Syp is concerned about the lifetime subscription option for Champions Online. Cryptic is offering a $200 lifetime subscription, but only if you buy buy buy now now now, as the deal goes away before the game even launches. Syp wonders if it demonstrates a lack of faith, as if the company "crunched some numbers, and figured that on average, it’s better to sell a $200 sub than hope that you can get a player hooked long enough to end up spending more than $200 in monthly fees."
There are several mitigating factors. First off, guaranteed money in the studio's pocket right now has slightly more value than a somewhat larger sum of money paid into the studio's pocket over a matter of years, even if the gamer never cancels. They're working to launch apparently as many as three MMORPG's (Star Trek I'd heard about, no idea what the third one is), and cash on hand now could make a big difference in the kinds of financing terms they can get going forward.
Second, Champions Online is offering RMT item transactions, including both cosmetic perks and gameplay boosts. You can't sell microtransactions to someone who isn't playing the game anymore, and you could imagine players feeling like they can be more liberal with the purse strings because they're not paying a monthly fee anymore. Also, you might predict that someone impulsive enough to spend $200 on the game sight unseen might be impulsive enough to spend big on cosmetic stuff.
There is a bit of a feel of a scam when you have to make the decision sight unseen - they have yet to drop the NDA on the beta, much less allow a real open beta - but I don't know how much I would read into it.
Is a Lifetime Sub EVER worth it?
That said, I don't think I would ever take a $200 lifetime subscription, perhaps not even from Blizzard. At the not-at-all-discounted $15/month rate, you won't spend more than $200 in monthly fees until your 15th month in the game (including the month that you pay for when you buy the box). This presumes that there isn't a stretch in that 15 months when you WOULD have canceled if it were costing you money, but logged in once a month for novelty because you could. And really, you're talking about betting $200 now in the hopes of saving later, so I'd hope you'd be gunning for a slightly better than break-even payout.
I would absolutely jump on the OTHER Champions Online deal, a $60/6 month special, if I had any interest in the game. That discount gets you a total of 7 months for $110 (comes out to $15.71 per month), and you break even on the deal at 4 months and 1 day. I'm reasonably confident that I can predict whether I'm going to be out of a game in four months. Once you start talking about two years, though, I'd rather just take my chances on paying more in the long term.