The payment options for EQ2 are confusing. So confusing in fact that Sony themselves seem to have become confused by them - the latest complete collection deal conflicts with their recruit a friend scheme.
These are the options:
1) Make a fresh trial then buy the Complete Collection. When you add the collection key to your trial account you get 60 free days minus however much time you've already used on your trial. The collection gives the basic game plus all expansions and adventure packs plus 60 days.
Now the Complete Collection can only be used on a trial or fresh account, you can't update your current sub and get 60 free days. Nor can you upgrade an old account with this offer.
It costs $19.99 through the online store.
2) instead of that you could trial the game then make a completely new account when you buy your Complete Collection. This will give you 14 days of free trial plus your full 60 days. The drawback is that what you've achieved in your trial will be wasted, still for people who just like to potter about exploring and aren't in a hurry to get to 80 that's a better deal than 1).
One big advantage of doing it this way - there has been a lot of cases of trial accounts not getting credited with the free 60 days when they upgrade. Starting with the complete collection should mean that you don't face that. (It only takes a message to Customer Support to get fixed but still it's hassle).
3) Buy the new Expansion which comes out in February. This will come bundled with all the previous expansions and packs plus some free game-time. This would be cheaper than buying the game now and then buying the Expansion in February but probably more expensive than buying the game now and not buying the new Expansion. It seems the new stuff is only for level 80+ so I'm not sure I'll need it. They may make people buy it anyway of course, need it or not.
4) Recruit-a-friend. This has been a source of much confusion on the EQ2 Trial Players Boards. If you read the offer very carefully you will find that your friend only gets his/her rewards if you pay for your sub within 30 days and of course if you get the Complete Collection with 60 free days you won't be paying for a sub. Clever get-out eh?
They specifically don't let you credit your account with 60 days then pay for a sub to qualify for raf - it's either or. (Yes, you read that right - they'd rather keep hold of their virtual horses than accept your money).
Frankly they've been too clever for their own good. What this means is that anyone using the recruit-a-friend scheme is going to expect a free mount and some other goodies when their friend subscribes. In fact they won't receive these if the friend has any sense because the friend will instead buy the complete collection with 60 free days, a much better deal.
While some players will handle the disappointment with equanimity a lot of people will fall out over this. For the veteran you lose out on a cool mount and your perks because your mate has decided to be a cheapskate. For the new player your friend never told you about a better deal simply because he wanted a free mount - what a scam-artist!
In an industry where success rests on friend connections and word of mouth more than anything forcing friend to screw over friend as an introduction to your game is daft beyond belief.
5) Activate an ancient account. I don't think I've played my original EQ2 account since March 2005. I have played EQ2 since but I made another account because I've forgotten the original account name. If I could persuade Sony Customer Service to disgorge the information I'd be eligible for some veteran rewards
To be honest though there's nothing that really interests me. I'm not a great enthusiast for cosmetic or decorative junk (particularly in a game that has such an abundance of it), I'm not very enthusiastic for exp potions as I like levelling more than end-game and I don't need discount on the broker (Eve is my financial game).
Subbing this way would cost me £7.99 for the Shadow Odyssey Bundle (5 expansion packs + 30 days game time) or £6.99 for the Basic Everquest 2 bundle (4 expansion packs + 30 days game time).
6) Station Access Pass. This is a scheme that allows you access to all of Sony's MMOs for a monthly fee.
Apart from EQ2 there's EQ1, Star Wars: Galaxies, Pirates of the Burning Seas, Free Realms, Planetside and Vanguard.
For me I already have a sub to SWG and possibly on the basis of that it's offering me free days. (Edit: confirmed, the 117 days are from having a SWG sub active). It costs £18.99 for a month and if I pay for one month I'll get 117 free extra days.
For me, much to my surprise, the cheapest way to play EQ2 is to get the Station Access which gives me all of their games for about 5 months. This is due to a very large amount of free bonus days I'm getting either because it's an old account or because I subbed to SWG this summer for a year in a rather foolish fit of nostalgia.
Note: this is a somewhat simplified version as I didn't analyse in any depths the varying amounts of Station Cash and veteran rewards attached to the various offers. (mainly because I don't particularly care about that stuff).
Afterword: I opted for the Station Pass in the end, the only option that carries over my SWG sub to EQ2.