I don’t know about you but I’m getting tired of the $15 a month subscription fee. It’s archaic and out dated in today’s gaming market. Thankfully, it seems to be on the way out, what with Blizzard even talking about getting rid of it (that will be the day).

But what are our options if we get rid of it? Micro-transactions, for one. Paid expansions for another. And then, there’s my personal favorite, the Eastern model.

Microtransactions are viable but not ideal. There’s too much temptation to offer “exclusives” to members that pay more. I’m all for allowing people additional customization and other perks, so long as the original game is flush with content. In other words, you should have a complete robust game before microtransactions come into the mix and, even then, the player should never feel pressured to pay. Microtransactions only work when they don’t negatively impact the game of free players.

Paid expansions are an interesting idea but hold the potential to be as expensive, if not moreso, than the normal payment model. Guild Wars proved that it can be done effectively but their expansions were true, full blown, content upgrades. In other words, real expansions and not just moderate patches like what you see emerging in games like Final Fantasy 11. If a game like WoW were to move to a paid expansion model, I think it’d take the FFXI form and wind up costing people more. I’m not a big fan of the paid expansion model.

Finally, we have the Eastern model. I’ve only recently had experience with this payment method and I have to say that I love it. This model involves paying by the hour and is seen widely in China and other Eastern countries. Many people seem to look down on it; however, I fail to see the issue.

To put it in perspective, I recently bought 200 hours on the Chinese version of Aion for a little under $10. Rounding up to an even 10, I’m paying roughly five cents an hour. For that price, you could buy 300 hours of gametime for the standard monthly fee we currently pay. That’s 75 hours a week and almost 11 hours a day, broke down. Great value if you ask me.

Then again, we have another rarely seen model, which is the Lifetime Subscription. I like this option in the same way that I like Guild Wars expansions. Somehow, it’s easier to swallow one bigger purchase than a monthly payment I have to budget for – even if it’s cheap. Lifetimes are valuable in that they provide the option of something to play, without the obligation of dropping a credit card number.

On the whole, I think I’m glad the monthly sub is on the way out. It’s not ideal, in any way, and, in truth, isn’t beneficial to the average player who won’t utilize the same playtime as a more hardcore player dishing out the same amount of cash. I’m not one for cash shops either but I kind of like the option to buy something neat for pennies on the dollar. And I think that’s where we’re headed. Hell, if WoW went F2P I might even come back. Yet, somehow, I think the day Blizzard makes that decision will be the day WoW is officially on the way out.

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