Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Old Republic Goes Free-To-Play

So EA/Bioware has announced that the old Republic will go Free-to-Play later this year. As a current subscriber, I'm somewhat disappointed. I don't really like F2P games, and I don't think they end up in a good spot. Maybe I'll write a longer post on F2P later.

The structure of the F2P option is interesting. Levels 1 through 50 are free, and you get a limited number of flashpoints and warzones per week. Operations are reserved for subscribers. There's a pretty clear division where they're hoping that transient players are attracted by F2P, and the extended players stay on subscription.

What I expect--though it's not explicitly stated--is that the free player will only get 1 character slot, and will have to pay to unlock more slots. This way TOR gets money from the people who want to see multiple class stories, which are the major selling point of the game.

It's possible that TOR will end up putting more emphasis on raids, because those players are the dependable revenue stream. The people who pay the bills call the shots. This might end up being a good thing for raiders.

Though, maybe all the raiders will end up dropping their subscriptions. The thing is that the raiding in TOR is decent, but the class stories are the major attraction. Right now, you have to sub to get both aspects. When it goes F2P, it might better for an extended player to switch to another game for raiding, while maintaining TOR in a F2P mode to finish the class stories at leisure.

Basically, I don't think the marginal value of TOR raiding is worth a subscription.  Class story plus raiding, definitely worth it. But not raiding alone.

I am rather leaning to that plan at the moment. I was having an internal debate about what to do when Mists of Pandaria comes out, but now my plan is pretty set. Drop the TOR subscription, and maybe leave it installed and play the class stories. But if I want to raid, I'll raid in Pandaria.


  1. It's impossible to charge for additional character slots when player can simply make multiple accounts with 1 character on each.

    Free player will be restricted from some races, though, and will have "very restricted" AH.

  2. I'm the same way... I was close to unsubbing and the only thing extending me was the fact that I wanted to see the class stories. I think I'll be unsubbing and activating for the odd month here and there when they introduce new content that I want to play through.

    Until they do something about the healing in SWTOR it will remain the worst MMO around for people who like healing. Lack of the ability to reliably monitor debuffs coupled with a healing system with no burst or cooldowns basically means you can't make interesting encounters for healers as they have no meaningful choices to make.

  3. @Souldrinker, that's the entire point of F2P. You charge for convenience. It's much more convenient to have all your characters on the same account, sharing the same Legacy, and boosting each other.

    Being able to make 8 different accounts just means that Bioware can claim that the entire leveling game is "free", and then claim that there are 8 more accounts playing. There's no downside from their perspective.

  4. If you find somewhere good to raid in Pandaria, take me with you. :P

    I am so over free-to-play and raid-less MMOs.

  5. Somehow I imagine they'll follow the Turbine method of giving you 2 character slots per server, with limited inventory and character creation options. Again, convenience being king when it comes to these, you'll have to spend cash to have more than 2 characters on your legacy. (Now the whole Legacy is server specific thing makes MUCH more sense).

    As for having more than 1 account with 1 character on each, I'm not sure that'd be feasible. Since some of their wording seems to be unclear whether you'll need to drop the $15.99 box price whether your a subscriber or a F2P player. It can be taken either way at the moment, but if it is, 7 additional character spots may be cheaper than 7 additional copies of the game.

  6. Slightly off-topic I guess, but I just had to comment to disagree with Anonymous. I love healing in TOR and have a max-level healer of each type. Instead of spamming cooldowns I actually have to manage my resources, which I find makes for much more engaging healer gameplay.

  7. Pandaria isn't released raid-ready. :/

  8. Yeah, I'm kind of concerned that SWTOR's going about the F2P model all wrong. I don't think there's actually *enough* limitations on the F2P option; there's not enough incentive to keep paying unless raiding is really, really pushing your buttons.