Hmmm: The Old Republic “Looking At” Free-To-Play

By Nathan Grayson on June 15th, 2012 at 12:00 pm.

UNNNNLIMITED PLAAAAAYTIME.

No, BioWare hasn’t suddenly made a lightspeed jump to F2P, but – speaking with GamesTM – it changed its tune quite a bit from “subscription-based forever.” So then, the obvious (in almost every situation ever in the whole of human history) question: why? Well, it’s certainly hard to ignore SWTOR‘s 400,000-person slide into the subscriber Sarlacc Pit, but BioWare contends that there’s more to it than that.

First and foremost, lead designer Emmanuel Lusinchi chalked up the sudden interest to changing times:

“I think it’s more than the free-to-play model – it’s more that there is a lot of competitive offers. If it was just free-to-play games and they weren’t very good it wouldn’t even be a question. But there are definitely good games out there and good games coming out, so of course all of this competition impacts your plan with what you want to do.”

“The MMO market is very dynamic and we need to be dynamic as well. Unless people are happy with what they have, they are constantly demanding updates, new modes and situations. So we are looking at free-to-play, but I can’t tell you in much detail. We have to be flexible and adapt to what is going on.”

So basically, F2P’s finally coming of age, and players now demand it instead of recoiling in disgust at thoughts of nickles, dimes, and pay-to-win pyramid schemes. Meanwhile, BioWare’s made no bones about the need to evolve to survive – even as it attempted to tell us everything was a-okay mere days before, well, you know.

Honestly, though, free weekends and free months for some players suggest that BioWare’s been tentatively prodding F2P with a laser-powered stick since even before things went sour. So maybe it won’t make the switch today or tomorrow, but if it does sooner rather than later, you won’t see me gawking and declaring it the end of days.

Will it “save” SWTOR, though? Does SWTOR need saving? At this point, there are simply too many factors to consider, and not enough concrete facts to base them on. Is BioWare’s galaxy-sized behemoth in dire straits? Are even the most diehard MMO players starting to burn out on the traditional quest-kill-collect MMO formula? Is F2P the magical cure for whatever ails it, or merely a quick bandage over a gaping bullet wound? I honestly can’t say, but I’m itching to find out. And, if I had to guess, I imagine BioWare is too.

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120 Comments »

  1. SteamySashimi says:

    I’d say even an MMORPG with production values as high as TOR would be hurting pretty bad competing not just with other F2P games but even one-off payment ones like Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3. All these games are designed to be dedicated to for a long time. But non-subscription games add value the longer you play, whereas with subscription, players are always aware that just playing the game costs them money.

    The market may not have room for the older WOW-style subscription model anymore.

    Edit: Then again, I suppose EVE is doing fine so what do I know. :-P

    • Antsy says:

      To be honest the game just isn’t good enough. It’s split personality means that it excels as a single player/co-op experience while levelling but never really feels like an MMO. Once you’ve played through a storyline or two (if you’re especially resilient) there really isn’t much reason to keep throwing money at them.

      Too much focus on single player content and a lack of effort to develop the franchise’s strong points (space, etc) resulted in a game that you just had no reason to hang around in.

      • Legion23 says:

        I agree and I got a feeling you can copy/paste that statement once the Elder Scrolls MMO is out.

        • Runs With Foxes says:

          The Secret World more so.

          • Milky1985 says:

            The secret world is at least trying something different with the investigation stuff (some of the mission arn’t the normal get here kill that, more figure out what that is and how to get into there, including a bit of social enginnering in places).

            This was not a good single player game (as your choices did jack all, for expample the revenites where if you gave them up or didn’t you could still not go back cause otherwise they would ahve the phase the area) and its not a good mmo (not got the massive feeling, too much like wow), i have a feeling unless the elder scrolls mmo does somethign different it will fall down the same hole.

            It needs a hook

          • Runs With Foxes says:

            Yeah but The Secret World has the exact same problem that Antsy was talking about above: once you’ve played the story, why would you keep paying them money? The only unique and interesting things about The Secret World are things that it would be silly to pay a monthly fee for. The investigation missions are worse if anything, because once you’ve solved them what’s the attraction of doing them again? It would be okay in an adventure game you pay for once and play once, but in an MMO taking $15 every month?

            In fact The Secret World actually has it worse than SWTOR because it doesn’t have classes. Some people have praised this, but it cuts out one of the major reasons people keep sinking hundreds and thousands of hours into MMOs: alts. Once you’ve unlocked everything in The Secret World, your character can be any character. You’ve now seen and done everything.

          • grtkbrandon says:

            SWTOR had a hook too: it was completely story driven. The issue here is that in an MMO, you can’t put all your eggs in one basket. Having one hook isn’t going to cut it anymore.

          • jjujubird says:

            Agreed w/ runs w foxes, once you’ve solved the investigation puzzles then you know the solution and it’s a joke the next time. Worse yet, the first time you run said investigation puzzle there’s a chance someone in your group has already done it (or looked up the solution online) and will tell you, so there goes the fun.

            These games need more randomized things so you can’t just do them once and know the solution forever or look up the solution online. I’m not that big on diablo 3 (doing acts 1-4 ad naseum gets old pretty damn fast) but I imagined WoW/insert other MMO here with every monster having 2-4 powerful random special abilities like the ones in D3 and it DID sound like a lot more fun than the current situation.

      • Jockie says:

        Antsy is pretty much spot on, I levelled a Jedi Shadow to the cap. the story was perfectly fun and engaging, the MMO bits in-between a chore. but once I’d hit the cap, there was nothing at all to do except grind for gear.

        There was some incentive to do it all again with a different class to experience their story, but I couldn’t face the MMO bits for a second time (and the endless running/driving across wide empty plains).

        It’s worth playing through once with a friend or two, it’s not worth paying for month on month.

        • aircool says:

          Spot on. The character storylines are terrific fun, but the MMO aspects have been done to death and are quite tedious. A lot of them are utterly pointless, like constantly having to pay to keep your equipment in top condition; it’s just another button to press (or more often than not, forget to press) when selling trash.

          • Vorphalack says:

            I can’t agree with this at all. After playing two characters to the level cap I was starting to feel a little sick at the quality of the writing, voice acting and pacing of the story. That feeling was merely compounded by the entirely generic personality of each character. I mean, there’s only so many times my Trooper can blurt out ”I CAN HANDLE IT!” before the illusion shatters and you realise he or she is just like every other Trooper, devoid of individuality and any form of character defining traits beyond the binary whiter than white good or cartoon villain evil dialogue choices you are forced to make.

            On a more general note, as you started to near the level cap the voice acting became proportionally sparser. Canned alien and droid speak was far too common, as was the increase in text quests. Not good for an MMO that prided itself on ”full voice acting”. Some of that content was not technically voice and none of it was acted.

            I wont say the main story didn’t have its moments. There was a bit during the Sentinel story resolution on Taris where you have to confront a certain imperial agent. That stuck in my mind as having genuinely good voice acting and a compelling, grim and convincing ending. Moments like that, however, were rare. Too much of it was ”Darth Angrel (really, Angrel?) makes super weapon to destroy worlds (lets call it the Steath Dar)! Only you can prevent world fires! Stop Angrel!”. Feels like i’ve seen it in a film somewhere, and it wasn’t as fun second time round.

    • Lemming says:

      I truly believe the subscription model is still viable and always will be. But you can’t just create WoW with a new skin and half the features and expect people to stick around.

      A true sandbox MMO would be something a sub would make sense for, because the content becomes the player’s responsibility in part, and whether you get your money’s worth or not depends entirely on whether you just like the game as it’s designed, rather than the fact you’ve run out of dungeons to raid.

      • zbeeblebrox says:

        This is the strategy I agree with. It’s part of the reason EVE still works as a subscription game – not because they’re small, not because they keep players chasing after new content, but because they designed a game where the players are essentially *creating* the content, in the form of a constantly shifting political map.

        If an MMO dev honestly wants to have a stable subscription model, trying to make “WoW but better” is a fool’s errand. That whole genre has gone the way of F2P and there’s nothing anyone can do to change that. Subscriptions are for sandboxes.

  2. Bloodloss says:

    God, I really hope they do go for this fully and not “Hey! A trial that ends at level 20! It’s the same as F2P right?” or something equally stupid. I stopped playing SWTOR after a few months, but I’d definitely go back for at least awhile if it went F2P; I consider it to be just as good as WoW for the most part, with improvements in some areas (story/cut scenes/voice acting) and regressions in some others (design of worlds, mostly tending to be boring and extremely linear). I’m really surprised it only dropped by 400k subs to be honest.

    F2P is exactly what it needs. I just hope they aren’t too proud to do it properly.

    • operf1 says:

      Actually, one of the announces during EA’s E3 press-conference was TOR going free up to level 15 in July.

    • ahac says:

      I’m still playing swtor but I’d definately quit if they go “F2P” and I have to pay to access new content.

      • sneetch says:

        What if the cost of that new content every month is less than or equal to the subscription fee per month?

        That’s what I would look for.

        • Runs With Foxes says:

          When a subs game goes free to play, they don’t ditch the subs. They give subscribers some extra benefits to make subscribing still attractive, but they add a cash shop in as well, and probably make new players buy stuff from the shop to get the ‘complete’ game that subscribers have. And once the cash shop is introduced, it can change the game.

      • Bloodloss says:

        You already are paying for new content though, in the form of a monthly fee. If it was reasonably priced when F2P, then I see no problem. Ideally though, it’d mainly just be cosmetic items like exotic lightsaber crystals and social armour that you had to buy.

      • HothMonster says:

        So you will happily pay month to month for content you already have but if there was no monthly fee and that money could go directly towards buying new content you would quit…

  3. Was Neurotic says:

    I imagine they finally realised that providing fresh content – fully voiced and plotted the way they like it – as the rate that players need/demand it, is a losing battle in terms of player retention. Whereas, on an F2P basis, they can roll out new content at a more relaxed pace (with more time to polish it, ha) and either charge for it, charge for bits of it, or whatever. Meanwhile, sales of pet Jawas, lightaber crystals and monogramed Jedi robes keep them floating along. It’s a good system that’s worked well for a lot of other games, and I for one welcome it in SWTOR too.

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      Agreed, f2p works for MMO’s for a reason. The only issue I have is they HAD to have planned this all along. They can’t have been so willfully stupid as to think they’d never go F2P. So all this bullshit with buying the game and buying sub’s, that was just a way to maximize initial profit. Another reason not to buy games when they come out, which of course leads to them dying on the table.

      • Shuck says:

        Yeah, I can’t believe that anyone would come out with a subscription MMO these days without plans to turn it into a F2P game at some point, unless they’re a low-budget super-niche game with a small but devoted fanbase to begin with. Even WoW has been clearly testing the waters for an eventual move to F2P.
        The switch is a way of keeping profits up (and the game alive), but there are reasons to play the game in the early pay period – the game dynamics are going to be different. You can never be sure how the game will be changed in the move to F2P, but the mechanics will change, and I’ve seen some games that turned into real messes.

      • Phantoon says:

        Actually, they really WERE so egotistical as to think they’d never need to go F2P, or move workers/layoff people. The pervasive way of thinking is so entrenched that Stanley Woo got laidoff, and he’s still doing the same job, pro bono, for no pay. There’s believing in your product, then there’s that.

  4. Patches the Hyena says:

    I think if they had made KOTOR 3 they wouldn’t necessarily have made as much money as with SWTOR, but their position would have been a lot stronger.

    • Timthos says:

      SWTOR cost EA over $300 million. I’m wondering if they lost money on it in the end.

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        AmateurScience says:

        I suspect that over the lifespan of the game in total it will be very profitable, I mean, even if those 400k people who left (like me!) paid for the game and a one month sub, that’s ~$20,000,000 (ish). Add in the folks still playing (some reports say ~2 million pre-orderers) $45 box price plus 6 months at $10 per month and you’re looking at a big chunk of the money back already, maybe as much as $100 million total and $15 million a month coming in.* I don’t think anyone at EA are panicking, and they may well decide to go F2P when/if they move into profit. The thing about MMOs is, because they generate a regular income, even the less popular ones, once they get going, don’t need a huge amount of cash to keep running and keep running profitably – hence there being more MMOs out there than you can shake a stick at. In fact I think EA said that they needed 100,000 subs over the lifetime of the game to be profitable. That may have just been marketing hogwash but it’s an interesting figure.

        *I can’t back any of this up, just thought it was an interesting question.

        • Jesus H. Christ says:

          fact is, we have no idea about costs or profits because they are hidden from the public. My guess though is that a 5-7 development cycle for a truly massive game like and you would be looking at 200 million. But EA is not 38Studios. EA has a wide range of games and they are in many different segments, and they have access to capital markets, so whether SWTOR breaks even or loses all 200 million, EA will be fine.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            Er, EA’s profits are only around $350 million a year. Losing $200 million would be very, very bad for them.

            Another thing to consider when tallying costs is not only the pre-launch costs, but also continued post-launch development costs. They still have employees working on stuff, so the “cost of production” for SW:TOR is constantly being upped.

          • Midroc says:

            They aren’t going that well though, their stocks have plummeted since it swtor was released and the investors are losing their patience, so i bet they’d pull any lie to make swtor look profitable.

          • Phantoon says:

            That’s right, Mcgee. In fact, in the investor call, any expenses related to continuing to run the game was listed under unlisted assets, even though that will easily run into the millions, even with the skeleton crew they have now- servers cost a lot of money!

      • Dakia says:

        That number has been stated to be false. That number, and even more stupidly large numbers were thrown out by analysts in a pissing contest to see who could sound like a bigger idiot.

        EA/BW responded to a 200mil number that was thrown out by saying that it didn’t cost that much. Numbers run by quite a few people on other boards peg the number somewhere between 100-150mil.

        EA/BW has stated that the operation of the game is in the black with between 500k-600k subs.

        • Jimbo says:

          “EA/BW has stated that the operation of the game is in the black with between 500k-600k subs.”

          They need 500k subs just to cover the operating costs?

          • Dakia says:

            According to an interview, yes.

          • Shuck says:

            “They need 500k subs just to cover the operating costs?”
            Whatever the operating costs are, they include a live team that’s still making new content which involves lots of voice acting for every new bit of dialog. (Thereby turning the cheapest bit of content in previous MMOs – text strings – into one of the most expensive.)

        • Shuck says:

          EA may have (truthfully) been saying that development didn’t cost $200 or $300M, but that doesn’t mean the game didn’t end up costing that much. Given that a game like Modern Warfare 2 cost $250M ($50M development and $200M marketing), I’m pretty sure SW:TOR cost more than that with marketing costs included.

          • Phantoon says:

            I routinely slam EA for being terrible, but holy fucking shit, is that number real? Did they really spend four times the development budget in marketing?

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            Devan says:

            @Phantoon
            Modern Warfare is Activision not EA.

    • BillyIII says:

      They could’ve started with fixing the second game, it would’ve been much cheaper.

      • BobbyKotickIsTheAntichrist says:

        That would be difficult, since that second KOTOR was an Obsidian game.

    • nategator says:

      Personally, KOTOR was already damaged goods because of the bad Obsidian sequel that they rushed out the door too soon.

      The silver lining with all of this is that EA will never green light a Mass Effect or Dragon Age MMO

  5. Gesadt says:

    /me sighs. when will developers learn that doing “WoW just better” isn’t cutting it anymore. despite what big name license you got behind you. whenever i hear about a big new MMO that is not drastically different from what came before, i always think “f2p within a year or so”.

    EVE is doing fine with subscription because its got its own niche, being the only truly sandbox MMO. as such it has no competitors.

    • Lemming says:

      “WoW just better” probably would get you a decent stable playerbase (more so if you kept up the content updates), but the problem is with these WoW-a-likes is that they aren’t better. They usually have some features missing in favour of just upping the graphic quality.

      • evileeyore says:

        ““WoW just better” probably would get you a decent stable playerbase…”

        Exactly Lemming. SWTOR wasn’t “WoW just better”, it was “Attrocious WoW clone with voice acted cutscenes”.

        And no, the voice acted cut-scenes do not make up for having worse gameplay, combat, and customer service than every other MMO out there. SWTOR is hanging on solely by it’s IP, that it’s Star Wars. If it were a brand new unknown, unloved IP it’d never have made it passed the second month.

        • PopeJamal says:

          Its amazing to me how some of you people seem shocked and surprised that EA does things strictly for “teh moniez” and not out of some shared spirit of innovation, progress, and world peace.

          Is any of this really still a surprise? They’ve been this way for at least a decade for sure.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            I’d like to think that, wherever he may be, Trip Hawkins is kicking himself for handing over EA to Riccitello, and leaving to make the 3DO.

            Man, Electronic Arts used to be a damn awesome publisher back in the day. Skitchin’, Road Rash, Might & Magic II, Archon, Starflight, Mutant League Football, General Chaos, Desert Strike… There were some amazing gems back then.

          • Phantoon says:

            That was like, a million year ago.

            Before the concept of evil was even invented.

    • cliffski says:

      excellent post, I could not agree more.
      I sigh when I look at grindfest MMOs that are F2P or subscription or whatever. I already have a job. What I want is a non-grindy exciting world to spend time in.

      • Premium User Badge

        AmateurScience says:

        The thing is that there’s clearly enough people who do (who? beats me!) that like these things for them to be worth it for a developer. I can understand the temptation too when you consider the funding situation that most devs have i.e. ‘here is some money, make a game, if it does not sell, you can’t pay anyone for the next game you want to make’. I imagine many devs would gladly swap intermittent piles of cash for a modest but dependable and profitable stream of money every month. I know for a fact that their bankers and investors would.

        • Struckd says:

          the Korean and East Asian market, they extremely enjoy these grindy MMOs just look at what kind of games are being pumped out from there

      • BillyIII says:

        There still are some RP MUSHes and RP communities in Second Life.

      • Struckd says:

        GW2…jsut thought i would put it out there, that seems exactly like the game you mentioned, and what ive been looking for too…without an other monetary commitment other then buying the box…i am not rushed in playing as much as possibly along side having a job and supporting family, to get back what i have spent per month

    • InternetBatman says:

      It’s only the big ones doing WoW+better. I had a subscription with DDO, which plays entirely differently from WoW. There’s also Dofus and its sequel. There are a lot more MMOs out there then we realize, it’s just that the big companies lack the vision to truly innovate.

      TOR is better than vanilla WoW in many ways, it just didn’t nail all the basics. It felt a bit pieced together as a game even though I really liked the trial.

  6. Clash says:

    I called this way back when I first heard about their pricing structure. Secret World is going to go that way too. They not only have the box price and subscription, but a microtransaction shop on top of it. I think the Guild Wars 2 approach and F2P with a shop are the only way to go these days.

    Also the shop HAS to avoid selling power or else it becomes a good reason to avoid the game.

    • Premium User Badge

      HermitUK says:

      If/when The Secret World goes F2P I’m there; rather enjoyed the beta weekends but don’t have any inclination to pay a monthly fee.

      • Sarkhan Lol says:

        It really bugs me that they’re including a cash shop as well as a subscription, because that’s tantamount to admitting that they’re going to squeeze whatever they can out of people and then springboard to F2P after the first few months. It’s like noticing all the airplane staff are already wearing parachutes, and you’re not.

    • Phantoon says:

      I’m surprised they admitted it was doing terribly so quickly- there must’ve been another investor call. The language used before was not “we will never need to go F2P because our game is the best” but “we have the best game ever, also it’s star wars, and we will never ever ever ever go F2P because that’s what you do when your MMO fails”.

      GUESS IT FAILED!

  7. Hypernetic says:

    Called it.

    • derbefrier says:

      you and half the internet……

      my honest opinion? if they waited another year or so to release it they would have done much better. all of these features they’re adding in 6 months down the road should have been there at launch and are expected by today’s MMO base and could have helped alleviate the server pop issues a lot sooner. ALOT of people left because they got tired of waiting for server transfers and had no one to play with or couldn’t get PvP ques to pop. This is what happens when pushy publishers dont let developers finish their games you end up with the TORTANIC

  8. RandomEsa says:

    Calling it now. At 1 year anniversity of SWTOR they annouce f2p with a cash shop where you can sell your drops and items for real money.

    • Vorphalack says:

      They shall call it the Legitimate Medium of Exchange Barter Hut.

  9. Stromko says:

    I gave KotOR a shot via a 7 day trial, but 40$ to continue after that is just way too much. If it were a really great game, maybe, but it wasn’t that great. On the other hand if they go freemium, it might cost even more money to unlock all the story / leveling content from start to finish on one character.

  10. f1x says:

    Just what we all predicted,
    and just the only thing that can make this game “survive”

  11. SandmanXC says:

    Surprised I am not. Try it I finally might.

  12. Orija says:

    The game couldn’t possibly have a 250 million dollar budget, could it?

  13. Afrododger says:

    The main problem with the game is that it’s just flat, plain and boring.

    Character quests at the beginning of the quest are interesting, but after that, the game falls flat on its face because of how linear and boring it is. Going F2P will not solve any of these issues.

    I had hammered this game through beta, as well as through launch for the first 2 months, and after that, I couldn’t face levelling another character past lvl 20. PVP was a joke, as it was primarily hackers / cheaters, or people who played classes that weren’t balanced well, giving them an advantage over many others.

    As much as I love StarWars, and the story of the Old Republic (KotOR for sure!) this game just didn’t do anything special. Take away the SW brand, and you have the most boring, plain, and linear MMO you could possibly play.

    It’s unfortunate, I had such high hopes, but this game will just end up dying a death, regardless of F2P or not. I hope it doesn’t in a lot of ways, but with GW2 on the horizon, and many other MMO’s of the same calibre as SWTOR (just better) I see TOR closing sooner rather than later.

    • f1x says:

      Indeed, the game has a lot of low points,

      the thing is F2P wont make a better game, but it will adjust to the quality, I mean,
      people will be more inclined to play something not so good but because its free, truly its like that

      If you look at the rest of F2P succesful games, there is no real quality, Shaiya or Runes of Magic make a lot of money and they are awful mmos, but they are free and some people will pay for the goodies

      of course, having to admit that a game with a sky high budget as SW:TOR is just as good as Runes of Magic and therefore must embrace a similar business model its hard to diggest for Bioware, thats why they are making all kind of excuses all around

    • ColonelClaw says:

      I think I had three ‘main problems’ with SWTOR.
      Number one was the utterly goddamn awful art direction. My eyes are still in recovery.
      Number two was the emphasis on the solo story. A massively multiplayer solo game.
      Number three were the cut-scenes. In an MMO. Good grief. My space bar is still in recovery.

      Other than that it was actually a very well made game, very responsive, very few bugs etc, but it all added up to something that was average at best. No way was this game worth a monthly sub, not even close.

  14. ZIGS says:

    Can’t wait for Pay2Play, in which the developers pay us to play their MMOs

  15. aliksy says:

    No shit. It was pretty inevitable, given the competition and that SWTOR is not a very good game.

    It pretty much deserves to fail due to its lack of innovation.

    • Premium User Badge

      jezcentral says:

      Blizzard called, apparently you were right, and WOW, Starcraft and Diablo are all struggling. :)

      • Baines says:

        For better or worse, WOW, Diablo III, and Starcraft II get by with lack of innovation because they are the entrenched standard that others have to innovate beyond. Same for Call of Duty, various EA sports games, and the like. They sell on name brand, and are the reason other lack of innovation titles have trouble finding a market.

        • aliksy says:

          Uhm, yeah. If you’re a heavyweight that’s effectively defining the genre, there’s less of an expectation to do new things. But even so, while I don’t know about blizzard’s RTS games, each Diablo game advanced things. I think WoW was a big step forward for the genre, too.

          If you’re a “me too!” game, you’re starting at a disadvantage, and SWTOR brought nothing to the table. Well, ok, maybe some of the single player stuff they injected was “new,” but I question the merit of grafting a single player game onto an MMO. That doesn’t really play to the genre’s strengths.

      • Flavioli says:

        I think those are games that people expect not to innovate too much. I honestly think people would be more upset if they see the formula for these games change beyond what they liked from the predecessors. See what happened with Dragon Age 2.

        In my opinion, it’s very risky and often not worth it to innovate too much within a given IP (unless it’s a spinoff); for everyone that wants to see something new, there are very likely more people that want more of what they got from their last installment. For example, Pokemon releases tons of spinoffs but their most successful releases by far are the games that do more of the same, with a few improvements. The only IP I can think of where this doesn’t seem to apply as much is Mario.

  16. afarrell says:

    So basically, F2P’s finally coming of age, and players now demand it

    Ah no, I think you’re reading that wrong: Players demand “updates, new modes and situations” and since they can’t have them, best stop charging a monthly fee.

    • Vorphalack says:

      Yeah. If I were to demand anything from MMO developers, it would be more sensible payment options (see GW2 for buy the box, play without a sub), or possibly a subscription that was set to something more competitive than £8.99. I mean, who the hell decided it had to be either £8.99 a month or micro payments? We can surely think of other ways to fund a persistent world with frequent content updates by now.

  17. Wyrm says:

    They’ve seen the Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend and shat themselves. Simple.

    • aliksy says:

      Well, good. They could’ve made something like that and they chose not to. Their loss.

      • codename_bloodfist says:

        To be fair, there were entire beta weeks for SWTOR.

        • Malk_Content says:

          To be fair the actual asked for changes and general bug fixes of SWTOR from those beta weeks through to well past release are smaller than the changes made between GW2 beta weekends. That and they’ve had closed beta since the start of the year. I think if they had an actual beta rather than an extended game demo in which they aren’t willing to drastically change much they would have put out a better/more stable product.

    • TariqOne says:

      GW2 is a similarly derivative and lifeless product. It just doesn’t ask for a sub fee.

  18. Jimbo says:

    I’m not interested in playing F2P storefronts, but I’m not interested in playing bad games either, so SWTOR has no chance with me either way. I would still spend money on a subscription MMO if somebody made a good one.

    • Artificial says:

      That’s exactly how I feel about f2p as well. It’s why when I tried LOTRO I just couldn’t enjoy it at all, and stay well clear of free to play games.

      • derbefrier says:

        yep I enjoyed leveling in SWTOR and even a little end game raiding but burned out on it pretty quickly and then D3 was on the horizon so i just cancelled. I figured i would revisit it in a year and see how its progressing but if it goes F2P i am done. sorry i already paid for the game once your not going to nickel and dime me to death by selling bank and character slots and crap.

  19. Salt says:

    I wonder, do they have a (good) streaming download client set up yet?

    Downloading almost 20GB to try out an MMO is a quite considerable barrier to entry.

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      It’s only 22GB of download or so.. for a single-language install, anyway. Installed size is definitely larger.

      I found the downloading time good at building excitement, which carried me through at least a little bit of the game.

      Anyway the answer to your question: nope!

  20. Premium User Badge

    Gundato says:

    I was one of the people on a near dead server (Defenestrator, woo!). I can say, without a single doubt, that even if this were to die horribly, the game would still be playable up until the servers were shut down.

    That being said, I look forward to actually doing flashpoints and heroic quests now that I am on a populated server.

  21. Dansak says:

    It’s not the cost in money that restricts me playing poor games like TOR, it’s the cost in time. Gamers like myself are getting older and time to play games is being restricted by jobs/family/senility, therefore I need to pick my games carefully (RPS helps a LOT). Making it F2P won’t magically give me more time to give it a go.

    • Premium User Badge

      jezcentral says:

      So much this. Since the birth of my firstborn, I’ve only had time to log in and do space missions. I need to send my wife off on holiday with the bairn to get some gaming done.

      I’ve got lots of money to spend on gaming, but I have no time!

  22. reggiep says:

    I blame “always online”.

  23. Premium User Badge

    Erithtotl says:

    You have to wonder how many of the Bioware team secretly saw this coming before the games was even released. I can’t even count how many people who played the beta predicted F2P within a year.

    And please, please, please stop saying how SWTOR is a great single player game. The story may be interesting, but the gameplay is the same repeditive, watered down MMO crap. KOTOR never required you to fight through hundreds of same-y opponents to flick some switches and then fight your way back through that same crowd. It’s like people have forgotten what makes good gameplay.

    • Antsy says:

      I don’t think anyone believes it would stand well on it’s own as purely single player game. But the actual experience of playing this MMO is that it’s perfectly playable single player and even better co-op with a couple of friends.

      We’re saying that as an MMO it’s a great single player game. Which is why it just isn’t good enough.

    • Bloodloss says:

      I’m pretty sure KOTOR had a lot of quests exactly as you describe. Can you give details on some of the more interesting quests, more varied in gameplay, that I apparently missed?

  24. DazedByTheHaze says:

    http://www.google.com/finance?q=electronic+arts

    Man should have bought some put options …

    I said that not long ago about Facebook haah…

  25. Hoaxfish says:

    If someone told me there was an F2P starwars MMO, I’d be quite interested (the fact I made an account on Clone Wars Adventures is testament to that, even if it is just minigames for kids)

    But looking at how Bioware (and EA) have approached the game and the community, from beta right through until now, I can safely say I have absolutely no interest in playing this game any more… I will still amuse myself by watching their increasingly desperate attempts to pretend everything is “very successful”.

    “Most Successful MMO launch ever” included.

  26. shadow9d9 says:

    It isn’t about the money. The game is bad. I wouldn’t come back if it were free because the game was awful. $15 a month means nothing.

  27. Valvarexart says:

    A year ago I said we’d see this day. It came sooner than I expected.

    • Johnny Lizard says:

      I hereby predict that the 15th of June 2013 will definitely happen, and it will be some time in February 2014. Let’s see if my prediction is as successful as yours.

    • TariqOne says:

      I predict that yet Others will arise, possessing The Futuresight just as you do O Nostradamus. As prophesied, They too shall come here and crow of the Totally Obvious Things they once Sorta Foretold.

  28. HeroJez says:

    Traditional MMOs simply take up too much time nowadays.

    I’ve gone from playing multiple MMOs, to playing Just SW and WoW, to playing just WoW… and recently cut back from 4 alts to one main. Time is more precious than anything, I guess. So you might as well play the best, even if it costs you £15 a month, let alone £9.

    I have a feeling that ‘the best’ will be Guild Wars 2 upon its release, but it’s obviously subjective. WoW, EVE, and others have a strong argument.

  29. Torgen says:

    Has anyone but Turbine really been successful at converting a MMO to F2P? It seems all NCsoft did with City of Heroes is piss off returning vets and stifle conversion of new F2P accounts to paying ones by overly restricting/overcharging for content.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Anarchy Online is still around with it’s F2P model, and I guess has given Funcom enough success to try Conan and The Secret World

    • Premium User Badge

      Screwie says:

      I admit I’ve not paid surgical attention to the CoX F2P conversion (or frequented the official forums for over a year) but at casual glance it’s very similar to the good stuff Turbine did with DDO, isn’t it?

      For the record I still sub to CoX, and just rake in the store points each month to buy each new powerset/costume bundle that comes out that takes my fancy. I like that they’re producing more content at a faster rate than before and I’ve not looked much deeper than that. I’m genuinely interested in what you dislike about the methods they chose.

      • Arglebargle says:

        CoX has done a great job of putting out more content since going freemium. They have some of the best dev contact as well. I recall them coming out and saying that selling costume packs allowed them to hire and keep one and a half extra artists, which meant more costumery for all.

        For the alt heavy, playing free is not so friendly, but even for the beginner, the costs associated with things don’t seem that bad.

        It is also the online game that hits my computer system the hardest of any that I’ve played. Lots of upgrading going on there. Plus loads of innovation, old and new.

  30. Roshin says:

    I’d be interested if they redesigned it and released as a singleplayer game. :)

  31. Mac says:

    To be fair – if this was F2P I would likely still be playing it and buying the odd thing here and there – it’s just not worth a sub in its current state.

  32. Flavioli says:

    Bioware/EA fucked up again, and I’m glad. They should have figured before spending hundreds of millions of dollars on this project that full voice acting and some fancy cutscenes isn’t enough to make a WoW clone interesting enough to be worth a subscription fee.They might have at some point in the past made my favorite game of all times (Baldur’s Gate) but I badly want Bioware to fail and disappear like the rest of EA’s disposable developers. I just can’t stand to see the developer in this form.

  33. Yosharian says:

    Wait, people are still playing this game?

  34. Hoaxfish says:

    Hah, the original article has, *cough*, disappeared from that site. The links are still there, but the article just 404s.

  35. Kaiji says:

    Earth & Beyond
    Warhammer Online
    SW:TOR

    Can’t wait to see what EA do with their next joke attempt at making an MMO.

  36. Shandrakor says:

    See, this annoys me. I played DCUO on release; their failure to deliver monthly content updates cost them my sub. Then it went F2P. I picked up SWTOR on release because I had a great guild; what I hadn’t factored in (I didn’t play the beta) was that my (old) guild was composed primarily of Star Wars nuts. I enjoyed the month or two I spent there; zapping things with lightning JUST LIKE THE EMPEROR was fun. However, having to run alts around THE SAME CONTENT with only minor class-based story mods wasn’t thrilling. Not leveling with a buddy turns out to be annoyingly grindy. So if you’re the sort of chappie that enjoys dressing up as a stormtrooper and doing stuff, great. I’m not. The final straw, for me, was some moron’s decision to make you load 9 bajillion times to go from Point X (quest) to Point Y, and those space sequences…there’s a set path you have to fly on. As an old Wing Commander nut, that annoyed the bloody blazes out of me. Could have made KOTOR III, did this instead. I do eventually learn from my mistakes. >.< I'm not buying this kind of crap anymore.