Tuesday, October 28, 2008

MMORPG - Are Lifetime scrips good?

As we know, recently news arrived that Hellgate London is going to shut it's doors for good.

Pumping Irony had a post about this and I noted how Hellgate has who knows how many players burned with their "Lifetime" deal.

No refunds there.

Right now, only two games have offered these lifetime deals (that were commercially viable titles that is...not discussing any freebie or Korean MMO's).
Hellgate London and LOTRO.
Hellgate as we know is a failure.

But, is LOTRO any better in regards to quality? 200+k players think so.

In regards to this conundrum..Scott had this to say in comments...

I absolutely think Lifetime Memberships are valuable, though not without inherent risk.

For me, LOTRO ended up being my main game and the lifetime membership has already paid for itself. Mines of Moria has a feature list (on paper) that is more exciting to me than the lists of any other expansion or full game coming out in the near future as well, so now the personal value of that lifetime has increased.

But if people jumped on the Lifetime for LOTRO or Hellgate without trying the games, just on hype alone, then they were burned. Doubly so for Hellgate since it’s being canceled.

From a players point of view...what about the company?

Remember, for LOTRO, you had to pre-order or had bought the game day one to get the lifetime at their reduced price. You had 30 days to decide in as well...so, not a good window.

How would someone even know if they liked the game as no trial was available yet.

Then they did not offer it again until they started the lowering of the price for the game and scrips and must have seen sales diminishing.

I am sure the influx of cash helped Turbine immensely.

But, what happens to a company that does not continue to have a flow of cash?

These players instead prove to be a burden, as they continue to play with no income being offered to Turbine.

The lifetime is meant for that impulse player who feels that they may be getting a good deal paying forever for that game with just one price...

Yet, it did not do much for Hellgate...

We may never know how many players did this offer there and then got burned.

I still think trials are key. Then reduced pricing, but not lifetime.

I think lifetime scrips lead to less "quality" of content.

Turbine is forced to release content on a regular basis or upset customers..especially those who paid lifetime.

Book 14 (their last patch before MoM) proved to be quite buggy, and took quite a few months to release compared to previous patches and content updates.
Turbine discussed making UI changes and model updates for MoM when the expansion was first announced...yet all screenshots show the same middling UI and very skinny non-fed males and vapid females...

Imagine if people payed lifetimes for AoC, and the content output is what it is now? YUCK!

I think it hurts the company and the player in the end.

Think of it this way. You did not have to buy AoC, or WAR and could have waited for reviews or a trial.

The LOTRO deal was meant to be a one time offer for those willing to take the leap at launch.

Look how many of those people they spit on with that deal...by offering it again after 6 or so months.

But, this still begs the question. Can "lifetime" scrips be a good thing for an MMO?

Yes, we would pay for one if WoW offered one, or EQ2...i.e: established games.

But, how would this affect the game after the fact?

Weigh in folks..

8 comments:

Tipa said...

If I'd gone for the lifetime subscription at LotRO launch, I'd probably still be playing. It was a decent game, and I was having fun with the Captain.

When an error with my billing terminated my account, though, I had other games to turn to, so I didn't miss it that much.

I didn't think it was a BAD game. Dull, certainly, but I understand they punched it up a bit with new content.

I almost did go with it, though, and I don't think I would have been terribly unhappy about it.

The "role" thing is weird. Why can't you use WORDPRESS!!!??? :P

Ardwulf said...

I'm not sure of the exact timing, but LotRO offered lifetime subs later on as well. It really is a great bargain, assuming that you a) think the game is any good and b) assume that it will have a substantial lifetime ahead of it. Neither held true for me, so it was an offer I took a pass on. I can think of at least three games (EQ2, Vanguard and EVE) that I would be delighted to pay for a lifetime sub on, assuming the cost was in the vicinity of what LotRO's offer was.

Also, you should use Wordpress. It is better.

Scott said...

Yeah, LOTRO has offered Lifetimes a few times since launch, and currently offering it again with Moria coming out.

The only thing that was a one-time deal was being a Founder, which is different than being a Lifetime Member.

Openedge1 said...

All 3 comments, and all missing the point....

What will the OUTCOME be though after lifetime scrips?

From a players standpoint...oh yea,,, lifetimes could be good for YOU monetarily.

What about the game itself?

I felt quality was bad in the last patch for LOTRO...

Imagine all the people who thought Hellgate was awesome...

Yet...

How would EQ2 be if it offered lifetime? WoW?

@Scott

How is a "Founder" different than a lifetimer? What did you get exactly? I am a Founder...

What did I get?

Constant barrages of "Please come back to us" emails And offers of
"Sign up for Lifetime..."

Bah!

@Tipa
You found the game ok...yet, I have also seen your comments of it being dull and dry.

Which is it exactly?

I think what we really wish to know is...are lifetime scrips beneficial to the GAME and NOT the player...

(PS: Wordpress is on my list to look at...I will probably join you fellow bloggers, as I use Wordpress for several work projects, and the clients love it (and I like setting it up..)...Drupal as well...but, Drupal is a little more than I need)

Cheers

adingworld said...

Guild Wars offers a "lifetime subscription" by not having any subscription at all and it works for them.

As long as they have a sound plan for the business I do not see any problem for the game company. But if it just a marketing ploy and they rely on actual subscriptions it could be more troublesome.

And offering a "lifetime subscription" could be considered more deceptive if a company intend to monetize the game similar to free-to-play games, but give the impression that "subscribers" will get everything included in the subscription.

For myself I ordered the LOTRO pre-order but went for the 6-month deal instead of the lifetime. Considering that I at that point never had subscribed to a game for even 1 year, it would have statstically have been a waste of money.
As it turned out the 6 month deal was also a waste of money, since I stopped playing after 2 months...

Openedge1 said...

@adingworld

I mustered 6 months myself. And I agree. I have tried going back, and it does not seem to work.

The deal Guild Wars has is the optimum system. Simple self contained adventures, and something I have been touting...endings to MMO's,
Make polished content which equals more box sales...
And then release new content every 6 months..

Ends up being more profitable.

Also, the lifetime deal for LOTRO is always made a waste due to the 9.99 a month deal if you buy 3 months.

Think of it this way.

I paid 9.99 for 6 months...so 60 bucks.

Now, if I go back and play Moria...say complete it in 3...another 30...etc., etc.

I think the drift is clear.

I saved MORE money NOT getting lifetime.

Think of players like Tobold, who bought the LOTRO lifetime, and played 3-4 months, and has not been back in game.

Did he gain going with this deal?

And if Moria does not meet his expectations, does Turbine benefit in the long run?

Nope.

Just have to wait and see how many boxes sell (I guesstimate not as much as WAR or AoC)

Tipa said...

EQ and EQ2 don't really seem to spend much time attracting new players to their games. SOE has at times run ad campaigns, but they do little to separate their games from other, similar games. For instance, I have never seen any reason in their advertising or on the box why I would want to play EQ or EQ2 over WoW (even though there are many ways in which they are different). Elves! Dwarves! Quests! Raids! and so on -- they are standard MMO features, and so nobody cares.

In that respect, I think SOE pretty much treats all their customers as lifetime subscribers already.

---

I would take a lifetime subscription to Wizard 101, not because I think there is a lifetime of content there, but because I think it would be worth it to support innovation in MMOs, something sorely lacking in the AAA titles.

Same with Spellborn -- and I haven't even seen that. But it has so many of the things I have wanted from a MMO in its feature list.

Scott said...

There were a few minor issues with Book 14, none of which ever affected me before they were fixed. What does affect me is (allegedly) terrain glitching mob AI in Annuminas, where I spend a lot of time lately chasing the armour set, and that had nothing to do with Book 14. I thought your character(s) were all relatively low-ish level?

Maybe it worked for LOTRO because at launch Turbine was a smaller company and could afford to take a few risks with introducing the Lifetime? I think it was $150 at launch, and if I recall Turbine said they sold roughly 3x more Lifetime's than they ever expected to, but I don't think they ever gave a hard number. EA/Blizzard would rather keep the old scheme at $15/month and *maybe* give a deal if you buy 3+ months in bulk. Hellgate... well, that's EA+Flagship and I'd say it was a cash-grab and nothing else.

With only two games EVER having lifetimes, I'd say it's way too early to start speculating if the idea is good or bad for the industry. Western gamers bitch and moan all day long about microtransactions, but I've got news for ya: subscriptions are probably on the way out over the next few years. The *idea* of microtransactions is perfectly fine, and Guild Wars is a perfect example of how to do it right and not offend Western gamers. The problem *for us* is two-fold. 1) Korean microtransaction games are shallow grind-fests with no real content and no real AI (allegedly due to single-threaded server tech or some such technobabble). 2) Western gamers *constantly* have the idea that all microtransaction games sell gear and items that give advantages to paying players. I had to search a LONG time to find any games that sold gear, and they're all from the same company. Everything else I've seen sells cosmetics (hmm... rumor has it Blizzard may be going this route someday...) or items like teleport scrolls, bonus XP potions, or +stamina potions. The only "advantage" anyone would ever have against another player is in PvP anyway, where someone who bought the best +stamina pot might stay alive long enough to win. Unless there's some PvE competition I've been missing all these years? No? Didn't think so.