Massive Overthinking: Which MMO Will Next Increase Its Subscription?

Almost three years ago, our writers and readers got together to discuss whether the age of the $15 subscription was ending. Obviously, this question was injected into an industry that had and still has free, hybrid, and a la carte options, as well as games on sub-$15 subscriptions, and many of us remember the days before the 15- dollar subscription. But the reality is and was that the $15 sub was still the standard, thanks largely to games in the early years cementing it as the fairest deal, and at the time the question was largely hypothetical.

However, in 2022 so far we have seen a bit of movement in the sub and optional sub market. But now we have seen two big MMORPGs, EVE Online and RuneScapeincrease their subscription prices – EVE to $20 and RuneScape to $12.49. Consoles keep adding subs, GTAO added new sub, dual universe has already raised the price of its beta sub, games like LOTRO and Star Trek Online made their existing subs more appealing, and then on the other end of the spectrum, Ryzom lowered his sub. Lots going on here, but for me EVE is the biggest marker for possible changes. Breaking the $15 mark is just something almost no MMO has been able to pull off successfully.

Let’s revisit the question in this week’s Massively Overthinking. Are the days of the $15 subscription more numbered than ever? What MMOs do you think could follow? EVE online to lead? Or has EVE Online jumped forward too fast? Should more MMOs resort to sub-models higher than 20 years ago, and under what conditions would you think this is a good thing? Which MMO will next increase its subscription?


Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): I feel like EVE has a really well off player base and since you can use ISK to buy your sub it might be easier for them to pull this off but it still feels like a mistake to me if you want to expand a player base. That’s why I hesitate to guess FFXIV will be next, but maybe just so the developers can keep their focus on making a quality product, but…well, I think one of the other writers might want to comment on their recent “cancellation” issues.

I honestly can’t imagine too many MMOs even wanting to try it. Perhaps future releases (Hello, dual universe), but anything live now would shoot itself in the foot to attract more players. When everything gets more expensive and free-to-play games still exist, people feeling the economic sting may need an excuse to stop spending. With that in mind, though, I’m wondering if some F2P games might add more subscriptions. If you previously paid $15 a month and are looking for a new game, $5 a month sounds like a steal.


Ben Griggs (@braxwolf): I’m tempted to say that IT could pull this off, but so much of the value of ESO+ is contained within that infinite crafting bag that I’m not sure how much players are willing to pay to forgo inventory hassles. I have a feeling that games with multiple revenue streams (subscriptions/extensions/cash shops) might have a harder time selling a price increase.


Chris Neal (@wolf eyesBlog): I kinda feel like it Final Fantasy XIV could go that direction, but that would likely be a momentum killer for all the popularity it’s garnered to this point. Maybe later but much, much later, assuming the trend spreads.

I feel the same way Runeterra MMO calculates one EVE-big sub too. Just a shot in the dark, wild guess; Riot seems like the kind of company that would do this.

Star Wars The Old Republic seems like the sort of game that would attempt the same price hike. Yes, that would be a silly decision, but this game isn’t really known for its smart monetization choices.

Ultimately, I don’t think the $15-month sub plan is going to last very long. Unfortunately, everything else is getting more and more expensive, so why not subscribe to MMOs too?


Justin Olivetti (@system, blog): I almost think it’s wiser for subs to get cheaper in the age of multiple MMOs. Look at streaming platforms: There’s so much competition out there that these companies know they’re more likely to get sign-ups for sub-$10 subscriptions than for premium subscriptions. I think the question is whether an MMO studio aims to squeeze money out of its loyal customers or to expand the player base and convert more free players into paying ones. We’ve seen a few titles actually go down in price, and that seems smart to me.

Increase? It will do more harm than good to your product, even if you can justify the increase with inflation and higher operating costs. I don’t have a good prediction here because it looks like someone like EVE is going to shoot themselves in the foot with this for short-term sales gains.


blankJoin us each week for the Massively OP Staff for Massively Overthinking column, a multi-author roundtable where we discuss hot topics in the MMO industry – and then invite yourself to join the fray in the comments. Literally rethinking it is the whole point. It’s your turn!

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Lindsay Lowe

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