To coincide with the launch of SWTOR’s Free To Play (F2P) option, I thought it would be worth getting some thoughts from each of our writers who play the game. For a game that’s only been available for less than a year, the switch to F2P is one of the bigger milestones and one not necessarily driven by success. That said, it could be a game-changer (sorry I had to do that), so let’s get the gamut of opinions from the team here:
If ever there was an issue that sets the internet wolves baying at the moon it’s this one. And who can blame them? If it’s done well, F2P can save a game, or at least slow its decline to a respectable flatline. Done badly and it scares off the few paying subs you managed to hang on to.
So will this be the saving grace for SWTOR? I hope so, but we’ll have to wait a month or two to find out. If past travellers down this road are anything to go by, there will be a large influx of returning players, both the curious and hopeful. More significantly will be the mass of new players looking to get their Star Wars on. That should be exciting for all of us, especially those who have hung on hoping for the best.
All of these new players will, for the first month or so inject energy and a pretty good chunk of real world currency through micro transactions. Things will be looking pretty rosy for BioWare and I hope that continues because if the F2P implementation is done well, many people will stick around, enjoy the game and spread the good word. However, if it’s done poorly then ensuing flood of negative opinions may drown any long term future the game has, at least as we currently know it.
We all know that the game came out before it was ready and arguably was never really conceived as a true MMO. It’s the complaints generated by those issues that filled the sack of doorknobs which Bioware/EA have subsequently been thrashed with. Those of us who have been watching things closely are also painfully aware of the number of problems that have not been fixed and I’m not just talking about the game.
Even if they get F2P out the gate without a hitch they still have to keep the cash shop fed with a flow of desirable vanity items. More importantly they need to keep their six week update schedule. In my opinion the true test is whether the next update (1.6) has Makeb, the Cathars and other items previously promised or if they instead eke them out across several separate updates. If it’s the first option, we should be able to look forward to some great new treats coming down the line. If it’s the latter, it indicates they have very little up their sleeves which begs the question, who is going to come up with the new content, and when?
While BioWare have been content to gloss over or ignore concerns for the long term viability of SWTOR we’ve reached the point where they need to start delivering the goods in a substantial and consistent manner, especially with so many more people watching.
Personally I’m looking forward to F2P. I hope we get “Jedi’s” party at the Ewok village and not “Empire’s Tea with Vader”
When I heard the announcement that SWTOR was going to go free to play and how the story part of the game will be available to everyone, I was more excited than when the game was first released. Well, I was at first. Then they released more information about how the free to play will work and I went from yes to maybe to no, although floating around ‘maybe casually’ right now.
I admit that I am not a fan of free-to-play models with a subscription. I feel that it should be one or the other. There is always a chance of tension building between those that pay and those that don’t. Also, you have the added difficulty of finding the balance between rewarding the subscribers without punishing the free-to-players.
When I look at SWTOR’s new free-to-play plans, one thing sticks out to me – it seems to be all about getting you back to paying a full subscription. They seem to offer no reward for subscribing but instead lay all the punishment (or restriction) on the rest of the player base.
I admit I can’t see this working; the whole point of going free-to-play is getting people back playing your game and getting them to spend money because they want to, not because they have to. People shouldn’t feel like their game play is affected because they aren’t paying a subscription.
Matthew ‘Scope’ Pearce:
After testing out the Cartel Coin Shop on the PTS it left me with a really bad taste in my mouth.
To be frank I think the switch to free to play might push me further away from the game than I already am due to the “Lucky Dip” and “gambling” aspect of the Cartel Coin Shop. I hated that about Star Wars Galaxies when they added the digital card game almost 90% or more of the new content and items being added to the game was all luck based drops from real cash purchases of card packs much like what EA/Bioware are doing to the Cartel Coin Shop in SWTOR with the Crime Lord Packs.
Now that SWTOR is going the same way as Star Wars Galaxies I feel cheated that If I want an Imperial throne vehicle I will have to buy packs over and over until it drops instead of just buying it out right like it should be. I’m also worried that even if I was to remain a subscriber that most of the new content being added to the game would only be added to the Cartel Coin Shop and require an “additional payments” alongside my monthly sub which would really piss me off.
With that in mind it is interesting to see that we can sell the items from the Cartel Coin Shop on the GTN which just makes credits earned in game less valuable now that we can just buy cartel items with real life cash and sell them on the GTN for credits.
I am Hopeful that the transition to F2P will improve the active player base numbers on the Oceanic servers as lately I have just lost interest in the game due to the empty lifeless and barren worlds on these servers but only time will tell if Oceanic servers will continue or fade away.
All in all I will return to SWTOR when more story content has been added to the game as this is the reason I got SWTOR in the first place and the only reason I will continue to play SWTOR.
Luke Le Page:
The closer we get to SWTOR’s F2P launch the more excited I am becoming. Looking back, I can’t really give you an accurate reason for why I stopped playing in the first place (I’m leaning towards the fact that my friends also left).
As some readers may be aware I also played DC Universe and experienced its transition to the F2P model and it is this experience that has me excited for SWTOR. I still have high hopes for this game and it will rely heavily on how they treat the F2P system. There are still a number of questions that need to be answered, the biggest one being how powerful will future cartel market items become?
If BioWare and by extension EA can maintain a balance between players who invest in the market and those who do not, I see nothing but a bright future for the game.
One of the downsides of being the editor is I usually have the last word and in this case I haven’t got much to say that hasn’t been covered by my colleagues above. Overall I’m probably on the pessimistic side in that I see SWTOR being crowded out in a now very busy MMO space, with too many people unforgiving for mistakes of the past year and a parent organisation (EA) that is not likely to put in the funds to make this game what it should be. It’s an issue I passionately hope I’m wrong on – but I just can’t see F2P causing the upward momentum the game needs.
I’m a subscriber and will continue to be, although each month that passes makes me wonder why I don’t go F2P – that’s the challenge BioWare face – making me and others like me wanting to pay a subscription. Here’s hoping they manage to do that.
And now the most important opinion: yours. Post your thoughts in comments!