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[Column] Star Wars: The Old Republic: Chatting SWTOR F2P with Blaine Christine

BillMurphyBillMurphy Managing EditorBerea, OHPosts: 2,367MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

We recently had a chance to catch up with BioWare senior producer Blaine Christine to discuss the newly launched free-to-play option for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Read on to find out what we learned!

Let’s first cut to why Star Wars: The Old Republic even went free-to-play to begin with. According to Blaine, SWTOR was designed as a subscription-based game early on and while BioWare did notice the obvious shift towards free-to-play games in the run up to launch, the game simply wasn’t designed for that business model. However, BioWare was looking to possibly add some sort of microtransactions to the game post-launch. As it turned out, the free-to-play situation made it much harder for BioWare to not only keep players, but also attract new players, and so the team fast-tracked retrofitting the game in order to facilitate the free-to-play model we now see.

Read more of Michael Bitton's Chatting SWTOR F2P with Blaine Christine.

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Comments

  • AdoniAdoni Tucson, AZPosts: 349Member Uncommon
    They can keep there quickbars.

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  • eddieg50eddieg50 Tolland, CTPosts: 1,614Member Uncommon
    The one think I do not like is that preferred and free players get less experience, that will throw off the balance of the game and make people have to grind more defeating the purpose of a story driven mmo
  • nolic1nolic1 Kingman, AZPosts: 687Member Uncommon

    Untill they offer more on the cartel shop as one time pay offs and unlock the tool bars and add character slots I will not be playing this any more.

     

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    To me I enjoy gaming I dont play to be uber I play to have fun. If a game is not fun to me guess what I move on and play something else till I find one that is. When I find that great game and not sure if in my life time there will be one I hope it has everything I want in an mmo.

  • Sevenstar61Sevenstar61 Centreville, VAPosts: 1,690Member Uncommon

    One of my main concerns with the free-to-play implementation as it stands has to do with the dearth of services available for purchase. For example, there are numerous standard fare F2P restrictions found in SWTOR, such as the credit cap and a limit on the number of character slots. The problem with the lack of services is that players can’t buy their way out of these restrictions without outright subscribing to the game.

    Blaine did admit they had to make some concessions in order to get free-to-play live in the timeframe they were aiming for and the aforementioned services just weren’t able to make the cut for launch. Fortunately, we did get some good news here. Blaine revealed to us that a number of these services will go live with Game Update 1.6 (which is now on PTS), so it shouldn’t be too long now.

    That's good news. They should really get rid of credit cap. SOE just did it for EQ2 with the new expansion.

    Adding character slots is a must. And I hope they are going to place a high cap on this LOL. At least 20 per server please :)

    Anyway, patch 1.6 is on PTS right now, but Cartel Market was disabled yesterday.  I hope we can find out more today.

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  • BurntvetBurntvet Baltimore, MDPosts: 2,945Member Uncommon

    Another "TOR F2P" feature?

    Really?

    Haven't there been about 10 in the last week?

    Could there possibly be anyone who plays compgames/MMOs that hasn't been beaten to death with similar stories?

    Enough already.

     

  • erictlewiserictlewis Cottondale, ALPosts: 3,026Member Uncommon

    Free to play as a sound decision.  Um not the way a lot of folks see it.  I see it as a nickle and dime appraoch I think it will chase off more folks than it will keep them.   You want folks to like you game not want to pull out their hair ever time they turn around. 

    The free to play model is too restrictive imho. 

  • RemyVorenderRemyVorender Riverside, RIPosts: 3,266Member Uncommon

    A few friends, my wife and I all started playing SWTOR after quickly growing bored of GW2 and looking for more to do in way of raids, and I must say we are having a great time enjoying the game for what it is, and not what we wish it was.

     

    They did make a couple of boneheaded moves with the Cartel Market. The thing that companies have to realize is that perception is everything. The extra UI bars is a key example. They are completely unneeded, but people see this and just see them getting nickel and dimed. The game gives you 4 12-slot bars, which is more than you should ever need.

     

    Here's a tip, just creak open that dusty wallet and fork over the $15 a month for a game if you want to play it and not worry about it. F2P is, and always will be, a horrible way to play a game. Nothing sucks you out of a game world like having to spend real money periodically. Just IMO of course.

    Played: AA, AC1, AC2, Aion, AO, AoC, CO, CoX, DAoC, DCUO, DN, EVE, EQ1, EQ2,
    ESO, FE, FFXI, FFXIV, FF, GW1, GW2, Istaria, L2, LoTRO, MO, MxO, NW, Rift, RoE,
    Ryzom, SB, SWG, SWTOR, TERA, TSW, WAR, WoW, WURM...

  • FreezzoFreezzo EnschedePosts: 235Member
    Originally posted by remyburke

    A few friends, my wife and I all started playing SWTOR after quickly growing bored of GW2 and looking for more to do in way of raids, and I must say we are having a great time enjoying the game for what it is, and not what we wish it was.

     

    They did make a couple of boneheaded moves with the Cartel Market. The thing that companies have to realize is that perception is everything. The extra UI bars is a key example. They are completely unneeded, but people see this and just see them getting nickel and dimed. The game gives you 4 12-slot bars, which is more than you should ever need.

     

    Here's a tip, just creak open that dusty wallet and fork over the $15 a month for a game if you want to play it and not worry about it. F2P is, and always will be, a horrible way to play a game. Nothing sucks you out of a game world like having to spend real money periodically. Just IMO of course.

    Actually the game just gives 2 bars for free/preferred players... Also the whole idea of f2p is not having to fork over those monies ^^

    "We need men who can dream of things that never were." - John F. Kennedy
    And for MMORPGs ever so true...

  • mymmomymmo StockholmPosts: 300Member
    Originally posted by Freezzo
    Originally posted by remyburke

    A few friends, my wife and I all started playing SWTOR after quickly growing bored of GW2 and looking for more to do in way of raids, and I must say we are having a great time enjoying the game for what it is, and not what we wish it was.

     

    They did make a couple of boneheaded moves with the Cartel Market. The thing that companies have to realize is that perception is everything. The extra UI bars is a key example. They are completely unneeded, but people see this and just see them getting nickel and dimed. The game gives you 4 12-slot bars, which is more than you should ever need.

     

    Here's a tip, just creak open that dusty wallet and fork over the $15 a month for a game if you want to play it and not worry about it. F2P is, and always will be, a horrible way to play a game. Nothing sucks you out of a game world like having to spend real money periodically. Just IMO of course.

    Actually the game just gives 2 bars for free/preferred players... Also the whole idea of f2p is not having to fork over those monies ^^

    So...how are the company supposed to get their funds? 

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  • DerrosDerros Posts: 1,077Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by mymmo
    Originally posted by Freezzo
    Originally posted by remyburke

    A few friends, my wife and I all started playing SWTOR after quickly growing bored of GW2 and looking for more to do in way of raids, and I must say we are having a great time enjoying the game for what it is, and not what we wish it was.

     

    They did make a couple of boneheaded moves with the Cartel Market. The thing that companies have to realize is that perception is everything. The extra UI bars is a key example. They are completely unneeded, but people see this and just see them getting nickel and dimed. The game gives you 4 12-slot bars, which is more than you should ever need.

     

    Here's a tip, just creak open that dusty wallet and fork over the $15 a month for a game if you want to play it and not worry about it. F2P is, and always will be, a horrible way to play a game. Nothing sucks you out of a game world like having to spend real money periodically. Just IMO of course.

    Actually the game just gives 2 bars for free/preferred players... Also the whole idea of f2p is not having to fork over those monies ^^

    So...how are the company supposed to get their funds? 

    By making things in the store that people WANT to buy, to better their gaming experience or differentiate it from others, rather than HAVE to buy to be able to play the game at an acceptable level.  Speeders, pets, skins (modable armor), companion skins, races (and race changes!), unique color crystals (I still say they shouldnt have had stats on those >_<), heck even exp boosters, maybe even new planets provided there are alternatives that the free players can play.  Space missions, (well SOME people liked em!)

    I'm even ok with the GW2 chest key type of items, provided they have some kind of chance of dropping in game.

    At level 50, expecially on my shadow, I had to have pretty much 5 bars filled with stuff and I used most of it.

  • severiusseverius sacramento, CAPosts: 1,514Member Common

    Best part of the f2p is that zones are becoming full again and it feels more like an mmo than the single player experience it became shortly after launch.  Whether or not it lasts we will see.

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  • RemyVorenderRemyVorender Riverside, RIPosts: 3,266Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Freezzo

    Actually the game just gives 2 bars for free/preferred players... Also the whole idea of f2p is not having to fork over those monies ^^

    Originally posted by severius

    Best part of the f2p is that zones are becoming full again and it feels more like an mmo than the single player experience it became shortly after launch.  Whether or not it lasts we will see.

     

    @ Freezzo - my bad. That is a terrible design decision of that's the case. I agree completely. I thought it sas 6 bars total, and 4 if you were F2P. Just a note for those that aren't aware, you can buy the hotbar slot unlock for in-game currency on the Auction House.

     

    @ Severius - I have to agree here as well. For a game that most people tout as a single player MMO, I group more and do more dungeons in this game than I have in any other MMO I've played in years. I'm having a great time and just trying to ignore the whiners.

    Played: AA, AC1, AC2, Aion, AO, AoC, CO, CoX, DAoC, DCUO, DN, EVE, EQ1, EQ2,
    ESO, FE, FFXI, FFXIV, FF, GW1, GW2, Istaria, L2, LoTRO, MO, MxO, NW, Rift, RoE,
    Ryzom, SB, SWG, SWTOR, TERA, TSW, WAR, WoW, WURM...

  • mmoguy43mmoguy43 , CAPosts: 2,442Member Uncommon

    "Currently, it is indeed possible to buy unlocks for credits, which is a fair compromise, but given the credit cap and the lack of escrow withdrawal capability (outside of subscribing) it’s not necessarily going to be worthwhile for players to purchase unlocks for the sole purpose of selling them back to players for in-game credits."

     

    This is true for most unlocks I've seen on the GTN. On The Shadowlands server I've seen Section X (Player), Cargo bay (Player), Character title (Player), and Inventory unlocks in the price range for F2P or Prefered players. Often the account wide unlocks could only be purchase by subscribers. If they would raise or remove the cap completely it would allow for more unlocks to be bought and the credit-to-cartel coin value for them wouldn't be so strained. In chat you will hear people commenting that items should be put on the GTN so that a F2Per can buy it, that's great but Section X(player) unlock which costs 600 CC (~$5) going up for 200k doesn't make sense.

  • RocknissRockniss Youngstown, OHPosts: 1,034Member
    No quickbars = no Rockniss, I have to say when I logged I hadn't really thought of the impact until I started playing and the game felt very disorganized. On top of that I couldn't move the chat box to the lower left corner.
    I just want to say that people use extra quickbars and re arrange the UI because they are annoyed otherwise. With that in mind, f2p can get better if you remove the annoying stuff like no extra quick bars and unlocking the chat box in the ui editor, extra char slots...... I mean you do want people to play right ?
  • elockeelocke Manassas, VAPosts: 4,205Member Uncommon

    The problem with SWTOR updates is that they don't change anything.  They just keep adding more of the same.  No new systems, no changes or revamps to old content.  3 major content patches and I still see no major reason to come back to go through it all again.  Worlds still feel like sterile hospital rooms, hallways and all.  Combat is boring and just not very dynamic and yet overloaded with skill/ability/hot bar bloat and then they have the nerve to make us pay for hot bar access.  O.o

    This game needs a FFXIV:Realm Reborn moment.  Yep, you heard me.  Shut it down and completely overhaul the game.  Making an almost brand new one.  Forget about voice overs and give us longevity systems, free form space combat, worlds that are worlds and not branching corridors of one-time content.  And so forth.  Story can stay, just focus on making it a progressive and dynamic experience.

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  • Xstatic912Xstatic912 New York, NYPosts: 365Member
    These dev won't change there f2p practice until a popular game goes f2p and finally do it right and attract most of the other fans from other f2p games.. Then and only then they'll change there ways or close the game all together..

    Bash perfect world/cryptic all you want but in cryptic games its probably 10% or less that's locked away from f2p option, things like cap increases on currency, char slot etc.. But you can run all other stuff unlimited..
  • NightkinNightkin BudapestPosts: 47Member
    SWTOR is unplayable in F2P. Reduced ui, characters can't equip artifacts and they are can't craft.

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  • BenbradaBenbrada Plainfield, ILPosts: 328Member Uncommon

    I'm playing this alongside GW2.

    I dislike:

    • Being charged for Quick Bars (but I bought in because I need my sidebar :-) )
    • Not being able to get the same experience & valor as subscribers
    • Charging for hiding head gear seems to be penny pinching as well
    • Not being able to buy more character slots
    • Being charged for a 3rd crew skill (once again I bought in, once again account wide).
    Otherwise I'm doing fine since I'm not a huge "raider". I'm sure being charged for artifact gear will bug me one day.
     
    I wonder if they reverse some of these descisions will those that "bought in" get a refund? :-)
     
    Just as in GW2 I don't mind throwing them a $5.00 bone once in awhile if it keeps the game going and we get fixes/updates.
     
    I think they might get some bang for the buck if they did a tier subscription model though, e.g. $4.99/$9.99/$14.99 a month or even just a straight $10/month like Legendary in DCUO.
     
     
  • FrodoFraginsFrodoFragins Manchester, NHPosts: 2,928Member Uncommon

    I think the article is fair this time. 

     

    I don't see how they can possibly correct the quickslot purchases.  Let's say they stop charging for them and they refund everyone who bought them.  They also need to track every single sale of them on the GTN and transfer credits back from each sale.  I doubt they will have that data in the first place.  and if they do, the people that sold them may not have enough credits to send them back.

  • Po_ggPo_gg Twigwarren, WestfarthingPosts: 2,719Member Uncommon

    Have you tried SWTOR F2P yet? What do you think so far?

    I usually try with a new f2p acc every mmo which goes f2p under me, to have a hindsight of the restrictions (and it's never bad to have a mule) so yep, tried it.

    I play it as a singleplayer game (just like I did it before, lol) so a few restrictions won't hinder me, namely chat, inventory, mail, bank, direct trade and credit cap (I don't chat, I keep nothing, trashing everything on sight, since I won't plan to stay after 50. I mean only if I bear it that long ;) )

     

    What I'm thinking so far:

    as a Sage I definitely will bump my head into the 2 bar limit, but I'm not there yet (I have 1.5 bars full now). In the beginning it was a bit hard to play solo (too many curious players tried the game out, cleaning up quest mobs, etc :) ) but in the last 2 days the numbers seems normalizing (= dwindling I mean). It still more than it was when I played earlier, before the server merges. I guess we'll see the population numbers more clearly in a few weeks, when the hotbar limit kicks in for most of them.

    Beside the above mentioned ones, remaining restrictions are not much disturbing, rather lame. Like the sprint, it makes no sense, f2p's got it at lvl15, so basically they're only running a bit slower in the beginning, on the smallest worlds... tough restriction. Lol. Or the quality item wearing, which is valid on quest items too, so f2p'ers don't get quest rewards. (which is good for me, since at least I don't have to trash it, but it's bad from a selling point of view. If it would go into the inventory, it could remind the player one more time for purchasing the unlock... EA should read some Rules of Aquisiton, but I guess they don't have any ferengis around :D )

    Reduced xp could backfire too, since it forcing the players to grind, and if that grind becomes too tedious, it's easy to leave the game. (Actually easier than before with box and CE, and even than 1.5+ million left)  Not surprisingly most games doing the opposite, f2p's get the normal xp gain, and subscribers get a faster one. And it kicks in only at lvl10, so there's a remarkable slowdown which has a very clear nickel-and-dime message :)

    As a bit of surprise, during these pre-hotbarlimit times the most annoying restriction is the Slow Travel (formerly known as Quick Travel). I admit I didn't think about it earlier, reading the f2p faq.... or I just didn't remembered how many times I used quick travel before.

     

  • TARDISjunkieTARDISjunkie Jacksonville, FLPosts: 60Member
    So wait, wait...you're complaining that you feel "shortchanged" because you're not getting more free stuff with your free stuff?  Seriously?  Would you like some cheese with your whine?  Get real.  
  • NephaeriusNephaerius Baltimore, MDPosts: 1,539Member Uncommon
    The quick bar limitation is plain silly.  I'm surprised they don't charge you to have more than one finger on each of your characters hands.

    Steam: Neph

  • wgc01wgc01 Las Vegas, NVPosts: 209Member

    I have have  had a sub since launch, gona stay subbed, it i the least hassle for me, now I have  coins and get coins each month to puchase things I might like to have or new content updates, and never have to give them anything beyond my 14.99 a month.

    I still think the 2 hot bar thing is a bit much for the f2p player, but hey it's a for profit company doing what they do trying to find ways to make profit, TOR has been under the microscope and really been ran through the mill much more than most games, which is shame game never had a chance,  with allot ofpeople bringing huge expectations and baggage from so many other games:(

     

  • GolelornGolelorn Hiding From Social Media Peeping Toms, ALPosts: 1,099Member Uncommon

    F2P worked for DDO. It hasn't worked for any other game that's tried it. DDO is high quality, and the shop is not a complete ripoff. 

     

    SOE tries to nickel and dime you to death. SWTOR actually took it one step further by making people pay for hotbars. Yea, good luck. People weren't willing to shell out a measly 15 dollars per month, and the devs think they are going to get more from the f2p crowd? 

    They need to aim at getting a lot of players with small transactions. Not a few playrs with large wallets.

  • MMOGamer71MMOGamer71 Pittsburgh, PAPosts: 1,930Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by TARDISjunkie
    So wait, wait...you're complaining that you feel "shortchanged" because you're not getting more free stuff with your free stuff?  Seriously?  Would you like some cheese with your whine?  Get real.  

    You do know that if you bought the game at launch and subscribed up to F2P you get nothing if your not subscribed.

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