Microtransactions have won. And it hurts. It really hurts me to see it, but it's obvious. There are many players nowadays who think that microtransactions are good. Sure, there are also about as many (perhaps a few less) who hate them, but the problem is that those who love microtransactions don't like subs in return. There's 'balance'.
Given the choice, the companies go for the more profitable business model and that's microtransactions by far. The really popular games can still have a sub and box costs – but in addition to microtransactions!
There are people out there who think that they can actually buy fun with microtransactions. I read those comments myself; it's not second-hand knowledge. Ironically, they are right. I mean, buying stuff does make people happy. And it is the dream of every businessman on earth to sell a virtual pink hat that people buy because they get fun out of the shopping itself instead of the actual hat. Which soon gets replaced by the virtual black helmet, and put back to storage, where the player collects his treasures. We could call this storage Gollum's cave.
As a consequence I will probably have to give up my resistance against these games. I will probably have to play them if I want to play any AAA MMORPG at all in the future. If it required any more reasons to assume that capitalism doesn't always gives the best answer to consumer demand, here it is. Which doesn't mean that I have a better system in mind, of course.
What will be next? I have an idea! What about a game that has a cost for the box in addition to a monthly and yearly sub? Yes, why just one sub? Those who play more should pay more! Totally just, don't you agree? Then we add microtransactions for content, power, vanity, style, .. everything!! And we add a hourly rate! Brilliant!
This completely obfuscated business model allows us to keep every single transfer really low! And so far there are no regulations for the small print in MMOs, as far as I know! What about a choice for the consumer between eight different payment packages – including a credit-based financial solution; just in case you don't have the money, but also want to buy the next three games in the series for a special price (they haven't been released yet).
Of course, all the prices depend on the supplier's best guess about what you individually would be willing to pay. They have statistics! – welcome to the future: Consumer surplus was yesterday!
I get the feeling that humanity is slowly entering Ray Kurzweil's Singularity. It's just that it get's started by humans, not by AI! The more intelligent specimen of humanity, empowered by statistics and a deep understanding of the human psyche, start to take serious advantage of the less intelligent, less empowered specimen. Those less fortunate specimen experience a singularity. They don't understand anything, but they like working and buying.
A world built upon greed, fear and fun; a remarkable innovation!