A while back, MOP’s Justin joked that his wife, who loves econ PvP in MMOs, was funding a year of his play on Classic and Retail World of Warcraft through her skilled trading, by way of the WoW Token system. Obviously not every game offers something like this; some games don’t charge anything at all, while others shamelessly quadruple dip. But I couldn’t help but wonder whether it’s changed people’s gaming budgets or whether it even comes close to balancing out all the nickel-and-diming going on in other games.
So let’s consider money in this week’s Massively Overthinking. How much are you spending on MMOs every month right now? Is that more or less than you used to put in? Does it seem like a lot to you, or do you think MMOs are cheaper than ever?
Ben Griggs (@braxwolf): The last two years, I’ve purchased a year’s worth of premium time in World of Warships during the half-off New Year’s sale. Since I’m not currently playing ESO daily, I no longer pay for ESO Plus, but do plan to purchase the Blackwood chapter soon. I’ve also pre-purchased Elite Dangerous Odyssey in anticipation of it’s release. So when it’s all said and done, I’ll probably have spent around $200 on MMOs this year.
This is more than I used to spend ($99 for a LOTRO sub) when I first started playing, but that has more to do with my playstyle (playing multiple games instead of just one) and my financial situation getting better over time. I also landed a gig with a certain MMO news site that funds much of my hobby nowadays!
Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I’m in a weird place at the moment since my main MMORPGs from the last couple of years don’t actually have subs. SWG Legends and City of Heroes are free rogue servers, while Guild Wars 2 just doesn’t have a sub and hasn’t coaxed too much money out of me lately since my account is pretty much set apart from occasional cosmetics. Actually, the last thing I bought in Guild Wars 2 was the infinite continue coin for Super Adventure Box for my daughter! I’m paying probably $25 a month or so right now in subs for various non-MMOs, mostly educational games for my kids, and I give myself leeway to buy sale things on Steam – for example, I just got Cozy Grove when it launched. I expect to drop money on Blackwood and a sub for Elder Scrolls Online coming up in a few months, though, and I will make an exception to my no preorders rule for Guild Wars 2’s End of Dragons if it’s as good as Path of Fire’s preorder was. And when I wander back to LOTRO at some point, I’ll sub for that too. Oh heck, and I’ve still got to buy Odyssey for my husband.
So I guess right this instant, it’s not too much, but for me it’s more spiky with launches, kids, and Steam sales rather than consistent subs. It’s definitely more total than when subs ruled the day, though, but that’s largely because of the addition of my kids.
- $100 yearly on Black Desert. I just buy pearls once a year now. Most of the daily rewards cover my needs.
- $30 a month on FFXIV. I pay for both my wife and myself. Even if we’re not playing, it’s still paying.
- $14.99 a month on WoW. I pay even when I’m not playing.
I know it’s irresponsible to keep a sub going when I’m not even playing the game. But there have been times I stopped paying the sub only to have to restart it a few days later. I just write it off as part of my MMO budget.
Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): I only have the one active sub running right now, and most recently purchased some Platinum for some things in Dauntless, but otherwise my MMO spending has been kind of tightened in recent weeks. Though that’s just the valley before the peak, I suspect; I splashed out for Elite Dangerous Odyssey enough to buy in to the alpha (it’s totally a work expense), and I have purchased ex-packs for MMOs I’m not actively playing like Guild Wars 2 just because I might get some random itch to play them again.
So basically, it’s wildly variable and generally on impulse. The latter of which I suspect games makers are more than happy to encourage.
Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Right now, nothing. I’m super-super-frugal these days, so if I can help it, I don’t buy anything that I can’t obtain somehow else or just live without. I may purchase the new Elder Scrolls Online expansion come June and LOTRO’s fall expansion, but that’s probably the extent of my 2021 purchases barring an unforeseen side trip into a subscription MMO.
Sam Kash (@thesamkash): Boy, I think my current expenditure is zil, zero, zilch! At least straight up it is. I’ve played a few MMO-esque games on Xbox Game Pass, but I’ve also played a ton of singleplayer games on there. So I’m hesitant to really include it since I really have only played Project Winter and Sea of Thieves.
I’ve mentioned my aversion to subs in the past, so it isn’t a surprise my expenses are low. I can’t even remember the last MMO I purchased. Maybe it was BDO. I bought it on sale on Steam for $5 last year, although I haven’t played it yet. I guess I’m a leech. But nothing has really grabbed me, like really grabbed me. I’ve dabbled a lot but no new loves.
So I guess I would have to say gaming has never been cheaper!
Tyler Edwards (blog): I think I spend a little more on MMOs than I used to, but only because my financial situation has improved. I definitely think MMOs are less expensive than they’ve ever been, which probably isn’t great for the industry, but it sure is a good time to be a player.
I have some broad “rules” for spending, but they’re vague and riddled with exceptions. I generally feel I got good value for my money if a game gave me at least one hour of entertainment per dollar spent, but I’m happy to make exceptions for really good games. I spent more than that on Iron Harvest and have no regrets.
My preferred model is buy to play with an optional cash shop, so I tend to treat everything like that. In F2P titles, if I know I’m going to spend some significant time in the game, I usually dump a bunch of money upfront (usually around $40-$80 — roughly the cost of a new full price game) to get myself into a good in-game position early on, then spend only very occasionally from that point on. If I’m not sure I’ll like a F2P title, I start out as a froob, but if I spend enough time there then I’ll start buying stuff (basically the same system as above, just delayed).
Honestly when I think about how little you need to spend to get dozens or even hundreds of hours of entertainment out of online games, it feels almost criminal. I’ll never stop being perplexed about all those people ranting about how every game is a cash grab considering this is one of the absolute cheapest hobbies you could possibly have.