The news from Champions Online today is buzzing with the pre-order offer that lets customers buy a lifetime subscription for $199 … as long as they buy it before Sept 1st. (Needless to say, the launch date will be later than this.)
They’re throwing in a few exclusive specials such as extra costume bits (not pictured, naturally), access to the Star Trek Online beta later this year, and extra character slots. But at the end of the day you’re gambling on a game that you haven’t seen unless you are in the closed beta. It may be that they’ll host an open beta before the drop dead date for the offer so anyone considering it will at least be able to see what they are buying.
But the price point is an interesting one, especially for a game that is likely to include RMT options (new costume sets) later on too. If you assume a standard subscription price of $15 per month, the lifetime sub will work out at better value if you play for at least 14 months (actually 13.333). Alternatively you could also pick the special pre-order offer at $60 for 6 months, which looks like better value to me.
Leaving aside the issue of buying a pig in a poke, this kind of pricing does make me wonder how much a lifetime sub is really worth to people. How much would you pay for a lifetime subscription for your favourite game? (Assume you will still need to buy expansion packs as and when they come out). How much would you have paid when it was in beta and you hadn’t had a chance to play it?
The only other game I know that made a similar offer was LOTRO and I’m glad I decided not to go with the lifetime sub. It gave me the freedom to say that I find the game rather dull (it has good points but not enough for me to keep playing it), and move on to other games without feeling an obligation to keep poking around in it.