Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lifetime subscription thoughts

Atari and Cryptic announced the subscription options for Star Trek Online. Besides a classic $14.99 monthly subscription, you can also get one of two "special offers", which are only valid before release day: A 12-month subscription for $119.99, or a subscription "for the life of the product" for $239.99, one cent more than two 12-month subscriptions. After February 2 you can *still* decide to buy a lifetime subscription, and it'll cost $299.99. Game not included. Is that pricey or what?

If you play the open beta and like Star Trek Online, to a degree that you want to play it for a long time, the 12-month offer looks like a good deal. It's a third cheaper than the monthly subscription, and it is reasonable to believe that STO will be around for at least one year. To make the same cost saving on the cheaper of the two lifetime subscription deals, you'd need to play for two years. In my opinion Star Trek Online doesn't have sufficient depth to make it likely that a lot of players keep playing that game for several years, but of course I haven't even seen the endgame, and more content will probably be added over time.

The $299.99 "standard lifetime pricing" without preorder bonus is interesting, because so few games offer this still after release. As you'd buy that only after the two cheaper promo offers have expired, we'd have to compare this to the standard $14.99 price per month, which makes the standard lifetime pricing break even after 20 months, for people understandably reluctant to pay so much *before* release.

So I was asking myself, what game am I still likely to play in 2 years? And that turns out to be a difficult question. While patch 3.3 certainly was a shot in the arm for World of Warcraft and considerably revived it, and Cataclysm this year sounds attractive as well, my interest in this game has its ups and downs. I love running dungeons much more than playing solo, but obviously the number of dungeons is limited, and once you ran them all a dozen times, even the Dungeon Finder is losing its lustre. So would I pay $300 for a lifetime subscription for World of Warcraft? I think yes, for two reasons: I'm absolutely certain that World of Warcraft will still exist in 2 years, which isn't necessarily true for every other MMORPG out there; and a lifetime subscription would be more convenient, freeing me from the stress of cancelling my account when I lose interest and resubscribing later.

So how about you? Would you pay $300 for a lifetime subscription for an existing MMORPG? Which one would that be?

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