – 20 hours: $9.99 and 20+ hours: $14.99. I usually quit most MMOs after a few months because I just want to play so casually without commitment and having to pay $15 to only play a few hours a month I can’t justify.

Wanting to get back into WoW and try out FF14 at the moment… but not pulling the trigger because of the fees. That being said, I’m ok with the fees, and generally prefer them over f2p because I like an even playing field… but think a tier pay scale with a max would be awesome. I would keep all my MMO accounts active and not worry because I would pay what I play.

alexandrajade27
alexandrajade27

All games will be subscription-based (or pay-per-play based) eventually. I wish that weren't the case, but especially since the overwhelming majority of gamers seem to play a game once and then sell it, I can't see how it won't happen.

devinadint
devinadint

I don't mind a subscription fee but I do think that $15 is pretty exorbitant.  It comes out to $180 plus purchasing the game brings the first year up to over $200.  I just can't see how it can cost more then Netflix at $8/mo especially when its only targeted at the gamer where as the $8 Netflix subscription covers a whole family.  Further for guys like me that work and have children I can't always break away and play an online game making it even harder to justify the cost

ScorpeX
ScorpeX

This is a silly question, do people really have this short a memory?

Almost every single AAA MMO starts with a sub, all modern mmo titles have lost it within 2 years of launching due to massive player losses.  ESO, Wildstar and FFXIV are no different, they are all wow clones and they will all suffer huge losses and go f2p within the next year.

Asking this is like asking the same exact question about Rift, Tera, AoC, SW etc.

Every mmo dev talks big about their sub model and how good it is, until the day they change it.

Anyone that has played a modern mmo has been though this, seen the talk before yet people still fall for it or thing these 3 will be any different.

VampySS
VampySS

I've been with ESO since the beta stages. Hell, I bet I was among the first to subscribe to their newsletter when they didn't even had screens posted.


Then ESO launched with their masterplan payment platform and the game. I'm not a cheap guy, I payed 80€ for a DIGITAL copy of the game. You don't have to be a brainiac to realize that 80€ for a digital (underlining digital) product for which you'll continue to pay monthly is way too much, but hey.. in my defense.. I am a ES fan. Even if I had bought the Imperial Edition, I still felt it was damn stupid to charge 25€ plus for basically nothing, but a small piece of locked content. I went on paying monthly to play the game. That, until 1 month ago. It wasn't worth neither my money nor my time anymore.  Not going to get into details, but let's just say it was a group decision (about 20 players).


Listening to the ESO guy, saying how they want to build the best version of the game and that is why they were and still are milking.. excuse me.. charging people, is insulting. I truly believe that in the long run, ESO will lose. It will either become a totally failed MMO with a few addicts playing (a few not as in 10 people, but you get my point) or it'll become FTP with other ways of milking people for cash.

I'm not sad for paying for ESO. At least I tried it. Unlike some complaining people out there, I feel that having paid for the game and having paid monthly too play, gives me the right to mini-bash it now, when it hasn't proven it's worth. But hey, maybe I have my standards set too high.. or maybe I'm right. Time will tell.

fatalwounds1
fatalwounds1

Why do these MMOs still have subscription fees? Because the devs recognize that an MMO should be about the journey, not the destination. Being able to drop a few bucks to have all kinds of in-game conveniences handed to you on a silver platter completely spoils both the journey and the destination for me. Players who are dedicated to the game should shine, not casuals who want to let their money play the game for them. The journey belongs in the game, not in your wallet.

Take a look at Runescape's F2P model a la 2005. Free players had their own portion of the game, and if they decided to pay the subscription fee, it didn't cheapen or shorten the journey, it expanded it and added all kinds of new and wonderful things to it. Perfect.

One thing I'll say though is that the average $15 per month subscription fee is definitely a bit too high, and the initial purchase seems unnecessary.

hubris86
hubris86

I feel I just got ripped off I had to pay 40 bucks to download a game, then now i'll have to p[ay 14 bucks a month from now on to play a game thats just like a free game called tera online....? I dont get it. And I did not see anywhere in the description of the game that I had to pay a subscription! Highway robbery!

k41m
k41m

I dont mind sub money, 15 dollars a month isn't going to cause me to miss any bills... chump change. Gaming isn't a right, it's a hobby and you better be prepared to pay.

Anteares
Anteares

$15/month subscription eventually makes me want to quit the game due to the grind and sense of 'having to play' that game to get my money's worth.  If it were ~$5/month I would probably be happy paying $20/month to play 4 different games.  
That said, I don't want F2P.  I don't want microtransactions or nickle&dime you for features that should be freely accessed in the game like they USED TO BE.  I don't want 'grind2win' or 'pay2win'.  I want a good game I can pick up, put down, and be happy paying $5/month or $15/3 months.  Think about that...$60/year to play an MMO that you don't have to commit your life to...the price of a typical full access game (if those even exist anymore).  
More players, more money, more variety, more fun. Makes too much sense though.

lionheart051
lionheart051

I use to be a HARDCORE subscription supporter (check my past posts lol).  But now i dunno, I been playing games like Firefall (a lot recently since it will officially release on the 29th)  and Planetside 2.  These games are fun, and i can play them all i want and only throw down cash when i see fit.  Plus wild star and TESO being major disappointments may have helped changed my mind a bit also. Look at LOL, DOTA and teamfortress.  They release content, yet they are f2p.  My thing is when doing f2p companies must make sure the game doesn't become to p2w and they don't get greedy and design the game around the cashshop and not making the game better.


But i think ultimately it comes down to both being implemented into one.  Not like wildstar did (you have to sub/buy the game to even get in the door), but like how Planetside 2/Tera did and Firefalls seems to be coming around to doing.  You can play the game for free, but you still have the option to subscribe/VIP as its called in this sense, which will get you extra benefits (to help pay the bills for the game so that it can improve) but not so much that you become OP but so that you get a little more convince.

N0madS0uL
N0madS0uL

Personally I prefer a subscription where you can grind in the game for something and not buy it with real money, I am not someone who has a bottomless wallet to spend extra on a game apart from the subscription, I feel if it is a good game I would sub till I no longer feel like playing or I am not satisfied anymore with the game or its direction, but i want all options and features open to me and achievable or able to earn them through grinding in the game.


Games like EVE online, Wildstar do this well, even Star Citizen lets you earn the same items in the game that is purchasable with real currency. Don't be greedy and take more from your subscriber, they already are committed. I will take a subscription any day over F2P, all they do is create content that they can charge you for, content you cant earn via hard work in the game but via your real money, it ends up costing you much more than a subscription.


Stick to subs I say, people will always want free things, that doesn't mean they should get it, in my opinion let them pay the sub and give them content they believe is "free" but just let them work for some of it also, via achievements etc. ;)


RedXuchilbara
RedXuchilbara

When you think about it, the ppl making the MMO need to get paid for their effort,
How else do you expect them to afford to keep rolling out new content for the MMO we love at a consistent rate?
If you go to the FP2 model, The rate new content comes out drops quiet a bit,
unless somehow that can make up for that ether with a cash shop or some other way to bring in money.

Really the simplest solution is a P2P model, on average this type of model can guarantee more content and life for a MMO then F2P.

well at least that's my 2 cents.

oflow
oflow

if an mmo is good i'd rather pay the $15/mo than waste time dealing with coins and trinkets to get upgrades.  

ANDS_
ANDS_

I would be very surprised if Wildstar isn't FTP in a year or so's time.  You can drop all the content you want; if the content is boring and placed within a buggy poorly optimized environment it's not going to be fun.

Keaze_
Keaze_

@riotinto876 That can't work.  People sometimes like to leave their MMO open all day and while they sleep for several reasons.

asmoddeuss
asmoddeuss

@hugo_fernandes Exactly, and there is 1 or 2 game balance/maintenance updates per week, plus they add content all time, a TON of content. No subscription model, buy the game once and you connect forever, whenever you want, for the time you want. So to say subscription model "keeps content and maintenance consistent" is BS.

yueira
yueira

@ermacos I played the beta and bought the Imperial edition, but I did not even use my free month after released dropped even though I did play the five free days offered. I feel like such a fool to have the thing that I've paid for just sitting there, but I feel that my time is worth more than that.


That being said, I too love SWTOR, but after 3 months of shuttling around guild after guild of buttbags, I decided enough was enough and left it. Is it better after the new expansion? 

asmoddeuss
asmoddeuss

@hoyholyhoy Guild wars 2 is not free to play. You need to pay once for the game (b2p?) . Anyway, the existence of Guild wars 2 just prove that subscription base game is more about greed than anything else. 

hoyholyhoy
hoyholyhoy

You're brainless if you think those games are WoW clones. That's like saying every fps is a CoD clone. But I agree with everything else.

yueira
yueira

@VampySS I went balls out and got the Imperial Edition. I still haven't used my free month, I got so disillusioned after the five free days offered. Is it significantly better after the fixes and various patching came into play?

VampySS
VampySS

@k41m True, very true.. but if you pay, you have to get your money`s worth, right? And there is a thing about overcharging too. 

chicobeberlou
chicobeberlou

@lionheart051 I wouldn't say wildstar was a major disappointment per se; relatively you can check how other MMOs, especially F2P ones fail so much harder. Really think wildstar can climb up from a slump, you should try it again alongside Firefall lol, if you've already bought it.

jefflim902
jefflim902

@advocacy Free to play / Freemium games are waaaay greedier. I've played my share of subscription games and I'd rather pay 15$ a month, chump change to be honest, than play a game with no sub but totally have to pay up to be competitive, which is kind of the point when playing. That being said, I feel I'm getting my moneys worth with Wildstar as my current game of choice.

dosvalencia
dosvalencia

@advocacy And F2P MMOs aren't greedy? Why is it that when you do decide to play an F2P MMO (such as SWTOR, PSO2) for real, meaning an experience that's actually rewarding in some way (or merely to unlock all that is has to offer), you always end up spending more than what you would for a sub MMO (such as Wildstar, ESO).

F2P is greedy.

jjddgguzman
jjddgguzman

@oflow exactly, plus if I appreciate fully the MMO I'm playing at the moment (Wildstar currently), I think of it as a way to thank the devs for a game I'm enjoying. I never regretted the cash I plopped fown for Wildstar, best subscription money I've paid for since WoW, totally worth it.

RedXuchilbara
RedXuchilbara

@ANDS_ I have to agree, all though Wildstar has some fun elements, its far too easy of a game and takes no time at all to get to end game.
most ppl will just get to end game and be like, I'm done, and move on.

annaisha
annaisha

@Keaze_ @riotinto876 Strawman argument. riotinto never said that what he suggested should be the _only_ subscription method.

ermacos
ermacos

@yueira @ermacos 

With the discipline thing they added in 3.0 patch, the game is like you playing it for the first time.

The healers must be hardcore healers! They made it a very hard core experience. There is lots of content new into swtor, I really love the new expansion, but there is also lots of ranting, that the expansion is not that big as Makeb was when it came out.

The difference is, that the 2 new planets are so much beautiful than Makeb or any other planet in the game and u spend much more time than you did in Makeb. So your experience is so much more enjoyable.

The first days you could find up to 17 instances into a single planet! Many people came back and we have lag issues in the servers. Now its much better when it comes into lag, but there is lots of bugs. And they have to rebalance things.

I would suggest you to try it out as f2p, its very limited, but at the same time you really get the idea how swtor is at the current state. 

What makes it very surprising, 9-10 months ago, someone in Reddit posted a topic called "the feature of Swtor".  Everybody believed that its a kind of a trolling and the dream of any star wars funboy, but today, seeing how the story goes, everybody goes back and reads that topic a bit more skeptical... I would suggest you to do the same. According to it, it will be a swtor 2 and maybe they will maintain swtor 1 as f2p to attract them into a sub based mmo swtor 2.

kachungb00
kachungb00

@chicobeberlou @lionheart051 Agree. F2P is only very very rarely not greedy and crap. If it's from Blizz, like Hearthstone, why not, but generally F2P is P2W. Wildstar/Firefall isn't as far as could be seen.

cheesemaste1988
cheesemaste1988

@RedXuchilbara @ANDS_ Its far too easy of a game? so you defeated all the raid bosses? Got gold on all the dungeons? Oh wait, no one has even defeated the first raid boss in the forty man raid.


It just shows you didnt play it, or not for very long,  because even the leveling process ramps up substantially in difficulty after level 20 and for mmo standards id definitely put it on the harder end of the spectrum for leveling content, and on the extreme end for raiding content.