Nope, not an April Fools joke.
Star Wars has been an IP dear to me for many decades. I’ve been a fan since 1977 when, as a geeky little kid, I waited in endless lines that wrapped around the block (before theaters were in malls or enormous complexes). I’ve read the books, played the games (table top and computer), and generally supported the franchise even during the Episode I days.
But Bioware has gone too far in their free to play version of Star War: The Old Republic.
I followed the game for several years, played through two beta releases, and slapped down a six month subscription before the game was released. Leveling was good . . . real good (aside from its linearity). Endgame was bad. But endgame and raiding/griding isn’t why I play games anymore. In my eyes the journey is always greater than reaching the destination. Once I hit level cap and farted around with a bunch of alts I let my subscription expire thinking, as many “casual” player do. that I’d be back when new and meaningful content was released.
So I moved on to other interests, keeping tabs on the game. Momentum faltered. Subscriptions plummeted. The founders of Bioware “quit.” Eventually the announcement is made that SW:TOR was going to “free” to play model. This didn’t surprise me. Most games moved to this model, or are released that way. One of my favorites being Lord of the Rings Online.
After the much touted F2P version was released I received emails imploring me to come back, bribing me with free Cartel Coins to use the in game store. I came back to check it out.
What’s this? I have to subscribe again to get the “free” Cartel Coins that you dangled in front of me? Hmmmm. I log in to a F2P model so restrictive that it’s almost impossible to play in an enjoyable manner.
- Quickbars limited to 2
- No bank storage
- Can only send in game mail, not receive
- Restricted chat
- Can only have 2 items listed in the GTN…yes, 2.
- Credit cap (even if you’ve earned the credits, even if you’ve earned the money previously as a subscriber)
- 3 flashpoints per week (and some items you may earn cannot be equipped unless you pay for it!)
- 5 warzones per week
- 0 operations (unless you pay for a weekly unlock)
- No rested experience points
- Nerfed experience point gain
- Cannot equip purple items, EVEN though you spend the time to earn them via Flashpoint runs, etc.
- Can’t use some emotes (including the ubiquitous /lol emote without paying…ridiculous!)
- Can’t send mail
- Can’t trade with other players
- Basically every system in the game is crippled or inaccessible in such a way that they’ve converted a MMORPG in to a single player RPG.
I understand how F2P models are supposed to work. I understand that sometimes game systems are reduced in order to monetize a game. It’s a model that is supposed to create a playing experience that is attractive to and incentivizing to a player so they will freely want to pay for additional or full services. But the F2P model in SW:TOR is so crippling and so intrusive that all it does is force someone who wants to play the game to subscribe . . . or just quit.
You may be asking: Why? Here’s why. If you sit down and work through the Cartel Network (store) and add up the cost of all the things you would need to buy (as a F2P player) to have the equivalent perks as someone paying a subscription, you would find that you would have to pay approximately $50 per month. $50!!!
Let’s do the math on that. Pay $15 to subscribe…or pay $50 for equivalent a la carte perks.
Yes, what Bioware is basically saying is: Hey all you F2P gamers, if you want to enjoy our game subscribe or GTFO. But hey, if you want to pay us triple for the same experience we think that is a great deal!!
Other companies choose a different F2P model that gives players full access to the game while introducing in game currency systems that allow them to augment their gaming experience. Full access to PVP, dungeons, raids…just about everything listed above is granted. These are the F2P models that should be supported.
Who in their right mind would pay for a handful of perks to hit a $15 limit instead of just subscribing? It’s an insulting slap to the face of this fan, so I got out. I finally made the decision after a couple months of internal debate. I deleted all my characters, uninstalled, and scrubbed as much of my account information as I could.
I know you need to make a buck, but you’ve utterly failed in your F2P implementation of SW:TOR Bioware. I’m done with you Star Wars: The Old Republic. And if it weren’t for the Mass Effect series I would also be done with you as well Bioware.