Today Funcom finally threw open the doors on the pre-order for their upcoming MMO, The Secret World. This is something I had been waiting for for quite a while now as I have known for months that I am going to play this game, so pre-ordering was pretty much a foregone conclusion. However in looking at the pre-order packages, I came to a conclusion that I had not anticipated, and one that is likely going to land me in a bit of hot water with my significant other. Among the pre-order options was a lifetime subscription.
Lifetime subs are not a phenomenon that I have commented on much in this blog. None of the games that I have played (with the exception of Star Trek: Online) have offered it as an option, so the issue has never come up in the context of the games I have been playing. Suffice to say that I am pretty negative on lifetime subs and view games that offer it somewhat warily. To me, it expresses a lack of confidence in your product that you can encourage people to continue to pay per month to continue to access it. Now that I think about it, Star Wars: The Old Republic would have been the perfect candidate for a lifetime sub. There is a total lack of repeatable content to encourage one to stay subscribed over a period of time, but the storylines are compelling and every time they add new story content, you could hop back in and continue it.
But that point aside, I have always been suspicious of lifetime subs. So why was it that when I saw that option presented for TSW that I immediately jumped on it? Well, as I have commented on before, if we as gamers and MMO enthusiasts want to truly see change in the genre, we have to be willing to embrace and support something different when we see it. So long as we talk about how we want change, yet continue to mindlessly pay our monthly subs to World of Warcraft, nothing will change. Developers and publishers go where the money is. So we need to change where the money is going. That is part of the reason I am doing this. I want to support what TSW is trying to do. I want to support classless character systems. I want to support a game setting other than the usual fantasy world full of elves and half-naked women. So I am putting my money where my mouth is on the issue.
Another reason is admittedly a leap of faith. I am intrigued by the concept of being able to play an MMO over the long term without having to worry about the monthly fee. It is paid for, done, and finished. Of course this requires the game to be successful enough to continue to operate over the long term and return the investment I have already made in it. As a former player of Tabula Rasa, I know there are no guarantees on this score. A game here today could very easily be gone tomorrow. But Funcom is already running two other MMO's, and while the launches of both Anarchy Online and Age of Conan were among the worst in MMO history, since I did not personally experience either of those games, I am willing to give Funcom the benefit of the doubt and hope that they learned valuable lessons from those games, lessons that they will now incorporate into the launch and continued support of TSW. So yes, admittedly a leap of faith, but one I have chosen to make.
One final point is that this somewhat "frees" me up to potentially dabble in other MMO's as they come down the line without having to carry multiple subscriptions. So if I feel the "itch" to putz in RIFT again, or give TERA a try, I can do so without doubling down on my expenses. This is admittedly a minor point as I don't really have the spare time to play multiple MMO's, but it is a small benefit. I am the kind of person that always wants to get the most for my money. Carrying multiple subs just feels wasteful, and would probably pressure me to spend more time online than I actually can afford to in order to "get my money's worth" from all the sub fees that I am playing. The lifetime sub won't put that kind of pressure on me.
So now my sights are even more firmly set on June 19th and the launch of TSW. I will continue to enjoy my time in RIFT during the meantime. My cleric just hit the level cap today and it felt good to slap on all that gear I have been stockpiling. I have a long ways to go towards my goal of multiple raid capable gear sets, but I am enjoying the challenge. Look for another update on that towards the end of the week.