For the sake of my sanity, I have chosen to bill content/currency purchases (expansions or free to play content packs) in the year that I actually paid for them (even though I may continue to consume it in future years), and to track subscription time in the year it was actually used (rather than paid for). Games are listed in the order in which the accomplishments appeared in my twitter feed.
- Completed a tour of the newbie zones post-Cataclysm
- Advanced my mage the last level to 85, completed all Heroic dungeons (both Cataclysm launch and patch additions) at least once, still working on rep and gear but qualified for the looking for raid finder.
- Advanced warrior from level 82 to level 85, completed all of the holidays through mid-summer to obtain my second violet protodrake
- Actually healed some PUG 5-mans on a mid-level priest alt.
I signed up for the annual pass in late October - I'm choosing to account this as $16 for two months this year, with $60 for DIII and $80 for 10 months both applied to next year's budget. This will either be a bargain or a budget buster depending on how much use I get out of it. So far, I'm not spending nearly as much time per month under the discounted annual plan as I was when it was costing me $15, but I'm enjoying that time more because I don't feel that I have to force myself to grind day in and day out to maximize the value of the $15 one-month subscription.
- Playtested a bunch of alts during the paid beta phases
- Settled on Cleric, leveled from 1 to 48 (and 3/4).
- Leveled alts to the 10-19 range on the other three callings.
- Actually healed some PUG's using the dungeon finder
LOTRO: $20 in cash and $10 in gift card (which I value less than cash)
- Comleted solo-ified Volume II
- Currently working on Enedwaith and associated book of Volume III
My remaining LOTRO playtime was in content that I paid to unlock via expansion purchases in 2009.
- Completed Lyriana's enervated mythical
- Advanced from 191 AA's to 267
- Beat first seven dungeons in the Velious progression, obtained about half of my T2 armor
I was expecting to spend about $20+ to unlock my character after the free to play switchover, but SOE's decision to grandfather in existing characters meant that I only had to pay to unlock my current gear, which I was able to do out of my remaining promotional SC balance. That said, I did decline to purchase the year's second expansion box, along with the $20 paid add-on race that arrived with Velious. This game would have been exceptionally expensive for someone who actually stayed with it the full time and paid full price for stuff as it was released, were it not for all the freebies for being hacked and for changing the business model..
Runes of Magic: $15
- Advanced from 30 Druid/30 Rogue to 57 Druid/53 Warden/50 Rogue
- Test drove a bunch of alts into the 20/20/20 range
- Escaped the generic Isle of Dawn
- Leveled character to 11 Disciple/10 crafter/12 Diplomat
- Reached level 30 on a hero, completed solo campaign
- Experimented with some alts on both factions, platforms
Note that some of this balance may eventually get spent on EQ2 instead of DCUO, such is the perk of SOE's unified account system. I will also tip my hat to SOE for allowing players to purchase currency in any increment of $5, without getting hit with funky/punitive exchange rates.
No additional expenditures this year. I spent $100 in 2010, and spent about $70 of that on unlocking the content and character options I continue to use sporadically.
Kingdom of Loathing: $0
No additional money spent, I did sink something like $20-30 in this game back in 2007-2008 or so.
- Beat Portal 2 ($35)
- Beat Infamous 1 (PSN hacking debacle freebie)
- Beat Uncharted 1 (Christmas present in 2010)
- Currently working on Assassin's Creed 2 ($10)
- Currently working on Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (PSP, Christmas 2011 present)
All told, I spent basically $240, not counting the $10 gift card, the PS3 games or the $140 committed to Blizzard products next year. (Nor, I suppose, do I count the amount of patience and attention it takes to await and grab some of the more substantial deals I got this year.) When you consider that a single subscription MMO with a $40 expansion box and $15 in monthly fees will run you $220 annually, that's really not bad for what I'm getting for my money.
Speaking more generally, 2011 was the year when I actually learned to take advantage of non-subscription gaming models. I spent a fair amount of time in non-subscription games in 2010, but I continued to play them the way I would approach a subscription game - focusing on one game at a time, playing it until I had completed everything I was aiming for and moving on. As increasing numbers of games that I wanted to play anyway are offering more flexible options, I'm routinely logging into 3-5 games per week, and on rare occasions even per day.
Ironically, this hasn't blown my costs through the roof the way I wondered that it might when I started tracking what I was spending this year. The "all-inclusive" subscription model has never included either the initial account nor the paid expansion boxes. I'm definitely spending more on content than I was - and sometimes I'm putting up with irritating restrictions because I don't feel like paying to remove them - but I'm not then turning around and paying again to continue accessing the content I have paid to unlock. I may or may not be paying more, but I'm certainly getting a lot more.
Looking ahead to next year, my totals will almost certainly be higher - if you budget the payments to Blizzard and likely boxes for both SWTOR and Pandaria, I already have about as much in total MMO expenses for next year as I did for this year. Several of the non-subscription games I paid into this year may not require additional funds next year (in particular, EQ2 should be way down), but the fact that I'm already down for $60 on DIII - more than I spent on all but one MMO I played this year - is already looming as the potential difference between the budgets. Guess we'll find out how this goes next year.