A View From the Road: The Subscription Equation

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I just don't see why people even play wow, i tried it and thought it terrible!
Also, playing a game for 1/6 of your total time seems silly

I'm not sure what to make if this article, if only because it's particularly weighted for subjectivity. For another mode of comparison, my current MMORPG would be Phantasy Star Universe for the PC, a game I have a total of, I want to say, 212 hours on over the space of roughly two years.

In the past week alone, I've played the title Mass Effect for about 25 hours. Looking at a cost-to-result ratio, that means:
PSU: $240, across 212 hours, is very roughly $1.30 per hour of play.
Mass Effect: $60, across 25 hours of play, $2.20 per hour.

The difference there is practically negligible, especially considering the comparative time I've had to play both titles. Once I finish Mass Effect, I suspect I'll have put around 32-35 hours into it for a single playthrough. Given my history with both Jade Empire and KotOR, it won't be limited to a single playthrough.

The end result is probably a comparable $1-1.20 per hour of play at the far end result for both the MMO and non-MMO. From a cost-perspective, it's really about how much the end user enjoys the game they're playing. For an FPS buff that could sink 5-10 hours a day on their game of choice, it is cost ineffective to pay for a subscription fee for something they'll rarely play.

For someone like my friend, who sinks roughly 6-8 hours a day in WoW (given the proper time allowances), it is very cost effective to pay for the subscription fee. It all depends on the user.

A good article to serve as a counter-point for serious users, but there's way too much subjectivity to make it accurate across the board.

Clashero:
The thing is, as much as you Americans love to complain about your economy, you're doing really well. $15 may not be much for you, but that translates to about $58, give or take, Argentine pesos. That's a load of money here, a country in which the economy truly is atrocious.

lol, an opinion other than "zomg I only have 80k$ (dollar sign purposely put on the wrong side of the number, well, for English anyway) with which to buy my house, pay my bills, and feed my cats!"

^That's my opinion of rich or upper-middle class people who live in large cities. Though, I myself am at worst lower-middle class, have a room filled with books, games, dvd's, toys, statues from my trip to Greece, possibly 2000 Yu-Gi-Oh cards, an 18 or 22 inch flatscreen monitor (with an apparently appalling dead pixel), two flashlights, a speaker set with a subwoofer, and $80 cash right in front of me. So, really, I have no right to judge.

BUT I WILL.

I know full well that I'm a selfish bastard who indulges in everything put near me. I'm quite inclined to feel it's a natural reaction, derived from the fact that human beings historically didn't have this much shit lying around and needed to fight for every scrap. But I'm fully aware that the 'recession' is next to nothing in comparison to the rest of the world. Though, I'm from Canada, and I think our recession ended a month ago or something.

I have more stuff in my room than some people twice my age will ever see. And I'm 19, almost 20. I'm weak, overweight, and have no skills to contribute to society. Society needs to take a step back and wonder exactly what the fuck it's doing here.

Sorry for the psycho-rant, but that's another part of the kind of person that evolves from a society of plenty. Not that I plan to do anything about it, I just like to complain. My only redeemable value is that I'm self-aware, so I want to make the most of it.

I buy the 60 day pre-paid cards for WoW. I don't have a credit card.

This article makes a good point, so much so that it makes me consider WoW. I had already considered it slightly but this has really opened a crack for me to peep my head in and see inside, even if it is into the financial sector.

bue519:

Wakefield:
or...I could spent 60 bucks on Halo or COD4...and get endless entertainment online...for free. Or at least cheaper then 15 bucks a month.

Ummm since when is XBL free?
If you want free endless online either PC or PS3 is a good choice.
On another note:
Did you cut out the time in WoW spent mindlessly grinding, flying from place to place, and searching for groups? Cause that might cut out a third of your total gametime, which might shift those numbers.

on Halo you have a point but its 50 bucks a year, not 15 a month, still cheaper

COD4 however I play on PC (being a pretty much exclusive PC gamer) but these days I find myself playing Team Fortress 2 in my spare time. Still infinitely cheaper then MMOs

I got about 300 hours of gameplay from Morrowind, so that sure was some money well spent.

Been arguing for P2P MMOs for a while myself. Maybe it's because I see my monthly gaming budget cut heavily when playing a good P2P MMO. I'll still buy a game a month (or two during good months), but not the 3-4 new games I buy per month when not enjoying an MMO. Doing a little math, one new game and a sub fee add up to $65, while three new games set me back $150 ($75 and $180 if they're not for PC, but I rarely buy console titles. Also, not counting tax for rounder figures.)

That said, I know people have different gaming habits than I do, and they might not see similar savings. Different strokes for different folks and whatnot. Me, I'm wishing for a new, worthy MMO to enjoy.

I think an MMO can be more profitable... and affordable if it has a F2P system.

When you talk about WoW value though you need to calculate how much of your time you spend flying places, corpse running, waiting for your group members "one sec I see a khorium mine, oh no I died", and waiting for your mana/health to regen between fights, etc. It is worse on a pvp server where you have to be totally paranoid and cautious to avoid ganks. I wouldn't count that time as "fun".

Where as in a good 2 hour movie you have maybe 10 minutes of boringness and in a really good movie you have 100% fun from the opening sequence to the end credits. Of course for a movie you need to count driving, sitting in the theater for 20 mins of commercials before the movie, parking, etc as unfun time but even that is still part of the experience if you are hanging out with your friends.

Even comparing two games is like apples and oranges and comparing games to movies is more like apples to monkeys.

Once you add an entertainment calculus you might as well be working, because you aren't doing something for joy, you are doing it because it makes financial sense.

I continue to stand by this statement: sorry, but I'm "never" going to play a game with monthly subscription. I put 'never' in quotation marks because who knows, developers might take MMO technology one day into a different and interesting direction that might be worth looking into.

It's important to remember gaming is not a job, so looking at it through a mathematical "cost effective" perspective seems pretty ironic to me: reinforcing the idea that playing MMOs is like having a job. I'm not playing games because I have to, and want to be as efficient at it as possible, but because I want to (for whatever reason), and I want to enjoy that experience.

Now, if someone likes the grind-tastic nature of most MMOs today and can't get enough of it, he can go for it. MMOs ARE the cheapest way for him to have a good time with something he likes to do. Nevertheless, I have a different taste in gaming. I like having a variety of experiences, so 60 hours of varied experience is worth far more to me than 120 hours of repetition at the same price. It's not just about price, it's also about what you get for that price. On top of that, like a lot of people mentioned here, I've played multiplayer games like TF2, Warcraft III, Starcraft, and others without the need for monthly subscription.

When it comes down to it, it's a matter of preference more than cost-effectiveness. I will not play a game with monthly subscription because I prefer quality over quantity.

WickedArtist:
I continue to stand by this statement: sorry, but I'm "never" going to play a game with monthly subscription. I put 'never' in quotation marks because who knows, developers might take MMO technology one day into a different and interesting direction that might be worth looking into.

It's important to remember gaming is not a job, so looking at it through a mathematical "cost effective" perspective seems pretty ironic to me: reinforcing the idea that playing MMOs is like having a job. I'm not playing games because I have to, and want to be as efficient at it as possible, but because I want to (for whatever reason), and I want to enjoy that experience.

Now, if someone likes the grind-tastic nature of most MMOs today and can't get enough of it, he can go for it. MMOs ARE the cheapest way for him to have a good time with something he likes to do. Nevertheless, I have a different taste in gaming. I like having a variety of experiences, so 60 hours of varied experience is worth far more to me than 120 hours of repetition at the same price. It's not just about price, it's also about what you get for that price. On top of that, like a lot of people mentioned here, I've played multiplayer games like TF2, Warcraft III, Starcraft, and others without the need for monthly subscription.

When it comes down to it, it's a matter of preference more than cost-effectiveness. I will not play a game with monthly subscription because I prefer quality over quantity.

What makes WC3, StarCraft, and TF2 any less repetitious than an MMOG? You're doing the same thing over and over again.

CantFaketheFunk:

WickedArtist:
I continue to stand by this statement: sorry, but I'm "never" going to play a game with monthly subscription. I put 'never' in quotation marks because who knows, developers might take MMO technology one day into a different and interesting direction that might be worth looking into.

It's important to remember gaming is not a job, so looking at it through a mathematical "cost effective" perspective seems pretty ironic to me: reinforcing the idea that playing MMOs is like having a job. I'm not playing games because I have to, and want to be as efficient at it as possible, but because I want to (for whatever reason), and I want to enjoy that experience.

Now, if someone likes the grind-tastic nature of most MMOs today and can't get enough of it, he can go for it. MMOs ARE the cheapest way for him to have a good time with something he likes to do. Nevertheless, I have a different taste in gaming. I like having a variety of experiences, so 60 hours of varied experience is worth far more to me than 120 hours of repetition at the same price. It's not just about price, it's also about what you get for that price. On top of that, like a lot of people mentioned here, I've played multiplayer games like TF2, Warcraft III, Starcraft, and others without the need for monthly subscription.

When it comes down to it, it's a matter of preference more than cost-effectiveness. I will not play a game with monthly subscription because I prefer quality over quantity.

What makes WC3, StarCraft, and TF2 any less repetitious than an MMOG? You're doing the same thing over and over again.

Agreed, actually. I felt it was rather a weak point against the viability of MMOGs, that's why I've given it a backseat with only a brief mention in my post, but it is one that bears mentioning nonetheless, simply because I do not pay a monthly fee for that repetition.

My main point is variety: 3 different games are worth more to me more than one MMOG that offers me three, four, five times the gameplay time. I've always considered MMOGs to be a technology rather than a genre, and I am hoping for the day developers will deviate from the WoW formula and do something with it that will attract my attention. The Old Republic seems to have taken a step in the right direction, from what I know so far, but I digress. My argument is that personal preference should have greater weight than price, even in the harsh economic climate of today.

Extrapolating for the win?

Games are about quality, not quantity.
If you just want to find a cheap way to spend time you could do go outside or something.
It's free!
Equals infinite time per 0 cent.

Also: entanglement

If there's a good game that you would play but consider the subscription too much, there must be something that gives you better use of that money. Maybe it does, it probably doesn't.

The subscription model isn't terrible in and of itself, but the boring, somewhat story-kess, grindtastic gameplay model that is required to sustain those subscriptions is another thing all together.

One thing Mr. Funk forgot to take into account is that MMO's are not everyone's cup of tea. I've played a bit of WoW, Guild Wars, and EVE Online, and they really didn't grab my attention. I think I'll stick to Fallout 3 and TF2, thanks very much. I've already clocked 120 hours on a game that cost me 30 euro. Not bad value for money, I'd say.

bobknowsall:
One thing Mr. Funk forgot to take into account is that MMO's are not everyone's cup of tea. I've played a bit of WoW, Guild Wars, and EVE Online, and they really didn't grab my attention. I think I'll stick to Fallout 3 and TF2, thanks very much. I've already clocked 120 hours on a game that cost me 30 euro. Not bad value for money, I'd say.

And that's a perfectly valid argument. Just not against subscription fees.

A fair number of times already, since I've been lurking the shadows of this forum, there comes a post (or an article) so baffling that I feel the urge to register just to state my opinion. That feeling has always subsided, but as I read this article, my mind was exploding with the formula to present my counter-argument - so Kudos, Mr. Funk, for making me come out
from the ever so comfortable anonymity.

If I may come up with a reductio ad absurdum : I do believe, my fellow gamers and humans all around, that, going with the best bang for the buck argument, I have found the best entertainment concept of all time!!! Well, it isn't exactly new, since it exists, I believe, since the Middle Ages, but nonetheless, I present to ye - A deck of cards!!!! (cue in music)

That's right, for as low as 99 cents, you can get one of these (and it comes with the Barbie picture in the back!!!), or if you'd like a more expensive one to show off, trust me there are whole collections of them; and you can play more games than you'd ever know and never have to pay ever again. Hell, you can play a new game virtually everyday and not exhaust them all for a long while. Better yet, it comes with single as well as multi-player installed, provided all the players know the rules. Surely one cannot beat such intelligent design.

You see where I'm going with this. I believe the whole argument you provide is mostly fallacious. You provide only few examples of entertainment, and the only value you provide for comparison is monetary. That's like saying the best restaurant is the one that allows you to eat all you want, even if the food is sub-par, because you pay less for what they offer.

You seem to forget some people like variation, hence they'd rather play different games (like so many others have posted), others enjoy the community and don't mind paying for it... Many others (I shall name them Norms) would rather go to a dinner and a movie with the one they love and not buy a videogame - trust me, it's not much of a choice. I'd rather spend one evening with my lovely wife than play for a month... or a year for that matter. There's a value there, as there is a value with going out with your friends (or doing whatever you please), that should weigh more than X hours for Y money.

Finally, one even needs to realize even by your standards, you are mistaken. Pay to play every month is not the cheapest form of entertainment, especially regarding videogames. With the money from the subscription, you could buy (at least in Portugal) one game per month for the PS2. That is more than enough gaming experience for a casual gamer (let's face it, if you are an hardcore player, you'll go through a game in a week or two - but by then you need help, or a life... or help getting a life).

And even if you are a hardcore player, and do enjoy all the things the MMOPG has to offer, there are also NO Subscription games avaliable. I honestly couldn't care less if they add every week the Giant Glove of Wanking + 1.000.000, or whatever they do. You have to pay the game at full price, pay for the expansions and stil pay to play? Sorry, but you're being a bit duped (at least that's my opinion, but then again... I don't like the service WoW provides in exchange for 15 euros a month)

Still, if you believe it's worthwhile, why the heck not? It's your prerogative, and it is what you find most rewarding... Just don't come around and say it's the best.

Finally, I'd like to apologize for the lengthy reading, as well as praise all this community, which I hope one day I can be considered a part of. And apologize to all those who have used some arguments similar to mine - I would quote you, but I don't use forums that often and I'm unable to use the [/quote] system ... if anyone has a knack for teaching, please I'm a willing student.

CantFaketheFunk:

bobknowsall:
One thing Mr. Funk forgot to take into account is that MMO's are not everyone's cup of tea. I've played a bit of WoW, Guild Wars, and EVE Online, and they really didn't grab my attention. I think I'll stick to Fallout 3 and TF2, thanks very much. I've already clocked 120 hours on a game that cost me 30 euro. Not bad value for money, I'd say.

And that's a perfectly valid argument. Just not against subscription fees.

You've got a point there. You have my apologies for going off-topic. I'll save that little spiel of mine for another time, then. *laughs

CantFaketheFunk:

What makes WC3, StarCraft, and TF2 any less repetitious than an MMOG? You're doing the same thing over and over again.

That's kind of like saying driving a ferrari and driving a fiat punto is all driving.

That said, we could argue day and night whether MMOGs provide the same quality of experience as say, WC3, StarCraft or TF2, but ultimately it's all pointless. Truth is, you used that card in your own article when you reduce "non-MMOG's" lifespan to 30 hours, and hold MMOG's lifespan as near infinite.

In fact the whole basis of your argument is "P2P plan is better since P2P games inherently have more longevity and replay value"... which is as big a fallacy as I've ever seen.

I did the exact same thought experiment as this person, except I concluded that it was free flash games that was most cost-effective. Essentailly, it is usually more cost-effective to play 50 one-hour-long flash games than one 50-hour game, because those 50 one-hour-long flash games each cost $0.06 each while a 50-hour game costs $60. Flash games gets a fun efficiency of 16.66 Hours of Fun for every $1 you spend, while a Halo game produces 0.833 hours of fun for every $1 you spend.

In order for Halo to have that sort of fun efficiency as Flash Games, you need to play 1000 HOURS of Halo, something that I'm not sure I could do. The full article is here: http://www.lucasforums.com/showthread.php?t=181672

And yes, like on The Escapist, the article was chewed up and got proven totally wrong. Although, unlike MMORPGs, the experience is more varied, since you get to play different games!

Caliostro:

CantFaketheFunk:

What makes WC3, StarCraft, and TF2 any less repetitious than an MMOG? You're doing the same thing over and over again.

That's kind of like saying driving a ferrari and driving a fiat punto is all driving.

That said, we could argue day and night whether MMOGs provide the same quality of experience as say, WC3, StarCraft or TF2, but ultimately it's all pointless. Truth is, you used that card in your own article when you reduce "non-MMOG's" lifespan to 30 hours, and hold MMOG's lifespan as near infinite.

In fact the whole basis of your argument is "P2P plan is better since P2P games inherently have more longevity and replay value"... which is as big a fallacy as I've ever seen.

Except when I flat-out say that I've gotten about 90 hours out of TF2 so far.

Look, there are always going to be exceptions. TF2, StarCraft, WC3, Counterstrike, Halo 3 (halo 2). Largely games that thrive on multiplayer (but since most of the time these are not server based games, the costs are waaaaay lower than for an MMOG), but really, you're kidding yourself if you think there's any inherent difference between say, Dustbowl in TF2 and Arathi Basin or an Arena match in WoW other than, y'know, the game mechanics. They're both competitive multiplayer and as such continue to be entertaining.

But the sad fact is, you look at a huge percentage of the games these days that get released and DON'T have a lasting multiplayer component? 30 hours is extremely charitable.

CantFaketheFunk:

Except when I flat-out say that I've gotten about 90 hours out of TF2 so far.

Look, there are always going to be exceptions. TF2, StarCraft, WC3, Counterstrike, Halo 3 (halo 2). Largely games that thrive on multiplayer (but since most of the time these are not server based games, the costs are waaaaay lower than for an MMOG), but really, you're kidding yourself if you think there's any inherent difference between say, Dustbowl in TF2 and Arathi Basin or an Arena match in WoW other than, y'know, the game mechanics. They're both competitive multiplayer and as such continue to be entertaining.

But the sad fact is, you look at a huge percentage of the games these days that get released and DON'T have a lasting multiplayer component? 30 hours is extremely charitable.

I'll say it again: Ferrari, Fiat Punto. They're both driving. It's technically the same... Except not really...

Yeah you have 90 hours of TF2, and a million hours of WoW, and the keyword here is "you". I have over 200 of TF2 in-game, and god knows how many in hammer. On the other hand I have played Portal through so many times now that, I'm not kidding, I must have clocked over 20 - 40 hours on that game by now. I have hundreds, possibly thousands of hours in GTA Vice City for the PS2 and even seemingly "low single-player longevity" games, like the Tekken series (again, in single player), have seen me net hundreds of gameplay hours. Meanwhile, and while I did have my MMO "phase", I never clocked nearly as many hours on any of them. In an argument like this, where the question is "is the subscription based plan better - FOR THE COSTUMER" you have to null out parasitic variables which otherwise influence the result, specifically, enjoyment of the game itself. In order for this "study" to be accurate, you have to assume people have the capacity to enjoy a P2P MMOG much in the same manner as they're capable of enjoying any other retail game... And if Steam profiles are anything is solid evidence that such people do exist.

And when you come down to it, is "renting" better than purchasing? Then for the most part the answer is no. Specially considering most of these "subscription based" services also force you to buy the actual game. That's why we usually buy our games, we don't rent them unless we're not planning on dedicating more than a bored weekend to them. The longer you have the game, and the longer you play it, the worse deal renting becomes. As said before, the added overtime cost of a "renting" anything forever (to equate ownership) is nothing short of infinite, which is slightly more than 60 bucks. Then there's the whole issue surrounding the fact that you never actually own the game, merely a temporary license to play it.

What you discuss in your article, in my opinion, deserved another approach entirely: Are P2P MMOS "that bad"? Cause that's a whole different deal. MMOs in general run on company-based servers, the cost of which is supported by the company, which in turn requires a steady source of income to support the servers the game runs on. A P2P plan in this case seems sensible (even though undoubtedly a lot of those 15$ a month per person goes into lining the company's pockets more than running the servers) and, some would argue, a better approach for the MMO world's "ambiance" than the "Free with premium store" one. If you really do want an MMO, then your choices are pretty limited as "retail-only" plans don't cover server costs and thus aren't efficient for the publisher, and given the options, "P2P" is not that bad a choice.

As for "length" of a game. Again, it's a slippery slope isn't it? First of all because longevity isn't everything. The time-proven slogan "quality>quantity" rings truer than ever here, and good single player games are generally built more towards a strong impact/experience than a longer lasting but more diluted one (i.e: mmos). But again, that's not the point of the article, so we need to assume there are equally enjoyable on both sides... That said, we stumble upon two more fallacies in your logic... First, that all p2p MMOs have good longevity while only SOME retail games do, which is a pretty big gaping hole in your theory. You use WoW as a comparison, but WoW is arguably the biggest behemoth of the subscription based MMO world, if not of all the MMOs, long held as the "king" of "MMORPG-land" every other MMOG attempts to dethrone... It feels tragically quaint to then pitch it against "average" games. Pitch it against equal "retail" behemoths like TF2 and CoD4 and suddenly the "gameplay time" field looks considerably leveled. If you wanna pitch it against "lower games" then you gotta pick a "lower class" of subscription based MMO as well. Perhaps one of those "WoW killers!" that surface every other month and go down under after a year or two (deja vu of "Halo killer!"s?). The other gaping fallacious hole in your theory revolves around your usage of hours played to correlate with price for the estimated price "per minute played"... This is pointless because you don't pay for your minutes, you pay for the hole month. 4 hours of WoW can cost me the same as a full "retail" game, I just need to play 1 hour a month. Ultimately you need to clock how many different months have you played these games? Even if you turn the game on once, log in your character, walk around, log off. That's one month you'd have to pay in subscription based services.

Anyways, this is becoming a rant, my apologies. I think I got the point across: I think you let your personal bias get the better of you in this one.

WoW has saved me a lot of money.

Having spent maybe $100 on the game + 2 X-packs (even given WotLK which I hardly played) then subscription fees of around, oh, probably one year total $15 x 12 = 180. Then around $200 total on the action figures and horde and alliance beer steins, give or take... let's round off to $500 bucks as a result of me stumbling into WoW.

Now, in months between WoW runs where I don't play, my credit card bill easily runs between $1000-$2000 a month for various odds and ends of going out and doing whatever with friends. Dinners out, performances, shows, driving to and gear for various outdoor excursions, etc. etc.

Conversely, in my heavy phases of WoW addiction, where all I do is play, and get by on beer, rice, trail mix, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in hurried moments between battle ground ques or boss fights, rarely does my credit card bill add up to over $500 in those months. Probably there is still more savings from fewer ATM withdrawals. Few other games can compete with real life like that.

For for each month I've played WoW, I'm going to guess that is around $500 of savings in gas, groceries, and other activities that I would otherwise be doing. Spacing it over the year I've played WoW, that's around a $6000 savings in everyday expenses, and discounting the price of WoW, thats $5500 I've saved thanks to Blizzard. And that is conservative.

But anyway, I totally agree with the point of the article. Even Warhammer Online, which doesn't quite capture the magic of WoW and has a number of issues described ad nauseum elsewhere--just leveling up on one toon got me many many hours of fun. That Tier 3 instance in the Badlands, the name escapes me now, was one of the funner runs I've ever had in an instance--much more chaotic, energetic, and action packed than WoW's snoozefest trash-crawlers. And scenarios were still basically a good time despite some PvP issues. WAR as a game suffers mainly because it is compared with WoW, but is still vastly superior to the blandness of most console games and shooters. Five months of enjoyment for maybe $125 total. Economics-wise, WAR is still way ahead of most games.

I just wanted to throw in that I bought Champions Online for $50 on Friday, and just played that all Labor Day Weekend. The MMO addiction factor is there with Champions, and it's hot. The cost comparison of that compared to nearly any other thing I might have done--it's already paid for itself.

Now, how much of my life has been lost, burned away before the pulsing glow of the monitor, now that is a different story...

Caliostro:

I'll say it again: Ferrari, Fiat Punto. They're both driving. It's technically the same... Except not really...

Except yes, really. Exactly the same.

Yeah you have 90 hours of TF2, and a million hours of WoW, and the keyword here is "you". I have over 200 of TF2 in-game, and god knows how many in hammer. On the other hand I have played Portal through so many times now that, I'm not kidding, I must have clocked over 20 - 40 hours on that game by now. I have hundreds, possibly thousands of hours in GTA Vice City for the PS2 and even seemingly "low single-player longevity" games, like the Tekken series (again, in single player), have seen me net hundreds of gameplay hours. Meanwhile, and while I did have my MMO "phase", I never clocked nearly as many hours on any of them. In an argument like this, where the question is "is the subscription based plan better - FOR THE COSTUMER" you have to null out parasitic variables which otherwise influence the result, specifically, enjoyment of the game itself. In order for this "study" to be accurate, you have to assume people have the capacity to enjoy a P2P MMOG much in the same manner as they're capable of enjoying any other retail game... And if Steam profiles are anything is solid evidence that such people do exist.

And when you come down to it, is "renting" better than purchasing? Then for the most part the answer is no. Specially considering most of these "subscription based" services also force you to buy the actual game. That's why we usually buy our games, we don't rent them unless we're not planning on dedicating more than a bored weekend to them. The longer you have the game, and the longer you play it, the worse deal renting becomes. As said before, the added overtime cost of a "renting" anything forever (to equate ownership) is nothing short of infinite, which is slightly more than 60 bucks. Then there's the whole issue surrounding the fact that you never actually own the game, merely a temporary license to play it.

What you discuss in your article, in my opinion, deserved another approach entirely: Are P2P MMOS "that bad"? Cause that's a whole different deal. MMOs in general run on company-based servers, the cost of which is supported by the company, which in turn requires a steady source of income to support the servers the game runs on. A P2P plan in this case seems sensible (even though undoubtedly a lot of those 15$ a month per person goes into lining the company's pockets more than running the servers) and, some would argue, a better approach for the MMO world's "ambiance" than the "Free with premium store" one. If you really do want an MMO, then your choices are pretty limited as "retail-only" plans don't cover server costs and thus aren't efficient for the publisher, and given the options, "P2P" is not that bad a choice.

As for "length" of a game. Again, it's a slippery slope isn't it? First of all because longevity isn't everything. The time-proven slogan "quality>quantity" rings truer than ever here, and good single player games are generally built more towards a strong impact/experience than a longer lasting but more diluted one (i.e: mmos). But again, that's not the point of the article, so we need to assume there are equally enjoyable on both sides... That said, we stumble upon two more fallacies in your logic... First, that all p2p MMOs have good longevity while only SOME retail games do, which is a pretty big gaping hole in your theory. You use WoW as a comparison, but WoW is arguably the biggest behemoth of the subscription based MMO world, if not of all the MMOs, long held as the "king" of "MMORPG-land" every other MMOG attempts to dethrone... It feels tragically quaint to then pitch it against "average" games. Pitch it against equal "retail" behemoths like TF2 and CoD4 and suddenly the "gameplay time" field looks considerably leveled. If you wanna pitch it against "lower games" then you gotta pick a "lower class" of subscription based MMO as well. Perhaps one of those "WoW killers!" that surface every other month and go down under after a year or two (deja vu of "Halo killer!"s?). The other gaping fallacious hole in your theory revolves around your usage of hours played to correlate with price for the estimated price "per minute played"... This is pointless because you don't pay for your minutes, you pay for the hole month. 4 hours of WoW can cost me the same as a full "retail" game, I just need to play 1 hour a month. Ultimately you need to clock how many different months have you played these games? Even if you turn the game on once, log in your character, walk around, log off. That's one month you'd have to pay in subscription based services.

Anyways, this is becoming a rant, my apologies. I think I got the point across: I think you let your personal bias get the better of you in this one.

I could say the same. And I used WoW as my chief comparison because it was the one I played the most, but I stand by my point for... pretty much any MMOG that doesn't suck on the market. EQ, DAoC, WAR, Aion, CoX, et cetera. If the game is worth playing, it'll almost assuredly get you more playtime and save you money than your average retail game. Are there exceptions? Undoubtedly. But they're just that - exceptions.

To me, the biggest bang for my buck is Medieval 2, Civ 4 or any other of the top rated Strategy titles. I pay once, I play countless times and when I'm done I put it away for about 3 months.

My problem with the MMO's is.. it gets boring after a while, I played CoH, DAoC, EQ, WoW ( a tiny bit ) WarHammer Online, UO, GW, that Microsoft one where you had instruments ( I can't remember the name ) and the one thing they all gave me was about a month of addiction followed by.. so now what. Time and time again I would be stuck in the mid levels with no group sitting around camping the small xp stuff in a grindfest. Then I'd quit because it got annoying. Or I'd create another caracter, which was just a repetition of the cycle.

I suppose it is a good point though that if you want to commit the time 15 a month is nothing. If you put in the hours.

Anyway, good mathematical point. Sort of. If you don't count replayability... or multiplayer goodness. Or Neverwinter Nights and other such games that allowed you to create your own experience or log on to someone else's created world.

I don't really get "bang for my buck" out of gaming, I have too short of an attention span and I haven't fully replayed a game in god knows when.

The best "bang for my buck" that I've had in recent years would be Persona 3 FES, $39.99 CDN (Pretty cheap) for over 100 hours of high quality, story based gameplay. Persona 4 is close, but it doesn't have the expansion game packaged with it that adds an extra 30 hours to the game. Also both of these games came with really good soundtracks.

Regardless though, I always feel like MMOG's are a very shallow experience. Sure I get a base line RPG experience full of leveling, treasure hunting, cool environments and tons of unique enemies. However I never really feel "fulfilled" since there isn't really a "story" in the same sense as a game like Persona 4, Final Fantasy 6 or Xenosaga 3. There are no "characters" there's no "ending" and hence less "satisfaction" as far as I'm concerned. It's like eating Salad or Plain Potatoes when you really want STEAK! Sure it fills you up but you never really feel "satisfied". Also you need to play with other people, so it's like trying to eat potatoes while some random douchebag with poor grammer sits on the other side of the table stealing your food at random intervals and shouting poorly phrased insults at you. Everyone else at the table is cold and aloof... and then the high level horde ass holes busts in, shove your head in your food, kick your chair out from under you and flip over the table, and then leave as unceremoniously as they entered.

Yes, I'm afraid it's not worth all that to just eat salad or plain potatoes and I don't think I'll ever really be interested in an MMOG again, at least not until The Old Republic comes out, I play that for a bit and once again get severely jaded by it.

I suppose it also comes from being a Pen and Paper Roleplayer, I mean, if you're going to spend hours in your basement pretending to be an elf, you may as well have some friends over, drink some beer, order some pizza and make a mini-party out of it.

It's not about quantity it's about quality.

My time is worth money.

The problem with your WoW gaming hours model is that you don't take into consideration time where you were dicking around, afk, waiting for people, etc. Of course it still would beat the second choice but if you look at it from a quality perspective, it's like saying you can spend a lot less on gaming... except you can only play one game. ONE game. Wanna play an FPS like Halo? Too bad. Wanna play an RTS like C&C? Too bad. Wanna play a fighting game like Street Fighter? Too bad! You get World of Warcraft and NOTHING else for as long as you go by this plan. Now, I'm sure that's not the case. I'm sure that while paying the subscription, you were also buying other games, some that you play all month while still paying $15 a month. Even gamers of the most intense dedication get bored of playing the same game after a while (usually). So how do you get a cheap gaming experience AND variety? Simple... last gen consoles and old PC games. Most people didn't have all 3, and most MMOs have lower quality graphics and gameplay mechanics than the Xbox, PS2, or Gamecube. It's the middle man. You can get games from the Wallmart dollar bin for a good few hours of gameplay each. Besides! Don't you ever wish you got references to old games that you didn't play? Now's your chance to get up to speed. Or you could play an MMO, do whatever.

I think that with the upcoming release of Aion, I might overlook my previous stingyness towards MMOGs. Thinking back to all the titles I have bought in the last six months or so, being, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Prototype and NWN2 and expansions, I have to admit that the pay per play system is looking fairly good. Between these three games I clocked maybe 10 hours for Star Wars, 20 for Prototype and maybe 50 for NWN2.
That's 80 hours for a grand total of around $300AUD. That's $3.75 an hour. A subscription for a year as well as the initial purchase of Aion should be around $280. The difference isn't that much, but then the longevity of an MMO should be significantly higher than any of these games, so the "bang for my buck" is quite a bit better.
Perhaps I will save some money, if I limit myself to one game, which probably isn't going to happen. Above my dying fear of the pay per play subscription model is my dire hatred for the game prices in Australia.

I paid $90 AUD (standard AAA release price in Aus, sadly) for CoD4, and would have clocked several hundred hours on it without a doubt. I think the value comes more from being a multiplayer oriented game than from being a MMORPG specifically.

Honestly, if I'm going to constantly fork over money to a person, I'd like to have some diversity to my product. No matter how many updates and how many expansion packs WoW comes out with, in the end, you're always doing the same thing, "Go over there, hit him over the head with a stick, and see what the piņata comes out with." There's zero character development (getting new fireballs or whatnot is not character development), the storyline is weak at best, and the activity done is repetitious with zero actual reward. In MMOs nothing you ever do matters, you can go kill a rampaging dragon, kill an evil space emperor, kill an entire army of kobolds (notice, the sum total of the player's ability is to simply kill, every once in awhile there's a need to gather materials for something, but that can only be done by, guess what, more wanton bloodlust), and in the end, they'll pop right back up for someone else to go kill. The game's status quo means that there is no change whether or not I've actually put in any input.

So, every 15 dollars, I hand someone money for him to... not change a damned thing. Oh, sure, there's a few niches and pockets fleshed out here and there, but, that has nothing to do with what I, or anyone else has done. In the end, there is zero variety in the whole thing.

At this point, things like, say, Gamefly or Gametap make much more sense. Sure, I'm paying a man an entry fee to get into their funhouse, but once inside, I have access to all the arcade machines they have. Do I feel like a rampant shooting spree? Do I feel like high fantasy swords and sorcery? Do I feel like a zombie invasion?

I guess the point is, I like strawberry ice cream, but sometimes rocky road hits the spot better?

CantFaketheFunk:
snip for reference

i think it's worth mentioning that the amount of hours put into a mmo game aren't always their money's worth. maybe it's true, you do get many more hours for your buck; but what is the quality of those hours?

how many of those hours have been running, flying, swimming or otherwise moving to a destination? how many of those hours have been idle while waiting for a raid or group to arrive at some point? can you really say that the quality of a game such as world of warcraft will exceed that of an critically acclaim singleplayer game such as batman: arkham asylum?

Gildedtongue:
Honestly, if I'm going to constantly fork over money to a person, I'd like to have some diversity to my product. No matter how many updates and how many expansion packs WoW comes out with, in the end, you're always doing the same thing, "Go over there, hit him over the head with a stick, and see what the piņata comes out with." There's zero character development (getting new fireballs or whatnot is not character development), the storyline is weak at best, and the activity done is repetitious with zero actual reward. In MMOs nothing you ever do matters, you can go kill a rampaging dragon, kill an evil space emperor, kill an entire army of kobolds (notice, the sum total of the player's ability is to simply kill, every once in awhile there's a need to gather materials for something, but that can only be done by, guess what, more wanton bloodlust), and in the end, they'll pop right back up for someone else to go kill. The game's status quo means that there is no change whether or not I've actually put in any input.

So, every 15 dollars, I hand someone money for him to... not change a damned thing. Oh, sure, there's a few niches and pockets fleshed out here and there, but, that has nothing to do with what I, or anyone else has done. In the end, there is zero variety in the whole thing.

At this point, things like, say, Gamefly or Gametap make much more sense. Sure, I'm paying a man an entry fee to get into their funhouse, but once inside, I have access to all the arcade machines they have. Do I feel like a rampant shooting spree? Do I feel like high fantasy swords and sorcery? Do I feel like a zombie invasion?

I guess the point is, I like strawberry ice cream, but sometimes rocky road hits the spot better?

Just saying, you're not entirely correct. That's why phasing technology is so awesome - it allows players to feel like the world is moving and evolving based on their contributions while still leaving content accessible for those who follow.

theklng:

CantFaketheFunk:
snip for reference

i think it's worth mentioning that the amount of hours put into a mmo game aren't always their money's worth. maybe it's true, you do get many more hours for your buck; but what is the quality of those hours?

how many of those hours have been running, flying, swimming or otherwise moving to a destination? how many of those hours have been idle while waiting for a raid or group to arrive at some point? can you really say that the quality of a game such as world of warcraft will exceed that of an critically acclaim singleplayer game such as batman: arkham asylum?

Yes, absolutely. It's a different TYPE of time spent, but as much as I loved Arkham, I've gotten way more hours of fun out of WoW.

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