In the mid-2000s, I was pretty anti-subscription. It stopped me from trying games like EverQuest, world of warcraft, EVE online and more when they were first launched back in the day. It wasn’t until I was able to explore Middle-earth by The Lord of the Rings online that I felt something had happened that was worth spending the $15 a month.
These days, with so many games having a optional under it has become less of a barrier to entry and more of a way to incentivize players to get more value out of their game. Titles such as The Elder Scrolls Online You don’t need a submarine to play, but doing so will get you monthly in-game currency, the outrageously handy Craft Bag, and more. Omega time in EVE online will allow you to earn skill points faster, pilot better and more advanced ships, and access more advanced weapons and mods to suit them.
For those games that require a subscription to play, when you subscribe to one, is it enough to justify the additional cost? It’s a question I consider every time I pull out the credit card. And that’s something the developers are also well aware of.
When The Lord of the Rings online the developers of Standing Stone Games have released the “mini-expansion” War of the Three Summits, there was an outcry as it was, for all intents and purposes, just a regular content update. These were supposed to be part of the VIP Membership as a value: you pay the sub-membership and you get content updates without having to spend LotRO points or real money for them extra. However, since SSG attached the “extension” title to the content, they justified themselves in not including it in the regular VIP package.
As a result, the developers had to do damage control and assuage fan anger in an effort to convince players that their subs had value. Since then that hasn’t happened, and with the most recent anniversary event we’ve seen subscribers get even more content added to their account than the swathes of content given away for free to the rest of LotRO players.
Also recently, EVE online Developer CCP Games has raised the price of its subscription fees for the first time since 2004. Current Omega fans and gamers have wondered whether or not there is enough value in current Omega offerings to justify the increase. .
As a result, at the recent Fanfest in Iceland, CCP Games announced initiatives to show players that they were committed to adding more value to their subscription, including in the form of a new in-game currency called Interbus Credits.
This currency cannot be bought, sold, or traded in-game, or purchased for RMT outside of EVE online. These credits can be used for things like the upcoming heraldry system that EVE online will arrive later this year, and Omega players will earn those credits at a higher clip if they subscribe to the MMO. It is, in effect, a way of trying to inject more value into the increased cost of Omega time.
Whether or not this brings value to the end user is purely subjective. It’s up to players to decide if they’re making a profit with their hard-earned cash. So the question I have is, for your favorite MMO where you voluntarily pay for a sub, whether it’s mandatory to access it or even just optional, do you think you’re getting good value for your investment? Why or why not? What could the developer do to increase this value?