Disney bought Star Wars. Lucas gave virtually all of the profit to charity.
Now with that out of the way let’s get to the topic at hand.
Bioware recently gave details about the free to play model for Star Wars: The Old Republic and the internet was up in arms. The ones who still care anyways. With this model those who choose not to pay a monthly subscription will have limited access to Warzones and Flashpoints. Operations will require a purchase to be accessible. Mounts will be available to them later in the game. They’ll have less slots for crew skills and limited inventory space. They will have only 5 field revives and will need to purchase more after that. Most purple items will be off limits. Moreover they will level at a slower pace and will not benefit from rested xp. Free players will also be limited to three races and a finite amount of character slots.
A lot of naysayers are saying that Bioware are shooting themselves in the foot with this model. Syp and Dodge got their panties in a bunch on Episode 42 of Too Long, Didn’t Listen and they just could not understand the logic behind these restrictions. So, am I alone who gets (and agrees with) Bioware’s logic here?
One thing is clear: SWTOR F2P it not meant for everyone. They are not expecting all their current users to switch to this F2P model. They want those who are paying a subscription today to keep paying their subscription and to have a good incentive for doing so. The F2P model is for those casuals who do not play the game frequently enough to warrant paying a monthly sub. This model is for those customers who may pay a month here and there because their life schedule affords it or because they want a break from their MMO of choice and want something different for a while. It’s not meant for those people who want to make that galaxy far far away their home away from home. F2P is for individuals who are not really interested in playing SWTOR as an MMO – it seems there are quite a lot of them.
In criticizing Bioware many people are simply missing the biggest piece of information from this news: The story content is free! All the quests and locations are available to anyone who finds the time to download the client and set up an account. The story content, with its fully voiced characters and frequent moral dilemmas, is arguably the best part of SWTOR. Its a great model for someone like me who plays a lot of MMOs and cannot really stick to one. Its good news to people who might be interested in trying the game for one month without having to pay for a boxed copy. Its also great news to long time subscribers who have taken a break but would appreciate having access to their characters, vault, auction house, friends and guild mates.
I find it hard to understand why Dodge (of Casual Stroll to Mordor fame) was so critical of this system seeing as Turbine’s F2P model for LotRO has comparable restrictions and makes it very difficult for anyone to reach max level without paying for content. I feel Bioware got this right. If you are a hardcore player who wants to experience the gear grind and MMO aspects (with frequent dungeon runs, regular PvP and raiding) then do the sensible thing and subscribe. If, on the other hand, you are a casual player who doesn’t care much about the gear but fancy exploring this Star Wars universe, see the sights, taste the adventure and is more interested in the single player part of SWTOR then there will be an option for you. Those identifying themselves with the latter are the kind of people who would rather buy cosmetic items (which I am sure will feature heavily in the Cartel Coins shop) than the ability to participate in raids or wear items of epic quality. These are the players who are not in a hurry to get to endgame – they are just enjoying the ride. The fact that Bioware has agreed to let them ride for free is extremely welcome news to me.