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Pay-As-You-Play MMORPGs?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the another-way-to-separate-gamers-from-their-cash dept.

The Almighty Buck 158

grubber33 wonders: "With exciting MMO games like World of Warcraft and others existing, the current monthly fee plans that all MMO games that I'm aware of aren't necessarily worth it for people that don't have as much time to play games as others. For instance, I have about 3-5 hours to play games per week, if I'm lucky. On top of that, I like more than one game but I'm still interested in MMO games. I was wondering what Slashdot thinks about newer MMO games implementing some sort of pay-as-you-play system or at least having that option alongside the current monthly fees."

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Free is the only way to go. (3, Interesting)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 9 years ago | (#11115995)

My first ever MMORPG is Anarchy Online, which I've started playing last night.
If it wasn't for their BitTorrent download, and a free year of playing I wouldn't even consider it.
But now, I might not hesitate to pay the full price for an expansion pack, if that need comes up a few months from now, a few months after playing it for free.

Re:Free is the only way to go. (3, Informative)

Divide By Zero (70303) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116278)

Watch out - as soon as you buy that expansion pack, you start paying monthly fees. According to the "*Conditions" on their website [] : "Should you wish to upgrade to any of the expansion packs monthly subscription and client fees will be added."

The first hit is always free.

Re:Free is the only way to go. (1)

b3s (807077) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118722)

Free is not a good idea. Free means something like Diablo 2, which was static and boring after only a short period of time. Personally, I'd rather see something along the lines of free download plus monthly fees or if I am going to be charged for a CD, give me 3 months free. While I really enjoy (*cough* am addicted to *cough*) WoW, I think 1 month free for a $50 box was a bit much. I also think that if one can only do about 5 hours in an MMORPG, maybe that game genre just isn't for them?

ibgames's Federation... (3, Interesting)

Tickenest (544722) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116006)

at [] used an hourly rate system for a long time. 60 cents an hour it was. They eventually went to a monthly subscription, so I don't think it was too successful.

Re:ibgames's Federation... (1)

Ulic (6715) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117446)

Even at this cost, 5 hours per week, times 4 weeks a month, is still $12 per month. So I guess it would really depend on how much you plan to play and what the hourly cost is.

If this price were applied to WoW, I would have raked up $48 worth of time, ack!

Maybe they could do a .60 per hour with a $12-15 maximum per month.

my $0.02 (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116017)

i personally don't play play-to-play MMORPGs. there are a few free to play ones out there, like one i'm kinda hooked on called Maplestory. yeah yeah, goofy name. but it's a decent game, nothing fancy on the graphics, but it's still fun to me. and it's free.

the game's still in beta, but there are release versions in korean and japanese that are still free. the english is still being made.

the site is here []

maybe check it out. you got nothing to lose, it's free!

Another good open beta (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11116194)

Risk Your Life -- .

Its more action then most MMOG's in that you can swing your sword and hit whatever is in front of it, even if you haven't targetted it! Spells are targetted but they can do splash damage. It makes the grind much better then most games but in the end its an MMOG so you just kill, kill, deliver, deliver, kill.

Re:my $0.02 (1)

Soul-Burn666 (574119) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116801)

He's got A LOT to lose... most importantly time!
This game is addicting... "just one more level..." "just one more hour trying to find this damn rare object from a random drop"

Moreover, playing without someone or something to guide you can prove frustrating from various reasons:
different classes (called jobs here) need different stats, while the other stats are useless for them (int and luck needed for mage, str and dex are useless)
different skills are sometimes either very strong or seemigly strong, but thinking forward they become very weak as some start strong while the others become strong later either in absolute numbers or the fact one skill applies a constant while the other applies a percentage.
Also, the prices you can sell items in the store majorly differ than the prices people will pay you for things. For example ores sell for 100-300meso in the stores, while the street price is 1k-20k. Also some items sell for less than 5k in the store while people actually pay over 500k for them, due to rarity (specifically a "pan lid").

My mage is currently level33, and only now I realized that in terms of damage, mages start off weak (lv8-13) then are strong until about lv40, and then other classes surpass them.

What is interesting tho, is their method of making money off the game. In the Korean and Japanese versions of the game (not yet in the global) there is something called the "cash shop", where you can pay REAL money to get various items such as new unique clothes, decorations, pets, and coupons that allow you to change your looks.

Surely, being a 2D game with much work offloaded to the clients (the asian players are usually more honest than americans), it reduces the mentainance costs, allowing the game to be generally free.

Re:my $0.02 (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117139)

in the english version, the cash shop is available to look at stuff, it just don't let you buy the stuff yet.

i got 3 charecters. warrior, archer, thief. i've had to help my little sister with her mage far too often to have the paitence to have one myself.

just a quick question for you : what is the "exchange rate" of real money to game "cash"?

My Experience with Asian MMORPG players (1)

liquidflare (463694) | more than 9 years ago | (#11119563)

Surely, being a 2D game with much work offloaded to the clients (the asian players are usually more honest than americans), it reduces the mentainance costs, allowing the game to be generally free.

I don't know what pipe your smoking out of, but in every MMORPG I've played the asian players (or "AZN" as they like to call themselves) are definately NOT more honest than Americans. Quite the contrary.

In the MMORPG Lineage 2, for example, many of the asians from China, Korea, etc. all use hacks and cheats. In MMORPGs the most common types are macros and bots which automatically do things like kill the "goblins" and "lizardmen" and horde the digital cash. This is later sold on ebay. This is in fact the biggest complaint from many of the players I've met while playing.

Not only are these foreign players trying to make a quick buck on American servers, but they often time are hostile and aggressive to American players. They camp the areas with the best monsters, have players that are nearly "maxed out" so only organzied teams can effectively challenge them, and usually taunt American players in their native language (rang rang, anyone?). None of this wouldn't nearly be as bad if they were willing to cooperate, but alas, many don't even speak English.

FP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11116027)


Re:FP (-1, Offtopic)

bairy (755347) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116253)

The article was put up at 3:39pm
The real first post came in at 3:43pm
Your comment came in at 3:47pm which all makes you wonder why the hell you bothered smacking refresh just to get the satisfaction of failing it.

Don't see it happening (1, Insightful)

supersuckers (841107) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116040)

Personally, I like the idea, but I don't see any reason the game companies would be for it. Currently, if I only use a game 3 hours a week, I'm still paying the full monthly fee. The game company is making out good in that situation. I don't think offering pay as you go would draw as many new people, as it would reduce the number of people paying for a monthly fee. Not to mention the technical aspect of tracking and billing people by time. And if a user has an issue with bugs or gameplay during the game, they are losing money, whereas with a flat monthly fee all they are losing is time.

Re:Don't see it happening (1)

krunchyfrog (786414) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116377)

On the other hand, I can already imagine unofficial servers growing here and there on the net, just like UO and others that I don't know of because I don't have time to play anymore.

If WOW was on a pay-for-play basis, I would be tempted to pay the 60$ for it.

Re:Don't see it happening (2, Insightful)

Grab (126025) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117869)

Depends. I play *rarely* (maybe 3-5 hours a month, if that) so I can't justify $40 on the game and another $15/mo. I could maybe justify $40 on the game if I knew whatever else was proportional to time spent. If their billing system is anywhere near sensible (ie. relying on email and computer billing, not sending paper copies) then they should make a profit on the deal. Given a choice between making a smaller profit off me or no profit at all, they'd be better going for the former. And that means a charge structure designed for casual players.


Just how little do you value your leisure time? (3, Insightful)

Teppy (105859) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116119)

If you have just 3-5 hours/week to play "exciting MMO games like World of Warcraft", I take it that you're working. They charge, what, $15/month? So that's around a buck an hour for you.

My question is, where are you working that $1/hour spend on leisure time is too much? (Or did you mean to post this under "Troll Slashdot" rather than "Ask Slashdot"? ;)

Re:Just how little do you value your leisure time? (1)

k_187 (61692) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116372)

Yeah, if you game at all you'll spend that on buying games in a month. I think part of the appeal of MMORPGs is that there is a ton of content to keep you occupied. I'm getting World of Warcraft, and my big justification for it is that this one game I'll be able to play it for a few months. I haven't seen any games coming up that I'm real interested in, so I figured I can get world of warcraft, and pay for it and feed my addiction. (Stoopid Open Beta)

Re:Just how little do you value your leisure time? (1)

oddman (204968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116374)

So... let's take a second to read the original problem before posting are smug and snarky little comment shall we?

The problem was that he only has 3-5 hours a week to play all of the games that he wants to play. So no, he isnt' spending $1 an hour on a single MMO. Assuming that he plays 3 other games (perhaps one on PC two on console or some such) he would be paying $3-$5 dollars an hour on the MMO. That isn't all that cheap. Further, the real problem is that he has gotten the sense that it isn't worth it to play an MMO if you have so little time.

So the actual problem is that MMOs seem to require a certain amount of dedication that is often beyond the ability of a casual gamer. Therefor, those that charge a flat $15 a month rate are charging a casual gamer a full fee for a sub-par gaming experience.

The suggested solution was to switch to a pro-rated model. Which seems sensible you pay for as much as you get.

Re:Just how little do you value your leisure time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11116643)

Well put.

I wouldn't mind checking out a MMOG like City of Heroes, but I don't have the time to put into it to make it worth my while - and it's supposedly one of the better games for casual MMOGers.

Why would I spend $15/month to play a game, when I might only put in 15 hours in four months? I can just as easily buy a single game for $60, and keep playing it after the first four months are up.

Or, if I put it on the shelf, I can pull it down two years later and still play it *without paying a single penny* Call me cheap, but I prefer the term frugal. Why spend money on a MMOG when you can fill the same desire for less money?

Re:Just how little do you value your leisure time? (1)

AliasTheRoot (171859) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116736)

I haven't seen any MMOG's recently that have hourly billing, they used to be common but the companies migrated away from that model as players complained that the costs were far too high ($2+ an hour ten years ago was common).

WoW is the most casual play friendly of the lot, very easy to have an hour or two session in it - things like EQ you wouldn't achieve a single thing during the time.

Re:Just how little do you value your leisure time? (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117383)

I'm the kind of gamer who one week will spend 10hrs playing a game and following week may not even touch it... just depends on what's going on in my life.

While WoW sounds like something I could play and enjoy, I'm not willing either to spend $20/month (or whatever the fee is). What I would suggest instead, is not a dollar/hour type fee, but instead a $ for x number of hours fee. Buy 10 hours for $7, 20 hours for $10 or similar.

Paying per hours is tedious, but paying for a number of hours would fit a lot more people. Leave a monthly unlimited rate in place. This allows every one to find a price point that fits their amount of gameplay. The hardcores can pay per month while those of us that can't dedicate that kind of time can find a pay-as-you go type model.

Re:Just how little do you value your leisure time? (1)

RuneB (170521) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117610)

With that approach, wouldn't you have to solve the problem of what to do when someone is playing and their purchased number of hours run out? Just disconnect them, possibly during an amazing adventure with a bunch of friends that took longer than expected?

Re:Just how little do you value your leisure time? (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117709)

I would say yes. Put notifications in however. Something along the lines of, "You only have one hour left. Purchase more time by...." and have scheduled periods when you'll get the notification, say at 1hr, 30mins, 15mins, 10mins, 5mins, 1min.

Re:Just how little do you value your leisure time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11118657)

Or simply have an option "Do you wish to automatically buy another block of hours once your first runs out?" You could even set it up so that if you spent as much on hours in one month as the flat fee costs, it could give you unlimited access for the rest of the month, perhaps... a flex plan.

Or even let users buy more time in the game... My client allows me to buy more postage on the fly simply by clicking a button and picking the amount i want, without leaving the application, even. Not to hard to implement.

Re:Just how little do you value your leisure time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11117856)

This is what cell phone providers do. You buy 500 minutes, and if say you go over they charge you at a specific rate, like 10 cents a minute.

Additionally, some/most telcos offer a pay as you go rate which is expensive but maybe nice for someone who only uses 30 minutes on say an emergency phone.

I don't see why they couldn't do that for MMOGs.

The only problem I see is that one of the big profit margins for MMORPGs are people who don't play often but still pay the monthly expense. If you take away those alleys of larger profits, the real question is whether you can get more people who wouldn't normally pay a monthly fee to play. I don't think it's economically feasible. My guess is that there is some good internal market research data from these companies that suggest the pay as you go model doesn't scale well.

Re:Just how little do you value your leisure time? (1)

Wylfing (144940) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117191)

This is a good point. If you're low on time, you are probably a little older. Maybe you buy a pint with the gents once in a while. That pint is, what, 5 dollars? I bet it doesn't last an hour, either.

I would guess that pay-as-you-go would create a lot of billing overhead for companies, and prepaid per-hour payments only end up making gamers mad because their time ran out right when they were having fun. All in all, monthly is best.

Re:Just how little do you value your leisure time? (4, Interesting)

Jahf (21968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117774)

Add the cost of something like World of Warcraft (say, $45 average w/tax) and safely assume that you're buying 2-3 games/year + maybe 2 expansion packs at around $35 each. So $160 - $225 for the games per year (and that seems a bit low to me based on the gamers I know).

Tack on at least $13/month for a subscription if one of those games is an MMORPG. That brings the min total up to $314/year. And again, that is a bit low compared to reality from what I see.

Now let's assume a power gamer ... a new game or expansion pack/month (average cost $40) is about normal and 2 MMORPG subs is candy. We've just gone to $792.

Don't forget around 25% of the cost of your PC/year to keep up with games (meaning that at a minimum games require a new PC every 4 years, again, conservative) and easily 100% for the power gamer. Assume a base cost of $400 for a PC capable of playing a modern game and $2000 for a gaming rig.

That doesn't count feeling the burning need to optimize your bandwidth/throughput so that you enjoy those games more which will likely increase network costs by 25-50% (in some cases easily 100% more for that fine sDSL connection) so we're somewhere between $414 for the minimal gamer to over $3000 for a power gamer.

Now if you want to make the power gamer into a social power gamer (either by going out with the "gents" once in awhile or by helping host LAN parties ... I think the end cost will be about the same) you're beginning to not only assume a significant chunk of change but I think you're also going to have to look at a neglected spouse or LACK of spouse.

* Makes consoles alot more attractive

* Means that the Power Gamer likely never leave the house :)

* Definitely shows the attraction of something like Anarchy Online ... reasonable PC requirements, free download, free play for the basic module.

Now ... this doesn't mean I don't see the attraction of something like World of Warcraft, but I do think the 2 extremes illustrate that the MMORPG world is still evolving how to make money.

I personally do believe that having to pay for the MMORPG box is a bit nuts ...

1) the people who have the bandwidth to play an MMORPG often will have bandwidth to download a DVD of material and get an online key to play.

2) any MMORPG worth buying will make FAR more back on subscriptions. Charge me a minimal download fee and then let me play for a couple of hours free to see if I like it. No cost to you if I stop playing and I don't feel ripped off (in other words, more likely to try a future product from you).

3) any MMORPG that is GREAT enough to suck me in for hours and hours can make a lot more money off the power gamers by charging by the hour.

Make the subscription fee tiny, perhaps $2.50/month ... that would include the cost of maintaining my data in the system and 1 hour online time as a teaser. After that charge a floating scale ... hours 2-10 are $1.00/hour (or 2, whatever). Hours 11-30 are $.60/hour. Hours 30+ are $.40/hour.

No, those hourly figures aren't low ... they are high! Let us check into the basic and power gamer scenarios again ...

1) basic player is between 4 and 20 hours/month (and the parent to your post fits this nicely at between 9 and 20 hours/month). He pays $2.50 for his monthly upkeep and 1 hour fee. He pays between $3 ($1/hour for hours 2-4) and $15 ($9 for hours 2-10 and $6.00 for hours 11-20). That's a total of $5.50 to $17.50 for the average player.

Face it ... the "average" MMORPG player is alot closer to 20 hours/month than 4. The power gamer in my experience with friends is anywhere from 30 to 60 (or more but that gets out of reason) hours per month. 60 isn't so hard ... connect 8 hours each day on the weekends and you're over 50% there. Note that a person spending over 30 hours/month on an MMORPG is usually only playing/subscribing to one ... this is important at the end of all of this ...

2) So a power gamer (maybe 30% of the MMORPG's users?) is going to bring $2.50/month plus between $21 ($9 for hours 2-10 and $12.00 for hours 11-30) and $33 ($9 for hours 2-10, $12 for hours 11-30 and $12 for hours 30-60). Total range between $23.50 and $35.50 for power gamers.

Now of course you're saying "why would anyone shell out $35.50/month to play their game ... they're going to get mad and want monthly subscriptions". However ...

a) there is a majority of non-power gamers who will be paying the regular monthly fee (and often a bit over). This is incentive for the MMORPG owner to do this because it makes the majority of their base happy ...


b) the MMORPG owner knows that if someone is playing over 20 hours/month there is likely some form of addiciton going on ... so those power gamers likely aren't going anywhere anyway if the game is good enough ...


c) This is good for the players at large as it puts pressure on the MMORPG owner to improve their game, fix bugs, and release good expansions ...


d) Players who play the longest either pay more (giving capital for equipment/network improvements) or play less (relieving pressure on the equipment/network), giving normal players a better experience ...


e) Power gamers may pay more per month, but they know that the longer they play the more value they are getting out of their money. Some may tailor off ... or may simply start a 2nd game ... yes they'll grouse about it but overall this is the least of the worries. The MMORPG owner will see higher returns over the long run if more people play by the hour than if fewer people play by subscription.

And all of this makes me SO much happier about my 100% free Ancient Domains of Mystery [] addiction :)

Though I do admit I'll be playing free Anarchy Online over the holidays for a break.

Re:Just how little do you value your leisure time? (1)

Quikah (14419) | more than 9 years ago | (#11119064)

I don't know why anyone would want sDSL for gaming. I can get sDSL for $80 at a "blazing" speed 384/384 or regular aDSL for $40 at 3000/384. In fact I don't know why ANYONE would get sDSL, we have it at work in our test lab and the connection sucks compared to the 3000/384 DSL I have at home.

Not that expensive (1)

karrde (853) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116170)

3-5 hours a week is 12-20 hours a month. So you're looking at a cost of $1.25-$0.75/hr. Find me another form of entertainment that's that cheap. People don't play more than one MMO for very long. And it's not the cost, you simplily can't dedicate your self in that manner. It's hard to only dedicate that small time your saying, becuase your peers who play more will outstrip you. Sure someone who started later will come up behind you and you can play with them, but they will also surpass you if they are playing more. Then your stuck in a situation of not playing with other people... well you might as well be not playing an MMO.

Re:Not that expensive (1)

KrugalSausage (822589) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116208)

Find me another form of entertainment that's that cheap.


Re:Not that expensive (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116468)

$50~ for a hardcover that will last maybe 20 hours?

$2.5/hour is more expensive.

Re:Not that expensive (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117141)

But there are these nifty things called public libraries. Here's the cool part--they loan you books .. he he he, here it comes.. FOR FREE!

Also, I don't know where you're living that it costs $50 for a hardcover book. In the US, most books retail for about $22, in Canada, about $35. If you get them the day they come out, generally there are fairly significant discounts (around here, at least) and there's always used book stores and paperback books, both of which are significantly cheaper than your new hardback. There's no reason you have to spend that much money to read.

Re:Not that expensive (1)

damiam (409504) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118253)

I don't know where you're buying your books. You can get many of the world's greatest books for less than $10, or $20 at the most. Or go to a library.

Re:Not that expensive (1)

Auraveda (802254) | more than 9 years ago | (#11119267)

Yeah, really, where are you buying books? The most expensive I've seen is $20-$25 for a brand new hard-cover at a chain bookstore. Unless you're talking about big specialty coffee table books or textbooks, but that's not usually what one picks up for leisure reading. Visit the library, where books are free. Or go to a used bookstore. In my area there are used book stores that sell paperbacks for between $0.30 and $2.50. Lots of cheaper alternatives.

Re:Not that expensive (1)

karrde (853) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118143)

I guess that depends on how fast you read. But I'll concede that you are right, I spend about $8 on a book and read it at lunches and before bed over 2ish weeks. so maybe 16-20 hours for a average 500-700 page novel.

Re:Not that expensive (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116507)

Like I had to tell the Jeep dealership, "It's not about the payments. It's about the value of what I'm getting." I can completely understand the poster's reluctance to shell out $1/hr for a game that most people are paying half that for. I am a lightweight gamer (1-5 hours per week) and I've never played an MMO with a monthly subscription because I would not be getting my money's worth compared to others using the same product. This is the same reason I do not purchase brand new games. Let the people who are going to play it non-stop when it first comes out pick up the highest price.

Re:Not that expensive (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116977)

I can completely understand the poster's reluctance to shell out $1/hr for a game that most people are paying half that for. I am a lightweight gamer (1-5 hours per week) and I've never played an MMO with a monthly subscription because I would not be getting my money's worth compared to others using the same product.

I think the administrative costs in moving to an hourly model would outstrip the benefits for the lightweight users. If we were talking about an average $29.95 subscription, I could see them offering the full all-you-can-eat $29.95/month, a moderate use $19.95/month, and a lightweight $9.95/month... perhaps even a starter $5.95/month version which included 5 hours and, if you exceed that, you jump up to the $9.95 level. If you exceed that, you hit the $19.95 level, etc.

Of course, given that most games are in the $12/month range, there isn't a whole lot of room for discount there.

Re:Not that expensive (1)

JVert (578547) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117355)

If you look at the people who play 40 hours a week trust me your not getting a bad deal compared to them.

Re:Not that expensive (1)

His name cannot be s (16831) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117410)


Mmmm. Good old Sex.

Free. Fun. Oh, wait, this is slashdot. Nerds don't know what *girls are.



*More appropriately, a sexual partner. Chicks, dudes, whatever makes you go.

pay again? (3, Insightful)

Tomahawk (1343) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116202)

Personally, if I had to fork out about 40 quid for a game, and then pay by the month to play it online, I don't think I'd be forking out the 40 quid in the first place.

Also, like the writer said, I don't get much online play time. If I had to pay my the month to play online, I'd be paying more per game hour than someone with a lot more time on their hands.

Access to the servers should remain free. Either that, or the game should be a lot cheaper (free even), and a cost per hour or cost per day model setup for online play.

But they can't have it both ways.


Re:pay again? (1)

cephyn (461066) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117242)

Except, they DO have it both ways. And there is a simple reason why -- look at it from THEIR perspective.

They aren't doing it just to be nice, they're doing it to make money. Building a MMORPG is a huge endeavor, costwise. The money you pay up-front to play the game goes to that initial development cost. The monthly fees go towards building new content, server maintenance, bandwidth, etc etc. It's a part of the model, and it's not a bad one. It makes good business sense -- $ upfront for up front costs, subscription for maintained service.

Now, SOE goes a little farther with their stupid nickel and diming, and that sure is evil, since it seems to me that their perks are pure profit gravy, but that's another issue entirely.

The bottom line is the game isn't initially free because the game didn't come out of a vacuum. What you're suggesting is like investing $100 million in a movie, and not charging for box office ticket sales, just for rentals and DVD sales. I think we can all agree that for most movies, that is a flawed model.

Re:pay again? (2, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117590)

Yes, but say a game cost $50 dollars, wouldn't it be reasonable to offer a few free months. Some do this, but some don't give you any free months. The thought of spending $50 for a game to turn around and not be able to use it untill you've shucked out more money.
I guess I could understand this if there was a hardware component, like buying a cellphone to get service. But cellphone companies consider the phone a loss leader meaning they pay for some of it so you will sign up for the service. It would seem to make good marketing sense to give away the game to get people signed up for the service. This is something Anarchy Online has been doing for a while (before the free year offer they have been offering free download and free month for a long time). Personally I'm shocked it didn't work better for them, I guess the game had too many problems out the door. Either way, generally you often have to give something away to sell monthly services, the fact that MMORPGs havn't is personally surprising. But being a believer in capitalism, I can really only blame this on the consumers who allow themselves to be ripped off.

Re:pay again? (1)

Poseidon88 (791279) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118386)

Every MMO game I've played (and I've played several) has offerend at least one free month of play after initial signup. Anarchy Online later offered an aditional month because the game was in such a poor state when they launched. Games that have been around for a while and need to bring in more players will frequently offer a free trial period wherein you can download the client for free and play free for a limited period of time. But the new games will always need to cover their development and distribution costs. Hence the up-front fee for a new MMO game.

Re:pay again? (1)

cephyn (461066) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118623)

Most MMOs give the free month or more.

As for AO, their launch was atrocious and they may never recover. This free year offer of theirs is a gimmick -- the game is only so good without the expansion packs. Once you order the expansions, you start paying the monthly fee. If you're happy not accessing all of the current game, then its no problem -- but most people won't be.

Re:pay again? (1)

battlemarch (570731) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118830)

Just a reminder that the developer sees very little of that $50 unless they are self published and you are downloading directly from them. The publisher and the retail store take a big cute up front.

As for your cell phone example, you typically sign a service contract for a year or two that carries a nice hefty early termination clause.

Re:pay again? (3, Insightful)

battlemarch (570731) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118544)

Sure they can. And many of the game companies are doing just that (having it both ways).

They have made a conscience decision to do without your business. My point is, that although it would be nice for the casual gamer to get or feel they get more value out of their gaming dollars as compared to more dedicated players, having a tiered payment structure along side the standard monthly subscription plan isn't likely to happen.

Frankly, from the developers point of view, I just don't think it's worth the hassle. There are lots of people like you that won't pay for the box AND then pay a monthly subscription on top of that. Well, that's your right and more power to you. That makes up one group. Another group is the casual gamer. They will either pony up the standard monthly subscription fee or not. Those that don't aren't THAT much more likely to do it at a lower fee I think. Again, my perception (and perception, what we believe to be true, whether right or wrong guides what we think and do) is that a tiered subscription model will not attract enough users to make it worth while for the company. I suspect that it might even decrease revenue as some people that paid the full monthly subscription move to the lower tier.

I don't think many casual gamers compare the "value" they get from their monthly fee AS COMPARED TO those "dedicated" players who are getting more value for the same money. I perceive that they simply compare what they are paying (or going to pay) versus how much fun they have or expect to have. Usually people play games to have fun or to be entertained. When I come out of a movie, I ask myself if I was entertained enough to justify what I just paid. So the powergamer gets more entertainment value than the casual gamer, frankly, so what. I really don't mean to be callous or for that to sound harsh.

I think the answer lies in simply providing a fun, challenging gaming experience for all users. This especially means the casual gamer since overall they use less resources but pay the same fee. Yes, I realize what I just said. The casual gamer is probably a more preferred customer assuming that they are paying the full monthly fee (and aren't a support nightmare). I play games to have fun, to be entertained, to be challenged. I develop games to have fun, to present a challenge and to entertain people. It's also good for the ego to watch folks having fun in an environment you created. It may be a labor of love, but don't get me wrong, we are also in the business to make money. The hardware and bandwidth aren't free nor is food on the table nor the clothes for my kids. The trick is making money while entertaining all of your customers, giving them value for their money. But the "value" per dollar and the experiences doesn't necessarily have to be exactly the same for each user.

Predictable and reasonable (1)

apankrat (314147) | more than 9 years ago | (#11119231)

Personally, if I had to fork out about 40 quid for a game, and then pay by the month to play it online, I don't think I'd be forking out the 40 quid in the first place.

But what if these 40 quids covered the game and a couple of months of a game play ?

I think it's a fair and pretty decent deal. You are getting a chance to play the game for a while and if you like it, you start paying for a gameplay. And the money go to compensate the provider for support, bandwidth and hardware expenses.

In fact, World of Warcraft is packaged exactly like that (only it's 1 month though AFAIK).

All very well... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11116209)

Whinging about having to pay a monthly fee for a MMORPG is a common theme on slashdot. I'll admit that I used to feel this way myself, until I sat down and actually thought about the economics of the whole thing.

Developing a MMORPG (I'm only talking about full-fledged, full-scale, commercial MMORPGs here, such as WoW, EQ2, FFXI and Galaxies) is an expensive business. The amount of game-content you need to put into one of these games is vast and completely dwarfs the work you need to do for a single-player game. As well as providing content, you have to do extensive testing and balancing, which probably entails running a large private, or even a public beta, for several months. This all costs a vast amount of money; at the end of the process, you're going to have pretty huge cash-flow issues. This is exactly why you need to charge customers to take the box off the shelf.

So, your game launches, your customers buy a copy each and you get a cash infusion which (hopefully) covers your development costs and maybe even gives you a profit (remember, this is the whole reason why you're doing this). What next?

By launch day, you need to have servers in place, both game servers and registration servers. You can try saving money on the latter if you want, and using somebody's old 386 on a 28.8k modem, as your registration servers won't be too loaded after the first few days, but this will cause major headaches for all your new customers and will give you a bad reputation from day 1. Sorting out your servers costs money, as does keeping them up.

Next, you'll probably find that despite all the testing you did and despite that expensive public beta you ran, the hordes of new players who have taken up your game have managed to find ways of breaking it that you've never even considered. You're going to spend the next few months, at the very least, chasing down bugs and fixing glaring balance issues. You're paying your staff to do this, when, in the case of most other types of games, they'd have been working on the sequel for months.

So, you've launched the game, you've got your people fixing bugs and the game is running smoothly enough. That's all you need to do, right? Wrong. Some of your customers are paying 16 hours per day. They've finished all that content they put in already. Your less dedicated players are working through the content at a solid rate and are getting bored with the levelling treadmill. Your competitor is launching their own MMORPG next month and people are saying they might switch over to that. Now you need to start adding entirely new content to the game. You might get away with one or two expansions, every few months. But remember, expect your customers to pay for too many expansions and most of them, apart from a few of the truly hardcore, will leave. Most of the new content you release needs to be made available through patches that are included with the normal servives. And you need to pay people to develop this. This is why you need monthly fees. Moreover, you need to keep the influx of cash as predictable as possible, so you don't find yourself spending money you're not going to have.

Letting people pay at an hourly rate for a MMORPG sounds nice to a certain type of gamer, at least on the surface. However, if you allow this, then the quality of the experience for *all* players will suffer. Bugs won't get fixed, content won't get added and the trend will move further towards paid-for expansions as opposed to "free" content.

Come on, it's not as if MMORPGs are expensive. I play FFXI, which is $15 per month. Hardly going to break the bank, is it? Especially when you consider how many other "regular" games I'd have bought without a MMORPG.

Tit and tat (1)

omarius (52253) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116237)

That sounds like a great idea. Upside: the cost might keep folks from paying too much and losing a job/marriage/social life. Downside: the compulsive player with financial difficulties might go bankrupt (though perhaps a more ethical MMO might cap the fee, knowing their game has cracklike properties).

Project Entropia is pay-per-play (3, Informative)

david.given (6740) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116413)

...sort of.

The way it works is that playing is completely free. However, equipment in the game costs game money, and the easiest way to get game money is to spend real money on it.

It is possible to play without spending anything, but you'll end up having to do a lot of grinding in order to make enough money to buy a piece of equipment that will let you make some more money, etc. Spending will let you shortcut this to a fair extent.

(Currently I've sunk $10 into it. This bought me some decent armour, a low-level newbie gun, and some ammo for the gun. So far, I haven't managed to break even when hunting, but that's because I'm crap at it. I'm also practicing sweat gathering, which is sort of like milking except they tend to maul you at the same time. You end up with lots of little bottles that you can sell.)

One interesting side effect of all this, plus the fact that equipment wears out and needs to be repaired, is that everyone is obsessed with money. Poke around on the 'net and you'll find detailed analyses of how much a weapon costs to use: per hit, per unit damage, per swing, etc. Newbies are better off with weapons with low cost per swing/shot; experts are better off with low cost per unit damage. All equipment wears out and needs to be repaired.

The first time I killed an animal I got 0.78 ped loot from it (== 7.8 US cents). The record is apparently 29000 ped (== just under three thousand dollars)...

There are other ways you can make money in-game: hunting and sweat gathering are the main ones open to newbies, but there's also crafting, shopkeeping, mining, plus all the various service industries like guides, distracting animals while other people shoot at them, trading, etc. PE has a thriving economy.

If you're interested, give it a try --- just download and run. It is, after all, free.

Re:Project Entropia is pay-per-play (1)

Dekks (808541) | more than 9 years ago | (#11119532)

Is that the same game where some guy just bought himself his own island? Makes a lot of sense from the way you've described the game.

Guild Wars (4, Informative)

crashmstr (753615) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116434)

Guild Wars [] (still in beta) is currently set up so that there is no monthly fee. You buy the game at retail, and play online for free. "Chapter" expansions then will be a purchaseable item, but only required to access new chapter areas or items. So for someone who plays only occasionally they only pay once, or only pays more when they are ready for playing the expansion content.

My play time varies (1)

jessecurry (820286) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116435)

Although there are some services that a pay as you go system makes sense for, I think that for MMOs it is unnecessary. The subscription price of around $15 per month is not an outrageous charge and given my varied play time I would not want to be subjected to a pay as you go system.
During school or other busy times I find that I can only play an hour or so a week, if at all, but during free times I've been known to pull 16 hour play sessions.
If I were charged hourly for the long play sessions I wouldn't feel as if I was getting my money's worth.
Maybe adding a pay as you go as on option would be enticing to some users, but it would probably be along the lines of $2 per hour, so you wouldn't really save anything

You're Fine With The Normal MMORPGs (1)

TychoCelchuuu (835690) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116481)

3-5 hours a week is 12-20 hours a month. $15 for 12 hours of entertainment is still way better than a movie, and if you're the kind of person who plays videogames you're probably not looking for books. So there you go: you're paying more per hour than other people but it's still a good deal.

Re:You're Fine With The Normal MMORPGs (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117018)

if you're the kind of person who plays videogames you're probably not looking for books.

I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only slashdotter who takes offense at that remark.
I like video games AND books. Probably most people here do.

Not going to happen, not even a good idea (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116504)

If you can't afford ~$15 a month, then just don't get in to MMORPG. Having some sort of system where you pay for the amount of time you use is overly they charge 50 cents an hour or something, there are going to be people complaining they only played X hours and they over charged...really, $15 isn't much money and it gives you unlimited play time...I'd much rather it be that way than an hourly fee. So say they do that rate up to $15, that isn't so bad, but still a pain in the butt to keep track of and bill differently. But ultimately, if you are playing that little of the MMORPG, then you aren't going to get much out of it. I know that is a sad thing to say...but it's true, and because I can't (or don't feel like putting that much time into it) I am cancelling my subscription this month to FFXI. It was fun, but once you get to a certain point, the curve is too steep to climb to get to more of the story. Also, there is no incentive for them to switch to your model, they make more money on people who aren't playing at all (like me) but are not sure if they want to come back some time.

Re:Not going to happen, not even a good idea (1)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118482)

I, on the other hand, are more than willing to pay. But I don't see any MMORPG that interest me remotely. FFXI and Anarchy online are all too sci-fi. Sims online would have been ideal if it was more than just chatting. MMORPGs need some serious variety.

MMOs are about world, not gameplay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11116698)

MMOs are, to simplify things greatly, are both a combination of 'game' and 'world'. The gameplay for Everquest is relatively simple compared to something like Fable or Prince of Persia, but Everquest sees longer commitments because people become emotionally invested in the world itself.

If all the time you have to play is 3-5 hours a week, _most_ MMOs are not for you. You probably either aren't interested in such an experience or you don't have the ability to make that kind of connection.

As for pay-per-hour schemes of MMO play: MMOs aren't designed to be played that way. While the payment plans for the games should probably be a fee per hour up to a maximum fee per month, I've not seen an MMO yet where monthly fee was a problem.

Sierra Online (1)

Shiptar (792005) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116796)

Anyone remember Sierra Online? Whatever game portal type thing came out from Sierra, it had the RPG Shadows of Yserbius, some red baron flying game, and a couple other things. Was all pay-per-hour. Parents hated that heh. Altho, I don't think they're around anymore, so don't know if a lot of people were interested. Much different landscape today.

Re:Sierra Online (1)

syrinx (106469) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116991)

Sierra Online was the name of the company.. their dial-up game service thing was alternately "The Imagination Network" or "The Sierra Network".

God, were my parents pissed when we got the first bill from THAT. Ha. So our subscription lasted about a month. :)

Neverwinter Nights (2, Insightful)

Psmylie (169236) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116887)

You may want to try Neverwinter Nights. I know, I know, it's not exactly an MMORPG, but there are static servers out there, the ability to interact with others online, and no monthly fee.

It wouldn't save you any money. (1)

stienman (51024) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116908)

In order to deal with the additional burden of customers who say they are being overcharged, the cost would probably not work out in your favor. They would have to charge at least $1 per hour, and at the rate your playing you'd pay more on that plan. You'd hate it when you went over your hours and were charged more than the unlimited players, and you'd want a 'cap' at the unlimited payment rate, but since there is an additional overhead there would be no reason for them to cap it for you.

In the end, it wouldn't work out for either you or the publisher. Perhaps once a viable micropayment system is in place...


Same as prepay mobile phones (1)

HarvardFrankenstein (635329) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116938)

Mobile phone companies are already doing something similar. The thing is, when you go with a pay-as-you go type of plan, you end up spending much more money per minute. This would probably also be true if MMOG's did it.

Re:Same as prepay mobile phones (1)

damiam (409504) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118293)

The thing is, when you go with a pay-as-you go type of plan, you end up spending much more money per minute.

Not necessarily. I have an AT&T phone that I use quite rarely (maybe 15 minutes/month). On a standard $40/month plan, I'd be paying $2.66 per minute. With AT&T's prepaid plan, I pay $0.25 per minute, which is a much better deal.

Guild Wars (1)

wpc4 (169892) | more than 9 years ago | (#11116987)

Take a look at guild wars. No monthly fee. looks like it should be pretty neat.

Or, find a free MMORPG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11117009)

Or, instead of paying, find a free one. Try Planeshift ( [] ) when the new version gets released in a bit. It will have combat, guilds, money, etc. Their philosophy is to have a game with NO subscription fee, period. Sounds like a good idea to me...

Why Pay? (1)

rkrabath (742391) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117016)

planeshift is free!!! []

There's even a Mac client in alpha!

15$ / Month not too much except..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11117111)

2 Kids, WOW, X-Box, PS2...

All asking for 10 to 15 bucks per month!

Thats just plain nuts!

I like that idea (1)

Koldark (267388) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117152)

Sticking to the topic, I played Ever Crack for a while on PS2. While I liked to play, I couldn't afford the monthly fee. I would play for $0.50 per hour or something like that. If I play for more than 20 hours per month... then that is money ahead for company. The game would have to be really good for me to consider paying higher. Or another idea is $1 per 24-hour period.

The 90's called, appearently the bubble burst... (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117163)

People need to wake up and join the rest of us in the 2000's. Expecting a company to host servers for a game on their own dime might have been something that flew before the bubble burst, but you'd have to be an absolute fool to think that business model is anything but a slow death today.

Realize that you are paying for a service and that if you compared the money you were spending on a subscription to the other things you could buy with it, it's not that bad a deal.

And to those people out there who want to complain "They shouldn't charge me for the game, if they are going to charge me to play" quit being cheapskates looking for a free handout. Developing and publishing a game costs money too. It's not as if most MMO's don't give a free trial period or as if the amount of time you get out of that period is shorter than how long you'd normally be playing a non-MMO game at the same price before putting it on the shelf and letting it collect dust.

Re:The 90's called, appearently the bubble burst.. (1)

maskedbishounen (772174) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117672)

While you do have a valid point, if you're one to play multiple online games at any given point in time, the monthly costs can sure add up.

It would be great, really really really really great, if a single entity came along and provided hosting. I'm thinking something like what SourceForge does for OSS, only with some money changing hands.

Let's set they charge five bucks a month for developers to host their games. It's more of a commitment thing, than anything else; to keep the cheapwards off.

Now, let's assume they host, say, 50 different games. You now have to shell out, ohh, let's say a buck a month and get access to all of the hosted games. Since you commonly have a few hundred to a few thousand players at any given time per game, and most games aren't that bandwidth intensive, the hosting company now makes enough to pay their costs.

If they're feeling nice, they could even give any extra money back to the developers.

Ah, if only I had some money, I would love to start something like this myself. Yet initial costs would be an issue, until they managed to convince the popular games to switch over.

Re:The 90's called, appearently the bubble burst.. (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118450)

While I like the concept, I'd have to remind you that the biggest cost in hosting an MMO isn't the bandwidth but the CPU time.

A "Server" for a game is more than likely not going to be one server, it's going to be a farm of 8-10 servers + a master server and maybe a database server. A game like WoW has maybe 20? "Servers" for their game. That comes down to somewhere in the area of 200 servers to run just for one game.

Lets say that you host 50 games, with the same ball-park figures. That's close to 10,000 servers. Ten thousand that you have to monitor and maintain. The sort of facilities you'd have to have to maintain that number of servers would be expensive enough that unless they are packing enough people into the games that you can't actually play, $1 a month isn't even going to come close to covering the costs. Much less giving the developers or the hosters any room for profit.

Re:The 90's called, appearently the bubble burst.. (1)

merdark (550117) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118939)

It's not as if most MMO's don't give a free trial period or as if the amount of time you get out of that period is shorter than how long you'd normally be playing a non-MMO game at the same price before putting it on the shelf and letting it collect dust.

That's rich. Let's see, single player RPGs cost 60 USD on the high end. For that you can get 40 hours or more of play time. Now, for normal folk, 4-5 hours a week is pretty much all the time they will spend on a video game. This equates to two moths of playtime. As I understand, you usually only get a month free with a MMORPG.

Add to that the fact that people often put down a game and then come back to it months later. I know I've done that numerous times. Also, people will play often play other games for that 4-5 hours a week.

Given that, a MMORPG is a rip off for anyone but the hardcore gamer.

Ragnarok Online Payments (1)

Daragonn (723969) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117215)

I've been playing Ragnarok Online for quite some time now. Back to when it was still in the Beta. Over time, I've had less and less time to play. Eventually I stopped paying for it as I was only playing a few days a month. Recently, the've added the option to buy 30 hours of time for $7.99 or so, which I have done. Now I get to keep playing even if it is only a few times a month. Now I admit that for some classes in the game (Merchant specifically, who really has to sit online for hours or days at a time selling their wares) this will not work for, but for my knight and most other classes it works out just fine.

Perhaps a tiered pricing structure? (1)

specialJay (672051) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117349)

Many people here are missing the point to an excellent question: There is obviously a very large untapped audience out there who might like to play an MMORPG, but for one reason or another simply do not have the time to invest in ANY ONE GAME to justify the $15 per month charge. Therefore, is there an alternative and viable payment scheme that would get more casual gamers into the fray? I believe there is, and there may be more than one answer to this dilemma, but certainly the present pricing structure needs to change before MMORPGs reach mass-market potential. How about a tiered structure where each month you are charged based on the previous month's usage? For example:
  1. If you did not log on at all, you would not be charged.
  2. Usage up to 10 hours would be charged at 50% standard rate.
  3. Usage over 10 hours would be charged in full.
I don't assume to have the correct solution, but it seems to me that the pricing model does need to change before these online games attract more casual gamers.

Re:Perhaps a tiered pricing structure? (1)

Reapy (688651) | more than 9 years ago | (#11119249)

If most mmorpgs did that, I would probably keep them on my system and play them more often. When I pick and mmorpg to play I make sure my schedule of games to play is clear, because if I'm going to start paying 15 a month, I want to make sure I'm milking it for all it's worth.

What you describe would be perfect. Just set a cap where you pay per hour, until you reach the cap, you pay the full fee for unlimited hours. That way you could keep your account alive, or just play a few hours, and not worry about being charged when you don't play.

I wonder though, if they used that pricing method, most people would not cancel their accounts, and they would have to maintain their charaacters indefinatly. At liest when people cancel, they can delete old characters as they are left idle.

Still, I think that would be the best pricing option for those games.

Consideration: Time cards (2, Interesting)

Sandman1971 (516283) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117573)

I haven't seen any comments regarding this. Currently, a few MMORPGs allow you to purchase monthly cards in store in lieu of having to use a credit card. A possible way of doing it is to allow players to buy timecards with a set number of hours on them instead of being valid for just one month's worth of gaming. IE: buy a card with 50 hours for 25$. That card could last you a week like it could last you a year, depending of how often you played.

Pay to Play Bullshit! (1)

webzombie (262030) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117596)

Listen gamers MIGHT pay to play for a while but mom and dad are NOT going to pay:

$50 a month for the internet
$20 bucks a month for Xbox Live
$20 bucks a month for little Johnny to play WOW

MMORPGs became POPULAR becasue they were FREE to play online. Sure you buy the game but the online gaming was free. Start to charge a monthly fee and gamers and parents will begin to EXPECT A LOT MORE for their gaming dollar.

Soon some asshole is going to suggest that we have a pay as you go internet... 5 for this page and 5 for that page... please!!!!

Remember corps always want to carve their products into ever smaller sizes BECAUSE THE MAKE MORE MONEY... STUPID!

Re:Pay to Play Bullshit! (1)

Krater76 (810350) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117825)

Listen gamers MIGHT pay to play for a while but mom and dad are NOT going to pay:

$50 a month for the internet
$20 bucks a month for Xbox Live
$20 bucks a month for little Johnny to play WOW

I think you are even missing a bigger market segment. I'd like to play WOW with my friends but I'd like to also have an account for my wife. So $50 x 2 startup, and $15 x 2 per month (after the first month). $130 for 2 months of play for two people. We won't be power gamers either, probably playing 4-8 hours a week. You could incur the same costs or more if you have more than 1 kid in the family who wants to play.

So along with a modified payment structure maybe a lower payment structure for extra accounts? Say 50% per month for extra accounts on the same credit card? That would certainly get a few other players here or there...

Re:Pay to Play Bullshit! (1)

crashmstr (753615) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117826)

$20 bucks a month for Xbox Live
Last time I paid for my XBox Live account, it was only $49.99 a year (which is under $5 a month!)

MMORPGs became POPULAR becasue they were FREE to play online. Sure you buy the game but the online gaming was free.
Just curious: What MMORPG was there, that was free to play, and made MMORPGs popular?

Re:Pay to Play Bullshit! (1)

damiam (409504) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118338)

Mom and dad will pay $50 to use the Internet, because they need it themselves. Once they have that, an extra $15 for WoW is not that much. That's the cost of going to one movie per month with little Johnny, and you can get much more entertainment from a month of WoW than a couple hours of movie.

Re:Pay to Play Bullshit! (1)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118911)

I need the $50/month Internet connection for work let alone entertainment anyway.
I do pay for my son's City of Heroes account. I enjoy playing with him. It's been a good way to teach him about working together in a team and about how different people have different skills and do different jobs. It may seem weird but a good MMO team is much like a good project team you might find at work.
Considering that we've been playing City of Heroes since June and that as a result we have purchased less other games. The net result has been cheaper. Funny, but true.

Not made for MMOs? (1)

emazing (778569) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117769)

If you've ever played a MMO, you'd see that the games aren't made to be played 3 hours a week. Some quests can take up to 3 hours alone. If you played 3 hours a week, you'd be lucky to get three or four easy quests done. These games are made to be played 3 hours a day. If you do the math, you'll see that you really aren't paying much per hour.

Re:Not made for MMOs? (1)

harrkev (623093) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118124)

So, geeks with a wife and kids should not even begin to look at a MMORPG, huh?

Re:Not made for MMOs? (1)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 9 years ago | (#11119080)

I would pretty much agree with this. One of the pluses of MMOs is finding people to play with. Now a lot of players are putting in 20+ hours. So you might meet them and make friends but you will find them leveling at a much faster rate than you.
City of Heroes has a good system for sidekicking low level characters, but it's not perfect and many players don't want to sidekick.
Most of the time when I'm playing it's when everyone else in the family is asleep or the spouse is watching TV (although you have to be careful about this as some women consider sitting together watching TV to be quality time).
As for the big, super time consuming quests. In CoH you have some that last over 5 hours. To me even spare time consideration aside that is a bit excessive. In the entire time I've spent playing I have run 5 of these type of quests. And most of those were the shorter ones (2-3 hours).
Also the type of character you play tends to be pretty important if you are not able to put in many hours. You may find yourself needing to solo at times. I ended up creating a character specifically because the type was good for soloing and had powers that reduced the time needed on a lot of missions (invisibility!).

Re:Not made for MMOs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11119395)

or the spouse is watching TV (although you have to be careful about this as some women consider sitting together watching TV to be quality time

Oh man, I get this all the time.

Spouse: "Come out here and sit with me. You spend all your time staring at the damn computer." *spouse proceeds to watch tv after I log out and come into living room*

Me: "If we're just gonna watch tv, I'd rather play WoW."

Spouse: "Don't you want to spend time with me?"

Me: "Sure, let's go out and have a pint and chat."

Spouse: "No, I don't feel like going anywhere."

Me: *goes back to computer*

Charging full price for the game is a bit wack.... (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117867)

.... if it doesn't come with satisfying single-player and LAN multiplayer experiences.

If you buy the game and all it does is let you log into a premium paid online service, you should get the game for at most the cost of the media.

I don't have a problem with paying to subscribe to a gaming service, especially if the game world is dynamic and the admins are coming up with quests, new objects, backstory, playing as NPCs, etc....

flawed logic (1)

{tele}machus_*1 (117577) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118094)

The questioner is thinking about the cost of MMOGs all wrong. The flat fee per month results in better cost per entertainment hour than you might think by just looking at the total fee.

If you live in a major city, you pay $10-11 to go see one movie (if you buy only the ticket, and you go alone). A fair estimate of average movie length is 2 hours.

If you pay for WoW (for example) one month at a time, it costs $15 per month. If you then play the game 3 hours per week (assuming four weeks in a month), you play a total of 12 hours a month.

Your cost per hour of movie entertainment is at least $5/hour, but your cost per hour of WoW entertainment is $0.8/hour. (I have left out a lot of costs, like the initial cost of the game, the cost of gas to get to the movie theater, the cost of internet access for the game.) And the more you play WoW, the more that cost per hour goes down. Unless you intend on playing three hours or less a month, the cost per entertainment hour of playing WoW is less than going to ONE movie a month. If you can't find adequate entertainment value by paying the monthly fee of the MMOG (compared to seeing a movie or any other form of entertainment), you shouldn't bother playing an MMOG in the first place.

I understand the poster. (1)

liqnitro (522687) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118177)

I understand the posters predicament. I have to say that I myself also have a problem with shelling out a monthly payment for play when I would only be able to play it a couple hours a week. The pricing model of monthly payement only really works for those that can play it many hours weekly. Although I really have to say that they have their target market down pat, obsessive geeks with lots of time, their pricing model excludes many who would like to enjoy their service. For example I myself have wanted to join many of the MMORPG's but my obsessive work schedule would only allow me to play a couple hours a week, hours that I would like to spend with my girl instead. So the real problem with their pricing model is that I would get no value out of their sevice for the money that I shellled out. I really like the idea of a pay per play system implimented in an MMORPG, I would be very inticed to play if I could pay as I go. I have allways been interested in them, but allways have been unable to play enough of them to make them worth it. I like the poster's idea of pay as you play.

Guild Wars (1)

Poseidon88 (791279) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118243)

Guild Wars [] is still in beta, but they intend to have no monthly fees. As I understand it, they intend to support the game through frequent release of expansion packs. Whether or not they will be successful with this model remains to be seen, but I'm sure many developers are watching closely.

ughh (1)

resignator (670173) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118400)

You are bitching about paying $1-$1.25 an hour on entertainment? Do you think an actual hourly rate will be any lower than that? Do you ask the cable company to charge you for only times you are watching tv as well? How about your ISP? This arguement seems rather cheap and petty to me.

Let me just put it this way...if you are worried about spending $15 a month on entertainment ask your manager at McDonalds for more hours because you have some serious finiacial issues.

Now quit daydreaming about playing WOW and give me my #2 SUPER SIZED.

Ragnarok (1)

onlyoneshinobi (828050) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118421)

Try Ragnarok online, they have a Pay as you Play plan.

Joint payment? (1)

CaptainPinko (753849) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118451)

People keep saying that ~$15 per month isn't a lot but if you wanted to play several differe MMOGs then you could be easily look at $45-$70 a month and now that's a fair sized chunk. Now what if some MMOGs combined resources or some 3rd company and you could pay $25 a month to play any of the games in the consortium and then they could split your monthly fee across the games by percentage of time you played them for. No need to worry about installing cap or micropayments or complex billing systems.

It would also allow faster uptake on newer MMOGs since it would be less daunting to try the game out since you've already got the plan bought all you need to do is purchase the game.

The real economics of MMOs (1)

Caesar_X (575997) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118701)

I've made both MMOs and the more usual multiplayer games and the economics are quite a bit different. There are huge costs involved in creating the server backend to run MMOs effectively and an even greater expense to purchase servers for peak use capacity. Add this to the glut of MMOs that came on the market chasing those gaming dollars and we started to see monthly prices creeping up from $9.95/month to $12.95 and now $15. Keeping those servers running is a large expense every month and I think most game companies would prefer the known revenue rather than going back to a per hour fee structure that wasn't very good in the first place. What the industry calls the "churn rate" (% of users who cancel their subscriptions every month) is easier to manage when the biggest hit a user will see is $15/month rather than the possibility of a big bill after playing a lot on a per hour basis and then getting scared and canceling the game. This so-called "safety" factor is similar to what cable and credit card companies do with their tiered channel groups and minimum monthly payments. A pessimist would call it "bleeding them slowly so they don't notice".

The problem with MMO's (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 9 years ago | (#11119196)

Is that they get nerfed at each new patch. How many MMO's have you played where after weeks and endless hours of the same repetative crap have you found it was for a character or prize that was utter crap? Or only to have that new charatcter/skill/weapon yo uaquired from those weeks, nerfed with the latest patch?

Maybe Neverwinter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11119222)

I agree. I've wanted try out an MMO but haven't for the same reason-just don't have the time. I was recently looking at the Gamespy server numbers (not that I particularly like Gamespy) and saw how many Neverwinter Nights servers and players there were. I thought, "Oh yeah, there's multiplayer in that game." I already owned it anyway, and for the last couple of days I have been playing on the Pathway of Ascension I server and having a pretty good time. I'm sure it's not the same feel of having crafting and all that but I also don't feel the need to "Get my money's worth". You can find various servers to suit your taste as well e.g. story or action driven.

Re:Maybe Neverwinter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11119261)

Sorry...didn't see previous Neverwinter response.

Missing the Point (1)

Gamefreak99 (722148) | more than 9 years ago | (#11119335)

People that compare gaming entertainment to other entertainment, while bringing up a valid comparison, are missing the point. Gamers don't really care how much they pay to see a movie or game. Instead, they compare the price they are getting comparitivly. For example, people don't generally complain about movie tickets costing $5. Now, if every movie but one start selling tickets for, let's say, $3 then they would start complaining. The issue here is that they are able to get a great experience from free MMORPGs or single/multiplayer games at a generally lower cost. You can't really play HL2 with 5,000 people at once but does that detract from its story? No, its still a supurb game. Why pay $50 and then $15/month when you can shell out $50 and play HL2 and have just as good of a time?

My idea... (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 9 years ago | (#11119545)

Perhaps they could sell it on an hourly basis.

Let us say that someone plays 2 hours weekdays, 4 hour weekends. That's 18 hours per week. That would be 72 hours per month. We'll use 72 hours per month to figure this out...

Charge like an initial fee for just having the account. Like $5 per month. Then charge like 5 cents per hour. Have roll over plans too, when unused hours will roll over to the next month for up to 12 months.

Eve Online (1)

Datasage (214357) | more than 9 years ago | (#11119590)

I do belive the Eve Online play card system only subtracts days as you use them.
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