A View From the Road: The Subscription Equation

John Funk

U.N. Owen Was Him?
Dec 20, 2005
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A View From the Road: The Subscription Equation

In today?s economy, there?s no better ?bang for your buck? than an MMOG.

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Wakefield

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Aug 3, 2009
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or...I could spent 60 bucks on Halo or COD4...and get endless entertainment online...for free. Or at least cheaper then 15 bucks a month.
 

ila

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Jul 29, 2008
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Actually my biggest issue with subscription models is that with a subscription I feel I have to play as long as I'm paying. I know, I might not be making sense here, but say for example I just purchased Metroid Prime Trilogy. I can stop playing that whenever I want and have no guilt over paying for a subscription and not playing. Or I guess the point I'm trying to make is: I don't feel like investing time in an mmo, and the subscription fee is a good excuse not to.
 

Supreme Unleaded

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Aug 3, 2009
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I have played Team Fortress 2 for 172 hours combined, and I bought the game for $20, thats about 0.12 an hour, now THATS cheap.

Call of Duty 4 has probably clocked around 80 hours, and i bought it for $30, thats around 0.38 an hour.

Burnout Paradice has clocked 80 hours, and the game was $20, thats 0.25 an hour.

You get my point, MMO's can be generaly cheap, but they seem to destroy most people's lives as well.
 

Jordan Deam

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Jan 11, 2008
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I'd personally like Mr. Funk to add up his total /played time. Perhaps there are some hidden costs he's not taking into account :p
 

Aardvark

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Sep 9, 2008
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The problem is variety. No matter how much extra content and additional areas your 10 dollars a month buys you, you're still playing the same game with the same people, same grind, same characters, same grind, same process, same grind and the same grind.

Then again, I'm not OCD.
 

triorph

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Aug 5, 2008
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Yeah this is totally not taking into account the quality of the time being spent. Otherwise you could say working at McDonalds is an even better way to spend your leisure time because they pay you to do it.
 

Stickynote74

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May 4, 2009
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I tried WoW and didn't like it for a couple reasons, one being I found it to be really repetitive, I found myself doing the same thing over and over again, and I really didn't find it very satisfying. My second point is that it isn't worth paying a monthly fee
ila said:
I can stop playing that whenever I want and have no guilt over paying for a subscription and not playing.
I enjoy COD4, L4D, GTA4. Because I can stop playing them whenever, I already payed a flat fee for them and can now rack up 400 hours (if I really wanted to and had no life). But still I enjoy all those games and I think it was well worth the money, but that's just my opinion.
 

Clashero

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Aug 15, 2008
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The thing is, as much as you Americans love to complain about your economy, you're doing really well. $15 may not be much for you, but that translates to about $58, give or take, Argentine pesos. That's a load of money here, a country in which the economy truly is atrocious.
 

Covarr

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May 29, 2009
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Supreme Unleaded said:
I have played Team Fortress 2 for 172 hours combined, and I bought the game for $20, thats about 0.12 an hour, now THATS cheap.
Exactly.

Hours to months is a difficult comparison to make. I bought TF2 five months ago, and have played it quite regularly since then. If I'd paid $20, and were to stop playing today, I would have spent $4/month, much less than the MMORPG standard of $15. Furthermore, I can keep playing. After twenty months, that's $1/month, still totaling twenty, compared to the $300 that a WoW player will have spent. (I actually got the game on sale for $10 for the entire Orange Box, but that's besides the point).

What about expansion packs? Valve releases class updates and new maps at regular intervals, constantly adding to the game, and I don't have to pay a dime. A WoW player has to pay for Burning Crusade, and pay again for Wrath of the Lich King.

Now, I'm not here to criticize WoW, but to claim that you get the best bang for your buck through a subscription game, especially given that you have to buy it AND pay a fee on it, is nonsense, mathematically speaking.

P.S. Thanks
 

sgrif

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Oct 19, 2008
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The fatal flaw in this argument is the fact that so much time spent in MMOs is grind. I'm not saying that other games are inherently better, but personally, too much of that "value" I get from an MMO is being really bored trying to get that last bit of rep I need.
 
Feb 13, 2008
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ila said:
Actually my biggest issue with subscription models is that with a subscription I feel I have to play as long as I'm paying.
I agree, there's some times when you feel as if you're playing just because you're paying, rather than wanting to.

Says he with over 1000 separate hours logged on CoX/Guild Wars/EQ/EQ2/Reqiuem (That's per game)
 

Radeonx

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The_root_of_all_evil said:
ila said:
Actually my biggest issue with subscription models is that with a subscription I feel I have to play as long as I'm paying.
I agree, there's some times when you feel as if you're playing just because you're paying, rather than wanting to.

Says he with over 1000 separate hours logged on CoX/Guild Wars/EQ/EQ2/Reqiuem (That's per game)
That's what happened to me with WoW. I wanted to quit for a while, but after buying a 2 month card, I played the last month because I didn't want to feel like I'm wasting money. Hopefully, but probably not, things will start to change.
 

wordsmith

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May 1, 2008
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Sorry, but I spent a big portion of my time when I had WoW thinking "Hey, I'm not playing, I'm wasting money here...."

If it was £15 for however many hours, great! Maybe a warning when I hit 6 hours or something, give me time to get to a reasonable point and bail to get some more "game credit". But if I'm getting charged when I'm not using it, count me out.
 

Rathy

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Aug 21, 2008
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I find this kind of true, and why I don't mind subbing MMOs myself. Sure, there are other games, but not everyone is really into the FPS department, which has its own values as others here have said. In terms of games you play less, such as RPG games, a game like WoW will go a lot further on the money. Just pick it up, do something new, quit, and repeat later if you want. Without a new game.
 

Altorin

Jack of No Trades
May 16, 2008
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hehe, all the people bawking about the quality of the game.. that's a matter of taste. maybe MMOs aren't your cup of tea, and that's fine. The point of this article is people saying that 15 dollars a month is a ridiculous amount of money to pay for hours and hours and hours of gameplay that you'd otherwise want to play, is just silly.

And of course there are some exceptions to the "not getting your 96 hours out of your 60 dollar game" There are lots of games with a ridiculous amount of replay value - people are still playing starcraft and counterstrike religiously that they got years and years ago. But for the most part, most new games are made with 30-40 hours in mind. Much more then that and stuff starts to feel stale.

MMOs are designed with playing for years in mind.

wordsmith said:
Sorry, but I spent a big portion of my time when I had WoW thinking "Hey, I'm not playing, I'm wasting money here...."

If it was £15 for however many hours, great! Maybe a warning when I hit 6 hours or something, give me time to get to a reasonable point and bail to get some more "game credit". But if I'm getting charged when I'm not using it, count me out.
paying 15 dollars for 30 days, is about 2 cents an hour. That just seems silly to nitpick about.

Is your TV on 24 hours a day? If you have Xbox Live, do you play CoD4 24 hours a day with the latest episode of House MD running in Picture in a Picture? Are you also online on your computer every hour of every day? Can't waste any of that time you paid for with your internet bill.
 

GoldenShadow

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May 13, 2008
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Altorin said:
MMOs are designed with playing for years in mind.
That is why I don't buy them. I want to play my game once or twice if its good and move onto the next thing. My favorite right now is L4D on Steam. I will move onto L4D 2 when it comes out this November.

I like to play the games while they are new because you are part of the learning curve with everyone else. When you join a game late, you get noob stomped repeatedly and quit playing because its no fun for you. Before L4D came out I had been abstaining from online gaming since the the HL1 mod era. when Counter strike was beta, and the Natural Selection mod was new.

Its all about Single player immersion for me. I like my Metroid Prime Trilogy(Wii), Fallout 3(PC), HL2 Episodes(PC), STALKER(PC), Resident Evil 5(PS3), Infamous (PS3), Assassin's Creed(PC), and soon to be released Batman Arkham Asylum(PC) on Steam.
 

Swaki

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Apr 15, 2009
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that is so true, ever since i stopped playing wow i have used about 10 times as much on games pr month, but since im temporarily unemployed im betting on Aion online to fulfill my gaming needs until i get a steady income again.

edit: by the way john, your an open white shirt away from being a true hunk.

edit edit: those of you who say mmo's ruin peoples lives, they dont ruin lives any more than any other game.
 

Caliostro

Headhunter
Jan 23, 2008
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This article is quite packed with logical fallacies, which is quite unusual in your articles Funk.

First: A monthly fee, even if it was only 5 dollars, means you have to fork over your money every single month you may want to play, as the game is only available to you when you feel like forking over for the whole month. In a system like this, the added overtime cost of the game can't be anything short of "infinite" (well, less than that cause you'll die at some point). But considering 15$ a month, every month, that means that I either play the same MMO every month, or buy a brand new game every 3-4 months (depending). That does not mean I can only play 1 game every 3-4 months, that means I can also play a NEW game, along with the old one, every 3-4 months. At the end of the year, I've either spent 180 bucks to play the same game throughout, or I've bought and experienced 3 - 4 games (at 60$ price, which computer games rarely meet, specially if you enjoy the ever so awesome "weekend deals" steam loves to throw around). On the other hand, I shelled out a whooping 35? at the time I bought it for my orange box. It contains 5 games and Team Fortress 2 alone has clocked over 100 hours in-game, and fuck knows how many modding in hammer. I'll most likely still be playing tf2 next year, at which point I will have still spent 35? (it's something absurd like 20$s now) on the whole thing.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong but, you payed money not only for the subscription, every month you've played but ALSO for the copy of the game and every subsequent "expansion". That's an extra game each you could have bought. Meanwhile, a sandbox game like, say, Prototype, would have cost you one game... That's it. You're right, you don't get two years worth of gameplay out of Prototype, but I'd argue every minute you do get is a far more intense and interesting experience than WoW (or assorted MMO-junk)... But since I dislike MMOs, let's not argue the actual quality of the experience (which is crucial mind you) and instead only argue it's length.

Fallout 3 looks like a good candidate. You payed for your game and every other DLC you wanted to have. That's it. I clocked over 100 hours in Fallout 3 without any DLCs, for the whole cost of 1 game. If I wanted, I could go back to it today, right now, turn off this browser and turn it back on, and I would still have payed the exact same 50-something bucks. Meanwhile in WoW you have payed for your game, every subsequent "DLC" and every single month you wanted to just drop in and check on your character.

See, the issue is that the "p2p" is only cheaper on a very specific circumstance: You can't play too much, or too little. If you play too little then you're just paying for idle time with the p2p plan, but the longer you play the more expensive and cost-inefficient it becomes, the exact opposite of "retail games". Then there's also "quality"... And I'd sooner fork over 20 bucks again to play through those 3 hours (1-2 for me at this point) of Portal for the 20th time than I would for an entire month of all MMOs put together.

So no, cost efficient they are not. You can argue that you spend a lot of time in your one game, but I'd say that's a matter of preference more than "efficiency". I like making maps for TF2, ergo I'll most likely spend as much, or more, time on TF2 than you do in WoW. Equally, some people have played Counter Strike Source for something like, 5 hours a day, every day, for 5 years... At the end of the day, the better a game is, and the more you play it, the worse for the costumer the "pay to play" model becomes.