t-shirt with the word thinking

To Subscribe or Nah? That Is The Question

[X] Buy a game for $60

[X] Get Playstation Plus for $50/yr or Xbox Live Gold for $60/yr

[  ]  Continue to pay $15/month to play said game

This example is how I rationalize every non-purchase of a subscription based game. I just can’t get myself to do it. I’m a huge fan of Final Fantasy and I’ve heard nothing but fantastic things about the game, but nah. I’m far from unreasonable. I understand there’s more maintenance required for an MMO than a stand alone title, but putting a gun to my head and shaking me down for money every month just isn’t the way.

Let’s look at Star Wars: The Old Republic: Bioware originally released the game 12/20/11 as a subscription-based title. By 11/15/12, the game became free-to-play. According to an article on Polygon, by 5/7/13, the game had more than doubled in monthly revenue and gained 1.7 million new players. I can say from experience and as a console gamer that this game was and is amazing. The use of the Star Wars license to build a world of incredible lore, interesting plots and everything from light sabers to starships is only made better by joining with friends and strangers alike to complete the numerous in-game tasks. They definitely didn’t skimp on the graphics, voice acting or gear.

Aion, published by NCsoft, hit North America 11/22/09, but already had 3.5 million subscribers as of 5/20/09 in Asia. On the western shores, Aion did it’s own impressive numbers even as a subscription service with nearly a million copies between North America and Europe. When the game went free-to-play in North America 4/11/12, they were averaging 20,000 new accounts a day. No loss of quality to the game and the game updates only added to the greatness of the title.

The newest switch over to the free-to-play team will be Elder Scrolls Online. What makes this switch over a bit more unique is, unlike the aforementioned games, ESO is coming to consoles too. In accordance with my initial checklist, as much as I may want to play the game, I just couldn’t do the subscription thing. Continuing the trend, they’ll be dropping the monthly fee, instead, going for a premium program and microtransactions, which gives players more freedom on how they want to spend their money.

You may ask, why switch over at all? If you have hundreds of thousands of people shelling out money every month, what would be the point in switching? It’s all about the people. Initially, people go all in, high off the excitement of a new release. Eventually, they float down to reality. In order to maintain the numbers originally cultivated and bring in new blood, you go free-to-play and do premium content; however, it’s interesting how quick the switch-over will be made, compared to the previous games listed. Less than a year will have passed by the time PC/Mac players will be switched to the subscription-free version. Why so fast?