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.

Discussion

233 comments
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.

k41m
k41m

Wow your pretty cute, yummy.

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.

jeremiah06
jeremiah06

I play ff14 and my only issue with monthly subscriptions is time... Whenever I decide to buy a month I always end up being too busy to play enough to justify the subscription... if it offered a times logged in thing like you get 30 logins a month and they rollover or something that would be perfect.

BoxOfPocky
BoxOfPocky

Aside from the very few rare gems out there, most "free" to play games are either garbage or pay to win. I rather cough up that $15 a month and know that I am getting all the contents than a bunch of micro transactions for little boosts and crap.

nigelholden
nigelholden

I honestly never understood subscription fees before playing an MMO I really likes, FFXIV. After learning how to play that sort of game (still learning), I have come to appreciate the sheer amount of updates, and content. I have been having more fun spending $12 per month rather than $60-$120 a month on different games. But that's just my experience at the moment. 


Elixir99
Elixir99

It use to be free to play was really looked down on, now it the other way round because apparently paying more than a sub for boosts, cosmetics, play to win features, loot chests and other crap is better than a one time montly fee for all content in a game. Gamers are rly stupid now, plus I like subs because it keeps most of the cheapass scum out that infest free to play games.

Nautalus79
Nautalus79

I don't have a lot of time to play subscription based games although I would love to play them.  It seems like a waste of money if people don't have the time and a missed opportunity for the developers if people would still like to play them when they do have the time.  I would gladly pay for "progress" though.  Hypothetically, if they said you can pay $15 or whatever to get to level 20 and more after that to get to another hypothetical level that would be great or at least give that option other than subscription.  They could work out the math somehow.  That way for people who want to play but don't have the time or money to spare everyday playing could still play when they can. 

gunnmetal
gunnmetal

im mad because all i wanted was a coop skyrim not a full blown mmo 15$ a month plus 69.99$ plus tax

nazgoroth
nazgoroth

They exist because people keep paying...

losstoney
losstoney

Been paying for wow since TBC :D And ill will pay till they stop making wow :D

Penguinlord1
Penguinlord1

I'd rather pay a subscription fee every month and play a good, quality, MMO than free-to-play garbage. Honestly, if you don't have say $15 a month for a game you greatly enjoy, then there is something financially wrong with you. That's like two combos at a fast food restaurant or a couple cups of coffee. I've seen people dump more money into FTP games than I have seen people paying via the older subscription-based model. So saying monthly subscriptions are too expensive is complete BS when people spend $60 on a traditional game or even more on a "free-to-play" game. I'd rather just pay a subscription fee and get a superior experience than garbage.

3dmatrixgamer
3dmatrixgamer

King WoW is the reason Why do MMORPG Subscription Fees Still Exist?

maxpowr3
maxpowr3

Simply, it's a steady income for the companies and nothing more. When content is being pushed out on a regular basis [a major patch every 3/4 months], I can see a subscription having merit. When companies started to use the subscription as a coercion tactic when there is a lack of content, gamers left in droves.

jwsoul
jwsoul

As an Ex WOW player ("Amazing game") i prefer a subscription as buying to win is weak and goes against my enjoyment for me personally. Maintenance and updates cost and as long as the price is reasonable i do not mind. 

hellcat71
hellcat71

I used to play WoW, and dabble in SWTOR, played Defiance on the Xbox as well. Now that it is a F2P I have started the move to PC with defiance. They like many other F2P games offer purchases of DLC, they are not overly expensive the season pass is $40 for the first 5 and the newer ones look to be running $10-$15 or so. There are also boost packs but they can run as high as $99. I also like the fact that it is based around the TV shows storyline. They also have the added bonus of giving codes out in the show that give you stuff in-game. No one else is doing anything close to that. I stopped WoW due to the fees. I could not justify that and an Xbox subscription every month. I understand and support sub fees if I am not required to Purchase the Game at $40-$60 initially, or that all future upgrades/add-ons are included in the monthly fees. Think about it, If 1 million people pay $15/month and the server cost is 1% of the budget they may pay $100k a month for that games server vs. the $15mil coming in. I think that more that pays for any work on upgrades and game improvements.

joejoe1639
joejoe1639

I think some people would rather pay a standard subscription fee for an even playing field than see who can max out their credit card the fastest in a pay to win environment.


Server maintenance isn't free, these companies have to recoup their expenses somehow.  The "free MMO" is an illusion. 

balders74
balders74

I bought wild star and it was OK but not worth £10 a month sub.  So might sub again in the winter when I'm stuck indoors (also by then bugs should be fixed and I can see if new content is added without having to buy expansion packs on top of the sub).  I can't see why these greedy companies do subs, a $50 dollar A year expansion should include all yearly fees.  I bought the wow expansion and will play it for 1 or 2 months then cancel until the next expansions out (but its starting to bore me so don't think I will buy next expansion).  PC's these days and consoles can have 64 players online and most mmos you play and quest in an area with a few friends and like me may do a 5 man instance (never been into raiding), so paying £50 for a game then having to sub is nuts.  You could be in a game lobby and do instances and add people to friends list like in diablo 3, battlefield 4 etc.  I think Wildstar and Wow expansion will be the last mmo I buy as I don;t feel they are great value for money.  You buy an expansion you can't fly again (wow)  or in 2 mins all your old gear is better from all green drops (so why waste £10 a month sub, just buy next expansion sub for 2 months and cancel and save £100.


Wow is the worse offender for no extra content.  Or its seems like half the dungeons etc have been disabled when an expansion is released and they enable them gradually over 12 months saying they adding new content which kidna of sucks.

wlados22
wlados22

this is great :-D so why WOW after 12 months without new content is always on sub-model? Because its too huge and its a social place for making money and to play. SWTOR is good game. I am surprised about TERA success, but i wish them the best its fine game. ESO will be god-like you will see in 1,5 years.

Lu_Shen
Lu_Shen

Such a stupid question. MMO fees still exist because people want money! Derp.

shadowchronicle
shadowchronicle moderator moderator

My only qualm with this is that it is easy to get money without getting people to pay monthly.  Along with having to pay the initial price + the fees is kind of irritating.

northArrow
northArrow

There is literally no excuse for subscriptions anymore. Sub fees today are nothing more than an attempt by developers to price gouge thier most loyal fans.

If you compare the amount of content added and "service" provided, there's very little difference between sub games and F2P

DAOWAce
DAOWAce

Should add SWTOR to that list, since it's borderline unplayable without a subscription.

Can you play F2P? Yes.  Is it enjoyable? Not at all.  Basically forced me into subscribing, something I haven't done since I quit WoW back before TBC was released.


Can't stand paying a sub fee anymore; can't justify it with having a life, so much wasted money every hour you don't play.  Some companies don't even improve the game in any meaningful way either despite raking in all those monthly subs (SWTOR lol), it's terrible.

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.

lostn
lostn

@BoxOfPocky You aren't getting everything. You still have to buy expansion packs.

mdrilon222
mdrilon222

@Penguinlord1 word, Wildstar in my case, has taken all my money, I keep throwing away my money at this game. :(

oflow
oflow

@Penguinlord1 yep its 50 cent a day or 2 less big mac meals a month and its worth it.  especially if its an mmo you are going to be heavily vested in, its mostlikely one of the only game you are playing so in the long run it even comes out cheaper than buying a new $60 game every other month

northArrow
northArrow

The fact that people are still paying $15 a month for WoW boggles my mind, especially since I consider them one of the worst offenders in the subscription scam.

WoW hasn't seen a content patch since September 2013 - nealy a year - and the next "patch" they're getting will be a $40 expansion. That's unacceptable. Nearly every P2P game has had more content than that.

hitomo
hitomo

@shadowchronicle  developing a game costs Money and having Servers running all the time too and People looking after it and teh Forums and Support ... dont be irritated just ask yourself if you really want to Play a game from a acompany that will not put any Money in any of those aspects ...


all free to play games have Server issues ... can you complain, NO cause you dont pay a frekin dime ... the free to play company ownes you ... oh, wait

cheesemaste1988
cheesemaste1988

@DAOWAce I dont get this thought process at all, its 15 bucks a month if you play for 15 hours its probably worth it, the act of getting anxious that your not playing because every hour not played is money wasted is absurd to me, what do you waste like .00001 of a penny for each hour not played, chill out and if you play more than 10 hours a month its probably worth it.

Darkhol0w
Darkhol0w

@DAOWAce Took me 2 months to reach max level in SWTOR with free to play. The restrictions were downright disgusting.

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.

BoxOfPocky
BoxOfPocky

@lostn Expansion packs are released like what? Once every year or 2? That's a $30-50 investment you choose to upgrade to or not. Most F2P game model is to give you the bare minimum and make you pay for the convenience/luxury that should be there already. I enjoy a free game as much as the next person, but I find it bs that you can pay/have to pay to win. If you're down with that then good for you I suppose.

DAOWAce
DAOWAce

@cheesemaste1988 Money is worth different amounts to everyone. Your $1/h value could be $1/50h value to someone else.

Subscriptions aren't a "buy once, play forever" thing, which puts it into people's minds that unless you're playing whenever you can, you're wasting your subscription money.  You get busy those 30 days or decide to play something else for a while, your sub runs out and you have to pay up again if you want to play again.  Compared to buying a game once, even for $50, you have all the time in the world to play it and aren't wasting anything by not doing so.

DAOWAce
DAOWAce

@Darkhol0w @DAOWAce HEY, SUBSCRIBERS GET THIS, AND THIS, AND THIS AND THIS AND.. THIS!  DID YOU KNOW YOU CAN SUBSCRIBE TO REMOVE THESES RESTRICTIONS AND GET BONUSES? HEY, SUBSCRIBE, LOL!

That's basically what I hear every minute I try to play SWTOR without a subscription.  It really is absolutely disgusting. Having my sub run out and being reminded of what even preferred players have to deal with made me not want to give them money ever again.  Doesn't matter if you'd paid enough for 3 years of a subscription by buying CCs, you're still treated like trash unless you have an active sub.

lostn
lostn

@BoxOfPocky @lostn Even fully pay to play games have microtransactions in them. 


If you don't pay for the expansion packs you will run out of content and won't be able to level up further, or go to the new areas where everyone else in your guild or other friends goes to. You pretty much have to buy them unless you want to stay at the old level cap and old areas. The rest of your server will leave you behind.


All I'm saying is, if you pay $50 for the game, you aren't getting everything, especially if you jump in late when the game already has a dozen expansions.