My first thought is nothing, I really believe that it is up to the developers and the MMO community to make that decision final. I mean as long as games like Rift and WOW are able to function with a subscription model that will still be the main goal for larger studios. After all they have to cover their budgets.
However smaller studios and those who don’t feel they need to be the only game you play will take the F2P or hybrid subscription model at inception.
Let’s talk free to play stigma and why it really shouldn’t be that way anymore.
Stigma part one if a game switches from a subscription to F2P they are a dying game and a last ditch effort to save themselves. I believe that this one mostly came from DDO making the switch because it was floundering. But games like Lord of the Rings Online did it completely to increase revenue. Mostly after seeing what the change did for DDO. Both of these game of course being published by Turbine.
I am sure that the swift manner in which Star Wars The Old Republic has decide to change most people are going to see this as a failure. I believe that in the eyes of the studios involved that may be the case. When your actual goal is to hit 13 million subscribers and take over the #1 spot anything less is a failure.
Next stigma if a game comes out as F2P it is low budget and not well made. Low budget maybe but not well made have you seen Firefall it is well polished, it still has some issues but it is in beta. Although most F2P games are Asian ports that don’t always translate well in the US and Canada doesn’t mean they are also bad games just that we aren’t the right audience for them.
With all that in mind are subscription MMOs dying? I don’t think so with WOW still running things. And games like Rift performing like it has. There is promise in a subscription based game. That being said it is going to take innovations like the ones in Rift and those that are being tried in games like The Secret World for that to remain true.
On the flip side games like Guild Wars 1&2, Firefall and LOTRO that are very solid MMOs. That you can play without spending a dime and they can and will continue to make the money needed to continue to develop content and turn a profit.
So what have we learned? That subscription or no there are all types of very strong MMOs out right now. So find one you might like or a couple and give them a try.