Okay. Hopefully this can be worth the read.
While I can understand the fundamental aspects of a subscription model [- the philosophy of getting what you pay for, along with content updates and the appropriate 'AAA Quality Level' aspect about paying per month for a video game -] the times are changing. I used to be a hardcore flag bearer of keeping the monthly sub in MMO's. Not anymore.
Back in the day, there wasn't really that much of a choice between what kind of MMO's you would of liked to play. There were games like UO, Ragnarok, EQ I, FFXI, SWG, and that was about it. Each game only had about 200-500k people subbed at a time. MMO's were a lot more hardcore and focused on a much more narrow demographic then they are now.
The thing was, back then, it was considered a massive undertaking to join and play a MMO. It was less like a gaming habit, or a genre preference, and more like an entire hobby all together different from normal video gaming. I knew a guy all throughout grade school that played FFXI every single night, grew up around very close online friends revolving around that game, and genuinely met his girlfriend there, whom he is now married and happily living with her under one home. I knew another friend who spent his entire grade school years playing SWG, and formed a very close bond with his server, and his friends, and accumulated hours upon hours upon impossible hours of 'stuff'.
When you joined a MMO in the last generation, it was like making one **** of a commitment. Sure, you were expected to pay per month, but back then, that was a big deal. It was a BIG deal to pay for playing a game, and since there was pretty much one, or, at the highest, two, kinds of games that would target the audience you specifically belong in, that little choice basiclly nudged you into a certain game, and you played that game for many, many years, therefore experiencing true fulfillment, proudly investing your money into a world you believe in, being far worth it considering your experiences playing the game.
Ten years later, things are different. The incredible surge of MMO's on the market, and the incredible amounts of failure, and overall controversial moves made by developers, publishers, investors, and even consumers, have changed the landscape. We now have a huge plethora of choices to make regarding what MMO we would like to invest our time in. This, along with the insane amount of failures experienced in launches, cliches formed in the western/eastern markets (Hotbars vs. Grinding) , and the perhaps too successful World of Warcraft, have basically imploded the MMO machine into a clingy mess of too much, and never good enough.
Nowadays, every gamer is beginning to get their hands on MMO's. MMO's are becoming less of a lifestyle, and more of a genre choice, just like FPS's, just like single player RPG's. In which there are many to choose from, and a large, diverse community with different interests and tastes. The problem now lies in the idea of
1.) Trying different games... and
2.) Sticking to games that interest you.
Most of the time when I play MMO's, I want to play more then one. FFXIV for the environment, story, and community. DAoC or Darkfall for PVP. GW2 for the dynamic events and WvWvW, etc. And usually, it is also much, much harder to find a great community that I belong in. It is unlike the yesteryears because unlike the yesteryears where we adapted to the games we played because we realisticlly had little choice in the matter, nowadays, what a MMO usually lacks, or doesn't have, or doesn't have in a way that suits your interests, usually another MMO has what the other one lacks.
And the reason why I left all of those games except for GW2 is because GW2 is the only game on that list where I don't have to pay a sub fee for. Every other game, I would play, then stop playing, then feel guilty about not playing because I was paying for it and therefore creating more stress/pressure for myself that I really didn't need more of.
So now, let's talk about me. I'm the type of guy that is looking for the MMO that has all of my tastes all wrapped up in one sweet looking package. If I could take GW2's sidequest and WvWvW, Darkfall's hardcore looting system, give it the visuals, tastes, and appeal of FFXIV, and TOR's main quest storytelling, and blend that all into one game, THAT, to me, would be a MMO to pay $15 for in 2012. A time period in which we are flooded with choices and quite literally spoiled to death with them.
Since no MMO's have done like what SWG have done for me in the past (and what most MMO's did for people ten years ago) , which is, allow complete fulfillment in being part of the world and knowing people within the world and feeling like the experiences playing there would amount to $1500 a month, not just $15, I simply cannot, and do not, want to pay $15 a month for a MMO I will play for a month, then not touch for a month, then go back for another week, and not touch it for a week.
I switch back and forth between MMO's now, and sometimes even play two/three at once, because I like the pvp from 'x', and the pve from 'y', and the art style from 'z', and the world from etc. ...
I am not going to pay.. $15, $30, $45.. ish.. not to mention the $60 retail price for buying the game in the first place (which by the way, GW2's f2p system isn't truely f2p, as base game costs $60 and it isn't 'free to download').
The time of picking one system and completely committing yourself to it is over. Perhaps the last remannt of that fanbase can be found in UO, the first EQ, and, perhaps... FFXI. We are now living in an era where people can no longer accept paying a monthly fee for a game, and it's starting to show, in the failure of AoC, TOR, Aion, TERA, Rift, etc to keep healthy numbers. Especially TORtanic, which was a real wake-up call for all devs. One the main reasons of their failure was the sub fee. People are even starting to shy away from the big, hairy, mean, scary, $60 game, going for the $10, $20, $30 Steam sales, and the Indy Games instead. Games like Mount and Blade, a $30 game, gave me much more fulfilling experiences then the $60 Battlefield 3.
Having a sub fee will hurt more then help FFXIV. It is no longer 2003, nor is it 2007. Plain and simple, FFXIV having a sub fee scares me. I am afraid they will scare off a bunch of potential customers because it will be a sign of the times that Japan is living up to their stereotype of not evolving.
And that's a huge concern coming from somebody who cares. Now being a full time college student, I will have to seriously consider whether or not this game will truly be worth my $15.
And I wish I didn't have to make that choice.