Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The activation energy required to sub

Because of Aspendawn's heads up about the deal that steam had going for Everquest II last week, I very nearly restarted up EQ II over the weekend. In the end, I found the thought of paying $15 to renew my sub in addition to the (fantastic) $15 deal on expansions too off-putting. With a lifetime sub to LoTRO; and having gotten used to URU, DDO, and Wizard 101; I was hesitant to pay $30 to walk around as my old EQ II characters and see how the game has changed. I have gotten used to being able move between games without having to pay extra to stick my head in and look around. I have been completely spoiled by one lifetime sub (LoTRO) and several FtP MMOs. To put it differently, the activation energy needed for me to sub up to EQ II was too high for the proper reaction to occur.

That is of course, crazy. Fifteen dollars is nothing, I often spend more on a meal. Yet now that I have gotten used to "no cover charge" MMOs, I am really hesitant to return to any MMO that asks for $15 to check in. To stretch the analogy, it's hard to justify spending $15 to see a band you like when you can go and check out three or four other bands that you also like for free . . . only paying for the CDs at the table if you really want to.

As if in answer to my quandary, SOE announced that EQ II was adding FtP servers [as I'm sure you have read elsewhere] a few days ago. Soon the activation energy needed for me to try EQ II again will be zero. With games as high profile as LoTRO and EQ II going FtP, I think there will be a lot of pressure on other moderately successful sub based MMOs like City of Heroes, Champions Online, and Star Trek Online to offer similar options.


  1. I didn't know you had a lifetime sub to LOTRO. Up till the F2P announcement I was still toying with the idea of purchasing one myself.

  2. Yeah, I did not expect that it would push me to FtP MMOs when I got it. However, LoTRO got me used to being able to take breaks from a high quality MMO without having to sub up every time I want to check in. In retrospect, I think it primed me for the Wizard 101/ DDO approach to FtP. I think of the stuff I buy in W101 and DDO as buying a lifetime account piecemeal.

  3. With both Turbine and SOE conducting experiments, I'd be surprised if other companies jump in right away. Well NCSoft might experiment with CoH, but I dont see the smaller studios doing anything until they see how the existing efforts turn out. Cryptic especially may got to a hybrid model (which the STO executive producer has talked about a bit), but I think they'll wait and see how LotRO turns out for Turbine first.

  4. I think you are likely correct. The safe thing to do seemingly is to wait and see how things go for LoTRO and EQ II. If it leads to revenue boosts for both of them, I think we will see a lot of MMOs follow suit.

    There are also some important differences between how the system is being implemented in the two games. I expect developers will want to see how they pan out before designing their own systems, even if they are already planning to go that way.

  5. My problem is that there's just too many games out there that interest me. These days, if an MMO is going to make me shell out the $15 to sub, it has to catch my eye and REALLY hook me.

    EQ2 has always been one of those "kinda want to" games for me, and the fact that I have to pay for it was pretty much the only thing holding me back from giving it a shot. I didn't want to shell out the money only to find out that I don't like it, or worse, don't have time for it. And now it's gone and done the one thing that will guarantee me giving it a look. Can't argue with f2p.

  6. You mirrored my thoughts exactly. A trial really Really has to blow my mind during the trial before I'm willing to pay for a client and sub up these days. And it's been months since I reactivated any of my old accounts.

  7. I think EQ2 did the change now because LOTRO and DDO are so close to the core audience of one of SOE's flagship titles (EQ2).

    Warhammer Online and Age of Conan aldready have unlimited time trials, EQ2 I think was one of the few left of the classic fantasy MMOs with a time limited trial.

    And the lowest level of the EQ2 extended offering is pretty much just an unlimited time trial, with restrictions similar to that of a trial (to fight gold sellers etc).

    City of Heroes will not do anything I think unless their Going Rogue campaign fails to bring in new people or bring back old players. Both NCSOft/Paragon Studios and Cryptic will be watching how SOE handles DCUO, so there may _perhaps_ be changes for CoX or CO
    in a few months.