Subscription perks

Rewind to the era of full subscription model and you got unfettered access to the game and aside from the monthly cost your only other expensive were the initial purchase of the original game and any expansions.
Each Free to play MMO calls their pseudo subscription models something different such as VIP, Premium, Membership, gold status or patron, I wanted to take a look at what is really being offered.

Bang for your buck

This is a work in progress please treat it as such, however I’m keen to collect any information that players of these games would like to add, please leave a comment on this post or you can comment on the spreadsheet.

I’ve played a number of MMOs as both a subscriber and a f2p-subscriber, So it’s interesting to look at what that subscription really grants to you the player? Are the perks the same across the board?

After my initial analysis it’s clear to see that the packages offered vary quite wildly some including:

  • Recurring reward of cash shop money
  • Priority Queuing (server and PVP)
  • others grant you full customer service functions
  • Unlocks of different races or classes
  • In-game store discounts
  • More action bars & bag space
  • Not forgetting one of the biggest incentives increases in Experience and Currency rewards

The rewards are weighted against the game they apply to, a boost to currencies being a strong favourite because who doesn’t want more money right?

Price Comparison

There are discounts for purchasing longer periods but the generally most of the games aim place the perk in the range of between $9.99 and $14.99 price range for a month subscription, which is comparable with the previous subscription costs.
Some exceptions to this are games like Aion or Firefall where you have to purchase the monthly sub in game via the cash shop and the other is SOE who changed there model to one called All-Access which offers bonuses across all their games, a nice perks if you play more than one of their titles.

Perk Comparison

I tried to compile a list of what perks subscription models offer, this is often tricky as games don’t always tell you everything that is included off the bat.
If you spot a glaring omissions or mistakes then please let me know and I’ll update my data.

You can browse to the file here:
or comment here

#blaugust #Subscription #FreeToPlay

Death to the cash shop

After paying my first subscription payment for Elder Scrolls Online I’m reinforced in my belief that Free-2-Play/Freemium is a poisoned chalice instead of the golden goblet of awesome that the F2P revolution always alluded to.

Not that I don’t see the benefits that the shift has brought with it, removing the barriers and opening up the playing field. As a MMO gamer I can play a different MMO every night for a fortnight and not pay a penny, which isn’t something you could say 8 years ago. When done badly or greedily it’s no better than the hordes of Facebook titles begging for your money.

However I feel that dividing a games assets into purchasable bundles detracts from the game as a whole. I as a player can’t experience the game in the way that the developers originally intended or in a joined up way, now the only way to get that level X equipment is to grid out experience, farm certain enemy types or transform your real money into “Company points” to soften the blow of spending it on electronic goods.

Now many F2P games offer a monthly subscription VIP/Premium/Member service that should reduce a players dependency on in-game purchases, yet in recent times it has felt like companies target these already paying customers more with exclusive deals, discounted items or just plain old asking for more money with an array of hats (replace with flavour of the month item).

I hope that The Elder Scrolls Online keeps taking my money and doesn’t venture down the F2P road.


#F2P #FreetoPlay # subscription #ElderScrollsOnline

How to remove a key driver of membership

Today premium players of Planetside 2 (and Everquest 2) receive an email bursting with platitudes outlining a change in the membership benefits. Here is the notification,  that begins with a lovely generic “dear … member” so you could half believe it to be a spam email.

The Email

2014 Membership Update – New Benefits for Valued Members


Dear PlanetSide 2 Premium Member,

We regularly evaluate our offerings at SOE to ensure we are consistently delivering great games and products, while also offering exceptional value to our players. Given that we just started a new year it seemed like the perfect time to add more value!

The week of February 3rd, 2014 we will be making a very important change to Premium Membership in PlanetSide 2. The current benefit of receiving 500 Station Cash (SC) monthly will be replaced with a new benefit that allows you to select one single item valued up to 2000 SC each month. Nearly all items within the games’ Marketplace will be available for this selection. Player Studio items, bundles and additional exclusions may apply. This new benefit must be claimed each month that you are a member as it will not carry over to subsequent months.

We appreciate our customers, especially our valued members, and therefore are excited to bring you this additional value.

Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you in game soon.


Sony Online Entertainment LLC

Cynical Me

It is very hard for me to remain neutral when this announcement follows a large sale in Planetside 2 over the last week, which urged the community to use Station Cash to pick up some in game items, getting players to spend on cheaper than usual items.  Now this alteration has arrived via email tell us that next sale, you’ll not have built up any Station Cash just for being a member.

On the face of it the concept is straight forward and almost looks like an improvement, they are giving premium players a “benefit”(token) that will allow the purchase of one item from the in-game store up to the value of 2000 station cash, this must be claimed within 1 month.

Sadly this change is removing the flexibility that acquiring stations cash grants you:

  • It can be stored for use later on
  • Can be used for booster perks, especially the 6 month boosters than appear on very rare occasions
  • Can be stored to purchase a bundle deals of multiple items at a cheaper rate
  • It can be used to purchase a number of smaller items and get change.

The reasons

So far the reasoning behind this isn’t clear, there are rumours abound that it could be laying foundations for when the Playstation 4 is enabled to play some of the SoE titles. On the flip side I hear comments that it could be to stop people being subscribed to PS2 and EQ2 and earning 1000 SC per month.

The fear that many people are highlighting is that due to the current pricing structure and the fact the new 2000sc token won’t give change, the in-game store prices may become inflated.

and effect

The announcement thread on the official forums is slowing growing in size as many players are pondering the ramifications of this change, many just want answer to questions, some are cancelling their membership, additionally some are asking for a refund as one of the key components of the Membership is going to change in February, which isn’t good for persons who have just paid for 12 months membership in advance.
There are a number that appear to indicate that they were considering subscribing but the Station Cash was seen as a major factor in their decision, without it they are less inclined to do so.
As for me, if nothing changes by February 3rd I shall be unsubscribing along with other players.
Another question is, could this lead to us seeing other companies swapping to an alternative system for monthly rewards in the future?


When people talk about “Free to play” titles, there is usually a reference to removing barriers. Removing them from the entry to the game, purchase costs, monthly subscriptions, etc.
While this has a positive benefits in terms of players and accessibility, removal of these entry level barriers means that those looking to exploit a game can just roll new accounts when they get found out.

Come with me into the Past

Ghostly outlines

Let me take you back in time to 2006, this was before the free to play model was fully embraced as a viable business model and subscription was the order of the day.

To encourage more gamers to try out Planetside (1), SoE introduced a feature called Reserves for a period of 1 year. This allowed anyone to create a SoE account and earn 6 battle ranks levels and 2 command levels before they stopped gaining XP.

On the whole there were high-hopes that this would drive more players into picking up the game. However this single act, resulted in a massive influx of persons out to abuse the system. The worst part was that the continued free access granted them the ability to test out different hacks and “so we are led to believe” develop/use tools to achieve various hacks on the fly.

Sadly this wasn’t the revamp that Planetside needed and effectively paved the path for continued exploits and ongoing problems that plagued the game forever more.


Over the last week in PS2  I have encountered a player on three separate occasions who appeared to be using a wall/clipping hack combined with increased damage output, meaning you would be killed by an “invisible” enemy with 1 shot.

In a purely PvP orientated game like Planetside 1 or 2, the floodgates are wide opened for cheaters and trolls to apply their “trade”, thanks to the removal of barriers.

I am rather surprised that SoE didn’t seem to take anything away from the reserves experiment. Even their hacking detection seems to be as lacklustre as it was in 2006/2007, relying more on other players to report these events over actively seeking them out in real time.

Sub V F2P


As the gamer community fully digests the News that SW:TOR is going free to play, I thought back to my recent excursion into the game. Due to a number of factors the game really didn’t click with me and I drifted away before completing my free 30 days included in the box. It was kind of sad as I had hoped to get more time out of it, but I struggled to get into a comfortable groove with the game, we just didn’t click.

Given the recent announcements and staff lay-offs, such a move was suspected by many as being on the cards, of course this does nothing to abate concerns of current players who have remained dedicated through the recent turmoil. We shall see how the future pans out for this business model and hope it’s not too harsh on existing and new players alike. Good luck to you all.

man-40570_640Sub V F2P

I recently caught up on my RSS feeds and spotted this post over at One Shard, and have to say that I am in agreement. I find that nearly every Free 2 Play MMO that I have played makes me frustrated. Usually everything I need/want I can grind location/mission/enemy X until I obtain it or I can opt to purchase the item or enough cash to buy it from the Store.

I play for fun and not for it to be a grind continually, as MMO games switch to F2P models more titles are bartering for our time/effort and ultimately our hard-earned cash.

The Hybrid models seems to be a favourite and companies seeking to attract both the Veteran and New players alike. Vets gain some small perks over new F2P players, but its not normally anything too spectacular and often highlights the amount of “freedom” that is lost by switching to f2p for new players.

Sub plus cash shop

City of Heroes is a great example of a hybrid model that has a basic f2p tier, a veteran tier and a VIP subscription tier, to be fair if I was coming to the game as a new player I would struggle fair too much due to the limitations that would be imposed on me.

As a player that wants to enjoy the game and opts for a monthly subscription in a game that’s classified as F2P, I’m often disappointed that you’re expected to supplement the subscription with some cash-shop purchases as that is how the game is have been redesigned.

Perhaps I’m just being a grumpy old gamer who’s favourite past-time is hating anything new or different.
I feel that MMO games lose appeal to me when they shift to the F2P model and for some games I was already on the fence in the first place.