Shareholder Subscription

I’ve talked before about how subscriptions can be seen as a form of investing.  There are plenty of people that keep parking-lot subscriptions to games like World of Warcraft, where the monthly rent is paid but the car is never moved.  I’ve been playing a lot of Dungeons and Dragons Online lately, and while I am not ready to give my full impressions (favorable as they may be), I did want to discuss an interesting point to their business model. 

The Dungeons and Dragons Online business model seems to take the best bits of every available MMO business model.  Players can play for free, while slowly buying things from the cash shop.  Players can buy chunks of cash shop coin to buy content packs, more character creation options, and some consumables.  Or, players can subscribe and get access to everything.

The interesting twist is that subscribers also get a monthly cash shop stipend, which gives the subscribers a really interesting decision.  They can do the obvious and use the coin for XP upgrades and consumables.  Or, they can buy the puzzle pieces of content that are already accessible from the subscription in order to become eventually a kind of lifetime subscriber for times when the subscription is stopped.  The player, now subscriptionless, still has plenty of means and options to continue to play.

For me, this benefit is not just the icing on the cake, it is exaltation of the subscription model.  Subscribers are not just paying for point access and the hopes that new content will arrive before they get bored enough to cancel.  No, subscribers are actually able to buy a permanent stake in their game.  I, for one, would rather have an attached garage than a rented spot in a cold, concrete parking lot… especially with winter coming.

the concurrence of causes and conditions

11 thoughts on “Shareholder Subscription”

  1. That’s a step beyond even Wizard 101’s excellent payment model, I think. I do hope this variety of payment models becomes the norm for MMOs.

  2. *devil’s advocate*

    “Players can play for free, while slowly buying things from the cash shop. Players can buy chunks of cash shop coin to buy content packs, more character creation options, and some consumables. Or, players can subscribe and get access to everything.”

    I’d love to know (and we’ll never know) how many people went with the first two options thinking they’d save money and ended up paying more than if they had subbed from the get go.

    1. Both Turbine and KingIsle (W101) are pretty open about if you are planning on burning through content then subscribe, if you are planning on playing very casually then one of the other options might be better. Both DDO and W101 lead people towards sub’ing.

      But, still… I spent close to $50 for roughly two months of W101 play, but it was my choice. I now own that content, and I am willing to pay more for that option.

      1. By the way, I should clarify that I didn’t imply there was any goading or fine print situation involved on the side of the devs when I commented above.

        It just occurred to me this simple scenario which I imagine happens all the time of people starting to buy small thing after small thing then they end up with an expenditure for that month much greater than the sub which includes everything they bought and more.

        Heck, it happens to me at the grocery store sometimes.

      2. I’ve spent $49.99 and will probably never spend another penny. I have all the modules I want bar two. I have the points saved up for those but I don’t want to buy yet in case there’s a weekend discount offer on them before I buy.

        So effectively I have everything I want and am a lifetime subscriber for $50 one-off fee. While I don’t quite have the same perks as a VIP there’s nothing I really miss.

        I analysed it in some depth here:

          1. Indeed… except that it’s an option, rather than a “you must do it this way”. I like that the game offers both the GW-ish model and a subber model, since there are different sorts of players.

    2. I think quite a bit, I think they count on that. I know I spent more than I would have, because I could. Buy giant stacks of health pots at a time? sure! way easier than farming or paying my non existent gold.

      I find I need all the health pots, I play either solo or with one guy I know, and once we hit level 4 it gets harder, esp when you try the dungeons on hard or harder, and your friend likes to see how many mobs he can attract.

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