Reading some arguments by some of the players, it seems once you reach end game there is little for most folks to do once they play through expansion content; beyond the regular small updates in content. It seems some state it just becomes a gear treadmill and does not warrant a constant subscription when there are many other games to play. Yeah there are diehards, but most spend time afk in the game. They have tried everything from recruit a friend to 14 day trial, to level 35 trial, and soon it may be rasied to 50. Maybe it's time to just go buy to play and get rid of the restrictions and let the money flow in from new players.
I find myself in this exact predicament with GW2 and end game. I log in just for a few dailies, return hardcore when there is an expansion or content addition, or a random achievement, but if I had to pay monthly for it I wouldn't do it. It's nice to come and go as I choose and buy what I want to buy. I would maybe sub once a year for 1 month just to cram in all the new stuff within a week or two, but I know I wouldn't get a full month of playtime. I feel that's the majority of players in Gw2. Play for 1-2 hours a day or week, or log in every few weeks.
As for FFXIV I think they could add buy to play with little change to what they are doing now. The game is aging and while there is a healthy population of players,
not many new subscribers are being generated, which means less people
buying items from the item store. Going buy to play and keeping the game at it's same price point would still allow a influx of new players who might end up staying and making purchases in their cash shop.
As a trial player there is just no point in making purchases in the cash shop, and why sub to another MMO when you know you will reach the inevitable endgame of nothing to do?
GW2 in my opinion is probably the most fair to play game on the market. It's worth what you pay. Most of the items sold in the BLC store are convenience items like in FFXIV, so the switch to buy to play would understandably be easier. Perhaps they could even add a system where you can purchase cash shop
currency similar to gems in GW2 with ingame money to make a purchase in
their cash shop (someone purchases gems and sells them for ingame gold).
No need for punishing mechanics, just full access to the game you bought, if you want a cash shop item break out the credit card, or get busy making money in the game. If you want a house plot but have little time to make the money ingame to buy one, break out the credit card, purchase some cash shop currency and sell it, win win.
Spam bots- I know this is a concern, but whatever anet is doing I haven't seen bot spam in years. If it does show up the player is gone faster than shit. Botters- I rarely see them, and again they don't last long and most are old stolen accounts which can happen in any game. Whatever anet is doing they are doing it right, maybe it's time SE do the same for FFXIV.https://www.mmobomb.com/news/yoshida-ffxiv-go-free-play-80-90-players-want/
SWG Bloodfin vet
Elder Jedi/Elder Bounty Hunter