What would a lifetime subscription be worth to you?

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.

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14 thoughts on “What would a lifetime subscription be worth to you?

  1. I see the opposite view in lifetime subs, in that they give you the freedom to play as LITTLE as you like. A monthly sub allows you to play as MUCH as you like, but if you don’t end up playing due to a lack of interest, you’re still paying for it.

    I agree that the main issue here is that they’re asking for a “good faith” payment. Maybe they feel confident because they own BOTH current superhero titles on the market (if you’re a fan of the genre, you can’t GO anywhere else right now).

    I fear, though, that Cryptic might be a victim of their own well-wishing, and haven’t taken into account the trials of other recently released MMOS which have had great-to-decent press, but have comparatively dismal subscriber numbers. With so many MMOs performing below expectations, putting $200 up front for a game that hasn’t gotten wide hands-on exposure is inexplicable.

  2. As a poor college student, this kind of lifetime subscription option just doesn’t work for me. I can’t afford to shell out $200 — more accurately $250 — all at once on a video game. I don’t even see myself able to afford the $60 for 6 mos option. It will be more expensive in the long run if I play the game for more than 15 months, but it’s much easier on my budget to pay by the month than all at once.

    I guess you could argue that I could charge the lifetime subscription to a credit card, and that way I’d be paying it off on my credit card in a monthly payment…but my cards are already maxed! ;p

  3. When deciding whether or not I would buy a lifetime sub for LotRO, I asked myself, ‘will I be more annoyed if I get one and then stop playing after 3-6 months, or will I be more annoyed if I don’t get one and I am still playing in 2 years?’

    Anyway, I’ve never regretted my decision to get one, but I would have been a bit pissed off if I’d bought one for WAR!

    • It’s funny really. WAR is the game where I’d have jumped at a lifetime sub and probably been really happy with it. It really is a great casual PvP game and I could easily imagine wanting to jump into the odd scenario and open RvR session, especially when the live events were on. Just I can’t justify a regular sub.

  4. I wonder which MMO I will play for a lifetime. But it could be a bargain if you plan to play longer than 14-20 months, depending on the monthly fee.

    It is still a gamble. The game is not even out yet, and I think it is a gamble heavily in favor of the “bank”, in this case of Cryptic.

    The other thing is, really good games make you want to pay for them. If I really like a game it does not matter to me if it costs 5, 10 or 15 bucks a month. You are already in the stage of boredom and quitting when you think about if the game is worth the money or not.

    I really like the Guild Wars chapter model, but they did not manage to bring out new content every 6 months and Guild Wars 2 is going to follow the new hype, “FREE TO PLAY” – “BUT MICRO-TRANSACTIONS”.

    • I prefer the Guild Wars “lifetime sub” price. Buy the box, you’re a lifer. It’s pretty simple, and if I want later content, the price is clear for that as well. It takes time out of the equation, and I’m free to just play it as I feel inclined.

  5. I’d pay $200, as it so happens. And I did, for LOTRO, and I’m glad I did. BUT, I had a chance to play it before I made that decision, and saw in it a game I’d enjoy for a good long while. I’ve more than made my money back.

    I don’t think I’d be enjoying LOTRO as much as I am had I been paying $15 every month, because then I’d feel somehow obligated to play when I wasn’t really feeling it.

    But I’ll agree its a gamble. I also paid $140 for a Lifetime Sub to Hellgate London. This was very much a ‘good faith’ purpose because even though the game was semi-broken, I believed in Bill Roper and believed the game would be fixed. That belief was misplaced and I lived to regret that purchase.

    So now here’s Bill Roper asking for $200 for a Lifetime Sub to this new game, but he expects me to buy without seeing the game in action?

    Screw me once, shame on you. Screw me twice, shame on me. Thanks but no thanks, Bill.

    So now, I’m only going to consider Lifetime Memberships if I’m able to play the game a lot before making the decision, and the game is fairly solid when I do so.

    • At least offer an offline version to lifers, so that they can get their money out of it if the provider tanks, like Hellgate.

      Of course, if the game itself isn’t any fun, yes, that’s a pain. Hands-on experience really needs to be a prerequisite for lifetime sub purchases.

  6. $299 for LOTRO and I do not regret my decision because I really enjoy the game and the people I played with. Yes, I would have loved to have gotten the $199 deal but I came to the game 6 months after launch and after the free 30-day trial I knew that I would be playing this game for the next 5 years. I want to see Mordor :)

  7. Only problem I have with lifetime subs is that you still have to fork over the cash for expansions. So, you have to take that into consideration for your “worth it if you play X months” calculations. Gotta spend more money to make that investment worth it.

    That’s another issue with longer term subscriptions. I bought a year’s worth of LotRO during the special. It’s going to kind of suck if an expansion comes out and I have to buy it to keep playing with everyone, otherwise I “waste” part of my pre-paid subscription.

    • Aye, that never quite sat right with me, either. Then again, it never sat right with me for “regular subscription” either, since my assumption was that at least part of the sub fee was being spent on *making* those expansions. That may be a faulty assumption, but that’s the root of why buying expansion boxes bothers me.

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