Once Upon a Lifetime Subscription…

A Blaugust leftover post; started during but finished afterwards.

Lifetime subscriptions were on the agenda for a moment, with Syl listing not getting one for Lord of the Rings Online as a regret while Tobold took the opposite view.

I am the third result, having purchased that option and feeling no regret,

In fact I remain very happy with my LOTRO lifetime subscription, but I played enough when it was subscription to break even, and then enjoyed VIP level status, with a 500 Turbine Point per month stipend, after it went F2P.  That has allowed me to play, buy things from the store, including the last two expansions, and never spend another dime on the game.  But I also played a lot of LOTRO over the years.  It is easily on the top 5 of my MMOs in terms of time spent.

The list of things attached to my account...

The list of things attached to my account…

I am not sure where to get that listing anymore on the LOTRO site, as it has grown by a couple of items since I last looked at it.  Though if you go to Turbine’s site they still list Infinite Crisis as one of their games, at the top of the list no less, so who knows what is going on there.

However, I also went for lifetime with Star Trek Online and barely played that at all.  I opted in on STO largely based on my LOTRO experience.  If it is good once, then it ought to be good twice, right?

It was even more money than LOTRO

It was even more money than LOTRO… also, I went to Del Taco once…

But STO never caught my fancy and all my attempts to return to the game have ended in minutes… well, hours if you count trying to figure out how to access my account after all the changes that have hit the game.

So I am only batting .500 on lifetime subscriptions.

My experience with STO, with LOTRO, and with MMOs in general have made it unlikely that I would ever invest in a lifetime option again.  And I write that with the world circa 2009 as context.  I would likely not by another lifetime subscription again, even were we still deep in the era of monthly subscriptions.

Is that a squirrel or what?

Well, maybe if it was this cheap… and for a game with a future

Here in the age of F2P and cash shops, the age of PLEX and WoW Tokens, the age of lockboxes and nuisance barriers, the age of business model changes and broken dreams, the age of too many indistinguishable choices in the genre, the idea of sinking a couple of hundred bucks into an MMO on the hope that I might play it enough to get my money’s worth out of it… well… the idea just falls flat.

So color me surprised that Champions Online still had a lifetime subscription as an option… and that it was on sale for “just” $199, a third off of the usual $299 price.

Who knew?

And maybe that is a bad game to pick as an example, never having lived up to its predecessor, City of Heroes, and being run by a company that faltered and was acquired by another company that looks to be faltering, at least here in North America…. and which also happens to be the same company that owns STO.

And what does that say about lifetime subscriptions in this day and age?  Is it just another desperation move now?

I mean, if World of Warcraft offered lifetime subscriptions for $299 I am pretty confident that they would sell a million of them pretty quickly, that the store interface would go down in the rush to buy one.  But WoW is an ongoing success and the top game in its genre even with “only” 5.6 million players.  Pretenders has to get creative with things like “registered users” to get close to that number, a number is less than half of WoW at its peak.

And why would Blizzard do that?  It would be a short term boost to revenue and there would now be a floor of one million “subscribers” since lifetime is forever as long as the game is still running.  But that million would also likely be the same people who never unsubscribe from the game.

So what is a lifetime subscription for these days?  Is it a concept past its time?

Would you buy one under any circumstances today?

7 thoughts on “Once Upon a Lifetime Subscription…

  1. Atheren

    I purchased lifetime subscriptions for myself, my husband and son when LOTRO was released. We all played a lot for quite awhile so you could say we all got our money’s worth. I’m playing again and have VIP status which is a good thing for me. I doubt either of them will play again.
    This was in those dreamy times when every game didn’t flip to Free to Play immediately, and you were backing a company and game you knew you could have confidence in. Only good things ahead,
    I can think of nothing since LOTRO at it’s start that has inspired any confidence. You just proceed with caution and wait for the FTP Flip.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mikeazariah

    I am afraid to do lifetime anymore as games my experience was . . . buy and watch it die. Hellgate was the one that really stands out in my memory as a game that I think I was within a month (give or take) of breaking even on when it closed down.



  3. Armagon

    I’m pretty happy I didn’t get the LotRO one. It was a decent game and I’ve had fun, but at the time it couldn’t compete against others (mostly WoW) for me and I’ve never played 2 MMOs (besides EVE as a 2nd, totally not Fantasy-MMORPG) at the same time.
    For WoW.. well, after 7 years of subs it would have been VERY expensive to not have paid for itself :P

    And that’s what I loved about GW2, I bought something that feels like a lifetime sub, if you want. OK, it was not soo long ago and I preordered HoT, but I was happy enough with the game to send them some more money.


  4. Fenjay

    I never bought a lifetime sub to anything, but then I never played anything that offered a lifetime sub when I was playing it.

    I did some math though, and was surprised to see that, depending on sub/month price, a lifetime sub at $200 is anywhere from a year to two years of playing until break-even. Thinking about it with respect to WoW, I realized that their “commit for one year” deal they did a while back with D3 and MOP beta yielded amounts to pretty close the same revenue as a lifetime sub at $14/month (~2 months shy of being the same).

    With that in mind, regularly offering bonuses for committing to a year, which MANY people did for WoW (including myself) actually looks better for the bottom line, especially if it were repeated periodically. Even if a game is F2P, I could envision a “commit to VIP for a year and get this awesome mount/title/gadget/xp boost/stipend/whatever”.


  5. Doyce

    I bought one for LotRO, as did my wife, and we definitely got our money out of it.

    I also have one, purchased much more recently, for The Secret World. I love the game, but with Funcom’s rumored troubles, I’m still not sure I’ll get my money out of that before the company/game folds.


  6. ibaien

    a lifetime subscription is a transaction in which both parties are thinking to themselves ‘i’m gonna take this sucker to the bank’. if you are offered a lifetime subscription, someone on the other end is jotting your name down in the sucker ledger. see also ‘extended warranty’.


  7. Cryyptography

    I’ve effectively bought several “lifetime subs” in recent times – Elite Dangerous Lifetime expansion pass, Crowfall Kickstarter giving me 5 years+ vip, and Project Gorgon kickstarter, 5y+ VIP. I also buy yearly subs to Eve online and WoW. Somewhere around that $200 mark is the break even point and I’ve usually got some value out of games by playing for 2 years or more.

    The only ones I feel I’ve been burned on would be Wildstar (1 year up front, got bored before 3 months) and Archage (Paid ~$200 for fancy patron status and beta access, then didnt get to play much during the included VIP period.)

    If EVE or Wow offered a true lifetime sub, even for as much as $500, I’d probably go for it
    (And yes I read the previous “sucker” comment. $15 per month adds up pretty quick and I do tend to sub for long periods making these offers pretty tempting.)


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