Sunday 27 September 2009

A Day in the Lifetime

For the first time in years, I’m subscription free.

I patched up City Heroes to see the Issue 16 changes, logged in, tinkered a bit with power colours, and couldn’t really muster up any enthusiasm for it so finally hit the unsubscribe button I’d been thinking about nine months ago. Monthly subscriptions nag at me when I’m not playing much, like just having a slice of toast from an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet. They can be great value for a game you’re playing a lot, but don’t make so much sense for something you drift in and out of; I’ve had Grand Theft Auto IV for ten months now, playing a bit now and again. I don’t know exactly how much time I’ve put in, but there’s an achievement for completing the main story in less than 30 hours and I haven’t wrapped that up yet, though I’ve been doing a lot of the side missions and bits and pieces. With APB looking to have broadly comparable gameplay I can see myself dipping in and out of that, rather than spending several hours a night on it, so the lack of a monthly fee is distinct plus point there.

I’ve still got a couple of MMOGs on the go, though. Firstly Dungeons and Dragons Online, for which the “Unlimited” model seems to be working really well; I’m not sure how it’s looking for Turbine financially, but having the option there, if a few of us are kicking around and fancy a bit of a dungeon crawl, is great, and without even an initial fee there’s no barrier, apart from the initial download, to stop people taking a look around. Then there’s Champions Online; I’m cheating a bit with the “no subscription” thing here, ‘cos I went for the Lifetime option. Now I know full well that any attempt to discuss costs, subscription models and perceptions of value break down somewhat at this point, and a rational assessment is that a lifetime subscription is unlikely to represent better value than monthly payments unless you really, really get into a game, but whatever strange way my brain operates means I can forget the big initial payment and now file Champions as “free to play”; it’s there when I fancy swinging around and dispensing pistol based justice, if I go a couple of months without logging in, not to worry.

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