If you cancel during that time you have to pay the full term of the contract all in one. The reason this works for Mobile phone companies and wouldn't for SE is exactly the reasons HocusP said and what I was trying to get accross :)
That really isn't an accurate comparison. Cell phone carriers subsidize your cell phone purchase in return for a 1-2 year contract. Over that 1-2 years the cell phone carrier earns back the subsidies on your cell phone through subscription fees, and even a bit of profit. By canceling early, you are charged a cancellation fee for the future income you were supposed to provide.
In my scenario, by canceling you would only be charged for past income you were supposed to provide, not future. If a person canceled after 6 months, they would only have to pay back full-price for that 6 months, not the entire 4 years. If said person could then go back in time, they would have signed up for the standard rate plan, since for whatever reason they couldn't commit to 4 years.
I do understand what HocusP is saying about the high risk of dishonest people scamming SE though. It's kind of sad really, because having a discounted month to month plan would really benefit us as players who did plan to play a long time.
So I guess the consensus is a discounted plan paid month-to-month (not in advance) would be impossible for SE logistically?
If so, the next best thing would be buying game time "tokens". Each token would be worth the subscription cost of a single month of FFXIV. The more tokens you buy in advance, the larger the discount. Tokens would be permanently attached to your SE account, could be used at any time (buying 12 tokens, using only 6, canceling FFXIV, and using the remaining 6 at a future date would be completely OK), would be non-refundable, but could be exchanged at a reduced rate for credit at the SE store. In this way you would be buying in bulk for a discount (SE gets their money in advance), but you still have the advantage of paying month-to-month in a fashion, without any sort of continuous playtime commitment or contract.
The worst idea would be buying 6 or 12 months in bulk for a discount, where you basically are just paying future months bills in advance. Such a situation isn't player friendly. If you bought 12 months in advance, and for whatever reason an emergency came up and you could only play 2 months, you just wasted an additional 10 months of playtime which you had already paid for. Edited, Mar 5th 2010 2:18am by Cyberbeing