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Ask Massively: A public service announcement regarding acronyms edition

Eliot Lefebvre

Ladies and gentlemen, I come to you with an earnest and heartfelt plea: Know what acronyms stand for if you insist upon using them. ATM is an acronym that includes the word "machine," ditto for PIN and the word "number." If you ask someone to enter his PIN number, you sound like an idiot. The whole reason that people started using these acronyms was to save time, and now you're ruining it. Get a clue. Love, everyone in the world who knows what these acronyms actually mean. (P.S., we don't really love you.)

Now that we've gotten the public service announcement out of the way, it's time for this week's Ask Massively, which we'll try to keep as free of acronyms as humanly possible. This week's questions are all about the Benjamins -- why we're getting charged full price for boxed games and how subscription-optional prices shake down over the long term, specifically. As always, you can send questions for next week in to or leave them in the comments below.

Dogward asked: Why are we charged new-game prices for subscription MMOs? I know we get a free month, but that's still $30 or more that we're spending toward just getting the game... what gives?

This would be one of those times that publishers really, really hope you don't think about this too hard. The justification, in essence, comes down to being the same purchase pattern as buying a car -- you pay X to get the car initially, then Y every month thereafter to continue using the car. Of course, it's actually a bit closer to leasing, as when you stop paying you don't get to keep what you've been paying for. So perhaps that isn't the best analogy.

The reason beyond that, however, is simply that people expect to pay a certain amount of money for a new game. These days, we don't blink an eye at dropping $60 for a new release, even if that new release is an incremental upgrade at best. (You know who you are, buying a 2011 sports game when your 2010 edition works perfectly well.) Knock $15 off the box price, and you can consider that essentially the price of admission. Whether or not the game is worth that price of admission is up to you.
Fienemannia asked: For games like Lord of the Rings Online, do you get better value by subscribing or buying additions incrementally?
Almost universally, you're going to get more by subscribing unless you're a very casual player. Most subscription-optional games will offer you the same content for free at $15 a month that will run up to a much higher total if purchased incrementally. That's assuming that you even get the option of buying certain things in increments; Champions Online, for instance, only allows freeform character creation if you have a subscription. If you try the game and find that you really like it, odds are that you'll be better off subscribing instead of paying as you need something.
Looking for some advice on which class is best for soloing in Aion? Not sure who this Raph Koster fellow is? Curious about the release date of NCsoft's newest MMO? You've come to the right place! No one knows MMOs like we do. If there's anything you'd like to know about the MMO genre or the site itself, Ask Massively is here to help every Thursday afternoon. Just ask!

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