Subscriptions Strike Back!
Posted by Blessing of Kings [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 23 August 2013, 1:34 am
The latest news is three up-and-coming MMOs (Final Fantasy XIV, Wildstar, and The Elder Scrolls Online) are going to try for subscriptions rather than Free-2-Play.

Reactions seem to mostly mirror existing biases. The people who think F2P is the future, feel this is going to fail hard, or that it is just a money grab before the inevitable F2P conversion. The people who champion subscriptions want to believe that the tide has turned, and that super-aggressive monetization is falling out of fashion.

The only real conclusion I am drawing is that, given a choice, most developers would prefer subscriptions. The steady income without the need to constantly hawk the latest items in the store must seem a more enticing proposition to the devs.

I think the key is the target number of subscribers. If any of these games are targeting a million subs, I think they're going to fail and end up as F2P. But if they're targeting 100,000 steady subs, I think that's within reach for all three games. In between those two targets is a great deal of uncertainty.

Wildstar and C.R.E.D.D.

In addition to going subscription, Wildstar is copying the Eve Online PLEX model. CREDD is worth a months subscription and can be traded for in-game currency. It does cost a bit more than a month's subscription, though, which is odd.

I'm not really sure how successful this will be. Eve has a much stronger economic simulation. In Eve, the people who earn enough to purchase PLEX are heavily involved in producing and trading the goods that make Eve work.

Wildstar, on the other hand, looks to be more like a regular themepark game where the economy is secondary to boss drops.

Second, Eve does boost the trade in PLEX because they effectively only have one character per account. That means that many players have multiple accounts, increasing the income per player, and increasing the market for PLEX. Someone who is perfectly fine paying $15/month for one account might decide to purchase PLEX to fund a second or third account. That means the market for PLEX is larger and more liquid.

I don't really see that happening in Wildstar. But I don't know for sure. It is certainly an interesting experiment.

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