Personally I find it comforting, seeing a few online titles clinging on to the old good subscription-based model of gaming, from the older titles like Ultima Online and Fallen Earth, to the more recent titles like DC Universe Online, Final Fantasy XIV (kinda), and the upcoming Rift. The market has changed a lot since the early days, and is now dominated by a whole new generation of gamers, with a whole new outlook and a whole new set of demands.
Games are fast becoming more bite-sized and faster paced, with the market becoming dominated by micro downloads in the form of DLCs and Apps. The old all-you-can-eat subscription-based model is quickly falling out of favour, with demands for the F2P models on the rise. Today more and more online games are either being released with as F2P, or in the process of converting to.
While I am personally not a fan of the à la carte style of the F2P models, I can certainly understand and appreciate their appeal. However what I fail to understand is just why people are so negative towards subscription-based games, especially games that are new to the market. It annoys me seeing all the complaints about the apparent lack of content, especially when compared to older games on the market, and how the sub and the game should be avoided until it becomes F2P.
Unlike in the past where players were in it for the long haul, and their main focuses were socialisation, exploration and role-playing – it seems to me that a lot of players nowadays, especially the more vocal ones, have the tendency to bypass a lot of the content. Contents such as the lore, the side quests, the exploration, and the socialising – instead focusing on power-levelling to max level, and what they perceived to be “endgame”. And when these players don’t find the same max level gear and raid instances popularised by established games such as World of Warcraft and Everquest, they post angry negative comments on forums, complaining about how the game is NOT worth paying a subscription for, how they would NOT go back to the game until it goes F2P, and then rage-quits before their subscription payments even starts. It is highly ironic that a lot of these very same players, would make the same complaints when they are introduced to F2P games, and would rage-quit those to go back to their reliable subscription-based World of Warcrafts and EVE Onlines.
In my opinion, this not only have a negative impact on the ongoing development of these newer games, but also affect the stability of the communities that plays them as well. I say stop with the negativity! Have a little patience and give the developers a chance, support them with subscriptions and give them a regular source of income to work with. Give them a chance to develop proper contents for their games, instead of focusing their time on item shop fluff, or rushing around looking for their next projects. Subscribe for a month or two at least and enjoy the games for what they are. It will not only give the studios a chance to polish and grow the games, but will also tell the publishers that the games ARE worth keeping and maintaining. Remember good things can take time – it’s true for cheeses and wines, and it’s certainly as true for our online games.