Typically we only maintain one subscription in this house anymore. That's World of Warcraft, and that's for my wife.
Occasionally (meaning every other month maybe?) I might join up with her on my old account, or rejoin Vanguard for a few months, or will have my accounts re-activated for any number of reasons, but overall I just don't do subscription games. There are many, many reasons, some big and some small. I have surprised myself when thinking hard about why I favor F2P's over sub-based games. Some of these reasons might seem a little strange, but we all have little odd reasons for gaming why we do.
1) The F2P's usually offer more choices for controls: I must have as many options for controls as possible. My tennis elbow/carpal tunnel is bad enough anymore that I ice my arms down about twice a day, and that is only with playing games a few hours. Granted, the Ecks Bocks has made it a lot worse, so I am doing homework to find games that use less button mashing (but dammit, I'm LOVING LotR: Conquest!) Still, I not only need click-to-move sometimes, but need alternate camera controls like Mabinogi's brilliant "move-your-mouse-to-the-side-of-the-screen-for-rotation". I also love the ability to click on the mini-map to auto-move myself or a game like Ether Saga's "auto move to quest giver" option. Essentially, you can click on key words within quest text to take you directly to the task-giver or to the area you might want to look in. It takes away from the Immersion, of course, but as an option it is VERY handy when I need it. This small issue I have gives me a glimpse into the world of frustration that a disabled gamer must be in. Imagine knowing that a simple option like alternate camera movement could help you play a game, without it being in the game.
2) I have enough things tossing around in my head, I don't need to keep track of a sub: This one is a tiny thing, but I have to admit that I have so many little bills and subscriptions (Game Fly, NetFlix) coming out of our bank every month that I actually will forget a sub or two. While we have the cash to afford it, I don't want to waste money. F2P's are essentially the same as a sub game, but just imagine that instead of automatically getting billed once a month, you spend 25 dollars every 2 months on cash shop items. I spend my money where/when I want.
3) Minus the few exceptions like my favorite sub MMO's, most just don't do anything unique enough to make me want to pay: Grinding exists in ALL games, we all know that. There is repetitive game-play and boring quests in ALL mmo's, free or not. I am tired of players saying that there is no quality to be found in F2P's, while they write blogs whining about the lack of original or fun game-play in the P2P world. And you can find the same kinds of fun within F2P's, easily. Meaningful lore, fun long quests and great crafting can all be found in both types of games. Show me a game with great crafting, and I'll show you a F2P with the same. Same goes for all the staples of the MMO world. Granted, P2P's overall have "nicer" graphics, but we all know how fast F2P's are catching up to that as well. Free Realms and Runes of Magic can give WoW a run for it's money, and games like DDO and The Chronicles of Spellborn will soon raise the bar even more.
I have found that there is no MMO that has absolutely everything you want in it. One game might hold the best crafting, while another holds the best Lore. This is the same with F2P's, but I can feel better "skipping around" in those because they cost nothing.
4) I like buying things, and like new stuff: Cash shops are not only easy to update with new items (apparently) but those new items can often come out alongside new areas/content. Look at Mabinogi for a great example of new releases coming out very regularly, and all for free. Look at how much Runes of Magic has been updated lately, and then compare that to a game like Ryzom or Vanguard. Why should I pay 15 dollars a month for the occasional (every 4 months or more?) new set of items or quests, when I can use that 15 dollars a month for shopping and fun stuff while new content comes out more often?
Many people seem to think that I am saying that, on average, F2P games are of higher "quality" than the bunch of P2P North American MMO's. I am not. Just like with the P2P games, there are gems that stand out amongst all the crap. If you counted the "major" MMO's here in North America, you would be up to something like 8 or 10 games? Now, consider the number of F2P games that are not only doing well, but provide as much fun as any NA MMO. They are, at least, tied in number. I'm not saying that F2P's are better, but are at least as good.
F2P's are obviously not only increasing at a faster rate, but increasing in quality. Many people claim to not see it, but they don't play these games. I play them all. Within the last year alone there have been releases that not only play as well as any NA title, but do many things better. And guess what? They're FREE, with the option to spend your "sub" on fun fluffy stuff. (The stuff that P2P players spend hours grinding after just to gripe about the grind later.)
I am still sticking by my prediction: by the end of 2010 most NA titles will have some kind of RMT/cash-shop included in their game. And soon after many will be switching to a F2P model. If I am wrong, then I will pay your sub for a month. But my guess is that P2P mmo's should be a little scared. With games like Runes of Magic gaining 700,000 players (according to them) which means that that might easily be equivalent to a P2P game with 50-100k subscribers, the current market of 10k-300k NA games might need to keep an eye out.