A lot of people most likely aren’t sold on Champions Online right now, and I can’t blame them — after all, no game pre-launch can give you 100% assurance that what you expect will be. So many folks are going to wait and see, perhaps by wheedling into the beta, perhaps by jumping on board for the first month and going from there.
Cryptic is going to make this “wait-and-see” approach more difficult, as they just announced two long-term pricing plans that are designed to test the waters of true fandom.
The first is a six-month subscription plan for $60 — effectively lowering the monthly price of the game to $10/month. Not too shabby, especially considering that (unless the game tanks), many dedicated MMOers tend to stick with a new game for about that time period anyway. The six-month plan also comes with an “art deco” costume set, and guaranteed access into the Star Trek Online closed beta “beginning later this year”.
The second is the fabled lifetime subscription plan — a whopping $200, right there on the table, take it or leave it. Now, as I’ve said before, lifetime subscription plans have really picked up in appeal to me. While I’m glad I never took up Hellgate London’s lifetime offer (and I bet those suckers who did regret it whole-heartedly), I do wish that I was smart enough to get on board with LOTRO’s $199 lifetime plan before it shot up to $299. I think I would’ve gotten my money’s worth with that.
Anyway, the lifetime sub has a lot going for it:
- Access to the Star Trek Online Closed Beta, beginning later this year!
- Exclusive Art Deco costume set
- Exclusive Retro Future costume set, available only to lifetime subscribers
- Unique Mirror Universe outfit for Star Trek Online, available at the game’s release
- Exclusive in-game Foxbat action figure, available only to lifetime subscribers
- Eight additional character slots!
From all of this, we’re able to deduce a few things:
- Cryptic is leveraging its multi-MMO studio status to full effect, before the first (of three) is even out the door. The synergy between Champions and Star Trek’s marketing is strong, and if Cryptic can sell the lifetime sub to a player, then why not start working on getting them interesting in Star Trek for more money?
- Studios that offer lifetime subs do make me a bit wary, in that I’m not sure if their doing so represents a, shall we say, lack of confidence in their product. As though they crunched some numbers, and figured that on average, it’s better to sell a $200 sub than hope that you can get a player hooked long enough to end up spending more than $200 in monthly fees.
- You can get a taste of Cryptic’s much-ballyhooed (and possibly controversial) microtransaction scheme in these details. Along with the pre-order bonuses, Cryptic’s sure throwing around a lot of costume pieces, game options and even temporary powers that won’t come “standard” in the launch product. Players who have the obsessive-collection mentality (“gotta have it all!”) will find these little pieces of flair more tempting than perhaps even the lifetime sub.
- Star Trek Online’s closed beta is going to launch this fall, at some point, and that unleashes a whole can of question-worms.
I have a lot more queries for Cryptic than this meager page provides. For example, will I be able to buy into this plan a month after it launches — that is, let me have the standard “free” month that comes with the retail box and see if I like it enough to get this plan, or if I have to make up my mind before that point. And if I can wait a month after, how long exactly will this offer stay on the table?
Update: Cryptic just posted this on Twitter: “As it currently stands, Champions Online lifetime and six-month subscription deals are only available until Sept. 1st.” Er… really? Before the game launches?