The lights are on
Guild Wars 2’s cash shop is the death knell for monthly subscription fees on even the highest-quality games.
For over a decade, a monthly fee was the accepted price of entry for massively multiplayer games. Players were happy to fork over $10-15 per month in return for access to sprawling online worlds. The sheer size of MMOs dwarfed the most ambitious offline products; as rich as Grand Theft Auto III’s Liberty City is, EverQuest’s multiple continents (and later, extradimensional planes) begged to be explored in a way that is still unheard-of in traditional games.
I personally dropped six-plus years of subscription fees into World of Warcraft, and I don’t regret a penny of it. Those hundreds of dollars bought me unique entertainment that is utterly unlike anything else we’ve built as a species. Exploring richly detailed fantastic worlds with old friends and newly met allies at my side is an unmatched experience. The game eventually paled in my eyes, as all things do, but that doesn’t affect the many memories I still treasure from my time in Azeroth.
Times change, though. Not to take anything away from games that I enjoy – Rift, Star Wars: The Old Republic, The Secret World, and others are all great in their own ways – but Guild Wars 2 is easily the best MMO to release in years, and it came out without a subscription fee. If ArenaNet can do it with a game as brilliantly designed, well-executed, and content-rich as GW2, I have a hard time imagining what it would take to get me to pay a subscription fee ever again.
Free-to-play is nothing new, of course. Asian games from Maple Story to Aion have had huge successes in China and Korea without subscription fees or even a one-time box price, and some have even made significant inroads in the U.S. as well. No offense to any of them, but Guild Wars 2 is on a whole new level from any of the (far too many) Korean or Chinese imports I’ve tried. What’s more, the cash shop that generates the necessary ongoing revenue to keep the company profitable is perfectly respectful of players’ time and money.
Many games have trumpeted their lack of power-boosting items in their microtransaction models, but Guild Wars 2 goes a step farther. The cash shop is never thrown into your face, you’re never gated off from content or activities for not spending real money, and most importantly the temporary XP/karma boosters never feel at all mandatory because the game isn’t designed to be painful to grind through without them.
The appeal of monthly subscriptions has been crumbling for years despite World of Warcraft’s continuing success (and you could argue that Blizzard’s juggernaut is in many ways playing by its own rules), but Guild Wars 2 is the kick that is bringing the whole outmoded concept crashing down. Most of the old guard of Western MMO publishing and development have already converted partially or wholly to subscription-free ways of making money – Turbine, Sony Online Entertainment, and Cryptic Studios (now owned by Chinese publisher Perfect World) have all refitted previously subscription-based games over to cash shop models.
I don’t expect we’ll ever see another significant success story in the MMO scene that demands a regular subscription fee. ArenaNet has proven that a triple-A Western-style MMORPG can make money without a subscription model and without disrespecting players with its cash shop offerings, and we’re not ever going back.
And that’s a great thing as far as I’m concerned.
I would much rather pay $15 a month for a game than to HAVE to buy extra perks in a F2P game.
Subscription fee's are the main reason I never play mmos. So if they go, then I might be inclined to start playing mmos in the future.
Guild Wars 2 isn't a bad game by any means, but I never played more than beta for it. However I have a lot of respect because it is doing what most MMO's completely ignore trying to do. It's trying to innovate and bring change to the genre.
1. A similar but new crafting system design encouraging experimentation and not forcing you to wait 10 minutes to craft all the mats you gathered.
2. Very open and free Guild system allowing you to join multiple guilds across your account and openly swap between them as well as encouraging playing with members of your guild as much as possible.
3. Completely open cash shop (as mentioned in the article) that should be the standard for the cash shop industry.
4. A system that prevents players from outleveling an area while still actually leveling so you can openly go back and play with friends and still have a challenge.
These features are not completely new, they are simply changes to existing systems, but they are fairly big changes from the genre as a whole and, if nothing else, Arena.Net should be commended for trying to push innovation and change.
I only play MMos with sub fees if it is worth the price. (ex- Eve Online or WoW) Considering there is a couple promising pay2play MMos coming out in the future, (ex- Titan) I don't really think sub fee MMos are going away. People also don't realize that most no-sub-fee MMos usually are filled with micro-transactions and/or are pay2win.
While GW2 has certainly shown that a properly developed F2P MMO can have as much if not close to the amount of quality of a P2P game, I think it's rather silly to jump to the conclusion that the payment model for the last decade will just become obsolete.
GW2 is a good game. You are right in saying it is one of the most solid MMORPGs to come out in a long time. Although I wouldn't personally say it's the best and it certainly has its faults. Like some of the others have stated, the game just really didn't hold my interest that long.
It in a lot of ways reminded me of SWTOR by getting to max level and really having nothing to do. But, I actually personally enjoyed the leveling experience in SWTOR more. F2P MMORPGs have certainly come a long way, and GW2 was a major step in the right direction, but there is still a long road ahead in my opinion.
More than likely ESO will be a P2P MMO and I think that the success of that game will largely play a factor into how the industry will turn. People are more than willing to pay a monthly fee for a game they enjoy. That has never been an issue. One of these developers will just need to figure out the secret formula that allowed Blizzard to have the amount of success they have had under a P2P model.
Only time I hated doing Sub Fee was the first time I played Final Fantasy XI (I know laugh). It was a joke. Not only having to pay the monthly fee. You had to be charged EXTRA just to have a character. It was the worse way to run a MMO.
Yet I spent seven+ years playing Dark Age of Camelot and LOVED. Don't regret a single time playing it. It was fun. Also my first true MMO intro. (I like to thank the old TechTV show Portal for that introduction).
Now I dabbled in WoW and liked it. Never frond at the fact that I wasted money. Now deeply into playing SWTOR and really slightly going to be highly annoyed when it starts to be Free-To-Play. There are going to be kids glore that will want to be a Sith or Jedi and be annoying to all other "Non-Force" users. Above which that the Market will tank even worse as their Market system SUCKS (Not putting it lightly). Some things will get worse and things will improve. Really I am still waiting for a Look for a Group system as it would making do some of those group missions a whole lot easier than camping on the Space Station listening to eight year old cussing worse than a drunken sailor...or saying things that should not be said at all.
Good riddance. Monthly subscription fees to play one game make no sense at all when I can pay $60 per year for an Xbox Live Gold account and play whatever games I want. That's saying nothing of PSN and the larger PC online services available, both of which are completely free.
That being said, however, I could foresee a game with a monthly fee succeeding. However, this game wouldn't be a traditional MMORPG in the vein of World of Warcraft; it would be an MMO built upon entirely new mechanics. Think of something like an MMO with the gameplay of Halo (Destiny?) or Call of Duty. I'd bet many people would be willing to pay for something like that.
Well, that's hopeful. I would LOVE MMOs, but I definitely do not have the money to drop on a fee I have to pay every month. I can barely afford Netflix, let alone a game too. Games should be a one-time purchase, unless it's like Gamefly or a service like that.
I don't understand the people saying they're bored with GW2 but hey, whatever. To each their own. I am glad to see MoP doing well because competition is a very good thing. No monthly fee is what's always made GW best in my eyes. Expansions are fine but that with a monthly fee is just to much. I have a life outside of one game.
cant wait for SWTOR to go free to play next month thats why i stopped paying for it was because i felt like i had to play over my other games because i was paying monthly for it when i get some extra cash ill deff pick up GW2
a lot of people are MMO fans, and i believe that's great, if that's what you prefer, but i NEVER believed in paying a subscription to play a game...it almost seems like DLC is a substitute for subscription fees...
People are babies now a days, we Everquest players paid the monthly fee for YEARS and YEARS, and we loved it and never bitched about it. And it was totally worth it! Every cent!
unfortunately, while the cash shop isn't very important to your enjoyment of the game right now, ArenaNet could very well go down the path Nexon did.... that brings back some terrible memories
However, that doesn't mean Free to Play is better. I payed 40$ for Uncharted 3: GOTY Edition and when I look through the customization options, there is usually an option to purchase an item for a dollar. Really annoying on a console game.