View Poll Results: Online games - purchase cost and subscription model

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  • They should be free to play, just a one-off cost to buy

    17 58.62%
  • They should be free do download (or production cost to buy), but have a subscription charge to play

    8 27.59%
  • It's reasonable to charge PER MONTH for my subscription

    7 24.14%
  • I should be charged PER IN-GAME HOUR of play, so I get what I pay for

    0 0%
  • There should be a mix of (low) fixed monthly and in-game time charges

    0 0%
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Thread: Would/do you pay to play online games?

  1. #1
    Ex-MSFT Paul Adams's Avatar
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    Question Would/do you pay to play online games?

    Okay, first up I am not talking about pure FPS games or multiplayer games hosted by one of the client (a la Dungeon Siege) - this is purely about "persistent world" games such as Ultima Online, Star Wars Galaxies, City of Heroes, etc.

    With MMO(RP)Gs, there is a cost for ongoing development, maintenance, upgrade and running costs of the server farms to host the games, so should it be reasonable to charge users of the service a monthly fee?

    I'm not going to poll on what people think is a reasonable subscription charge, but I'm interested to get an idea of what people expect as a payment model.
    Subscription charges are invariably prepaid and non-refundable, some current models give you a discount if you sign up for 3,6 or 12 months too.

    While it's not something I've come across yet, I wonder if people would be more inclined to pay if they knew it was for time they actually use, rather than per calendar month too.

    To give you an idea, City of Heroes is $50 to buy (same cost if you download it but don't get the media or manuals), and $15 per month to play - Star Wars Galaxies is the same but there is no download option.
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  2. #2
    Theoretical Element Spud1's Avatar
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    welli pay Planetside which costs about £6 a month to play, and its well worth the money. The game is constantly updated with new things and bug fixes, the servers cost a fortune to run and my characters stats are held on the server, so when i play its not pointless starting from the start all the time. my £6 a month is a small price to pay for the hours that i spend on it each day

    I also pay to play Planetarion, a web based space strategy game, This costs me a fiver a round, and again the money is justified by the same reasons as above =)

  3. #3
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    Ah nuts, I voted before I read the posts

    If its persistent world MPG's then yes there should be a subscription.


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  4. #4
    Member Trash Man's Avatar
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    Does planetside really only cost £6 a month to play now? I really wanted to play that again yesterday but I don't want to spend the £11 a month I was paying to play it.

    At the moment I'm paying around £10 a month to play SWG and I think it's worth it. As Spud said, the servers and the bandwidth that are needed to run these games is massive and if they did not charge for people to play the games, then the games would soon end up being taken off line.

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  5. #5
    MAS
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    Seconded. Most people who play MMOGs get a lot of play out of them; several hours a week. I think £10 a month for a game you get so many hours of entertainment from is well worth it.

    Put it in perspective - it costs well over £2 for a pint of beer these days, £5 to go to the cinema, etc. Looked at it like that I think they're all pretty good value.

  6. #6
    Vive le pants! directhex's Avatar
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    people are going to want to know if a game is any good before paying money - on two levels - to buy it. with mmorpgs moreso - paying for the game, then a subscription fee, before you even know if you like it? the only option in my view is a free to download, free to start with (e.g. up to level 5 or something) client, with a subscription fee on top of that - if there's no cost to try it, then thousands more will!

  7. #7
    Ex-MSFT Paul Adams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by directhex
    people are going to want to know if a game is any good before paying money - on two levels - to buy it. with mmorpgs moreso - paying for the game, then a subscription fee, before you even know if you like it? the only option in my view is a free to download, free to start with (e.g. up to level 5 or something) client, with a subscription fee on top of that - if there's no cost to try it, then thousands more will!
    Oops, sorry I forgot to mention - every game I've bought also includes the first month's subscription in the purchase price.

    I agree that games should be optionally downloadable for free, or have a nominal production-cost charge if it's sold in stores.
    However, due to the nature of some games you might not want people to be able to create accounts at will - this would put a massive load on the databases and impact the paying players, possibly impacting service downtime (backups & upgrades).
    Also, a lot of games give "freebies" to all accounts from time to time to mark events or as compensation for extended downtime - people would purposely create multiple accounts just to hoard these (and possibly sell them on eBay).

    Maybe they should have a "test" server which is free to play up to a certain level, or blocks your IP from connecting after you've been on for a few hours?
    Problem there is the cost to run that - it would have to perform well enough to convince people to play, so it couldn't be too cut-down.

    MAS puts it into perspective quite well, compared to other activities you get a lot more "value for money" than you think - but are we too used to paying for a game once and owning it, to play when we want?
    I've been playing MMORPGs so long I'm not hazed by paying for 3 or 4 such monthly accounts now, I must admit
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  8. #8
    MAS
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    Not a bad idea. But most MMOGs have your first month included for free anyway. It's a fair point about having to pay for the game; I wouldnt want to spend £35 on an MMOG to find out that it's carp. However, surely you have the same risk with any game you buy - MMOG or not.

    Some MMOGs are starting to offer free trial downloads now - SWG can now be downloaded for a free two week trial. Which, IMO, is a great idea, and is certainly going to encourage me to try it.

  9. #9
    Vive le pants! directhex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAS
    Not a bad idea. But most MMOGs have your first month included for free anyway. It's a fair point about having to pay for the game; I wouldnt want to spend £35 on an MMOG to find out that it's carp. However, surely you have the same risk with any game you buy - MMOG or not.
    well the age of the demo isn't entirely dead

    i bought ut2004 after eventually being persuaded to try the demo - and finding it wasn't ut2003-style craptastic, but rather fun

  10. #10
    MAS
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    Yeah, demos seem to be making a bit of a comeback. Still, there are lots of other games you cant try before you buy.

  11. #11
    F.A.S.T. Butuz's Avatar
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    Yep i have done and will pay to play as long as the game is worth my money. There is no generic "yes" or "no" for me it totally depends on the game. Eg. DAoC i played for a couple of months and then cancelled. I will not pay £10 per month just to have to spend months shooting AI crabs on a beach in order to level up my char. When i pay to play i want to play against other people, not AI chars, which is why i have played Ultima Online and planetside for so long.

    Butuz

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    It's all down to what they offer for me, if I'm going to continue to pay for a game to the point where after a year I might have spent over £100 (£10 a month) on it I would expect a few things:

    It too be good.
    Dedicated servers run by the game provider that are running all the time and populated with enough people to make it interesting.
    Game updates, not patches (they should be free), but new world/levels, weapons, characters and more importantly security.
    I would like to see a bit of a storyline be played out online, like a war between to cities or invaders, a group of people ending up with a bounty on there heads fun stuff every now and again.

    I would not be happy if 6 months down the line I saw a mission/expansion pack in the shops for another £XX that I hadn't got via downloads.

    If there is one already like this out sorry but honestly I haven't played a online roleplaying game yet because I know I'll get addicted and have no life but for work and roleplaying. The one I'm waiting for is Warhammer Online, because I know that world and history like the back of my hand and I'm hoping that what I've seen of the development they are trying to make a game like that .

  13. #13
    cat /dev/null streetster's Avatar
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    it seems the norm with online-rpg type things to pay for a subscription... half the reason why i havent got into them (the other half is my wanting to not be addicted to them).. i mean i used to have the odd skermish match on CS.. but now that im meant to be revising i seem to be playing CS more and more, which isnt good, but at least its free .

    back to the point, aslong as the user is being kept upto date with the game (ie game updates, expansions etc are free) i think that monthly subs are fine i'll just stuck with mindless shooting (aka cs )

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    Marmoset Warrior
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    Yup, subscriptions are a good thing for MMOG's but its definatley a no no for games such as CS or HL because its not going to encourage people to pay to play and probably get beaten by better people (such as AWP whores etc)
    Same here streetster, supposed to be revising but playing cs almost all day now, never good, but atleast we dont have to pay to fail our exams!

  15. #15
    Spodes Henchman unrealrocks's Avatar
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    I recon it should be one or the other - one off or subscription ... the developer chooses depending on how much maintanance the game is going to need later on in life.

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    Senior Member Nemeliza's Avatar
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    if i have to pay for the game in the first place aswell as the hardware to play the game on then why should i be expected to pay even more money to play it.

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