Massively Overthinking: Do you sub to MMOs you’re no longer playing?


Over the summer, an MMO did something I’ve never seen an MMO do before: It stopped taking my money for no discernable reason and unsubbed me!

I’d had a three-month Lord of the Rings Online subscription going for a while, and some bug – probably relating to the cash-shop overhaul around the same time – ensured that my sub ended and didn’t renew again, without actually informing me. When I finally figured it out, I noticed other folks in the forums with the same problem; I just resubbed with the same credit card still on file and that was that. (In fact, last night SSG finally posted about the “failed payments” wave from August, pinning the blame on missing or mismatched payment info, which was definitely not the issue for me.)

Usually, the problem with MMO subs is that you think you’ve unsubbed but MMOs keep charging you. Or you forget all about it entirely and a year later you’re like, “Oops, forgot to cancel that one!” But I seldom see “stealth cancelation” and “forgot to take your money” on the issues list.

Let’s talk about renewing MMOs for this week’s Massively Overthinking. Do you routinely keep MMO subs going when you’re not playing? Do you normally pick the smallest option (like two weeks or one month), or do you just set up your subs to run longer periods so you don’t have to think about it? How often do you forget to unsub when you’re done? Do you set up notifications and reminders so you don’t forget to unsub later? And if you never sub to MMOs anymore, maybe tell us about times in the past when you did.

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Oh no, if I’m not playing, I’m not subbed. I can’t even remember the last time I wasn’t actively using a sub aside from my PlayStation one. If I enjoyed the beta, I usually do a longer sub, if not the longest. If I’m just trying it out, I’ll do a short one with the idea that I’ll either cut at the end or upgrade. I always have reminders to cut and upgrade too, I’m super frugal about that sort of thing.

Ben Griggs (@braxwolf): I usually lie to myself by thinking that I’ll be playing the same game in six months time, then in reality I stop after two. Of course, this means while I’ve locked in the better sub rate, I’ve essentially paid for four months I didn’t use. Either that or I’ll pay month-by-month and end up playing for two years. Regardless, I never seem to guess correctly!

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I think LOTRO is the only game I’ve subbed for in quite a while (because GW2 and my emus don’t have subs), though the last time I played Elder Scrolls Online, I definitely subbed for that too. I always do set up reminders, usually a few days before the sub is due to renew, so I can reflect on whether I’m playing enough to keep it going. I miss occasionally, but more because I ignored my reminder, not because past me didn’t try!

Even in the long long ago when nearly every MMO had a sub, I rarely went more than month to month. There are very few MMOs out there worth multi-month subs, but for LOTRO, it’s been worth it ($30 for three months).

I am still a big fan of extremely short subs. Trove has several options like this, with one-day, three-day, and I think 14-day passes. Those have always been so easy to cave on in part because I know I’m not being locked in to something I have to cancel later.

Carlo Lacsina (@UltraMudkipEX, YouTube, Twitch): For FFXIV, I just leave the sub running. It’s just more convenient to have it ready on a whim. For WoW, I just sub on a month-to-month basis because realistically I play it only for about a month before I stop.
The reason I stay subbed for FFXIV is kind of silly: Every time I end the sub, I usually end up playing it less than two weeks after cancelling. Sometimes, its because someone wants to play; other times, a new patch comes out. It’s just easier not to think about it.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): Most of the time I keep a sub running for a game that I’m either actively playing or casually dipping in to, but that metric can kind of shift from month to month. About the only MMORPG that I’ve maintained a long-standing and unbroken sub for is Final Fantasy XIV, but I have also kept up subs for Elder Scrolls Online before, and I am considering one for Lord of the Rings Online if my return to the game feels good enough.

As for frequency, it’s always a monthly option for me, especially now that lifetime subs seem to have gone the way of the dodo (along with the financial comfort of burning that much dosh on a game). I’m generally pretty good at knowing what subs are up and when – see the aforementioned lack of financial comfort – so I don’t really need a reminder. Having one regularly running game subscription kind of makes that simple.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): I’m pretty paranoid against untended subscriptions running amok these days, so usually I don’t elect to subscribe to much of anything — games or streaming services or what have you. But if I do sub to an MMO, I’ll either pay with a time card (usually my approach with World of Warcraft) or immediately cancel right afterward. Both ways, my subscription automatically ends when the time is up, and I always have the option to re-up if that’s my desire.

Sam Kash (@thesamkash): As a non-subber, I know this is one of the main reasons I don’t sub to games. I keep a ton of notifications in my calendar to help me remember things, but when I dismiss one thinking that I’ll remember to do it later but then forget, it’s terrible. And that happens all the time! Nowadays, I won’t even dismiss a notification until I’ve followed through on the action. My old man brain requires it.

So when it comes to MMO subs, I just don’t. Way back in the days of yore when I had a sub, I believe it was only for chunks of time, like three months without a recurring subscription. That’s the only way I could do it without running into problems.

Tyler Edwards (blog): I very rarely sub to MMOs. When I do, I usually buy month to month and cancel the moment I’ve accomplished my current goals. The one exception I can think of is around the tail end of Cataclysm when they offered a mount and a free copy of Diablo III if you subbed to WoW for a year. It was pretty much the only game I was playing at the time, so it seemed worth it.

Otherwise, I try to keep my sub time to a minimum. I always feel a great psychological pressure to get my money’s worth, and I hate the idea of spending more than I need to, so I play as much as I can and then get out once I’ve run out of things to do. It adds a lot of stress and makes me enjoy games less, hence why I avoid subs if at all possible.

Every week, join the Massively OP staff for Massively Overthinking column, a multi-writer roundtable in which we discuss the MMO industry topics du jour – and then invite you to join the fray in the comments. Overthinking it is literally the whole point. Your turn!
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