Subscriptions kind of suck

Today I finally canceled my Rift subscription. It was my second 6 month sub and, as is typical of me, I stopped playing about a month after I renewed it. I’ve still got 60 days left but don’t really see myself going back to it in that time.

Next I’m going to cancel my Star Wars: The Old Republic sub. I went for a 3 month sub there but I think I’m pretty much done with the game for now, in spite of having 2.5 months or so left on my subscription.

I’ve decided that I’m done with AAA MMO subscriptions. My problem is that I’m a marketing person’s ideal customer. If I see I can get 1 month for $15/month or 3 months for $13/month I can’t help but go for the better rate. That’d be great if I was someone who, y’know, stuck with one game for 3 months at a time (4 really, since you’re generally getting that first month free) but I’m just not.

What makes this whole situation worse is I start to feel guilty about not playing. I’m going through that with SW:TOR now. I don’t really feel like playing but I feel like I -should- play since I’m paying for it. After a while that vague guilt turns to resentment and then I’m even less likely to play.

I’ll still pay for subscriptions to smaller games; I just signed up for 3 months of Wakfu for example. Do I think I’ll play Wakfu for 3 months? Almost certainly not, but the developers there are trying something different and I look at my sub almost as a donation to support thinking outside the MMO box. Same thing with Glitch…I kept that sub going for a few months after I stopped playing just to support something different.

In the AAA MMO space I’ve totally given up on anyone trying something different. That’s also why I never stick with them…they all feel the same to me. They’re also (obviously) designed for playing in groups and ideally playing with a group of people you know. That’s hard for me given that my 2nd job that I do at night can take 1 hour or 4 hours depending on what I’m writing about, and I never know what I’m going to write about until earlier that day. So I can never make plans in the evening since I don’t know if I’ll be free or not.

When a game goes “Free-to-Play” the community becomes a lot more transient and thus much more open to PUGs and casual groupings. With people coming and going all the time there’re players of every level around. SW:TOR has been around for 6 weeks and already the mid-level zones are ghost towns.

If you know me or have read this blog for any length of time you’ll know I’ve been in a love-hate cycle with MMOs for a long time. Lately it feels like my “love” phases are getting shorter and shorter and I think that’s just a result of me acknowledging the reality of my situation vis a vis games that are focused on playing with a regular group of friends. It’s just not going to happen until I give up my night job.

In the meantime, titles like Star Trek Online offer a great experience, guilt free. There are tons of players of all levels and no subscriber’s-guilt for when I decide not to play. I keep meaning to give DC Universe Online a try, too. Or maybe revisit Guild Wars or LOTRO. Fact is, there’re so many subscription-free options in the MMO genre that playing a monthly fee almost seems silly these days.

8 thoughts on “Subscriptions kind of suck

  1. I’m loving Wurm, but I’m in the unique situation where I have a lot of time to play the game (even if I’m just hitting one button every 10 minutes while I do something else IRL). I don’t know if I can actually go back to AAA titles because I find them SO incredibly restrictive. I stuck with Rift for 6 months, I stuck with SW:TOR for.. not even a full month, it was probably a bad idea to buy that game, I knew I wouldn’t stick with it.

    If I DO want to play a ‘typical’ MMO, there are so many free to play that would probably curve my appetite until I wander back to my usual indie loves. Or a single player game, which I have so many of that I haven’t touched (Bastion I’m looking at you).

  2. Wurm is another example of a game that I’d subscribe to if I played it, just to support what they’re doing. I’d LOVE to play it but for now I’m living vicariously through your blog posts about it!

  3. I usually avoid multi-month subscriptions for precisely the reason you describe – the chance that I might save $6 over a six month period is not a good gamble. I did sign up for WoW’s annual pass but that was for a substantially larger effective discount that also includes beta access (which I value at some non-zero number). Ironically, the fact that the subscription time for the entire year is effectively a sunk cost makes it easier to shrug off not logging in than it is when I’m paying for one month at a time.

  4. Y’know its funny… I have a year-long sub to Everquest 2 and yeah, I don’t feel any pressure to use that since.. I have all year to play! I’m not sure where I flip over form “must use the time I paid for” to “I’ve got all the time in the world…no pressure.”

  5. I haven’t even been tempted to try any of the new MMO’s, and frankly I don’t miss it. I’m so in love with Skyrim right now and don’t see that content running out soon. Plus they’ve done a good job of making decisions matter such that I have both an opportunistic imperial character and a lawful good stormcloak character, just to experience both sides of the conflict and results of good/bad decisions. It’s more fun in a game than I’ve had in years, and a new bar other games (including MMOs) will have to achieve to get my money. And Skyrim I only had to pay $50 for once, no additional to keep enjoying it. Well, at least until I see DLC pop up.

    Now I have FFXIII-2 sitting on my table also. So far, Skyrim is too engrossing so the cries of “try me! try me!” are falling on deaf ears. But it’s there. Waiting. And I can’t say that about Star Wars or Diablo beta or any of the other opportunities that in the past would have beckoned me.

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