Friday, February 13, 2009

When is an MMO old enough to reduce it's sub fee?

A lot of the single player games that were made back in 2004 have long since passed through the bargain bin and are now occupying space in the landfill, so why the hell should I be paying the release sub fee cost for an MMO that is 4-5 years old? Are MMOs exempt from price reduction over time? Surely there must be a point where the MMO becomes obsoleted by the new kid on the block and thus must lower it's sub fee to compete...

I recently downloaded the trial of City of Heroes and was keen to sign up, but their sub fee is still $15 US a month? The same price it was when it launched.

I'm not a fan of the subscription based payment model, but am willing to pay if the game is worth it. I like CoH, it's a good game... you just need you brush the necrosis off it's graphics and physics engine. With new trailers of Champions Online coming out every week, CoH is looking pretty old...

This raises the question, is an MMO like a fine wine? Does it get better with age?

I guess the older they are the more content they have and the less bugs, but does that compete price wise with shiny new graphics and a potentially better game play experience?

My girlfriend who is very new to MMOs has shown significant interest in CoH, but I don't want her getting too far into a game that is about to be obsoleted unless I'm being financially compensated. That may sound a bit tightass, but I think I make a fair point!

Yeah... this became a rant...

9 comments:

spinksville said...

Good point. The only trend I've seen is for companies being more likely to roll a few different games into a monthly package (ie. SOE, and GOA do this as well with DaoC/ WAR).

On the other hand, guild wars has a free trial at the moment.

Pete said...

Prices do drop...for the box. A new MMO comes out and it costs you $50 to buy the client. After a few years, the client is free.

My guess is that the sub fee doesn't drop because the subscriber base drops over time, so each subscriber has to carry more and more fiscal responsibility for keeping things running.

I'm not saying that the situation doesn't stink, but I'm guessing that's part of the reason why. If they dropped the price, it might not be worth it for them to keep the game running?

Openedge1 said...

Agreed on this...
Also, think this is the reason NCsoft bit the bullet and lost TR due to not budging on getting a new payment scheme out.
TR would have worked wonders on an All in One price with CoH or something.
Ah well...

Tesh said...

If the $15 flatline actually represented costs, rather than being some number magicked out of the ether, yes, it should go down over time as server maintenance costs go down and the dev team moves on to other projects.

Unfortunately, sub fees have little correlation to anything real, so there is nothing to measure their value against beside the perception of players. (At least, the only number I've seen for Blizzard's "maintenance + dev" costs was a generic lump sum, rather than a clear dissection of the real cost of recurring service.) They are meant to be a "fire and forget" recurring charge, they are not meant to be something that can be analyzed within a free market with cost/service transparency.

So yes, I hate sub fees for a variety of reasons, and this is just one of them. There is no good way to tell just how far the price is marked up over cost. Yes, the technological trend means that *costs* should go down, but why bother reflecting that in the *price* when hordes of fanboys will keep arguing that sub MMOs are "the cheapest entertainment out there"?

adingworld said...

There is no incentive for them to lower or change the subscription price. As long as everyone else is at the same level, they just adjust the box/initial price to make it attractive and cover part of the development effort.

Some companies might be scared of lowering the subscription costs just because they are not sure whether it works or not.

If it does not work, they will loose money and will have difficulty to go back to a higher fee. If they are successful, they might run the risk of being too successful - other companies with bigger games might follow and they might have better margins.

A game like WoW could probably compete on price with pretty much any other subscription-based MMO out there, if they wanted or had any reason to.

I do not think we will see any drastic changes for existing subscription-based games. If anything I think they might just introduce more ways to charge people, but will still keep the subscription fee.

Ixobelle said...

Lotro has the lifetime subscription thing, which you could argue starts high (say, 15 dollars a month), and then drops off to eventually being free...

the thing with that, though, was that it reeked of almost desperation when I read about it. Like, they didn't know themselves how the game would fare, so they had this "deal", but say you bought it, and the game sucked, you'd have been stuck with a lifetime subscription you didn't care about.

I'm glad lotro is doing as well as it is, but that price model just seemed so... odd... to me. but probably just because it was different.

Anton said...

Subscription fees kept me away from MMO's for a loong time. I think putting multiple games into a single package is a fabulous idea. I'd love to have a handful I could play instead of having to always cancel one and then resubscribe all the time.

Older MMO's should be cheaper, totally agree...I might be more willing to try them longer, but lately I've just been jumping into Free MMO's or just playing 2 week trials and then moving on to another.

Ardua said...

Granted the $15 for CoH also includes CoV.

Way back when it was a one or the other deal with a combined charge I think being $1 dearer.

Hey it may not be much, but I like it.

That said, what server are you on? @Ardua is my global and you'll find me on Virtue

Crimson Starfire said...

I'm on Champion. No idea what my global is, I haven't worked out where you set that yet :(