So I was chatting with aabicus the other day, as we do, and we were discussing what games we’ve been playing as of late. As you can tell, I’ve been playing Warframe. Aabicus though is playing games by Blizzard. He wants to get a job writing paid articles for another blog.
Of course, World of Warcraft popped up. He said he found it rather addictive. I tried it years back and didn’t like it. The thing that always put me off was the subscription. And buying new expansions all the time. Now you just need to buy a subscription and the Legion expansion and you get everything, but it adds up very quickly.
Then I realised I’d never actually played a game with a subscription, and continued to pay said subscription. And that the above would make for a great article idea. The latter, I am doing now. The former, I still haven’t done.
And I probably never will.
You see, I’m a cheap little bastard. I avoid spending money pretty much all the time. I’ve only bought a few games at full price and can count on one hand the amount of games I’ve pre-ordered. Saints Row 4, Worms Reloaded, Worms Revolution, Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, if you’re interested. Out of those, only Binding of Isaac: Rebirth was really worth it, but I DID get Worms Armageddon for free with Worms Revolution so that was worth it.
These games though are all one-off purchases. You buy the game. Should you hate it, you can refund it maybe. Perhaps, if you love it, you play it for ages. If you get bored of it, it sits in your Steam Library or on your hard drive or whatever and ignore it. You can uninstall it and reinstall it later if you want to continue playing. These games are always there for you.
A subscription game though feels different. It feels like a commitment.
If I don’t play a game with a monthly payment, I feel like I’m wasting my money. My schedule though can be all over the place. I might not get the time to sit down and play for a week. That’s a quarter of a month’s subscription gone! And before you know it, you need to pay. Again.
Subscription games though are also a very hard way to make money. World of Warcraft is successful, but most other games aren’t, and will fade away, maintain a small player base just big enough to keep the game running or become free to play, charging money for convenience.
Wildstar for example looked amazing, but the subscription fee put me off. Then it was made so you can earn in-game money and items to actually pay for a subscription, which sounded cool. But after actually thinking about it, I realised that threw even more commitment onto the player. You HAVE to play, to grind, to earn that money just so you can keep playing.
Compare this with any other game. If I stop playing Saints Row the Third, my character will bugger off back to his home and when I load the game, I’ll still be there. When I close Warframe, Volt goes and chills inside his Liset ship. And Medic’s sitting in a bar at Teufort waiting for me to load TF2.
Those games all draw me back in different ways. But for all of them, the reason is “I want to play them”, not “I’m wasting my subscription if I don’t”.
I play games because I want to avoid my commitments in real life. Subscription games go against that.