I’m not a regular viewer of The Jimquisition, but I needed something to take my mind away from some data entry today, and so I listened to a number of new and old episodes this afternoon. I listened to the entire three-part tirade (I mean that in a nice way) about the place of used games in the industry and online subscriptions. Actually, I work at a software company that sells subscriptions.

I’ve read quite a few articles about the gaming industry recently, largely pertaining to the evils of online subscriptions, and so forth, and actually being on the side selling the subscriptions, I think I can add something that may not have been stated explicitly. Now hear this, I’m not actually a salesman, and we don’t sell game subscriptions. We sell a software tool, and the subscription we sell is a tech and development service.

Subscriptions are subscriptions, though, and I’ve encountered quite a variety of complaints. Our customers cite all sorts of reasons for not wanting to purchase a subscription: maybe they think their tech problem is small as to be inconsequential, they can’t justify the purchase of a subscription so we can solve their problem in five minutes. They want a by-the-minute tech support line. But that isn’t all we do.

Some customers think that when they purchased the software, that entitles them to free support with the software. We actually provide free support for the software: it’s on our website. It might not be as personal and user-specific as what they’re looking for, but they don’t have to pay for it. Also, lots of our vendors provide customer but, though I can’t personally vouch for the quality of their service.

Whatever the reason, the customer doesn’t see the value of the service we offer, and that’s what I want to get at: the subscription has to be worth it to the customer. Nothing else is important. Maybe they’re a loyal customer of exty years and their subscription ended yesterday and they need support today, I’m sorry but I can’t help you. You had such-and-such time to call in. It’s like a renewable warranty. You have to renew it.

Gaming subscriptions have to be worth it for the customers to want to buy it. There are lots of ways to jazz up those subscription perks, but the game needs at least two things to make the subscription worth it: subscriptions have to be affordable, and they have to provide desirable content. If gamers can’t afford them, they won’t pay. If the content isn’t worth it, they can’t justify paying for it.

You know what that requires? It requires paying attention to your customers. It requires an understanding and meeting their expectations, or at least providing them with an affordable alternative (free is usually good) if you can’t directly meet said expectations. I’m not going to pretend to understand the expectations of the people in the industry I work in (it’s a day job), but I do know something about games.

The Jimquisition discusses replayability in an older episode. He talks about the importance of a game’s quality in determining its replayability. I hate most online games. It’s like a rule. Not only do I not want to buy a subscription (I hate recurring fees), but I don’t really like people. I don’t want online games because I think most other people are jerks and I don’t want to play with them.

You want to sell subscriptions for games? Okay, go for it. But the game had better deliver a strong experience, or you’ll only get the most diehard fans and weak-willed players. And if they were weak-willed enough to buy your subscription, they’ll be easily swayed to jump ship for another experience. Give lots of stuff away. Reward your subscribers with even better stuff. Keep everyone coming back to your game.