Quote of the Day: Last of the Mosubscriptions

“In my opinion, [SWTOR] is going to be the last large scale MMO to use the traditional subscription business model.”

~ SOE President John Smedley, October 2011

Yeah… not so much there, Smed.  See, this is what I love about the MMO industry: It’s absolutely unpredictable.  You think you see trends, developers think they see trends, industry experts think they can predict the future… and then it just keeps confounding us with weirdness and crazy moves that nobody saw coming.

Assumed that sub-only games were all but extinct except for a couple of hangers-on?  Yeah, don’t tell that to the future.  The future lives to humble you.  TESO is going sub-only too, alongside of WildStar, and both announced this in the past week.  Cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria!

11 thoughts on “Quote of the Day: Last of the Mosubscriptions

  1. quadzi August 21, 2013 / 10:58 am

    The biggest problem with them starting off as a subscription MMO? Plenty of people like me who say “I’ve got a huge backlog of things to play already… I’ll wait until they go F2P or B2P”. Was interested in both games but now I’ll wait for the inevitable conversion.

  2. Tanek August 21, 2013 / 11:16 am

    If either of them survive to or through a second year without announcing a f2p/hybrid conversion, then I’ll say this might be an indication the MMO subscription-only model is not quite dead. Otherwise, I suspect the new “trend” might be to launch with a box price and subscription with plans in place to convert as soon as it looks like the money is drying up.

    The general idea would be that there are always going to be people who will jump in at a subscription. Offer monthly, multi-month, yearly, or even lifetime plans at the start to get that money rolling in. Then, if and when those people start leaving, evaluate the cashflow again. If it looks like things are sliding in an unsustainable direction and you don’t think there is anything more to lose, announce a limited return of the lifetime offer and/or that the game is going to convert to free-to-play.

    It may sound like an overly cynical way to look at it, but is it so different from an item going on “deep-discount” sale after it has been out a while? You get the initial buyers to pay more, then you reduce the price until the next tier of buyers thinks it is worth the purchase. It might even be beneficial for MMOs to operate this way because the increased money up front might help to make a more solid, content-rich game than would otherwise have been possible on cash shop or box sales alone.

  3. Percy August 21, 2013 / 11:38 am

    Plus Final Fantasy XIV is sub too.

    This means the next three “AAA” MMOs that are releasing are all starting out as a non f2p subscription based MMO.

    If the game is good enough it can have a subscription. Its just really really hard to be “good enough” for enough people.

  4. João Carlos August 21, 2013 / 1:39 pm

    IMHO, if both WildStar and ESO go to F2P model after some months, Smedley will be who laughs last. Not that I will forgive him for what he did to SWG.

    WildStar and ESO are taking a very risky position in the current competition level. As you said, “[t]he future lives to humble you”.

  5. bhagpuss August 21, 2013 / 1:42 pm

    FFXIV will stay sub. It’s Square, what else did anyone expect? The other two will go F2P sooner rather than later. It hadn’t occurred to me but yes, Tanek may be right: it may be a deliberate ploy to grab the maximum cash up front before a planned conversion.

  6. SynCaine August 21, 2013 / 1:49 pm

    Yes, who could have predicted this indeed… 🙂

  7. Katie August 21, 2013 / 6:07 pm

    While I myself am disappointed that Wildstar won’t have more of what we would actually call a hybrid model (to me CREDD does not at all count as hybrid..) I can understand that they will have a sub. I most likely won’t play it when there are plenty of great games that are b2p but there seems like there is plenty they could add on (raids, housing items, single-player elder game) where you would feel like you were getting what you paid for.

    When Elder Scrolls was first announced I assumed it would have a sub. The game announcement came off as so arrogant so of course they thought they’d be the only game that could pull off still having a sub. However, just before this subscription announcement I thought they’d be closer to a b2p model. For what we’ve seen lately they seem way more into grabbing the Skyrim fan than the mmo-er and I’m not sure that they’ve shown us would justify a sub. They may have the same plans as Carbine but they haven’t expressed that at all.

    I can’t predict the future but if these games want to reach wider audiences I think their sub decisions are going to hurt them in the long run. Spring 2014 there will be plenty of brand new shiny console games (Destiny, The Division, etc) that are very similar to mmo’s that for sure will not have a sub.

  8. Green Armadillo August 21, 2013 / 7:55 pm

    Zenimax has to be thrilled that Wildstar announced first and they were able to sneak by on the coat-tails; I wonder if they called to set up that interview as soon as they heard, or if they just decided to drop it into some previously planned press appointment.

  9. carson63000 August 21, 2013 / 8:51 pm

    Does Wildstar use “the traditional subscription business model”, though?

    I know people are disappointed that its “hybrid” model isn’t more hybrid – but Smedley could certainly argue that for the purposes of disagreeing with his assertion, it is NOT the traditional model.

    Ultimately, I think Tanek has absolutely nailed it. There is absolutely no reason for the subscription model to EVER die as an initial implementation, not if the early adopters are happy to pay it to be in there at launch.

  10. Rowan August 21, 2013 / 10:23 pm

    TAGN said it best, if Wildstar’s CREDD scheme is “hybrid,” then so is EVE’s PLEX. I don’t think anyone involved in EVE thinks of it that way.

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