It seems like the world is headed toward the free to play model for everything, and normally I’m all for it. But I have to admit there is still an allure to playing an MMO with a subscription, as long as they aren’t still nickel and diming you with their cash shop on top of the monthly draw.
From a developer’s standpoint, whether going for the monthly or the cash shop, one of the more time consuming, expensive, and down right frightening things has to be building the parts that take the money and store the credit cards and all that. I mean, what with all the hacking of servers that seems to go on. I don’t think there is an MMO out there that hasn’t been broken into in some way – not all of them have lost financials, but the security end of the accounts and forums and everything… a nightmare.
So, in steps Valve, offering not only their store for selling your game but also now saying they’ll help you collect those pesky monthly fees, and for their cut they’ll take all the responsibility of securing the accounts and transactions.
Truth be told, in the age of always on Internet connections and the fact that I hate convoluted per game DRM, I’ve already drunk deeply on the Steam kool-aid. I buy pretty much all my games there, and the whole thing makes it really easy to put games on multiple PCs or to move to a new PC, and with the potential of the Steambox on the horizon.
I have to imagine that being able to outsource a thing like this has to make it easier on studios, especially smaller studios. Hopefully this means we will get to see more smaller scope niche MMOs in the future, which certainly seems the case as Darkfall Unholy Wars is the launch title using the new service.
And who knows… maybe we’ll be able to buy discount MMO subscriptions in those periodic Steam Sales! Wouldn’t that be nice?