Rehash of Station Access

I have had a week and a half or so to dwell on the Station Access price increase.

$24.99 to $29.99 a month.   Five bucks.   A 20% hike.

Any sort of price increase where you are asked to pay more but are not getting anything new tends to rankle.

The annoyance is double when it involves anything related to the computer.  The last 25 years of computer hardware pricing has made us all feel that we should always get more for our money over time, not less.  I would love to see a display made up of those back-of-the-PC-magazine Dell ads from the 80s and 90s that always featured a computer for around $2,000.  The price was always the same, but the system specs just kept getting better and better month after month.

So the gut reaction to the price increase announcement was an almost universal intonation from the players that SOE could take their plan and shove it, we weren’t subscribing any more.

But often a little time and thought will take the sting out of a price increase.  You determine what you are getting for your money, what the alternatives are, and what you are really need and you decide what to do. 

Frequently, if the price increase was  well thought out by the company, you will decide to stay the course.  A company would be foolish to destroy the value proposition of a particular plan.

Yet when we come to Station Access, I think that is just what SOE has done.

Of course, the value of the plan is a person by person assessment, and I am sure there are people out there for whom the price increase still leaves them in a position of benefit.  If somebody played, say, EverQuest II, Star Wars Galaxies, and Planetside regularly, Station Access is still cheaper than three individual subscriptions. (By the way, I am sorry for the Planetside folks who got whip-sawed on the Station Access price increase with one of their own, no doubt to ensure that no two individual subscriptions would total to less than Station Access.)

But how many of us really, actively play three games like that?  Not I, that is certain.

My own desire for Station Access is to have more character slots in EverQuest II and to occasionally indulge the desire to go see some feature in EverQuest.  Basically, alt-itis and nostalgia. 

I can have them both for $29.99. 

I can choose one or the other and pay between $26 and $29.98 by either having two EQ2 accounts (which would, ironically, give me more character slots that Station Access) or an EQ2 and an EQ plan. 

Or I can suppress them both and pay less than half the price per month just for EQ2 by paying for my subscription in bigger time increments, getting down to $13 a month.

Honestly, I think I could suppress both Alt-itis and nostalgia for the time being, so the last option is looking likely for me.

Now SOE could dig themselves out of this hole, at least with me.  In follow ups to the informationally slim price hike email, there have been statements about more to be added to Station Access in the future, and that this raise in rate was to accommodate that as well. 

This seems like a bad way to approach things.  Announce the price increase, but do not announce any of the additional features that this increase is going to make possible.  Maybe Sony has been involved with the music business for too long? 

So far all I see for $5 more per month is things I already have.  If they threw me a bone and gave me, say, the EQ2 Players.com stats as part of Station Access I’d probably be okay.  But to run a 20% price increase and give the subscribers nothing?  Insanity!  I want to know which mail-order diploma mill sold the faux MBA to the guy at Sony who came up with that plan.

Another alternative for SOE is to offer more plans.  Something between the individual game subscription and Station Access salad bar.

I called for a new plan some time ago, if only to fill the bizarre void that seems to exist between plans that are “Free” and those that are “$14.99 a month.”

Kendricke put up some thoughts on interim price plans that SOE ought to consider.

And Brenlo himself was quoted on VirginWorlds #58 saying that they were looking into other plans.

So there is some hope I suppose. 

And I have a bit of time on my side.  My billing plan comes due on the 28th of the month, so I have until the end of April before the price increase hits me.  Some time between now and then Sony can entice me with something new.  In the mean time I will take a couple more trips into EverQuest and start figuring out which six characters in EQ2 I want to keep.

Just in case.

9 thoughts on “Rehash of Station Access

  1. Pingback: SOE Station Access Buzz Rankles Some « Trot Line

  2. Stargrace

    Decided to cancel my station access, since it was the only SoE game I was sticking with (having given up Vanguard.. *shudders*) but did decide to go with the double account rout. Two extra character slots compared to keeping station access, and I’m fairly fond of two-boxing, for those days when I just can’t (won’t) get a group.

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  3. Gaff

    The package deal Sony offers for one price encompasses a large amount of content–I think that is a given. What I am unsure about is whether people were paying for Station Access because it seemed like a deal and was reasonably priced, or because most in fact played a number of their products. I wonder if there is any data out there to reach a reasoned conclusion with–if it is the former, they are going to be a lot of people electing to pay for the game they play, and not the bells and whistles, so to speak.

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  4. Tipa

    That same interview with Brenlo on the VW podcast mentioned that some of the new perks with the higher fee would be more out-of-game web doodads or whatever.

    Simple fact is, I have X hours to play games a month, and currently I have three accounts on Station Pass for my son and I. We both play EQ2. Sometimes I play my EQ1 cleric for fun or to support my old guild. I wish I could justify keeping my EQ1 accounts active so I could still play in that world sometimes. I AM a SOE fangirl, I think they’re an amazing company and I love their passion for games. I’ve wanted to work their for YEARS (but they won’t ever even respond to my resumes)

    I just don’t have the TIME to make good economic use of their Station Pass anymore.

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  5. Tipa

    I don’t see, by the way, why every new game that comes out requires giving up an old game. That’s a STUPID business model and MMO publishers could come up with a better one if they thought about it.

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  6. Kilanna

    Very well said – I wish I could separate my passion from my arguments like you have:)

    My husband will probably keep his access account – He plays EQ2 most often, The matrix online sometimes and quite rarely plays SWG.

    I have not played my SWG toon in about 2 years – but am considering Vanguard. It still therefore makes sense for me to keep access pass.

    It is awful to think that we have had basically around 40% price rise in a year:( ($21.99 – %29.99) and for no additional features. Yes we have certainly had additional content – but isn’t that why we pay a monthly subsription in the first place? Even if i play 3 games, I am still splitting the same ammount of my time between SOE products – nothing new.

    Originally I had my Access Pass because i played both Galaxies and EQ2. I have maintained my pass so I can occassionally log back on to Galaxies and see if they had fixed the mess after NGE. This had the side benefit of giving me extra character slots on EQ2 and I have used them.

    If i was to delete down to 6 toons – i would be deleting Level 30 characters. I know it is just a game but I have enjoyed building these toons up – and it has taken considerable time to do so. It HURTS to delete them now.

    I will therefore probably maintain my station pass – especially if I am going to consider Vanguard, but that does NOT stop me from feeling as though I have been taken for a ride:( I am guessing that SOE are counting on factors such as these to stop many of their subsribers from quitting.

    If the increase in price is going to give us some more features THEN FOR GOODNESS SAKE TELL THE COMMUNITY WHAT THOSE FEATURES WILL BE. Preferably in some detail – and then you keep the subscribers onside. I am sure that most people, myself included, are happy to take a price hike as long as we feel that we are getting some value for our money.

    I just feel that SOE are a very arrogant corporation out of touch with their subsribers. These subsribers are the corporations “bread and butter” income – they should be very careful in such a compedetive MMO market.

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  7. Kilanna

    Here here!. I wish I could express my opinion on this matter as clearly as you have done. Unfortunately my righteous fury (aka temper) usually is all i manage to express lol.

    After my earlier indignation I have thought more about what both my husband and I will do with our Station Passes.

    My husband plays EQ2 and the Matrix online – while very occasionally logging in to SWG to see if they have cleaned up the mess that was the NGE. So it seems to be worthwhile for him to keep the station pass.

    I also play EQ2 with the occasional foray onto SWG to check up on the changes. I am now seriously considering Vanguard so for me it would also be financially worth it to keep my station pass.

    But I still dont understand why my Station account is going up in price. This will mean that the price will have gone up by more than one third in the year ($21.99 – $29.99) for nothing additional.

    In a response to your recent enquiry to SOE, they indicated that the money from your station pass is split between the games you play depending on the proportion of time you play each game (if i understood correctly).

    If i play 2 games or three games – I can still only play for the same amount of hours per week. So why do I need to pay extra now Vanguard has gone live? Maybe it is unkind but I feel that this is SOE’s way of having their long time loyal player base subsidise the new game that has had a somewhat underwhelming release.

    As you have pointed out – if the price rise is to facilitate additional features to our current games – then for goodness sake SOE should let us know. If not – I dont understand why my station access is increasing in price.

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  8. Arcos

    Grimwell has confirmed to me that if you drop Station Access you do not need to delete four toons, they just go into limbo until, either you delete one of your six mains when one of the limboed characters becomes available, or until you take SA again when you get them all back.

    So don’t depair, those toons you spent so long on won’t die, they just fade a little.

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  9. Pingback: Station Access - A Postmortem at MMOG Nation

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