SOE Makes Changes, And Then More Changes, To Its Subscriptions

Michael Dunaway
By Michael Dunaway, News Editor

SOE dropped a sizable bombshell last Thursday, announcing that the benefits of PlanetSide 2 Premium Memberships would change from 500 Station Cash a month to a selection of items with a value of up to 2000 SC.

In a follow-up post to Reddit on Monday, John Smedley went into great detail regarding the changes, why they were being made and, most importantly, what they mean for the future of SOE's games. Smedley explained that the $14.99/month plan would eventually extend to all of SOE's games, letting you “subscribe” to all of them for one fee and providing the same benefit – a free item per month – in each game.

The catch? You have to log into each game, at least once per month, to claim your reward. Between that and the perceived lack of choice, some players – many loyal subscribers – were up in arms about the changes.

And so Smedley announced a change to the the changes Tuesday afternoon, effectively lowering the price of SOE's All Access plan by $5 while keeping the 500 SC monthly stipend instead of the “monthly item” bonus. This is probably a better deal for PlanetSide 2 players but, in my opinion, hurts the overall SOE fan base.

I suppose that your view of these proposed changes are largely dependent on two factors: how much you play PS2 (and other SOE games, once they're added to the mix) and whether the value of the new reward would have equaled or exceeded the value of the old. Addressing the second one first, all we can say about that is: who knows? We know what 500 SC is, and what it can buy, but we don't know what kind of value you'd have received for your mythical “up to 2000 SC” item. Replacing a known with an unknown is the surest way to get people to panic, even if the unknown is unquestionably better.

Indeed, most of the negative feedback seemed to come from people who played PS2 exclusively or who claimed to be very occasional players and would have trouble meeting the monthly login requirement. Smedley referred to an issue of people who purchase a sub and then never log on again, letting their SC accumulate. The exact accounting issue is pretty complex, and I invite everyone to read the first Reddit post before jumping to a conclusion as to whether this is good/bad accounting – and I'm not sure I understand it all myself. People spending money they don't ever use is apparently a bigger deal than it seems like it should be. #FirstWorldProblems

So when the reversal was announced, that appeared to lead to another backlash – a back-backlash? – from people who liked the idea, especially the notion of getting a free item in all of SOE's games. This sounds good if you play, or plan to play, more SOE games than PS2, and can at least be bothered to check in on them every month, but I think the plan was torpedoed by subpar communication of the plan and its long-term goals.

Which brings me to, I think, SOE's big mistake in all this: not the policy itself, which was probably discussed, re-discussed, and hashed out over several hours' of meetings, and seemed to be the best fit, but the announcement of the policy in a brief, rather non-explanatory post on the PlanetSide 2 forums.

This is a major change, potentially affecting all SOE games, and should have been given the gravity and attention it deserved. The thread in question already received 40+ pages of replies before Smedley took to Reddit. It should have probably had an entire FAQ page in line with what's on the All Access page. If such details aren't ready to be announced, then the policy change as a whole shouldn't be announced. In essence, you don't announce a change to how people will give you their money and not expect a million questions and widespread speculation.

(Also, can we please put an end to the “we are excited” verbiage in announcements and press releases, and not just in the video game industry? Nobody's buying it any more. The consumers will decide how exciting something is, not the companies.)

As a “dabbler,” I'd say I would have been happier with the multi-sub and per-game item as originally proposed, especially once EverQuest Next and Landmark come out. Heck, I might have even taken another peek at EverQuest II or logged in a little more often to DC Universe Online or Free Realms. I think this is a case where the hardcore minority got their way; while there were some valid concerns regarding the plan, I think tweaks, and not a wholesale change, would have been satisfactory.

But that's just my view. What do you think? Did you like the old proposal? Or the new one? Or is there something else in between that you would have liked.

P.S.: Just as I finished this article, Smedley made one more post to Reddit to talk about his company's decision-making process and prioritization of gameplay over profits. Give it a read.

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About the Author

Michael Dunaway
Michael Dunaway, News Editor
Michael Dunaway has been part of the MMOBomb team for years and has covered practically every major Free-to-Play title since 2009.

Discussion (15)

dirtyzerg 9 years ago
who cares..if anyones still throwing money at soe monthly they should probably go to counseling..there games are a joke and are by no means F2P games..more like demo 2 play

idk y companies still think they can have subs and be "f2p" by removing or limiting all the features unless you sub up...too many good f2p games with no sub out there PoE/TF2/DoC etc..

View 1 reply
GamingMaster 9 years ago
This is one of my most hated companies with their friends EA & Bioware .. If a company doesn't have the knowledge to create a F2P model it would be preferred if you have your games as Buy to play with monthly fee than having a so called "Free to play" with so many limitations you would think it's just a demo. Many companies which I support ( with real money) because they know how to create a free to play model and have a smaller budget than these companies

Examples can be Grinding Gear Games - Path of exile , - World of tanks , World of warplanes

Being Greedy isn't the answer to success , They need to learn how to advertise and make money through other ways. Not to empty your wallet for something that should be given standard in every game like skill bars, inventory space, items ( essential - like health restoration )...

I don't play SOE or EA or Bioware games because they are too greedy and I wish for them to close up shop or remodel their games because they don't have a future on free to play games

View 2 replies
HUEHUEHUEHUE 9 years ago
SOE is shit because they lie, they're greedy oh and..they're obsessed with lanterns. SCREW LANTERNS, THEY'RE LITTLE FAGGY HOMOS.

Unjustified 9 years ago
Planetside 2 is an amaizing game,and SONY is not that bad. Why have i stopped playing Planetside 2? Well,it is simple. I am from EU,and i got shoved to Pro7. The EU forums are wastelands,a lot of people used workaround like signing for everquest next or landmark beta to get an SOE accout.
I have a SOE account, but it is still strange,if there is a problem,i report to SOE,they report to Pro7 and it takes allmost twice as long to even get the message to them.
Why don't i like Pro7 ? Well they are a TV broadcast company and now they have games. Pre SONY all they had was : a couple of average TV channels and some browser games as far as i know,last i checked,the community manager was a jerk,including an response along the lines of: If you dislike the way we manage the game,migrate to SUA,and i don't mean your account.That is rude,in an MMO,i can't accept that kind of responses from a community manager. I am the costumer,and i am the one a company should respect,not the other way around.It is as bad,if not worse than gameforge with corrupt GMs
I wanted to play EQ:N, but if they do the Pro7 thing again,i will just try it,if that.

View 1 reply
Grossmond 9 years ago
Honestly what they should have done is gone with two seperate packages and see what took. Package A could be the $14.99 with a 500 SC a month, and Package B could be the $9.99 (If I am reading the article right) with the log in every month to get your "up to 2000 SC Item" in every game.

Keeps the "core" playerbase's moody disposition in check, and offers a new package to accomodate SOE's desire to reduce the amount of SC accrual. I am sure in time most if not all of the playerbase would migrate to the new package and once that happened SOE could kill off the other one and it would be a near seemless transition.

I agree though, they should have done a full splash with pictures and details on everything at the VERY least.

Enthusiastic Reader 9 years ago
Perhaps you should write your name at the end of the articles you write just like Jason Winter does.

Allwynd 9 years ago
ive seen people talk bad about SOE, now i can see why

Hardmaze 9 years ago
I fart on them

Poopman 9 years ago
I poop on Soe

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