Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Coming Soon: SWTOR Free-to-Play

It is official. After losing a little over one million subscribers, Star Wars: The Old Republic (or SWTOR) will soon be available as f2p, or free-to-play.

According to Matthew Bromberg, the GM of BioWare Austin, "Players want flexibility and choice. The subscription-only model presented a major barrier for a lot of people who wanted to become part of The Old Republic universe."

Since its launch, SWTOR has had a monthly price tag of $14.99, making it one of the more expensive games to play. Every game purchase does come with thirty days of gameplay free, and it appears as though many gamers leveled their characters all the way up to the 50 level cap and then quit when their thirty free days expired. After reading various articles on SWTOR, most gamers I read about admitted that they would either return to the game or start playing it if there was an f2p option.

If you are one of those individuals, then BioWare has heard your cries and has responded very positively.

An f2p option will bring in a lot of excited new players, but it may also cause a rift between gamers who pay for subscriptions and those who are "freebies." Most - if not all - online games that offer subscription and free options have faced a division between payers and players. Those who pay for a subscription sometimes believe that they are being gyped because freebies are getting the whole game experience free, whereas the freebies wonder why the payers don't like them. It's an unfortunate occurance, but it does happen.

Thankfully, though, BioWare is giving good incentives for their subscribers to continue paying by giving them special perks that freebies can't get without a monthly fee. So what do you get out of monthly subscription and f2p accounts?


If You Pay (Subscriber):
  • Access to a new currency called Cartel Coins
  • Full access to levels 1-50 (the level cap will be raised soon)
  • Full access to the Character Creator
  • Full access to all Warzones
  • Full access to all Flashpoints
  • Full access to all Space Missions
  • Full access to all Operations
  • Full access to all travel features
  • Priority access during login (subscribers will get into the game faster than freebies)
  • 50 available listings on the Galactice Trade Network

If You Play (Freebie):
  • Full access to levels 1-50 (the level cap will be raised soon)
  • Limited access to the Character Creator (some species are only available to subscribers)
  • Limited access to Warzones (access is limited to a certain weekly cap)
  • Limited access to Flashpoints (access is limited to a certain weekly cap)
  • Limited access to Space Missions (access is limited to a certain weekly cap)
  • No access to all Operations
  • Limited access to all Travel Features (no details available)
  • Normal access during login (subscribers who login at the same time will get into the game faster than a freebie)
  • Limited access to posting on the Galactic Trade Network (no details available)

If you're a Subscriber or are considering subscribing, you might be wondering what these "Cartel Coins" are. Basically they're a special type of currency that only subscribers have access to, a reward for those who are willing to buy a monthly subscription. These Coins will be used to purchase special in-game items that can only be bought with Cartel Coins, like a Kowakian Monkey Lizard Pet, a Sith Meditation Throne, and the Lost Helm of Darth Nihilus.

If you're a current subscriber, you might also want to consider looking at what special rewards you can start receiving today. Visit the link below for more information on all the stuff you can start getting today. If you're interested in more specifics concerning the f2p option for SWTOR, you can also click on the link for more information: http://www.swtor.com/free

Physical copies of SWTOR will also go on sale in the U.S. for $14.99 just prior to the launch of the f2p option. SWTOR goes f2p sometime this Fall, though the exact date has not been released yet.

As for the reason why SWTOR has decided to go f2p so soon after its launch, BioWare wants to bring its subscriber base back up. Losing one million players is disastrous, even for a game as popular as SWTOR. According to Jeff Hickman, the game's Executive Producer, on the official SWTOR blog: "We [at BioWare] feel that flexibility and choice in playing our game is important for all current and future players. For that reason, we began the exploration of expanding the game to include a Free-to-Play option." If you would like to read more of his post, please visit http://www.swtor.com/info/news/blog/20120731.


If the inclusion of an f2p option is as successful for SWTOR as it was for LOTRO, I wonder what kind of effect it will have on other popular MMOs, such as World of Warcraft. WoW introduced a "play free to level 20" option in response to SWTORs original launch, but will Blizzard Entertainment cave in and go f2p if SWTOR is successful with its inclusion of freebies? I'll keep tabs on that and let you know if anything like that develops over at WoW.

What do you think of this new step for BioWare and SWTOR? Do you think more gamers will join and stay on? Is this a good financial decision for BioWare? And is the coming f2p option affecting whether or not you will start playing, or whether you will continue to play?

Personally, I believe that f2p is how all online games will function eventually, and I like that BioWare is going to allow more players to join with the inclusion of an f2p option. True, freebies will have restrictions on parts of their game, but I don't think that will ruin their overall gaming experience. And by giving subscribers special rewards for paying, BioWare is giving payers more new reasons to keep buying monthly subscriptions and to stay on even when the rush of freebies start charging in. In my opinion, I think this is a good step forward for BioWare and SWTOR, but I would love to know what you all think of this!

For more information of the f2p option, please visit the links I posted above. And if you would like to know more about SWTOR itself, please visit the official website at http://www.swtor.com/. SWTOR can be purchased physically from stores like Target, Walmart, and GameStop, or ordered online through places like eBay and Amazon, or downloaded digitally from Origin at http://buy.swtor.com/us/.




 - Edessa, signing off

4 comments:

  1. fianlly a free verison. i hate to admit it but i'm very cheap! shh... don't tell anyone. LOL. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Buruk the SWTOR playerAugust 7, 2012 at 10:51 PM

    I'm currently doing the Free Trial (unlimited play up to level 15 with some restrictions), and f2p isn't really going to affect me. I want to buy the game anyway...I believe in sayings like "You get what you pay for" and "There's no such thing as a free lunch"...

    Just my two cents.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. are they ever going to put it on gaming platform, like wii or xbox?

      Delete
    2. Currently there aren't any plans to turn SWTOR into a platform game. Usually MMOs (World of Warcraft, SWTOR, The Secret World, Bounty Dogs, etc.) only stay on the Internet as PC/Mac games only. That could change, but it's very unlikely. =)

      Delete

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