As I write this, somewhere in the background The Secret World is patching. Subscriptions to this excellent if worrisome MMO are now optional, as I always expected they would be sooner or later. This is sooner. I would have taken a punt on TSW going a full year before F2P but competition is harsh and with so many truly excellent MMO options available for at most the cost of the box clearly Funcom couldn't hold the line.
The writing really does seem to be on the wall for pure subscription MMOs, or at least for big-ticket, would-be triple-A theme park MMOs. There may still be some wiggle room for niche operators and the MMO sandbox market, such as it is, retains a natural affinity for the kind of dedicated and loyal audience that benefits from a monthly rental, but with virtually every major player now intent on tearing down any barrier to entry, perhaps the day of the subscription MMO is finally done.
Oh, hello Rift. Didn't see you over there in that corner you've painted yourself into. With the sad news of layoffs at Trion and the small number of remaining servers, not to mention the F2P by the back door of Rift Lite (is it true that now extends to level 50?) and the free Storm Legion trial for ex-subbers, how long can never be never?
My Storm Legion plus 12 months play, which looked like such a good deal a month ago is beginning to look like money down the drain. Not only would I now bet on Rift going to some form of F2P before those twelve months are up but I don't find I have time to play Rift anyway. And now that I can log into TSW if I don't feel like playing GW2, finding time for Rift looks even less likely yet.
That's the key, really. I spend a lot of time playing MMOs and I can barely scratch the surface of the ones I want to play, with more good new ones cropping up all the time. MMOs that I might have given a look a few years back now don't even get downloaded. Others get no more than a cursory glance before being forgotten.
There's a glut and a cull will come. In the meanwhile I'll try and sample as much as I can and enjoy the bounty while it lasts.