Critical Hit – Subscription MMORPG Games

Is it already Monday again? As if the frantic morning rush after a crazy weekend wasn’t stressful enough, I’m here to bring you a heavy dose of pointless ranting and complaining with another of my Critical Hit articles. What was once the only way to gauge the quality of an MMO has become more of a gauge of how much to avoid an MMO; subscription fees.

Back when the MMORPG genre was still little more than a toddler struggling to find its feet, there were only two types of MMO game. The free-to-play browser garbage that we still see published regularly today and the slightly more popular subscription based MMORPG games. Since that time the industry has evolved to include a far greater variety of ways for players to spend their hard earned money, with the introduction of micro-transactions and additional content via DLC.

However, subscription MMORPG games don’t really follow the same recipe as titles from yesteryear. World of Warcraft is a perfect example of this; a game that boasted an amount of content that dwarfed practically every competitor on the market, making it a worthwhile money sink for millions of gamers across the globe. Moving through the years World of Warcraft is still a dominant force in the genre but its business model, subscription-based gaming, is slowly becoming the way of the dinosaur.

I’m not going to pretend to be some hotshot financial analyst and dive into the reasons why people aren’t willing to spend as much on their games as they used to, but I will sit here and discuss the utter drivel that developers are using to separate gamers from their hard earned money.

Lets take a look at titles like The Secret World, TERA and Star Wars: The Old Republic. All of these games have something unique to attract a player-base but that’s not all they have in common. Each of them launched charging players either a purchase fee and subscription model, or just the latter. Nothing wrong with that right? Well, not until they decide to change to a free-to-play MMORPG model, in effect making it completely pointless for any past subscribers to have wasted all their money.

I’m not an eejit and I’m well aware that a failing game has to do something in order to continue to survive, but I’m also not blind to the lack of effort on the part of the developers. Developers spend huge amounts of money researching the market, trying to find out if there’s a player-base for their latest MMO idea, but why do so many of them fail to predict the inevitable transition to free-to-play?

If I’m honest, I don’t think they do fail. I think they’re well aware that their games will eventually be joining the free-to-play market, but I don’t think they really care as long as they get 6 months worth of revenue from eager players wanting to try their game straight away. Sure they offer some minor in-game perks and a jazzy new forum title, but is that really worth deceiving the players for months prior?

What are your thoughts? Do you think MMO game publishers should be held accountable for such an obvious rip off? Or maybe you feel it’s the decision of the players themselves. Post a comment below and let us know what you think.

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