Both games, which were created by Cryptic and now owned by Perfect World, have been free-to-play with an optional subscription for a while now; but just recently they no longer allow monthly subscriptions. They DO however still allow Lifetime Subscriptions.
In the case of Champions Online, I had a fellow OTG ask me if it made sense to buy the Lifetime sub. I told him no because there’s not really a whole lot of content in that game, so I usually just sub when I play for a month or so. It got me thinking of the game, so I re-installed via Steam, and went to subscribe, but there was no option that I could find. After a little research I learned about the change to Cryptic’s games. I am already a Lifetime subscriber on STO, so it won’t affect me there.
So I did some more poking around, because in Champions you really have to play as a Freeform character, and previously the only way to do that was to subscribe. So now there is a cash shop unlock that will give you a Freeform character slot for 3000 Zen (Perfect World’s cash shop currency), or three for 6000 Zen. From then on, any character you make in that slot will be able to be a Freeform character. If you are not a Lifetime member, and you have existing Freeform character(s) from when you previously subscribed, like I do, you can’t play those characters unless you either A: convert the character to a Silver character, which will make you choose a Archetype and therefore no longer a Freeform character; B: become a Lifetime member for US$250.00 which makes all your character slots Freeform capable slots; or C: buy a Freeform token and convert that character’s slot to a Freeform slot.
So, for the 6 of my characters that are Freeform, if I were to unlock them all it would cost 12000 Zen (6000 Zen for a 3 pack of Freeform tokens), which is currently US$120.00. So basically it now costs a fuckton of money if I want to play my existing characters. Granted I could just pay for one character unlock for $30. This wouldn’t be quite as bad, except back in the day before it was F2P I bought the game, so I already paid $60 for what is now the same as what someone who paid nothing at all would get (I do have some costume unlocks that came with the game… woopty doo). IMO you can’t really play Champions Online without Freeform, so it’s really now a $250.00 game that’s over 10 years old, is no longer really actively developed, and has a pretty small active player base.