The Naked Gamer is a regular opinion column that strips back the superficialities and looks at the flesh underneath. If you’ve got a topic you’d like discussed, drop columnist Kristy Green a line!
My relationship with Star Wars: The Old Republic has been more like a rollercoaster than well, a relationship. When I first heard about this new MMO my immediate thought was how awesome it was going to be to play out my childhood fantasy of being a Jedi. Obviously this isn’t the first Star Wars game but it was the first one that I was interested in playing. When I heard BioWare were behind it, well I had a bit of a geek squealing session.
I was frustrated when I heard it wasn’t being released in Australia at launch but through some clever workarounds I was able to get the game. So when launch did come around, I was able to play and to live my dreams as a Jedi Consular and even got to play as a Twi’lek. How much more cooler can you get?
Sadly, then my friends stopped playing and the awesomeness of being a lightsaber wielding blue woman wasn’t enough to keep me playing. The game had some great things and like many, I loved the story (even if I got lost a few times because I kept pressing the spacebar during cut scenes) but there just wasn’t enough to keep me paying a subscription for. I let my account lapse with the promise that if it went free to play, I would return if only to find out how the story ended.
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.
I feel that F2P will only succeed if the unlocks are really cheap, so you can essentially unlock the whole game for the same amount as a typical box price and if they allow people to go from subscription to non-subscription back to subscription without feeling like they are being penalised.
For now though, my gaming plate is already pretty filled with four other MMOs and numerous other games I play with my friends. I would have made time for SWTOR but right now, I am not sure I will. This weekend will really tell if I start playing again.
So good luck to BioWare and May The Force Be With You.