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Now you can charge monthly subscriptions through Steam
Now you can charge monthly subscriptions through Steam
April 25, 2013 | By Kris Ligman

April 25, 2013 | By Kris Ligman
More: Console/PC, Indie, Business/Marketing

Newsbrief: New indie MMO Darkfall Unholy Wars is one of the latest titles to emerge from Steam Greenlight. Developed by Aventurine, the game sets players in a "seamless, zoneless, uninstanced open fantasy world."

But the most interesting aspect of Darkfall is that it is the first game launched through Steam to feature the Steam Subscription Plan. With it, developers - including indies like Aventurine - are able to charge regular subscriptions from players, who can manage them directly through the Steam client.

The feature comes as subscription-based monetization models are decreasing in popularity. Valve promises that other subscription-based titles besides Darkfall are in the pipeline.

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Maria Jayne
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I'd still rather pay a subscription for a triple A mmo, it just feels more of an investment as a consumer of the product. If I don't particularly care about a game, playing it for free is better for me, but if I feel that about a game, only reason I would bother with it is because it's free anyway.

Michael G
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Although Free2Play give consumers greater freedom, I kinda feel that MMOs are driven by the commitment of their players and a monthly payment was part of that commitment.

I played LOTRO and Rift for well over a year (3 years in the case of LOTRO) and played them nearly every day in that time. In contrast, I played Guild Wars 2 for about 3 months and sporadically at best despite thinking that it's superior to both of those previous games and only getting up to level 35. I've loaded it up twice this year so far because there's no impetus to play it. With SWTOR I played it non-stop for about 5 months and have barely touched it since it went F2P, the same is true of LOTRO.

Jonathon Green
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I completely agree. I love the accessibility of the F2P model. But I hate being part of the 30-40% of repeat customers who end up having to pay $500 - $1000 over the life span of a game for features and customisation options that rather than real expansion of the game. Too many companies (any partner or subsidiary of K2 Networks in my experience are a good example), especially those specialising in F2P games abuse the model to milk customers for a return on their initial investment until a game is crippled and ready to fail, doing only whats necessary to squeeze more payments from players (random reward boxes?). F2P games were supposed to herald the age of micro transactions, instead a single item can cost anywhere between $15-$40+.

I'd much rather pay $20+ a month for a full gaming experience, deal with a smaller more mature community and feel like I was investing money into a developer that had to continue to develop the game to keep me paying... rather than paying them to keep releasing more cosmetic ideas, reskinned weapons etc whenever they felt sales dip.

Subscription games are simply designed to be played, as opposed to designed to aggressively seek payment constantly.

Joseph Legemah
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can't agree with all the lofty talk about subs, as only 4 out of 13 P2P MMO's i played have come anywhere near the picture you guys are painting. Everquestr, Asheron's Call, WoW and DAoC. i have not played EVE or EQ2...but i have pretty much played everything else. vanguard, dark & light, AO, you name it. most were garbage, and were not supported as vigorously as people claim the typical p2p game is. not close.

you're all using the pay model as scapegoats, but really more and more mmo's are just copying too much in addition to being rushed out 6 months to a year early. you guys mention Rift, but clearly the vast majority of people who tried the game don't agree with the positive spin put on it. the only things i found to be very good in the game were the things they basically lifted right out of eq2 and WoW. the few features you could say they came up with on their own are the worst parts of the game.

all that matters is if it's good or not. as far as paying for the privilage of a small but mature community, that's pretty much bullshit. from what i've seen the community in most of the low key mmo's is terrible, on par with what you saw in WoW between 2006-2008 and TERA. a few of them are decent, but there are a few free mmo's with decent ones too. a good 70% of mmo's don't offer a full gaming experience, and that was true ten years ago as well. too many generalizations made. not all free to play games are money vampires, not all p2p games are made with value in mind.

Blaze Sarkisian
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One of the redeeming things about the free-to-play model is that is guarantees ongoing support & content production, since new content is the lifeblood of a sustainable free-to-play game - content is the key driver of revenue for many titles (example: League of Legends' champions & skins).

That being said, the subscription model increases player investment/ownership, and leads to a high average playtime per user, as players "seek to get their money's worth."

One game that combines the models well is Lords of Ultima. The game is free-to-play, but players with over a month of playtime soon find that paying $15/month for the advisor bundle eliminates needless micromanagement, and automates other tasks associated with running a larger empire, allowing the player to focus on macro-level play.