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[Column] General: Will Subscriptions Truly Prosper in 2014?

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,638MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

It isn't difficult at all to find predictions that this year will be a very good or even a great one for the subscription MMOG segment. For the most part, this thinking seems to be fueled by the impending arrivals of two high-profile titles. The more prominent of the pair is Zenimax' The Elder Scrolls Online, which brings one of the game industry's premier properties into the massively multiplayer space that has undoubtedly consumed hundreds of millions of dollars.

Read more of Richard Aihoshi's The Free Zone: Will Subscriptions Truly Prosper in 2014?

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
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Comments

  • DogblasterDogblaster PraguePosts: 491Member

    yes

    But why mmorpg.com has to bring up this again? All we gonna see is f2p vs subcription and comments about how subscription is so 1990s ...

    /threat

  • gigiboss98gigiboss98 Bari,ItaliaPosts: 5Member Uncommon
    Wildstar will raise!Its a great MMO with new features,features that they made themselves not copied...i mean WoW is the basic MMORPG and nobody can change it. WIldstar adds new thing to it like the new combat style,classes and events.Looking forward to PvP :D
  • LyrianLyrian Posts: 295Member Uncommon

    I think the jusification of a subscription is going to be dependent on the quality of the game itself. This year we are going to get a chance to see two AAA games that offer a subscription model each with varying styles of play. Whether either game stays on the subscription model or goes to a different one will be dependent on it's long term success. Come the end of the 2014 fiscal year if we start hearing plans about either MMO changing their subscription model, then we'll know if it was successful or not.

    The reason why the subscription model has been bashed on over the last few years is that the games that have used it have been of low quality and have to put it bluntly, sucked. If we can improve on the quality of the game we can justify the cost behind it.

    The solution to quality however, I think is a higher cost in subscription prices. Looking back from the old days of 1999 compared to now. 15 dollars then is about equal to 21 dollars now (http://inflationdata.com/Inflation/Inflation_Calculators/Inflation_Rate_Calculator.asp).

    So in fact over the years, the subscription model has gotten cheaper, and we've been rewarded with the quality that cheapness brings. We've been expecting the developers to do more with less, and not just a little bit less. But about 30% less when costs have risen by ten times their old costs. You simply cannot put out a blockbuster hit for 1 million dollars development costs like you could back in the 90s or early 2000s.

    I am sure a fair majority of us who are interested or support a subscription model would be willing to pay more on a monthly subscription for us to return to the level of quality that we once enjoyed in the earlier generations of game play. We don't even need huge blockbuster titles, multiple niche games catering to smaller crowd genres would be well received if they were made with quality.

  • FearumFearum Cinnaminson, NJPosts: 1,166Member Uncommon

    It all depends on the quality of the games, this is where people seem to get confused. It seems most of the threads have nothing to do with actual game quality its all about payment models. I don't mind one bit paying for quality entertainment as long as I'm having fun and am entertained. I would even pay more per month if a game came out that would deserve it, I really hope one does. F2P just offers nothing for me, I don't want free stuff. 

    About Wildstar the game is not for me and I will not really comment on it but wish it well.

    ESO I will be playing at launch and hope it offers me great entertainment for months (or longer) to come. Not sure if they can but will give it a shot.

  • YalexyYalexy BerlinPosts: 1,053Member Uncommon


    Originally posted by Lyrian
    I think the jusification of a subscription is going to be dependent on the quality of the game itself. This year we are going to get a chance to see two AAA games that offer a subscription model each with varying styles of play. Whether either game stays on the subscription model or goes to a different one will be dependent on it's long term success. Come the end of the 2014 fiscal year if we start hearing plans about either MMO changing their subscription model, then we'll know if it was successful or not.The reason why the subscription model has been bashed on over the last few years is that the games that have used it have been of low quality and have to put it bluntly, sucked. If we can improve on the quality of the game we can justify the cost behind it.The solution to quality however, I think is a higher cost in subscription prices. Looking back from the old days of 1999 compared to now. 15 dollars then is about equal to 21 dollars now (http://inflationdata.com/Inflation/Inflation_Calculators/Inflation_Rate_Calculator.asp).So in fact over the years, the subscription model has gotten cheaper, and we've been rewarded with the quality that cheapness brings. We've been expecting the developers to do more with less, and not just a little bit less. But about 30% less when costs have risen by ten times their old costs. You simply cannot put out a blockbuster hit for 1 million dollars development costs like you could back in the 90s or early 2000s.I am sure a fair majority of us who are interested or support a subscription model would be willing to pay more on a monthly subscription for us to return to the level of quality that we once enjoyed in the earlier generations of game play. We don't even need huge blockbuster titles, multiple niche games catering to smaller crowd genres would be well received if they were made with quality.

    This exactly.

    If the games are good and live up to their expectations than there shouldn't be a problem with being a P2P-title.
    However, if they lack polish and features, than everyone will leave and the developers will be forced to go F2P to keep it alive, just like SWTOR or TSW did.

  • MysteryBMysteryB Midland, TXPosts: 290Member Uncommon
    NCsoft shut down 2 of my favorite games, I will never give them another dime.

    Mystery Bounty

  • HeraseHerase LondonPosts: 371Member Uncommon

    Think everyone has covered it, i  do prefer a sub over F2P, but it all comes down to if the game is worth the sub. Many games that have released under Sub just don't seem to deliver for it to continue under a sub model.

     

    Tera for an example, had one of the best combat systems IMO, dungeons where fun and the graphic/maps where stunning, but that was it, it was just a mega grind to max level. I feel they rode the action combat into the ground and hoped the game would do well just of that, but at the same time they didn't do much with it. They needed more, if they had a path system like wildstar, tasks or missions that made me us the aiming system for things other than combat, a more interesting crafting system and better publisher (frogster and all that censoring) :(, I think the game would have done very well as a sub game, they just didn't think outside the box, the tools where there they just failed to use them. 

  • SeelinnikoiSeelinnikoi LONDONPosts: 661Member Uncommon

    Pay peanuts, get monkeys.

    :)

  • AvarixAvarix Chicago, ILPosts: 382Member Uncommon

    Boom goes the dynamite... This is like Solo VS Group. Same goes for this. Both are viable. I prefer subscriptions but I can see the points of the F2P crowd as well. No worries, neither is going anywhere.

     

    (Hazing a new moderator?)

  • DamonVileDamonVile Vancouver, BCPosts: 4,818Member

    People make it so cut and dry, you are either a f2p person or a p2p...but like most things that's only the vocal forum ranters. Most people I know who play mmos don't care if it's p2p or f2p they care if it's a good game.

    The real mmo world doesn't have this nonsense cold war going on between the two payment types. It's just the people who need it on a forum to bring others down....or prop themselves up.

     

    As to the question...

    You can tell by how a game is being designed if it's sub is going to last.

    ESO... nope content driven like it is, people will blow through it and move on.

    ff14..same thing

    wildstar...seems to be trying to expand beyond the lvl--->raid---> quit. If they can do it, their subs will last. If not...they wont.

    eqn is oddly enough the game that looks like it would have the best chance of making a sub work..and they went f2p. My guess is it's going to have a feemium type of thing that many players will opt in for.

  • RocknissRockniss Youngstown, OHPosts: 1,034Member

    It depends on the publisher expectations and what risks they are willing to take. With subscriptions you have a more predictable and sustainable income. You get to plan and develop new content to help sustain that income and early in a games lifecycle generate more income. If you generate enough momentum, you may never be the next WoW, but if your 1/4 of what WoW is, your pretty damn well off.

     

    When a title launches f2p the profit comes roaring in drops off without warning. The game is developed with this in mind and content rolls out very slowly because it is the lowest risk payment model despite the fact that no money is collected upfront and there is no obligation. That in itself is the risk and that is why you won't see a game that has had a massive team, tons of hours, loads of thought, and fully polished game launch. 

     

    I can't blame ESO or Wildstar for shooting for the stars and creating a sustainable income over a longer period of time. These are after all MMORPG's and I'm sorry but if it doesn't grab my attention and keep me for at least a year, if I can't wait to log back in everyday, then it's a fail. I think sustainable is what both teams here are shooting for, they don't want to be a fly by night operation.

     

    Here is the problem with subscription though for me at least - I don't see the point in subbing to two or more games at once. So without a f2p option to entice me to come back, I will check both of these games out and one will get to keep my sub and the other won't.

     

    They are both entirely different games I realize this, but if I know me and I do, I will sub to one or the other and probably won't come back once I leave unless the game adds a f2p option with sub hybrid and the for people that sub, the sub has to be highly attractive to the point players say, " you know I have been playing this game alot, I might as well sub because I can't resist the benefits of subbing.

     

    SWTOR tries to do this, but they do it in a crippling fashion rather than making a sub look irresistable , they cripple the f2p crowd, making the game unnecessarily inconvenient or bothersome by taking out options that are basically default in any other game and generally expected. 

     

     
     
  • FlawSGIFlawSGI Woodstock, GAPosts: 1,379Member Uncommon
    Not if they continue to churn out these mediocre titles with no souls. MMORPG's feel like the fast food of entertainment lately and it's a shame because sometimes I want to sit down and eat a nice dinner. Developers are out to make money like anyone else so if they put out a game that is quality enough to maintain a profitable fanbase then I am sure we will be reading about how the sub model is alive and well. I am not a fan of the way things are now but it seams to cater to the majority and allows developers to collect money from multiple sources (box price + sub then later F2P and cash shops). I am a fan of the B2P model but I personally would take a sub over F2P.

    RIP Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan and Paul Gray.

  • CazNeergCazNeerg Puyallup, WAPosts: 2,198Member
    The "quality" argument is tired and inaccurate.  If a game lacks quality, it will fail to make money and get shut down no matter what revenue model it uses.  Subscription games end up adding free options because of issues of quantity, not quality.  The pace of content consumption will always be faster than that of content creation, and subscriber numbers will eventually drop.  As the number of games available in the market has increased, the potential subscriber peak has dropped, as attention is divided between too many games.  Once it becomes clear that a game has peaked, and is starting to lose substantial subscriber numbers, the freemium transition will happen, and if it is a quality game (which many freemium games are) profitability will continue, and the game will live a long and healthy second life.

    Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
    Through passion, I gain strength.
    Through strength, I gain power.
    Through power, I gain victory.
    Through victory, my chains are broken.
    The Force shall free me.

  • TheHavokTheHavok San Jose, CAPosts: 2,398Member Uncommon
    While I fully intend on playing Wildstar and TESO, I still think F2P is going to remain the more popular monetization model for online gaming.
  • jbombardjbombard SapporoPosts: 531Member Uncommon

    I pretty much agree with Rockniss above.  It also depends on how realistic their budget and goals were.  I am not sure what the criteria for prosper here are, but it seems like people always seem to think that for a game to be a success it has to kill all other games.  Frankly that is nonsense.

     

    I don't think box sales are going to be a problem with either game.  The issue will be how many stick with the game they choose.  Right now that is a tough one to predict with either game.  Wildstar devs know and have talked about it, and it seems like they are crystal clear on the importance of getting content out quickly and steadily post release.  ESO also seems to be set to have a relatively speedy update schedule.  What remains to be seen from both games is how long the release content will last players and how substantial and interesting the scheduled updates will be.

     

    If a game can stay afloat while providing meaningful updates on a regular basis to their players, that play and enjoy those updates, then that to me is success.  I don't care if I have to pay for those updates or if they are free.  It doesn't matter if a game is F2P or Sub based, if they can't get out enough content to keep me interested enough to stay I'll end up playing something else.  

  • NephelaiNephelai SydneyPosts: 184Member Uncommon
    I wish idiots would stop trying to do some type of reverse regression on the payment model determining the success of an MMO. The only thing that determines the success of a MMO is it's quality, frequency of updates and its customer service. Get those right and people will pay whatever the fair market value is under any system.
  • BrynnBrynn Albuquerque, NMPosts: 345Member
    I find I spend more on F2P than I would on P2P. I like having enough of what I need to enjoy playing a game, but without trying to balance that with having to consider how much it will cost me at the game store.
  • xeniarxeniar Posts: 805Member Uncommon

    When a game is good enough people will pay for a subscription,

    what is a good game? depends on who you ask. But imo it needs to have some serieus longlivity. and im not talking about replayability. not everyone is an altoholic.

  • killion81killion81 A City, MIPosts: 985Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by MysteryB
    NCsoft shut down 2 of my favorite games, I will never give them another dime.

     

    As they say, all good things must end.  The other way to look at it is that NCSoft funded and developed two of your favorite games and provided years of entertainment for you.

  • CazNeergCazNeerg Puyallup, WAPosts: 2,198Member
    Originally posted by xeniar

    When a game is good enough people will pay for a subscription,

    what is a good game? depends on who you ask. But imo it needs to have some serieus longlivity. and im not talking about replayability. not everyone is an altoholic.

    When a game isn't good enough, people won't play it all, it won't matter what the revenue model is.  If it is good enough, and there is content they haven't played yet, many will sub.  Until they run out of content.  Then most will stop paying a sub, no matter how high the quality of the content they already played was.  Those same players, if offered a free option, will check back on the progress of the game far more often than they would if they have to pay fifteen dollars every time they want to take a peek.

    Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
    Through passion, I gain strength.
    Through strength, I gain power.
    Through power, I gain victory.
    Through victory, my chains are broken.
    The Force shall free me.

  • jbombardjbombard SapporoPosts: 531Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by TheHavok
    While I fully intend on playing Wildstar and TESO, I still think F2P is going to remain the more popular monetization model for online gaming.

    Free is always going to be popular.

     

    For each player in a F2P game total the sum of their purchases for a particular month, and divide by 15 .  Total those values from each player up for the whole month  That should give you roughly the number of subscription players it would take to generate the same income.  That number is going to be significantly smaller the actual number of players of a F2P game because most players don't purchase anything.  If you are going to compare numbers to a subscription game this is the number you should be concerned with not the total player count,  You also have to consider that the more players you have the more overhead/costs you have.  Having a lot of players not paying you anything isn't really a good thing.

  • remsleepremsleep Vida MatanovicaPosts: 109Member

    I have serious reservations about how viable sub model will be this year.

    I am leaning towards no.

     

  • xeniarxeniar Posts: 805Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by CazNeerg
    Originally posted by xeniar

    When a game is good enough people will pay for a subscription,

    what is a good game? depends on who you ask. But imo it needs to have some serieus longlivity. and im not talking about replayability. not everyone is an altoholic.

    When a game isn't good enough, people won't play it all, it won't matter what the revenue model is.  If it is good enough, and there is content they haven't played yet, many will sub.  Until they run out of content.  Then most will stop paying a sub, no matter how high the quality of the content they already played was.  Those same players, if offered a free option, will check back on the progress of the game far more often than they would if they have to pay fifteen dollars every time they want to take a peek.

    As i said the game needs to have some serious longlivity.

    being able to clear it in 2 months =/= longlivity. because there is not point in staying further.

    If suits want to keep using the sub model. they will need a Longer lasting game. And community is a factor in that. community will keep you checking in. the current solo-nature of mmo's does not. Basicly reverting back to what MMO's where instead of what they became.

  • jbombardjbombard SapporoPosts: 531Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by xeniar
    Originally posted by CazNeerg
    Originally posted by xeniar

    When a game is good enough people will pay for a subscription,

    what is a good game? depends on who you ask. But imo it needs to have some serieus longlivity. and im not talking about replayability. not everyone is an altoholic.

    When a game isn't good enough, people won't play it all, it won't matter what the revenue model is.  If it is good enough, and there is content they haven't played yet, many will sub.  Until they run out of content.  Then most will stop paying a sub, no matter how high the quality of the content they already played was.  Those same players, if offered a free option, will check back on the progress of the game far more often than they would if they have to pay fifteen dollars every time they want to take a peek.

    As i said the game needs to have some serious longlivity.

    being able to clear it in 2 months =/= longlivity. because there is not point in staying further.

    If suits want to keep using the sub model. they will need a Longer lasting game. And community is a factor in that. community will keep you checking in. the current solo-nature of mmo's does not. Basicly reverting back to what MMO's where instead of what they became.

    But this also holds true for the F2P model.  If a game isn't keeping me interested I am not going to log in.  Whether or not I am paying has little to do with whether or not I am entertained.  

     

    If we are going back to what MMOs were, WoW was for the most part a solo MMO in their first year and they reached 6 million subs in that year.  In vanilla only a very small percentage of players participated in instanced content at cap.  But it was a social MMO, people talked to and helped each other.  Guilds were almost a requirement if you wanted to do instanced content.  PUGs were doable but you needed a lot of time to get one together.  The big question is how do you get players back to being social and helpful to each other?

  • xeniarxeniar Posts: 805Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by jbombard
    Originally posted by xeniar
    Originally posted by CazNeerg
    Originally posted by xeniar

    When a game is good enough people will pay for a subscription,

    what is a good game? depends on who you ask. But imo it needs to have some serieus longlivity. and im not talking about replayability. not everyone is an altoholic.

    When a game isn't good enough, people won't play it all, it won't matter what the revenue model is.  If it is good enough, and there is content they haven't played yet, many will sub.  Until they run out of content.  Then most will stop paying a sub, no matter how high the quality of the content they already played was.  Those same players, if offered a free option, will check back on the progress of the game far more often than they would if they have to pay fifteen dollars every time they want to take a peek.

    As i said the game needs to have some serious longlivity.

    being able to clear it in 2 months =/= longlivity. because there is not point in staying further.

    If suits want to keep using the sub model. they will need a Longer lasting game. And community is a factor in that. community will keep you checking in. the current solo-nature of mmo's does not. Basicly reverting back to what MMO's where instead of what they became.

    But this also holds true for the F2P model.  If a game isn't keeping me interested I am not going to log in.  Whether or not I am paying has little to do with whether or not I am entertained.  

     

    If we are going back to what MMOs were, WoW was for the most part a solo MMO in their first year and they reached 6 million subs in that year.  In vanilla only a very small percentage of players participated in instanced content at cap.  But it was a social MMO, people talked to and helped each other.  Guilds were almost a requirement if you wanted to do instanced content.  PUGs were doable but you needed a lot of time to get one together.  The big question is how do you get players back to being social and helpful to each other?

    making content difficult. Limit solo content tremendously (soloists can have their place but it should be less rewarding then grouping and the time taken to get o endgame is longer by being difficult) actually lets remove the endgame tought train. and focus on the journey in wich you make friends because you somewhat need eachother.

    its not forced grouping. you can still solo. not advisable tho.

    its gonna be another 5+ years tho before we get MMO's with this mechanics.

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