Free-to-Play and Me

The observant among you, if there are any readers at all ;), may notice the 3 MMOs I currently play are free-to-play. Does that mean I think the subscription based model is bad?

Not really. It turns out for my circumstances, which are limited available time to play plus the desire for variety, F2P works out much better. I can play relatively few hours in multiple games and not carry subscription fees.

Let me recap the games I’ve paid a subscription for.

  • Asheron’s Call. I played and enjoyed AC, and even had two subscriptions for a while, but eventually dropped them and the game.
  • Guild Wars. I enjoyed GW enough to buy a second account, when that was the only way to have enough character slots for each class. Over time ArenaNet introduced a store that sold extra character slots, PvP unlock packs (skills and items), cosmetic items, storage, etc. I bought Factions and Nightfall for both accounts, but only EoTN for my main account.
  • LoTRO. I subscribed for a few months before deciding I liked the game so much I wanted a lifetime account, so I upgraded. Then I picked up a second account for more character slots, and eventually upgraded that to lifetime also! F2P came along after I had to take a break from the game for other reasons.
  • WoW. Around the time I started LoTRO, I also started WoW, and alternated between them for months. LoTRO won out and I unsubbed WoW, but picked it up again 2 years later to subscribe for another ~6 months before stopping again. No F2P on WoW, and I don’t see it coming outside a major genre-wide upheaval.
  • EVE Online. In 2008 I gave EVE Online a try, and kept subscribing long past the time I actually stopped playing (for the last half of my subscription I trained skills, logging in to update my skill queue). I just couldn’t get into the game, for various reasons. It was interesting enough to fiddle around in, but not enough to really grab me. I dropped my sub early this year.

That’s it. Games I tried but never paid a subscription for (i.e. stopped after the initial period included in the game purchase), I left off. So I’ve had paid subs to 4 games, enjoyed playing them all, at least for a while.

The subscription price doesn’t bother me, for a single game. $15 a month, usually a little less if you buy a few months at a time, is fine. For 2 games (or alternatively, 2 account in one game), I start to think a bit more – do I play each game enough to justify the subscription? But I’ve done that at various times. Paying for 3 games/accounts, not likely. More? Not happening.

I’m good for one subscription game, but I also like some variety. The solution to that dilemma was Guild Wars, with no monthly subscription – it was my “other” game to whatever else I was subscribing to! When LoTRO became free to me due to my lifetime account purchase, I had 2 “free” games to play, so then I could dabble in EVE or WoW. However, I enjoyed Guild Wars and LoTRO so much that WoW fell by the wayside and eventually so did EVE. DDO is a game I picked up on a whim, largely because it is F2P – it was already F2P before I ever tried it.

I’ve spent money at the in-game stores of both Guild Wars and DDO, buying either extra character slots, storage, or unlocking more choices (the Monk class in DDO, for example). I’m willing to pay money for a game I enjoy and support the F2P business model, but I really do appreciate the “no monthly option” of playing, since I’m currently on a time budget.

The irony is that I am currently not paying for a game subscription, so I could pick one up. Resub to WoW in time to Cataclysm… but with 3 good games vying for my time already, would I have time for a 4th game?

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