I swear I really had no intention of playing City of Heroes after briefly checking it out yesterday. However, I’ve been dying to try out Going Rogue content since it released last year. The release was right around the time I became aware my tenuous financial situation was much less temporary than I had hoped, and rather than dish out $30 or so on top of my $15 subscription fee, I quit the game. But shortly after making a post yesterday, I realized that for only $15, I could go do exactly what I would have done on GR’s release day — log in and create a Praetorian and level him or her up to 20.
As someone who subscribed more than once for varying lengths of time, I’m just short of my Tier V Paragon Rewards which would unlock the premium classes: Controller and Mastermind. I have auction house access for life, but I fall quite a bit short of Tier VII which would let me use the invention system for life. That means my main’s primary build is useless — some 90% of his enhancements are inventions. I was disappointed by this at first, but I’ve figured out that a 30 day invention license only costs about a buck. I figure I can easily play a month or two leveling up some alts, and when I eventually purchase access to the Going Rogue post-level 20 alignment system, I can use the leftover points from yesterday’s purchase and this future purchase to unlock inventions for a month. If I’m still playing after that, I can occasionally purchase points whenever I want to use one of my level 50s.
So my f2p gaming hasn’t exactly been free to play, but putting CoH aside, let’s recap. About two months ago I spent $15 to get Elite Agent status in Global Agenda. That’s a one time purchase that need never be repeated, so I think of that as the box price. So I’ve spent $15 on this former subscription game for two months of enjoyment, and theoretically need not ever pay again and can continue to enjoy it indefinitely.
I’ve been playing LotRO for about a month and a half, and I’ve spent $7.99 there. I’ve also spent little to no time with the content that unlocked and probably have another month or more before I do clear those quests.
So at the end of October, I should be looking back on three months of gaming, playing an MMO and one pseudo-MMO for the first two months and adding a second MMO for the final month. Two games for three months and one game for one month for a grand total of $38. If these were still subscription games, this same experience would have cost me $105 (at $15 per month per game). I’m pretty damn satisfied and pleased with my penny pinching.
Sure, the limitations these games can place on free players may occasionally be inconvenient, but I can address each limitation when my level of involvement in the game, and time invested, justifies it. A few months from now, I may buy a few months of LotRO VIP to unlock the extra bags and character slots. That’s a maximum of $30 (though there are a lot of deals on game time cards that are still floating around the retail world so it probably won’t even be that), so potentially, after three to four months, I will have paid only $38 and just be starting my two months of VIP time. That’s a damn good value — I have a lot of trouble ever picturing myself dishing out $60 and then agreeing to a subscription ever again. At least, not when it comes to a theme park — some 90% of time in such games is dedicated to leveling alone, and I’m not surrendering massive amounts of cash to be all alone in a world full of other people who are also all alone.
I’m really not all impressed with my fellow gamers for their willingness to pay monthly fees for massively single player games. Somewhere some marketing guy or gal is laughing all the way to the bank, telling friends about how they convinced us to both buy and rent their product simultaneously.