Stupid News: SWTOR force chokes subscriptions, gives in to F2P model
Well, folks. It took longer than 6 months for it to happen, but not by much. After endless speculation about whether or not EA and Bioware’s behemoth SWTOR could continue to survive as a pay-per-month, subscription title, EA announced that the game would be going Free-to-Play sometime this fall. While this has the potential to be a tad frustrating for those who bought the game at full price back when the game was released in December, EA is hoping that the move will get people to try the game and (perhaps) spend some money here and there when there are items and features they’d like to use.
At the same time, people who want everything with no strings attached can still pay a monthly fee for unfettered access to all that bromantic Jedi/Sith Star Wars action.
You can see the exact breakdown of what will be available to Subscribers and Free-to-Playe users alike via this handy-dandy spreadsheet on SWTOR’s website.
Like with other Free-to-play games, SWTOR will institute a marketplace with its own in-game currency called “Cartel Coins” that can be bought by the player in order to access subscriber-only features or items. Subscribers, on the other hand, will have full access to all of the games features and receive a stipend of Cartel Coins to use on additional items, gear, or in-game features.
What isn’t mentioned, and what always seems to be the 800 lbs. gorrilla in the room when these games go free to play, is just what all this will mean for the people who bought the game on release day. For example, when Star Trek Online went free to play, all the people who bought the lifetime subscription stood to get royally screwed by the transition. But in response, Cryptic gave those players who plunked down the most cash a bunch of in-game stats, items, and money to lessen the blow. There’s no word from EA if anything like that is planned for early-adopters. However, my guess would have to be, “Don’t hold your breath.”
While this move may seem quite similar to what World of Warcraft has done of late, there’s one thing we just don’t know yet. You see, in WoW’s case the initial game is free-to-play, but the content that the high-level players get to enjoy (read: Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, and Cataclysm) all cost money. In SWTOR’s case, the game hasn’t been out long enough to warrant a content update of that size. So will they make those content upgrades available for free to all players? Or, like with World of Warcraft (and Guild Wars before it) will they ask the free-to-play users to fork over extra dough to see some of the newest elements of the game? More importantly, what does all of this mean for the latest big-name subscription based MMO that just recently hit the streets, Funcom’s The Secret World?
The ink still hasn’t dried on that MMO yet, so we’ll have to wait and see. But one has to wonder if subscriptions in MMOs will be around much longer if incredibly well funded projects like Star Wars the Old Republic cannot seem to keep more than 1 million people paying and playing only a half a year after its launch.