This post is a companion to my full rundown of the new EQ2 model. That post was already way too long without discussion of the surprisingly complicated question of whether, how, and why to subscribe to the newly free to play game. Apologies to those of you who don't care, tl;dr this post and I promise I'll post about something else later this week.
There are a few reasons why someone who generally intends to play as a non-subscriber (see the previous post) might want to subscribe occasionally. You can stash massive amounts of stuff for longterm storage in subscriber-only storage space. You can also post as many items as you want to the broker, and should be able to claim at least two free Master spell upgrades per character from the research tab during that time. If you're looking to test drive some races/classes for alts, rental access to all the options, plus temporary access to three extra character slots, may be worth your while.
(I'm not sure how Legends of Norrath currently works. At one point, subscribers got five free booster packs per month, with a chance of getting loot cards. I had a bunch of these sitting in my LON tab even though I wasn't paying for a subscription during that time, and I don't know whether these are now free for everyone.)
|This vendor wants over 15 plat to trade in dungeon drops for loot.|
This means that EQ2 subscriptions - even if you pay one month at a time and allow them to lapse - are now effectively buy three months, get one free. Lots of games, EQ2 included, offer discounts for multi-month subscriptions, typically in the $13-14/month range for 90 day subscriptions. With this plan, you can have four months for an effective rate of $11.25/month and you do not need to take the four months consecutively to qualify.
Alternately, you can apply the Station Cash towards other things, like expansions or other premium features (e.g. the $20 Freeblood race). Unlike some other companies (e.g. Turbine, where Turbine points are not shared between LOTRO and DDO), you can even take the 500 SC to other SOE games, like DCUO.
The All-Access Pass
Speaking of other games, the All-Access/Station Passes may or may not get the 500 SC.
If you for some reason are an All-Access Pass-holder who has never played EQ2, I'd make a point of logging in once just to make sure that the EQ2 sub gets credited to your account. (The same also goes for DCUO - if you ever log in while you have a valid All-Access Pass, you will be permanently flagged as having spent enough money to upgrade your account in that game to Premium Status.) This deal is also attractive if you play EQ1, Vanguard, and/or Planetside, since these are all still subscription-only.
The Sale Factor
There's one big X-Factor - the sale. Historically, SOE has offered double and even triple Station Cash sales a couple times per year. Sometimes these only include game cards from stores (note that Walmart gets a preferential bonus compared to all other retailers) and sometimes credit card purchases are allowed. Now that EQ2 takes SC for subscriptions, such a promotion would effectively be half off the subscription, even after you account for not getting the 500 SC because your subscription was not recurring.
It remains to be seen whether SOE will - or can afford to - offer these deals again. It's one thing to offer half off cosmetic items or to allow players to pay now for a discount on an expansion that might be months away. A double SC sale would likely bring in a ton of money that weekend, but it could be a longterm loss if the majority of subscribers switch to this model.