This weeks Community Spotlight focuses on a thread started by user MMOnsterkill entitled, “FFS Stop Complaining About Subscription Fees”. In the original post, MMOnsterkill makes his case against the many people out there who scoff at the industry standard $15.00 monthly subscription fee attached to most AAA MMOG’s:
That is pretty much the industry standard monthly subscription fee to play an MMO nowadays. That being said, there are a lot of people that don't seem to understand why this fee is necessary -- and they swear on their lives that it's because the publishers / developers are trying to be greedy. Did you ever wonder who was working on all those lovely content updates that you bitch for? ACTUAL PEOPLE who have families, bills to pay, and taxes. Game developers don't make a whole lot of money, but it does take a bit to pay a team of 50 engineers, artists, and designers. Not to mention just running a company and an online service(s) has a lot of upkeep cost as well. “
While the original post is a little more abrasive than I’d normally choose to highlight, the discussion that follows, and the subject matter itself are considerably important.
User BlueSkunk used to be one of those very scoffers, but he has since seen the light, apparently:
“I used to not like paying subs, but then I realised that $15/month is extremely cheap.
Movie ticket with popcorn and drink $20+ for 1.5 to 3 hours entertainment.
A day at a theme park $50 - $100+ (extremely fun tho).
Ticket for a sporting event of your choice $10++.”
I have to agree, and I’ll be honest; this is one of my pet peeves. There are tons of people who won’t try a MMOG on the principle of having to pay monthly. I seriously doubt the $15.00 figure is the problem. It seems to be, at least for many, the principle of it more than anything. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard friends scoff at paying monthly for a game, or having watched trailers for upcoming MMOG’s for either work or pleasure and read users comments to the tune of: “Looks awesome! But if this is one of those games where you have to pay monthly, no deal!”
To use BlueSkunks example, I recently went out with my girlfriend and spent about $70 that night on dinner and a movie. Three to four hours of entertainment and I’m almost out $100! I immediately thought of all the people who scoff at MMOG subscription fees and shook my head.
If you find a game that is of sufficient quality and interesting enough to you, the $15 shouldn’t get in your way of playing it. There are many much more expensive hobbies out there. A friend of mine is a chef, and dabbles in all sorts of things, including photography. You want to talk expensive? That is an expensive hobby! $400 for a camera lens is the norm. He received a $1000 lighting set from his boss as an early xmas present recently, which prompted me to have this very discussion with him as well.
User Johnmatthais brings some interesting figures to the discussion, citing the original incarnation of Neverwinter Nights' subscription rates:
“My only input:
"The game originally cost standard AOL hourly rates to play. Depending on the user's rate plan, this could be USD$6.00 per hour for a flat rate plan, or $8.00 per hour during premium (daytime) hours or $4.00 during off hours."
"Near the end of its run in 1997 the game had 115,000 players and typically hosted 2,000 adventurers during prime evening hours, a 4000% increase over 1991."
Seriously, Stop complaining. The game had a few thousand players when it started. Another source I cannot find at the moment stated that it was not uncommon for people to spend in the hundreds per month to play the game.
And you guys are complaining about $15/month? Tisk tisk.
NOTE: I purposely didn't include the part about it becoming a free part of an AOL subscription at the end of it's run. That's not what I was referencing.”
Boy, do I remember those days! Anyone out there ever play Gemstone? Gemstone is essentially a MUD with subscription fees, and still runs to this day! As several other posters have pointed out, fully text based games have demanded subscription fees in the past (Gemstone IV still does!) and yet many of us scoff at $15 for a high-production value AAA MMOG. For the record, Gemstone IV will run you $25/month for Premium memberships, and $49/month for Platinum memberships. Ouch! Standard membership is $14.95 a month.
When I was younger, I had to play Gemstone on an older friends account because I could not make the case to my completely internet/computer illiterate mother that shelling out for that kind of dough every month was a good or even sane idea. Which brings me to another point that several other users have raised: Perhaps most of the people complaining are younger folks who must make the case to their parents? Of course, this is pure speculation, but it is certainly plausible.
Are you an adult with an income reading this, yet still vehemently opposed to subscription fees?
For those of you who are opposed to subscription fees, are you also opposed to the microtransaction supported model as an alternative?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!