The MMORPG Monthly Fee . . . Is It Worth It?

4 10 2009

WOWDouble$15 bucks a month . . . should I pay it?

Time and time again I will see people become somewhat interested in an MMORPG, only for them to turn the other way once they hear of a monthly service fee.  Now not all MMORPGs these days have a monthly fee.  Many of them, like the highly acclaimed Runescape and Maple Story, all are free to play and download (of course they charge for in game items or better graphics).  Nevertheless, people cannot seem to wrap their heads around why they should pay for a game after they have already payed for it once.  At one time I thought the same way.  Why should I shell out money to this company for some unknown reason, when I already put down $50-60 on the original game box?  Where does all this money go to?  How will I benefit?  Until you answer these questions, you truly never will know why you pay that monthly fee.  Of course, these are the same people that don’t have any idea how much upkeep it takes to run a smooth online role-playing game.  It is a necessary evil, one that is tough to deal with at first but gets easier as time goes on.

Probably the number one reason why MMO companies need that $10-15 dollar fee is to maintain servers and the patches that come with them.  When dealing with thousands of people, or even millions if you are talking from Blizzard’s perspective, you need a strong hardware line to support all of that data.  Without it, all that work you put into building your character would be as dust in the wind after a week or so.  Even with all that money that Blizzard gets (hundreds of millions per month), they still continue to struggle with lag issues and other maintenance problems that come up after every patch.  Technology has advanced quite a ways in the last few decades, but we are still not at the point where complete lag-free online game-play is possible.  It will only become possible if people continue to donate to the cause.  It may seem lame at first, but paying a monthly fee for a game you are enjoying shouldn’t be that hard to swallow.

/PLAYED

Another thing people take for granted is the amount of time they are giving to these games.  Now, a simple question.  How long does your average video game last these days from beginning to end?

Ten hours? Twenty hours?  Maybe thirty to forty if it has a decent multi-player setup or a quick premise with lots of replay value.

That is absolutely nothing compared to the amount of time one puts into a “single” character within most of these MMO worlds.  After playing both Asheron’s Call and World of Warcraft I noticed a shocking statistic.  The average amount of time per character was between fifteen and twenty days played.  Now multiply that by 24 hours and you have a lot of freakin’ hours.  And even though that may seem like a lot of time, that is nothing compared to what some of these MMO junkies put in.  It just annoys me to see people complain that they are bored with a particular MMO, when they don’t realize they have put in between 600-800 hours into it.  Damn, if I put that much time into a game I’d probably be bored with it too!  The difference is that you are spending a hell of a lot less money by playing an MMO than you would with the dozens of short single player experiences in this day in age.

I believe that people have just become ungrateful and have taken for granted the amount of enjoyment that an MMORPG gives them.  The genre may not be for everyone, that is a given.  Some people don’t like grinding out levels for hours or running the same quests over and over again to get that one unobtainable weapon; especially when they realize it will become obsolete by the next expansion pack.  Those that play MMORPG’s are players that enjoy a great story, have a broad imagination, and enjoy playing with other people.  Sure some online games may have a crappy player-base, but those couple of people that become your “allies” in these games more than make up for it.  Some of the players that I befriended throughout my MMORPG times have actually become my friends in real life.  Amazingly enough, people have even met their future spouses in these games.

VoidHole

In the end, great MMORPGs can paint a pretty picture, but it cannot get there without the pastels and brush; two things that the player and the host company must provide.  Just remember that there are hundreds of MMO’s out there, some free and some not.  Each one gives you a trial period, which can generally last between two weeks and one month; plenty of time for you to decide whether or not it is the game for you.  So ultimately yes, it is worth paying that fifteen or so a month to keep your favorite game running.  Just don’t be like the people on most game forums and gripe about every single thing you don’t like about said title.  If you don’t like the game anymore then don’t play it anymore, nothing is forcing you to turn that game on time after time except your own addictions.  Just take a break every once in a while.  After all it’s just a game . . . that you pay a monthly fee for.

Though it doesn’t seem so bad now does it?

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