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As some of you may be aware, Funcom's The Secret World today shifted from a subscription only model to B2P (http://massively.joystiq.com/2012/12/12/the-secret-world-officially-abolishes-subscriptions/). This was a completely unannounced and sudden change: the only warning given was a "prank" youtube video (http://massively.joystiq.com/2012/12/10/the-secret-worlds-dev-video-blog-begins-end-of-days-chronicle/).
This leaves players with existing subscription time and lifetime subscribers in the lurch. In this new model, players that purchase the box price have full access to the game in its current state. Players can then subscribe for $15/month for 1200 Funcom points ($10 in real money) that expire after 6 months needed to buy future DLC (slated to be released in monthly installments costing $5-10), a fluff vanity item of the month, an xp booster item and a 10% discount on the item shop. Existing subscribers are being switched to this plan for the remainder of their subscription time, without a refund option. Remember that these subscribers also had to buy the game box in the beginning.
This is not what subscribers paid for. The deal they signed up for has been changed without their consent or prior knowledge. The terms of agreement have been pulled out from under them. Subscribers paid for access to updates ("DLC") but also access to the game itself. In the P2P model you simply could not log in if you were'nt subscribed. Now that you can get full access for free, the value of the subscription has been cheapened.
The services subscribers get with the B2P model are worthless. $15 per month for $10 worth in limited time points, whereas a B2P player can buy DLC each month for cheaper ($5) and have exactly the same access to the game. $15 (sub per month) > $10 (in virtual Funcom monies) > $5 per month for DLC you need to keep up with other players.
I feel that the subscription option is only there so that they don't have to refund people with existing subs and of course lifetimers. The sub has no value and is a ripoff. A sub gave players both access to new content and to the game itself. Since everyone has access to the game now for the box price, the sub has lost part of its value and so people with existing sub time should demand a refund. I would really like to know what a lawyer's legal opinion of this change would be.
I have contacted Massively and MMORPG.com suggesting they write an article investigating the legal implications of TSW's B2P change or otherwise recommend me a lawyer specializing in this area that I could talk to. I hope this way we can get something started moving forward and clarify exactly what legal recourse existing subscribers have. My demands are fair: I only ask that players get the option of having their extant subscription time refunded, since the subscription service has so wholly changed from what they originally intended to pay for (i.e. which in large part was paying for access to the game itself).