While we had the opportunity to chat with Turbine Entertainment about the upcoming plans and changes for Dungeons & Dragons Online, our sister site WoW.com was at PAX East as well. Since Turbine doesn't run World of Warcraft (however often Lord of the Rings Online might get compared to it), the discussion there went in a different direction. Much of the numbers side is well-known to the larger MMO community, but the interesting part is the discussion of renting content versus owning it. Subscription MMOs fall into the former category, while Dungeons & Dragons Online is the latter.
As design director Ian Currie put it, while DDO has an option to subscribe, you can stop doing so at any time and retain everything you bought. You can enjoy the full leveling game without paying anything. Your character is undeniably yous, no matter how much or little you pay. By contrast, in a subscription game -- such as Turbine's own Lord of the Rings Online -- your character is yours only so long as you continue to pay the monthly fee. As digital goods and the culture of MMOs becomes more and more ingrained in the popular mind, expect to see more discussion on this topic. After all, people see their characters in MMOs as their property -- even if that's not technically true.