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.

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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.
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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