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Forcing Change: SWTOR Officially Goes F2P Next Week

There comes a time in every young MMO's life when it has to start facing facts and accepting the horrible, domino-like deterministic path cruel fate has set all of us on. Primarily, this means coping with the fact that World of Warcraft looms over its genre compatriots like an imploding sun, and its black-hole-like pull will devour all subscriber money from now until the end of time. Not even Star Wars: The Old Republic - the last great white hope for subs in a post-WoW world - could change that. And so, not even a year after launch, it'll be flipping the F2P switch on November 15th. But, of course, there are some strings attached.

So there's the requisite cash shop stocked with exclusive items, which isn't really a surprise in this day and age. Hopefully, they won't give anyone an unfair upper hand, but only time (and stats) will tell on that front.

More upsetting, meanwhile, are all the arbitrary restrictions free players have been saddled with. In addition to things like lowered chat access and super limited numbers of instance runs, space battles, and PVP skirmishes, BioWare's also announced that free players will accrue experience at a significantly slower rate. And though the above video doesn't mention any oh-so-trendy "boosts" in the Cartel Market, I'd be willing to bet an agonizing night's stay in a Sarlacc Pit that we'll see something to that effect.

Admittedly, many of those necessary evils haven't necessarily been evil in other MMOs. But when Voltroned together, they paint a rather worrisome picture for SWTOR. The implied message still seems to be "Subscribe! Subscribe! Subscribe!" I suppose, though, that a heaping pile of free story content is still significantly better than nothing - even if it's attached to a fairly traditional MMO. I may weep under the outrageous yolk of SWTOR's F2P model, but at least HK-51 will be there to dry my tears. Or devour them in vaguely sensual fashion for sustenance/grim pleasure, as it were.

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