Thursday 9 September 2010

Subscriptions and the Price of the Internet

So I guess I was expecting a Whiskey Media subscription to run around the micro-payment zone (so when bundled up you'd probably go with quarterly / annual pricing to avoid eating too many charges on each transaction) and $50/year is higher than my expectations. And time-delaying the Bombcast to incentivise users is a bit of a shame after the talk about subscriptions only being a premium offering. Grrrr, Jess smash plans of sustainable content generation without significant advertising revenues!

And then I turned around and looked into the middle distance, coincidentally resting my gaze on a pile of EDGE magazines. Being a local, they're roughly the same subscription value (if you get a discount offer) as Giant Bomb is asking. 130 pages a month, printed on paper. Am I really just paying the money because of the paper bindings? When I think of the WM sites and all the original video programming and written content I'm enjoying, how can I possibly not say that is worth a few dollars each month?

"Because it's online"

I guess that's the answer. We're so used to getting basically everything for free online that we don't expect to pay for anything. If I don't support these guys then someone else will be making free content and I can just move to their free take-out joint. Quality may go down, trust in an honest view may wash away, but at least we'll never have to pay a penny more than our basic ISP fees to get at the juicy juicy time-sink content.

Well screw that! I'll find $50 each year and throw it at the Whiskey brand. If I really run out of cash I could stop subscribing to EDGE and put my money where my hours of enjoyment are. But it isn't just about putting cash into things you like; it's about putting cash into slightly niche enterprises you really enjoy and want to see more from. If Giant Bomb, Tested, Screened, and co are just another site in your mind then obviously putting a delay on some content is a dick move and maybe you'll just move away to somewhere else to get your gaming content. But, if you think this content is unique and special, give a few dollars each month to help make sure it'll still be here, maybe bigger and better, in the future.

Full disclosure, this isn't something new I've had to wrestle with on hearing the bombcast news. As a paying subscriber to Rock Paper Shotgun (your number one PC-centric online magazine, only $24/year) I've already weighed up my view of paying for online content. If the content is good enough, I'll happily pay magazine/newspaper subscription prices to help fund it.

This post was originally published on Giant Bomb.