Let's face it, developers often don't produce games for just the fun of it (but sometimes they do) and as such need money to keep it games going. Gamers are a notoriously both thrifty and generous, from arguing against any game mechanic that encourages purchases all the way to paying thousands for future promises in a future game. There is a large swath of different opinions and I really wonder how you, the various readers of Respawn, feel on the subject. I don't have any gifts to give if you contribute, but, I would think it's something interesting to discuss.

There is a lot of ways to pay right now, and even more ways that you could be paying, but aren't. The three most popular ways to pay to play are:

  • Subscription Service: You pay a flat rate each month to play the game. An in-game store, if it exists, only sells cosmetic items. Ex. World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV
  • In-Game Shop: You pay nothing to play, but many services in the game require the purchase of items in the shop. Often are very "pay-to-win" but don't have to be. Ex. Warframe, World of Tanks
  • Buy to Play: You pay a flat fee for the game purchase, which the game is free, then various in-game items are offered, generally mostly cosmetic or account services.

Hybrids exist where they combine two or more of the above, such as SWTOR, WildStar, and Blade & Soul in which you can pay a montly fee to get most or all of the content in the game, or pay for it in parts. Then there is games like The Elder Scrolls Online, which offer a subscription service, in-game shop, and are also buy-to-play.

For me it's hard to quantify how I enjoy paying for games the most, of course assuming one can enjoy spending money. Subscription services are rough for me, because I'm already at around $30 a month for Hulu, Crunchyroll, and Amazon Prime and I often cancel one or more of these depending on my use habits to save some money. I don't really look forward to paying more than I have to for day to day things, so stacking subscriptions isn't fun, but it takes a lot of the choice away from having to pick and choose what out of the item shop you're going to buy, but at the same time it means YOU have to play it, you're locked into it, and you need to play the game and playing another subscription MMO at the same time means you're paying even more.

Item shops have the opposite problem, you can get through a month in a game with just $10 or $20 spent, if even anything, and have a great experience, but other games you can land yourself in a spot where you've spent $100 without even noticing it. I'm not a big fan of games that ONLY offer an item shop and interestingly enough they're slowly fading out. Buy to Play is probably my favorite and it worked well with the original Guild Wars, but to me Guild Wars 2 double dips a bit too much with things like keys for chests.

My favorite system is probably WildStar / Blade & Soul style, where you pay a subscription at a reasonably low price for however long you want to play the game for to get all of the various benefits, while at the same time spending the $3 or $5 left from a traditional subscription cost on either a costume or something to help in the game. My least favorite is, as I mentioned, pure item shops.

Now, if I could have anything, it would be a game where I could purchase days worth of subscriptions. So, let's say 30 days worth. If I login, at anytime, in those 30 days that consumes one day. If I forget to login for a week, none of my days are used. My use habits for games means I'll often play for a week and have to put the game down for a few months before I come back, like TESO or SWTOR, and it generally isn't fun to pay the full 30 days, but only use a week of it. In my perfect game, I would also want the item shop to be concentrated amazingness, where everything inside of the shop is something I could see myself desiring, instead of having to pluck through pages and pages of various items I'm not sure if they're awesome or not.

Anyway, enough about me, what about you? What do you like most? What do you hate most? There isn't any wrong answer, up to and including, demanding all games be free, because afterall, in the Star Trek type future, that'd be the way to be right?


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Last Updated: Mar 14, 2016

About The Author

Xerin 1
Get in the bush with David "Xerin" Piner as he leverages his spectacular insanity to ask the serious questions such as is Master Yi and Illidan the same person? What's for dinner? What are ways to elevate your gaming experience? David's column, Respawn, is updated near daily with some of the coolest things you'll read online, while David tackles ways to improve the game experience across the board with various hype guides to cool games.

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