A couple days ago, Flagship announced its pricing plan for online play for Hellgate: London. Since then, there’s been confusion and a lot of anger by some who’ve been waiting for the game.

Anyone with the game will be able to play for free online. However, there is also a $9.95/month subscription plan, currently called “elite”. This allows for more character slots (12 vs. 3) and “extra content” for those who pay, among other perks. Flagship is also saying there will be three major updates per year with new content. Additional details can be found through the links at bottom.

This has really stirred up a hornet’s nest (a blizzard of dismay?) among potential players. Hellgate is not the traditional sort of MMO as Wow, and many are objecting to paying almost $120/year for “extra stuff”. It seems bad enough that Bill Roper addressed an open letter to the HG community on the matter.

I suspect that at least some of them are Diablo II players who’ve been enjoying free play online, and expected the same from Hellgate. But are they right to be upset?

After all, there had been a preliminary announcement that some sort of subscription model would be attached to the game. So that should not have come as a surprise.

Also, there is no segregation of players generally. Frees and Elites can play together, and trade non-Elite gear. But there will be areas that only Elites can enter.

And in the interview at Gamespy, Bill Roper mentioned the possibility of releasing a disc with Elite content at some later time, so that free players could buy that and have additional material.

The real question is whether the new content will be worth the monthly subscription fee to the majority of players, especially as the “major updates” are scheduled for three times a year.

Do you think this is a good model (given, again, this is not MMOG)? Would you be willing to pay $9.95/month under these circumstances (not necessarily for Hellgate)? Or would you prefer, say, two or three CD updates per year with new content, and free online play?

Bill Roper interview on Gamespy

Bill Roper’s open letter to the community