January 25, 2010

684 words 4 mins read

Lifetime game subscription – Is it worth it?

Recently, I’ve been playing the Star Trek Online open beta. During this time they announced the availability of 12 month subscriptions and “lifetime subscriptions”. I understand why they do this from a business perspective, after all developing an MMO costs a lot of money and if you can recoup $240 a person now instead of 18 months down the line, all the better. But what about from the player’s point of view, is it worth it?

First, you do the math. The normal monthly subscription is $15 a month. A 12 month subscription is $120, or $10 a month. A Lifetime subscription is $240, which means you’ll “break even” after 16 months. After 2 years, a lifetime subscription is only $10 a month. Obviously the longer you play, the more it is “worth it”. The real question is, will you play the game for at least 2 years?

For me, the answer is no. I’ve never played an MMO for that long, I simply lose interest. Additionally, I’ve just forked out $50 for the “box” and that is pricey enough. I’m simply not willing to pay $300 for a game. $300 for a gun, sure. $300 for a radio, sure. Even $300 for a gaming console… but something intangible like a video game… I just can’t do it. Of course, you may differ, you may love your MMOs and play them religiously, every day, for years and years. Good for you, a lifetime subscription is for you.

The next item of concern is if the game is going to last that long. Several “big” MMOs have gone under, and some of them, like Hellgate: London, definitely did not make the 2 year mark. A lifetime subscription for a game that goes under is money lost, you’re never getting it back. Granted that is a fairly small risk, especially in the case of something with such a big name as “Star Trek”.

The last item, which should be the biggest concern of all, is… “Will the game suck?”. I’ve played the open beta, and I think STO is a good game. I’ve definitely enjoyed it and will continue to play it, but I’ve only got a small glimpse of the overall game. In addition to that, the game is extremely buggy. Bugs are excusable in an open beta, but if you are “paying to QA” (as is the case with most SOE games when they launch), you aren’t going to be very excited about the game. Plus, some games can just be completely ruined by a buggy launch, as was the case with Everquest 2. Eventually EQ2 got all the kinks worked out, but everyone had already given up and gone elsewhere, leaving the game to lament it’s slow death.

Of course, if you do your lifetime subscription on STO, you’ll get the ever so cool bonus of being able to play as a Borg. Since the lifetime subscription option goes away with the launch of the game, no one else will be able to play as a Borg. At least for a few months until the new players start bitching that they didn’t have a chance to lifetime subscribe, and it isn’t fair to them that they can’t be a Borg. So the Borg will be put on the “store” for sale, just like every other launch bonus will eventually be put. Such is the way of being an early adopter, you’re cool for a time, then you get screwed (Oh, you paid $1,000 for that Blu-Ray player? I only paid $170, and mine is profile 2.0).

Of course, the choice is yours whether you lifetime subscribe. For some it is “worth it” for the cool factor of the bonuses. For some it is “fiscally responsible” (Translation: you’ll play 2+ years). Some are die hard trekies and will do it none the less. The rest of us… we’ll go out and see what sun feels like.

To be fair, I should point out that I really should have bought a lifetime subscription to PlanetSide given how many times I keep going back to it.