About a year back I was on about how the subscription model for MMORPGs had basically been static the early 2000s, wondering how long it could hold out? $15 a month had been the default for so long and none dare change it, lest they alienate their customer base, lest they press the question as to how much the players value the game.
And so the industry has treated the whole topic by falling back on one of the basic rules of improve, “Yes, and…”
So would subscriptions stay the same price? Yes, and they would also add cash shops, special currencies, expansion boxes, deluxe and collectable editions, and a host of other things in order to keep the cash flow on pace with the rising costs of pretty much everything over the last 20 years.
“Is your game free to play? Yes, and it has a subscription option too” became a pretty common refrain as studios sought to access all possible funding taps.
But nobody has really gone all in and simply asked the players to pay them more money for a subscription. The idea has occasionally been mentioned… Mark Jacobs suggesting that Warhammer Online might be worth a premium subscription price springs to mind… but there hasn’t been a big name that has actually gone and done it.
This morning CCP announced that they would be raising the price of a subscription… referred to as “Omega Time” in the parlance of the game… and PLEX, the in-game currency that can be traded in for subscription time.
Starting on May 17, 2022, the basic, one month subscription price for EVE Online will be $20, up from $15, and the price of 500 PLEX, which is the amount needed to get 30 days of game time, will be $25, up from $20.
There will still be discounts for multi-month commitments, and CCP has even added in 2 month and 24 month options into the pricing mix.
You can compare that to the currently listed prices for Omega time.
Likewise, PLEX pricing has the usual quantity discount. (And this chart doesn’t have the dubious “buy 440 PLEX and get 60 free” marketing to make you feel like it is a better deal.)
Again, you can compare that to the current and soon to be former PLEX pricing on the web store.
So there it is, the coming new reality for EVE Online.
People are, of course, upset. They are questioning their commitment to the game and comparing what else $20 a month gets them. $15 to $20 is a fairly substantial jump. A 33% boost will be a tough lump for many to swallow. A more fainthearted company might have gone to $17 or $18.
Earlier this month it was announced that RuneScape would be bumping its subscription price up two dollars a month. Granted, that makes it just $12.49, so they aren’t even at the long established $15 a month norm for the industry, but they didn’t make a bigger leap.
Now, though, CCP has broken the $15 a month barrier. Will it break them? Will they see a big decline the way Netflix did with their latest subscription price rise? Or are EVE Online players committed enough to the game to carry on at the higher price?
And then there are the secondary effects, like the impact on illicit RMT. CCP just made buying ISK, the in-game currency, more expensive. Will that benefit the gold sellers?
Of course, there is no news they cannot leverage. If you act fast you can buy a month of Omega time for just $10.47.
So there we go.
Now, the follow up question, beyond whether or not CCP will succeed at this, is who will be next? Once the $15 a month subscription barrier has been broken for a special, yet somewhat second tier, MMORPG like EVE Online, who else will see the light and raise the price?
I am betting on Daybreak. They have an argument that their subscription covers multiple games, though that would be bolstered if their Daybreak Access subscription also included LOTRO and DDO.
I could see Square Enix doing a bit of a price creep, though their subscription model is already has more options for pricing.
I suspect that Blizzard won’t touch this idea any time soon. They still make a ton of money as is at just $15 a month… they make it up with volume… and the last thing they need is yet another reason for players to be mad at them.
Who else might see this as an opportunity?
- CCP – PLEX and Omega Price Changes
- Massively OP – EVE Online is hiking its sub price to almost $20
- MMO Fallout – EVE Online Hikes Sub To $20 Monthly
- INN – CCP Pulls A Netflix With Major Price Hikes
- INN – CCP’s Rate Hike: 33% Inflation? Really?
- INN – CCP Paragon Live Stage
- INN – Scarcity 2.0
- INN – CCP Wants More Of Your Money
- Evehermit – Money
- SoundCloud – CCP Paragon Speaking to the Price Increase