I figured this would happen eventually; Realtime Worlds announced their pricing structure for APB, and it includes usage-based billing. Old-school cell phone plans have come to the MMO sphere!
I can’t say it comes as a surprise, or that it’s even something with which I disagree. As a gamer with two young kids, the number of hours I can spend playing is fairly limited. It would likely take me more than a month to burn through 50 hours of play time. That, and they offer the monthly ‘unlimited’ plan and, whats more, for less than a standard subscription! My guess is that players will be able to move from unlimited to purchased sets of hours fairly seamlessly.
It’s always been a question of mine why more companies don’t do something like this. I figured it was easier from the financial perspective to just do flat rates and average out bandwidth consumption across all players. People like me tend to pay for the power users who absorb a higher-than-average amount of bandwidth. That, and it’s just easier for the player – pay your monthly fee and have at it. Don’t worry about how much time you have left.
So APB sits somewhere between the standard subscription model and Guild Wars. I don’t doubt that this will work for some people – some will pay by the hour, some by the month. New business models always make me happy, particularly when they represent more choice for the consumer. I have to wonder – could this be something like the “alternative financial model” hinted at a few month ago for The Old Republic?