The Subscription Psychology

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The Subscription Psychology

Shamus Young discusses subscription-based games, and whether you're getting enough bang for your buck.

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Great article.

I'm a flat rate kind of guy myself, as (like you) by-the-minute charges stresses me.
But I also feel a little obligated to play a certain amount on WoW each month, so that I don't feel like I've wasted my money.
Which is the reason I quit WoW. That endless feeling of obligation to play sucked the fun right out of it.
That and raiding.

I prefer the Guild Wars subscription option. Pay for the game, then never again--the lifetime subscription option is basically the cost of the box. Now I don't feel guilty that I haven't played in years! Looking forward to GW2 using the same model.

I don't play MMOs, not because of the method by which they charge for subscriptions 'cause I hate the by-the-minute thing too, but because I hate the idea of buying the game and then having to pay to play it too.

I'm basically the deluxe version of the second mindset. Not only does the flat rate option make me feel obligated to play, but the whole idea behind an MMO makes me feel obligated to play. If I don't play for a few weeks, all of a sudden all the people who I was getting to know by grinding with them are way ahead of me.

If I take longer than that off, suddenly most of the players have finished whatever the current main or popular quest line is and finding a group for that quest line becomes a test of patience. And god forbid when a game has a limited time event which has a "grand prize" of sorts that takes hours and hours of grinding to get.

Compounding this is the classic problem of DikuMUD mechanics, raiding, and the like. Begins to feel like work. Some people end up paying for an activity that feels like something they should be getting paid for.

If an MMO existed that I was confident was a good game and which would go for years before folding, put me in the lifetime subscription column.

fenrizz:
Great article.

I'm a flat rate kind of guy myself, as (like you) by-the-minute charges stresses me.
But I also feel a little obligated to play a certain amount on WoW each month, so that I don't feel like I've wasted my money.
Which is the reason I quit WoW. That endless feeling of obligation to play sucked the fun right out of it.
That and raiding.

Either way kindof bugs me, i mean i payed for this and if i don't use it it's like wasted money, but then if i payed by minute/hour I would probably not enoy it because i was feeling rushed. The flat-rate kindof makes me feel good, because if i pay for a month, then i have a month of playtime ready for me. I don't think thats what i wanted to say,but oh well, i like flat rates even if they rub me alittle weird.

I still haven't played an MMO yet. Tried Lord of the Rings Online free trail, it was great but I never felt the need to buy the game. Tried WoW free trail, I lasted five minutes before quitting and finding a game with a good story, good graphics and no killing grind quests.

Also I'm worried I'll get addicted and 8/month is quite a lot in my book. Then again TOR might make me change my mind.

Speaking of value for money I think Team Fortress 2 would beat any MMO. Let's see I got it in the Orange Box for 16. Which is about 5 for the game let's say. Out of that I have registered an alarming number of hours, hundreds and hundreds, I get free content updates and a hat. Best money to fun ratio ever.

And then compare to Prototype, bought for 20, played for four(ish) hours then got bored. Money wasted.

Heh. Great point, until you realize that if you game last gen (which still has loads of great titles and few people have played all of them), you can buy 20+ hour games for fivers. That's not even taking into account the huge freeware game community you alluded to.

COD4 online on my PC. 40$, endless hours of entertainment.

Monthly fee = 0

My wife and I have played LOTRO ever since the Beta came out, and we wrestled with the question of the lifetime purchase. Although the standard price is $15, it's very, very easy to get that down to $10 a month. I *think* at the time Lifetime was $185, so it would have been 18 months of playing before it started to break even. With Net Present Value of money, it would take even longer.

The main reason why we didn't is that we just never had $185 lying around each to go ahead and make the purchase, but I do think that if we would have purchased that lifetime membership, we would not have played the game nearly as often because we wouldn't have felt that obligation, and then we would felt that we had wasted our money. Instead, 2+ years later, we have now spent more money, so it looks like you lose either way.

My WoW friends (I don't play WoW) and I have talked about this. The fact that they pay monthly means two key things that compel them to keep playing:
1) Not playing means you're wasting money, as any time in a given month that you don't play is effectively paying for nothing, so any free time should be spent getting your money's worth.
2) Canceling your subscription (or simply not playing for a while) is a waste of all the time spent on character progression in previous months. If you've played WoW for 2 years, ending your payments means not getting the full benefit of all your hard work. All that grinding and raiding will suddenly be meaningless.

So it keeps looping. Your current month's payment compels you to play more in any given month, and the play time spent in that month compels you to play again next month, ensuring the same thing happens.

I think that's why I have so many friends who have tried/are trying/say they want to try to quit, but just keep playing for months on end. :S

I prefer a pay-by-the-hour sort of thing. That way, if I lose interest and don't play as often, I don't lose as much money for it. But regardless of which is the better deal, in general I find MMOs remarkably dull. I'd much rather pay the $2 an hour for genuine fun than ten cents or whatever for repetitive monotony.

Yokai:
I prefer a pay-by-the-hour sort of thing. That way, if I lose interest and don't play as often, I don't lose as much money for it. But regardless of which is the better deal, in general I find MMOs remarkably dull. I'd much rather pay the $2 an hour for genuine fun than ten cents or whatever for repetitive monotony.

Putting aside the question of fun vs monotony (I happen to love MMOs) I think this is actually where Shamus was spot on.

Last night, we tried and wiped repeatedly on the final boss of the 25-man Crusaders' Coliseum for an hour, an hour and a half? When we were broken / had to repair and a design flaw in the raid meant that we had to portal out / manually fly back, all that we wasted was time. And we had plenty of that. Had we been PAYING for every hours we didn't kill the boss, I think it would have been so much more frustrating.

Great article as usual, Shamus. I think you nailed the whole mechanics of why people prefer/will never ever buy subscriptions perfectly.

I think the biggest hole in the "best bang for your buck" theory is a figure that can never be judged in dollar figures.

Entertainment.

Funk, Shamus, and many others have great fun playing WoW, and I can appreciate that. But they get something from it I've never been able to. They have fun. I tried WoW, and I never had all that much fun with it. Sure, maybe I could get 4 cents an hour from it, but if I'm not having fun, is it really money well spent? Sure, maybe when it works out I might only end up getting about $2.50 an hour from a game like inFamous, but if I'm having fun, it will always be money well spent in my eyes.

Sorry, I got a bit rambly. If my post isn't clear let me know and I can clean it up tomorrow, feeling a little dead tonight.

I play F2P mmos because I play sporadically and my PC isn't high end. I mostly play Perfect World.

I would really like to play Runes of Magic too, but my PC doesn't have a good enough graphics card apparently. So it lags and the draw distance is 4 feet if I want to play it now.

Tried DDO, and quit before finishing the first quest. You can't move with the mouse, you need to manually turn to face mobs that you are attacking. Translates to targeting with one hand on the mouse, moving with the wsad keys, and having to take your hand of of one or the other to hit a spell etc.. By that time the mob has moved and you can't hit it anymore, but they are killing you.

Also unless I'm just slow, there isn't a way to see the front of your character. The camera just doesn't swing that way, so I couldn't even see the weapon in my hand let alone the face I spent some time crafting.

I know a lot of people that play Warcraft (I think calling it wow is asinine). I'd like to try it, but since I'm lamentably unemployeed I have better things to waste my money on.

fenrizz:
Great article.

I'm a flat rate kind of guy myself, as (like you) by-the-minute charges stresses me.
But I also feel a little obligated to play a certain amount on WoW each month, so that I don't feel like I've wasted my money.
Which is the reason I quit WoW. That endless feeling of obligation to play sucked the fun right out of it.
That and raiding.

the thing that people dont get is that WoW isnt this omnipotent soul devouring game. its just a game with about 16 billion times the content of Halo and CoD combined. you can approach the game from less serious methods. i stopped having fun when i actually set some longterm objective in WoW that didnt count as get to the level cap and try to hit every dungeon along the way. if you like multiplayer, fine, just dont talk to me about it in any RPG, as one of the short/long term objectives i set for myself and regret is that i attempted to pick up PvP gear for better singleplayer and group questing. i had no fun when i was PvPing because its not natural, its not fun, and its not fair in an RPG.

lluewhyn:
My wife and I have played LOTRO ever since the Beta came out, and we wrestled with the question of the lifetime purchase. Although the standard price is $15, it's very, very easy to get that down to $10 a month. I *think* at the time Lifetime was $185, so it would have been 18 months of playing before it started to break even. With Net Present Value of money, it would take even longer.

The main reason why we didn't is that we just never had $185 lying around each to go ahead and make the purchase, but I do think that if we would have purchased that lifetime membership, we would not have played the game nearly as often because we wouldn't have felt that obligation, and then we would felt that we had wasted our money. Instead, 2+ years later, we have now spent more money, so it looks like you lose either way.

Huh. Interesting.

See, I would have said that you paid slightly more for over two years of gaming with your wife, stories that will last you for many more years (unless you both stood around in Minas Tirith, dancing with Hobbits...). The idea that you "lost" because you payed more than you could have if you'd had more money years ago doesn't really enter into it.

On Topic - I love that, once again, the concept that Warcraft is nothing but grinding comes up. If you're just grinding in WoW, you're playing it wrong. That is all.

MMO devs want th money up front. I doubt Blizzard wants to mess with collection agencies. This pay-for-an-MMO-by-the-minute has a sinister quality where people innocently sign up for, say WoW, just to check it out--I mean that's how we all stumbled on our first one right?--and then a month later get a $900 bill on their credit card.

Flat rate MMOs appeal to people who have faith in the MMO they're playing. But a lifetime membership is hardly a free pass to the game for eternity. There are always hidden costs in MMOs. What happens when they release an expansion? And prices for MMOs rarely change, but if they do they tend to go down, not up.

In DDO's case, monthly fees disappeared completely. How would you feel about a lifetime subscription in that case?

toapat:
the thing that people dont get is that WoW isnt this omnipotent soul devouring game.

I'd like to believe that, but I've seen it devour too many souls. Right in front of me, even!

I like flat rates -- I pay a price, I get a game. I can play it today and then not again for five months and not feel like I wasted anything (except when i find the game cheaper before i get back to it)

This goes into another reason I avoid MMOs. I work full time and my family keeps me busy... If I save a game and don't play for two weeks, I haven't harmed my characters -- they are exactly as I left them. If I play an MMO with friends and don't show up for a week, then they did not have my assistance in instances, and have leveled to the point where I couldn't play with them if I wanted to.

This was my experience with free-to-play onlines like OGame and Urban dead, and I imagine the problems would be just as bad in WoW.

Bongo Bill:

toapat:
the thing that people dont get is that WoW isnt this omnipotent soul devouring game.

I'd like to believe that, but I've seen it devour too many souls. Right in front of me, even!

that wasnt a soul devouring, those are far cooler, no what you witnessed is a process which the unenlightened ritually sacrifice their lives for minor possible glory

While I have not had a problem with the flat rate myself, I have always wondered if I should get something in return for all the days that I do not log in. It made sense to me that MMOG should have some kind of redeeming system with unclocked hours for your subscription. Something to bring the player back to the game, such as experience rewarded or a piece of gear you are able to purchase with these redeemable points.

I have enjoyed the idea that City of Heroes/Villains employed with their Issue 13 Day Jobs. Having you essentially gaining ingame substance while you are logged off for an allotted amount.

My problem with MMOs isn't the price it's that all the content ends up seeming bland and samey. With no major story or context to tie everything together (at least nothing approaching the level of plot you see in single player games) you are just leveling for the sake of leveling and I find that very boring.

So yeah maybe just playing an MMO is a better deal than buying single player games, but you get way more quality for the loss in quantity.

Shamus Young:
n case you missed it, John Funk had a great article last week that compared the cost of playing an MMO to a standard single player game in terms of cost-per-hour. On that basis alone, most MMOs come out way, way ahead, and single player games usually can't even come close.

This again...

I think we ascertained from the comments in that very article that saying P2P MMOs come with better "cost-per-hour" is a biased and fallacious line of thought. You're assuming that only P2P MMOs will get a certain amount of time played. You're limiting game genres to certain thresholds based on personal experience... Which is limited to yourself... As we've also explained in those comments, there are as many, if not more, people capable of spending equally long amounts of time playing any other game or genre... It all comes down to how much you like the game. And when you equate playtime, and make it long, the P2P plan always comes down on the bottom as the overtime cost of "renting" anything forever is in fact infinite.

That said, I find your acceptance of the P2P model rather peculiar, if not inconsistent, specially considering not that long ago you went on about how online activation is a form of rip off as it's little more than a one time fee to rent the game... Yet accept P2P which literally IS just renting the game...

That said, I don't see why companies don't run both plans, surely there's room for people who prefer to play "by the hour" too... Ok, I'm lying, I know exactly why they don't, so they can make sure everyone feels nice and guilty about not playing and logs in as often as possible lest they'd be throwing away money...

Caliostro:
That said, I don't see why companies don't run both plans, surely there's room for people who prefer to play "by the hour" too... Ok, I'm lying, I know exactly why they don't, so they can make sure everyone feels nice and guilty about not playing and logs in as often as possible lest they'd be throwing away money...

That seems backwards to me. When you do the monthly thing, you not only have to balance out the fee so that it can pay for your ultra-heavy users, but is still low enough not to drive out the casuals, you're also providing people with incentive to play. But that's not what you really want. After all, when they play, they take up bandwidth and server capacity. No, you don't want to give people incentive to play -- you want to give them incentive to *pay* and that's a very different thing.

So the reason companies don't offer both is because then the monthlies would be the ultra-heavy users while the per-hour would be the casuals. So you wouldn't be getting as much from the casuals, but still be having to provide the same amount of resources for the ultra-heavy.

That said, I'm actually a micro-transaction type of guy myself.

Caliostro:
That said, I find your acceptance of the P2P model rather peculiar, if not inconsistent, specially considering not that long ago you went on about how online activation is a form of rip off as it's little more than a one time fee to rent the game... Yet accept P2P which literally IS just renting the game...

This is a bad comparison. It comes down to expectations. In one transaction (lets say the single player game) the comsumer expects that he has bought a game (or the right to play said game) and that this right is eternal (in lack of a better word). The problem with authentication is that here your purchase is not eternal but only lasts untill the company is no longer able/willing to support it. This means that the expectations of the consumer is not being meet. In essence the spirit of the agreement between the publisher and the consumer is broken and the consumer can no longer use what he purchased and it becomes a rented product.

In P2P there is a another expectation from the consumer (one that sometimes gives them an overstated oppinion of their own importance (see your average "I am a paying customer now fix this." post on a P2P forum.") The expectation is that as long as I keep paying there is some sort of support and maintenance going on as well as new content in development. All this comes down to the fact that the consumer in this scenario is well aware that the dame he/she is playing is in fact rented and this is a part of the agreement between the consumer and the publishers. This means that if the publisher is no longer able/willing to continue the product no expectations are in fact broken.

You are right that both versions is a form of renting but as is evident it is so in 2 very different ways.

I myself like the flat-amount subscription model as I often us it (in this case wow) as a glorified chat-program. Also I would break down in a panic if I had to pay by time spent.

Personally I find my self more likeing the micro-transaction system then either of the other 2. Mostly I prefer it because they tend to be free to play. One of the bigest turn offs to me about most MMO's is that I feel some what cheated. First I have to go to the store and buy the game. Then on top of paying for the software, and then I have to pay to play the game as well? Something never felt right about that.

I mean that's kind of like going out and buying a car out right, then haveing to pay the car company a monthly fee just to be able to drive it. I've all ready paid the car company the cost of the car. Why the hell should I have to also pay them a monthly fee just so I can actualy drive the damn thing?

Chipperz:

lluewhyn:
My wife and I have played LOTRO ever since the Beta came out, and we wrestled with the question of the lifetime purchase. Although the standard price is $15, it's very, very easy to get that down to $10 a month. I *think* at the time Lifetime was $185, so it would have been 18 months of playing before it started to break even. With Net Present Value of money, it would take even longer.

The main reason why we didn't is that we just never had $185 lying around each to go ahead and make the purchase, but I do think that if we would have purchased that lifetime membership, we would not have played the game nearly as often because we wouldn't have felt that obligation, and then we would felt that we had wasted our money. Instead, 2+ years later, we have now spent more money, so it looks like you lose either way.

Huh. Interesting.

See, I would have said that you paid slightly more for over two years of gaming with your wife, stories that will last you for many more years (unless you both stood around in Minas Tirith, dancing with Hobbits...). The idea that you "lost" because you payed more than you could have if you'd had more money years ago doesn't really enter into it.

I think you're reading more out of this then I was putting in, but that's evidenced by the fact that you had to switch the topic of conversation from the payment method and the enjoyment factor and even acknowledged that. The subject as introduced is payment methods, not whether you enjoyed the product.

We enjoyed the game either way, but the sense of "losing" is only that regardless of which path you take, you have the niggling urge that financially you would have been better off had you made the other choice. Much like choosing to buy an item(such as a television, or chair) because it's on sale and you're worried about the price going back up, and then you find the item even cheaper somewhere else after you bought it. Is it something to obsess about? No, nothing that serious. Is it something to say, "Hmm, I could have saved more money if I had done X/Y instead"? Possibly. Either way, the enjoyment of the product is the same.

Shamus is right about racing the clock.

Back in my Dreamcast days it was online (dial up) but there were no "flat rate" providers for the DC. If I remember correctly it was 1p per minute. Unfortunately I had quite a Phantasy star online "issue" at the time. That became expensive quickly.

I worked around it by having a Phantasy Star Jar that I would put my coppers in as I went along and used the results to pay the phone bill. It made waiting for party members pure frustration, as was typed chat. I couldn't touch type at that time.

I've changed since then and I wouldn't ever subscribe. I may get nostalgic but I will never play PS again. I tried Eve on a friends account plus a few others and I cant bring myself to cough up.

Apart from not finding the games particularly fun, I could buy 4 games a year for that price. Looking at the last 3 I've bought COD4 (Over 12 days play time plus 3 runs through the campaign), Mass Effect (about 9 play throughs. I'll have at least 1 more before the sequel) and Endwar (I play every other day online).

In my head, if I get 3 months play from a game its as much as 3 mmonths MMO. If I play for longer its cheaper, if I'm still playing after a year (COD4, Endwar, Streetfighter etc) then its far, far cheaper (excluding rockband). Add to this that I've played 2-3 games with the money for a year of MMO then there will be far more variety as well.

I guess MMOs aren't for me.

I find MMOs fascinating, even though I don't enjoy playing them myself, because I think everything about them is psychologically manipulative and entrapping, and dissecting their diabolical genius has the same appeal as performing an autopsy on an invading alien soldier and finding out all of their super abilities.

The dominant subscription trend--paying by the month--is definitely the most entrapping option for MMOs to use. With pay by the minute schemes, you are basically encouraged to work quickly and play as little as possible to keep your bills down. It keeps your mind on the budget, and like counting calories you always eat/use less when you have to look at every guilty little snack. But pay by the month plans encourage you to play as much as you possibly can. Instead of doing something else that you can do any time and that you can put off, you play the MMO to make sure you justify the monthly cost. And because MMOs include other elements that become more and more addictive the more you use them, the more you play the more entangled in it you get and the more you are likely to play, and therefore the more secure your business.

However, in terms of customer service, I think the best value would be to offer a threshold based/variable rate pay system. For each gaming session you are charged a minute-by-minute rate until you play for a certain length of time, at which point the billing switches to hour by hour. If you exceed a certain number of hours in a week, your charge becomes week by week, and if you manage to grind more than a certain number of hours per month you get a monthly rate instead. Companies that wished to benefit their customers would balance these variable rates to form a smooth, fair progression (people who play a little only have to pay a little, people who play a lot don't have to worry about the clock ticking if they know they're going to be doing a big block, and people who vary from month to month don't have to feel bad about not using the time they've paid for because they only pay for it after they've used it). Companies that wish to maximize the addictive qualities of their product would balance their rates accordingly.

What about a pay-per-kill plan? You pay upfront, and you are slowly charged for creatures killed, ore mined, etc. This would basically make people pay for the amount they consume, like the hourly plan, but would compensate for wasted time.

Caliostro:
This again...

I think we ascertained from the comments in that very article that saying P2P MMOs come with better "cost-per-hour" is a biased and fallacious line of thought. You're assuming that only P2P MMOs will get a certain amount of time played. You're limiting game genres to certain thresholds based on personal experience... Which is limited to yourself... As we've also explained in those comments, there are as many, if not more, people capable of spending equally long amounts of time playing any other game or genre... It all comes down to how much you like the game. And when you equate playtime, and make it long, the P2P plan always comes down on the bottom as the overtime cost of "renting" anything forever is in fact infinite.

OF COURSE the entire article is built on the assumption that you're interested in the type of entertainment provided by an MMO. Yes, there are other types of games, but they aren't part of this particular discussion because I'm writing an article an not a book. And I make no assumptions about MMOs getting any particular amount of time played. In fact, that variable was the entire point of the article.

And yes, my writing draws from my own experiences. If you want something based on yours, you'll have to write it yourself.

Caliostro:
That said, I find your acceptance of the P2P model rather peculiar, if not inconsistent, specially considering not that long ago you went on about how online activation is a form of rip off as it's little more than a one time fee to rent the game... Yet accept P2P which literally IS just renting the game...

Because an MMO is an ongoing SERVICE provided to you with ongoing costs - like electricity or phone service - and the other is a standalone PRODUCT - like a toaster. Activation for an MMO is a natural part of the service, and activating a single-player game is a completely needless and artificial thing.

Shamus Young:

OF COURSE the entire article is built on the assumption that you're interested in the type of entertainment provided by an MMO. Yes, there are other types of games, but they aren't part of this particular discussion because I'm writing an article an not a book. And I make no assumptions about MMOs getting any particular amount of time played. In fact, that variable was the entire point of the article.

And yes, my writing draws from my own experiences. If you want something based on yours, you'll have to write it yourself.

Ok, I think you misunderstood me, or I may have explained myself inadequately.

The problem isn't when you assume we're interested in MMOs, but when it's assumed we're more interested in mmos than we are in, say, an FPS. Or an action game. Or a puzzle game. Or anything. When you make a statement like...

Shamus:
On that basis alone, most MMOs come out way, way ahead, and single player games usually can't even come close.

...and like I discussed in the other article, you're assuming that people will enjoy MMOs, and thus spend more time with them, than they enjoy single player games. That was also the issue with Funk's article. When he says something like, and I'm paraphrasing, "MMOs will ultimately get you more bang for your buck because you'll play them longer than most other games", you're making an assumption on the user's preference. Yeah, if I'm an MMO fan it's likely I will. If I'm NOT a particularly big MMO fan, and instead of loving the genre just enjoy them the same as other games, then that conclusion goes right down the drain.

And yes, anything you write will be based on your experiences. "Mea culpa" on this one, wasn't clear enough. What I meant was when you make a factual statement such as "MMOs DO give you more bang for your buck than other games!", then you really should try to filter personal bias as much as humanly possible. From what I understand both you and Funk are big RPG/MMO fans, so it can be easy to forget that there are people out there that match your WoW (as an example) playtime with theirs on TF2, or Prototype, or Monkey Island, or whatever.

Shamus Young:
Because an MMO is an ongoing SERVICE provided to you with ongoing costs - like electricity or phone service - and the other is a standalone PRODUCT - like a toaster. Activation for an MMO is a natural part of the service, and activating a single-player game is a completely needless and artificial thing.

JakobBloch:

This is a bad comparison. It comes down to expectations. In one transaction (lets say the single player game) the comsumer expects that he has bought a game (or the right to play said game) and that this right is eternal (in lack of a better word). The problem with authentication is that here your purchase is not eternal but only lasts untill the company is no longer able/willing to support it. This means that the expectations of the consumer is not being meet. In essence the spirit of the agreement between the publisher and the consumer is broken and the consumer can no longer use what he purchased and it becomes a rented product.

In P2P there is a another expectation from the consumer (one that sometimes gives them an overstated oppinion of their own importance (see your average "I am a paying customer now fix this." post on a P2P forum.") The expectation is that as long as I keep paying there is some sort of support and maintenance going on as well as new content in development. All this comes down to the fact that the consumer in this scenario is well aware that the dame he/she is playing is in fact rented and this is a part of the agreement between the consumer and the publishers. This means that if the publisher is no longer able/willing to continue the product no expectations are in fact broken.

You are right that both versions is a form of renting but as is evident it is so in 2 very different ways.

I myself like the flat-amount subscription model as I often us it (in this case wow) as a glorified chat-program. Also I would break down in a panic if I had to pay by time spent.

See, I'm a bit of a pragmatist myself, so I don't get this logic. At the end of the day you have two games. Both games you're dependent on a third party saying "ok, go ahead and play it!", or "nop, sorry, can't play right now!", so you don't really own either per say... I'm sure you can argue about "updates!", but then we have examples like TF2, which to my mind is the epitome of "money well spent", or, for a more realistic example, Fallout 3. A lot of companies are following the DLC-based plan now, and when they do they really aren't that far off from an MMO's continuous updates... You usually have to pay for the big expansions anyways. So, assuming I enjoy both types of games equally in order to avoid bias, why would an online activation on a game like Fallout 3 be worse than a monthly fee on an MMO? To my mind it's even better. It's a one time fee instead of monthly, so overtime the cost is considerably inferior to a subscription, and you run the exact same risk of the company suddenly going down under and rendering your investment null...

...Actually, I take that back, with Fallout 3 it'll still be possible to run a crack (although I agree, you shouldn't have to) with relatively small hassle and play it with far bigger ease than it is to pirate an entire server for an MMO... Also if both DO go down under and you can't revive them in any way, at least in fallout's case you only lost your one time fee, while in a subscription based MMO, you lost all your money spent till that point.

Keep in mind, however, that I'm well aware that MMOs sort of require this extra continuously charged cost in order to keep the servers running (yeah, I've read the article about what it takes to run WoW too), but my point is about what kind of deal this is for the costumer, not the companies.

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