I just want to add into the thread that the reason Arenanet is testing this out is that the Chinese gaming market is rapidly changing. Recently, they allowed consoles that were made out of China and unregulated to be sold by retailers. They have also changed a lot of regulations regarding games that may be sold. For example, games such as Halo and Mario may be legally sold in China to an audience if the publishers so desire. Games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield (due to them taking place in a relatively "close to now" era, and involvement of China in both games), may not.
One thing that did not change is the requirement of subscriptions. The main reason many big publishers such as Sony and Microsoft are not releasing their games or IP in China yet is due to the censorship and adjustments requires to the product, but also for the requirement of a subscription. It's not secret companies such as Arenanet and Sony do not charge money to play games (Microsoft doesn't either, but you could argue LIVE is a subscription, so I'm keeping them out), and when they need to put their games behind a paywall they try to make adjustments so that the consumer in countries such as China are not, well... ♥♥♥♥ed over. Sure, the Chinese gamers need to pay per month to play a game we don't have to pay for, but they receive benefits and discounts to, at least partially, level the playing field in terms of money. We must pay extra to get bank slots and pay full price on everything, but without a monthly fee. The subscription players pay 50% price and get free bank expansions, whilst paying a monthly fee.
Sony has done the same thing, albeit on a global scale. They introduced playstation plus to allow them to compete with Microsoft in terms of quality of service and server support costs. Yet, the big difference between Sony and Microsoft is that MS charges the money as is, while with Sony you gain access to hundreds of games instantly. They're seeking a form of compensation in order to stay in the business and not screw their fans over, similar to what Arenanet and other companies must do with their playerbase in China.
Don't know how much it contributes, but I was not surprised when I read this. Why the laws exist in China that games must have subscriptions I do not know. Fighting addiction by revoking access to the paying credit card? Using the income to finance their censorship department? I don't know, but as long as the law mandates that producers and publishers must charge money, developers try to look for a form of, although minor, compensation.
Edited by davadude, 11 January 2014 - 08:03 PM.