As 12/12/12 12:12 hit (though an hour early, as they were going on Norway time) a bombshell hit. The Secret World, inspired no doubt by the success of Guild Wars 2, is going subscription free. Like GW2 you still need to buy the game, but beyond that, you can play without further costs if you so choose. But is it safe?
I don’t like to contradict anyone in a hat as splendid as the Stationmaster’s, but we do have a fair idea of how it’ll work. It’s a pretty generous deal by the looks of things. You get the full game without limitations, with none of the punitive nonsense you get in some F2P games (Looking at YOU, SWTOR). Going forward, we’ll be paying for content DLC, or what we used to call “game updates”, though some of those will still be core to the game and free to all users.
You can still sub if you want to, of course:
New Membership Available
For those who want to get the most out of their Secret World experience we have an optional Membership available. Being a monthly subscriber, for the same cost as before, now gives great benefits. For being a member you get the following:
- Time Accelerator (Clickable item which increases experience gain for defeating monsters by 100% for 1 hour, 16 hour cool-down – only usable by Members and Grand Masters)
- $10 worth of Bonus Points (given out every month)
- Item-of-the-month gift (given out every month)
- 10% discount to everything in the in-game store
The Grandmaster pack includes all these benefits and gets an additional 10% discount to everything in the in-game store, for a total bonus of 20%. So being a Grandmaster is better than ever!
Through the month of December we have a special offer where we give 30% off on the first purchase on the 3, 6 and 12 month Membership plans.
Not everyone will have the choice of course. Some people paid $250 for a lifetime Grandmaster membership. It turns out that all they really got for that was the opportunity to lose the choice of whether to play for free or not.
I’ve said it many times, and I’ll say it again. In these times where games go F2P or subless within a year of launch, Lifetime subs are a terrible idea. We shouldn’t buy them, and companies should not even be offering them. Lifetime subs are a gamble, and the odds on it paying off are getting longer every year.
Anyhows, for everyone who didn’t buy a life account, this change is a 100% positive no-grumbles thing. At least it is so long as it attracts enough new players to compensate for all of the folks, myself included, who will now cancel our subscriptions, and simply buy the updates when they come along. That sounds like that’ll work out a lot cheaper, and will free my limited gaming funds for keeping an eye on an extra MMO.
There’s an official FAQ on all this over here.
Update from Twitter, where we’ve been having quite a discussion on the topic of lifetime accounts. This is a rough paraphrase of what I’ve been saying there:
For me, the decision to get a lifetime sub is based on whether or not I think that’ll get me most value for money. So it’s always bizarre, when an MMO suddenly goes F2P, to hear all the folks saying they go lifetimer as a form of charity, so they don’t mind. I only wish I could afford to be so charitable. My buying decisions have to be based on personal economics. And it’s becoming increasingly obvious that lifetimes are a bad deal. If you care about getting a bad deal. You might not, it seems.
Yes, lifers now get $10 of shop credit a month, but shop items are not what lifers thought they were buying when they signed up. If some lifetimers like what the bait has been switched for, that’s great, but that does not mean that all lifers are obliged to be happy about it, or that we shouldn’t point out what is a fairly shady move.
I suspect it’s partially due to a peculiar psychological affect. Humans tend to value money less once they’ve spent it. You shrug your shoulders and move on, and that is certainly very healthy for the temper, but it is not a good way of encouraging companies to play fair with us. For me, it’s very clear. I have $150 more than I would have done if I’d gotten a lifetime account, which I can use for other goods and services.
At the very least, customers deserve to be told, at the time of purchase, what their lifetime subscription would be turned into in the event of the game becoming subscriptionless. Surely we can agree on that?