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[Column] Star Wars: The Old Republic: SWTOR F2P Revisited

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,581MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

A long time ago, an MMO had to save itself by transitioning from a subscription-based format to free-to-play.  Other MMOs have made the transition over the years, although not with as much need to retain players as Star Wars: the Old Republic. Since that time, the game experienced a resurgence in population for a while, but things seem to have settled down. It's a good time to revisit how the free-to-play experience stacks up against being preferred or a subscriber.

Read more of Jean Prior's Star Wars: The Old Republic - SWTOR F2P Revisited.


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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
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Comments

  • museandalimuseandali Lake City, FLPosts: 58Member

    As a Premium account holder and long time subscriber to SWTOR, I'd like to weigh in here.

    Yes, the restrictions look really bad on paper, but realistically, if you're looking to play the game for the long haul and actually do endgame content, the restrictions aren't so bad.

     

    The cash shop in SWTOR, anytime you buy something off of it, it's delivered to you as an item in your character's inventory, even account unlocks like more inventory slots, race unlocks and the like.    This also means that players looking to make easy credits can buy several things and put them on the auction house.

     

    Case in point.   I had max inventory slots, all the races unlocked and a month's saved up Operations access (Ops are SWTOR-speak for Raids) and, outside of the $10 I spent for the cartel expansion when I was a subber, and the sub, I never paid a thin dime for the game. all of my unlocks, I got via the auction house, and I was, as a free player, still actively raiding and doing(and benefitting from) endgame content.

    There's enough daily quests in SWTOR at level cap to get you to credit cap twice over.  Ultimately, the only thing I missed being a free to play player was the fact that I didnt' have access to all the emotes (I was on an RP server)

     

  • RocknissRockniss Youngstown, OHPosts: 1,034Member
    This has more to do with f2p in general, but juggling expenses is for real life. I don't just buy whatever in real life. I do a lot of homework, ask questions, read consumer reports, and make purchases I can get out of if need be.

    Making choices like that in video games takes all the fun out of it.

    Now with respect to Swtor, I logged in when it first went f2p and logged in last week. It does feel a lot better.
  • CazNeergCazNeerg Puyallup, WAPosts: 2,198Member
    I think it's fair to talk about whether a preferred tier in a game is too restricted, but there is no such thing as too restricted when it comes to a completely free player.  At least not in terms of what the player deserves or should expect, because if you spend nothing, you deserve nothing.  The only sense in which free players can be too restricted is if the restrictions are so onerous that people who otherwise might have eventually spent money don't stick around long enough to make that decision.

    Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
    Through passion, I gain strength.
    Through strength, I gain power.
    Through power, I gain victory.
    Through victory, my chains are broken.
    The Force shall free me.

  • VoreDockVoreDock port richey, FLPosts: 129Member
    Nearly all the restrictions can be lifted with in game purchases i unlocked my whole account in less then 2 months  as a perferred  player 
  • Methos12Methos12 Maladis 46Posts: 1,234Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by museandali

    As a Premium account holder and long time subscriber to SWTOR, I'd like to weigh in here.

    Yes, the restrictions look really bad on paper, but realistically, if you're looking to play the game for the long haul and actually do endgame content, the restrictions aren't so bad.

    I disagree, especially considering you'll straight up run out of action bar slots in your mid-20s. Unless you invest some money into the game you'll face living hell after that point. Preferred is the way to go, with some additional unlocks on the side.

    Nature without Technology is little more than animals running about.
    Nature without Magic is without wonder or miracle.
    .........
    Magic without Technology is fantasy.
    Magic without Nature is formless and useless.
    .........
    Technology without Nature is application without understanding.
    Technology without Magic is repetitious and uninventive.
  • enderandrewenderandrew Omaha, NEPosts: 6Member

    You claim the game was desperate despite having 2 million pre-orders. Most of the subs dropped off quickly, but those pre-orders amassed at least $120 million in revenue. So it wasn't like the game was hurting immediately.

    EA said the game needs about 500k subscribers to be profitable from subscribers alone, and it has that number today. And a recent report said SWTOR made another $130+ million on the cartel market last year alone. The game isn't hurting. There is tons of new content and it is doing quite well.

    As for the restrictions on F2P, if you give the game money once ever, you go from F2P to preferred for life. I recommend to most people to subscribe at least for one month. You get the expansion for free, can level from 50 to 55, and have no restrictions during that month. Then you make tons of credits and purchase all the unlocks you'd need as a preferred player. You can let your subscription drop then and have most things unlocked.

    I sub every month however because I love the game and want it to continue to be a success so I keep getting new content.

    You can get some bonus items and 7 days of free subscription time by clicking a refer a friend link.

    http://www.swtor.com/r/hJPK89

  • barezzbarezz Granite City, ILPosts: 140Member Uncommon

    I think the biggest difference is what was touched on in the article, and that is that they beat you over the head with restrictions.  I am at preferred status, and get so turned off by the constant bombardment that I lose the desire to play at any level.

    Wish you could unify chest color?  or hide head slot?  Pay $$!

    Hey you just turned in a quest!  Well you would get more rewards if you pay $$!

    Oh and by the way, rest XP = $$

    Hey want to remove mods?  Well if you subscribe it costs less!  (not a lot less, but just an example)

    Hey wish you could send someone credits?  Well only subscribers can!  Oh and enjoy the credit cap.  But you can unlock money you earn with $$

    For a Star Wars game... it feels like it is being run by Ferengi.  I can almost hear the Rules of Acquisition being quoted at me.

    I understand that they want to make money, but they put too much emphasis and pressure on sales techniques, because you can't just enjoy the game, free or preferred, without being smacked in the face with a sales pitch, or reminder at how your experience sucks compared to a subscriber.  And that is what I don't care for.

  • CazNeergCazNeerg Puyallup, WAPosts: 2,198Member
    Originally posted by Methos12

    I disagree, especially considering you'll straight up run out of action bar slots in your mid-20s. Unless you invest some money into the game you'll face living hell after that point. Preferred is the way to go, with some additional unlocks on the side.

    I have to call BS on the "living hell" claim.  Do you technically run out of slots, if you insist on putting everything you possibly can into a hotbar slot?  Sure.  But the game isn't hard enough for you to actually need to use all of your abilities in a fight just because you have them.  Just one hotbar can easily get you through any fight you will face outside of an Operation, and if someone makes it far enough to be doing Ops, he/she can probably suck it up and spend five bucks.

    I agree though, that if you don't want to sub, preferred is the way to go.  If five bucks (ever) is a hardship, there are probably more important things to be doing with your time than playing a MMO anyway.

    Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
    Through passion, I gain strength.
    Through strength, I gain power.
    Through power, I gain victory.
    Through victory, my chains are broken.
    The Force shall free me.

  • RyowulfRyowulf Greensburg, PAPosts: 668Member

    Its sad that so many people are still drinking the cool-aid that EA gives them.  I sub the game, but at least I am fully aware of how greedy EA has been and how much the screw over all the tiers.

    SWTOR even makes a subbers pay for emotes.  They gives you 400-500 CC a month but when you compared that to the price of things in their shop. Its pennies.

    Also notes that the games SWTOR was put next two were old games.  The Secret World, Tera both of which came out around the same times have much different ftp systems.

    EA did and has done everything in their power to ruin SWTOR. If it was ANY other mmo. The game would have died long long ago. Its only because its Star Wars that its still here today.

  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Arkham, VAPosts: 10,910Member
    Originally posted by Ryowulf

    Its sad that so many people are still drinking the cool-aid that EA gives them.  I sub the game, but at least I am fully aware of how greedy EA has been and how much the screw over all the tiers.

    SWTOR even makes a subbers pay for emotes.  They gives you 400-500 CC a month but when you compared that to the price of things in their shop. Its pennies.

    Also notes that the games SWTOR was put next two were old games.  The Secret World, Tera both of which came out around the same times have much different ftp systems.

    EA did and has done everything in their power to ruin SWTOR. If it was ANY other mmo. The game would have died long long ago. Its only because its Star Wars that its still here today.

     

    It seems a little implausible that half a million additional people signed up to play SWToR after it went F2P just because it's a Star Wars themed game when there are so many Star Wars themed games that bombed so badly.

     

    I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  • CazNeergCazNeerg Puyallup, WAPosts: 2,198Member
    Originally posted by Ryowulf

    EA did and has done everything in their power to ruin SWTOR. If it was ANY other mmo. The game would have died long long ago. Its only because its Star Wars that its still here today.

    This is complete nonsense.  By this logic, SWG would still be running.  BioWare style narrative + Star Wars + Cash Shop/Sub combo = Profit.  Saying that the only relevant part of that equation is the "Star Wars" is just silly.

    Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
    Through passion, I gain strength.
    Through strength, I gain power.
    Through power, I gain victory.
    Through victory, my chains are broken.
    The Force shall free me.

  • Po_ggPo_gg Twigwarren, WestfarthingPosts: 2,714Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by barezz

    For a Star Wars game... it feels like it is being run by Ferengi.  I can almost hear the Rules of Acquisition being quoted at me.

    Nice one :)

     

    And I agree with Ryowulf's notion of "Also notes that the games SWTOR was put next two were old games." True, STO's one is a much better model, but to the truth, it gets either cash-shop heavy or grind-heavy in the end, and it's full with lockboxes, sadly. LotRO is also much better, especially for a former vip, but in there you need to buy (or grind the TP for) the expansions.

     

    My favourite part of the column was the ending (Everyone knows the adage about honey getting better results than vinegar), I keep saying the same since TOR switched to f2p. It was, however, only a theory without an actual example, until Rift switched. Rift's model is awesome. Jean should've paired Rift next to TOR as well, comparing the totally opposite approach of the same thing, the f2p switch. Now that would've been an interesting column :)

    (ps. and it's coming from someone who doesn't really like Rift, and more or less like and occasionally play TOR. TOR's f2p is a bad joke. And it's still better by lightyears compared to the initial state.)

  • mungleemunglee wausau, WIPosts: 3Member
    Yes as a former sub free to play is crap and utterly useless. They just want your cash so if u want to play this game sub 1 month beat the story lines, do a raid, pvp and ship battles....you've completed everything worth trying. Bioware did a super crappy job making a mmorpg, but a great job making a rpg.
  • CazNeergCazNeerg Puyallup, WAPosts: 2,198Member

    Nice one :) 

    And I agree with Ryowulf's notion of "Also notes that the games SWTOR was put next two were old games." True, STO's one is a much better model, but to the truth, it gets either cash-shop heavy or grind-heavy in the end, and it's full with lockboxes, sadly. LotRO is also much better, especially for a former vip, but in there you need to buy (or grind the TP for) the expansions. 

    My favourite part of the column was the ending (Everyone knows the adage about honey getting better results than vinegar), I keep saying the same since TOR switched to f2p. It was, however, only a theory without an actual example, until Rift switched. Rift's model is awesome. Jean should've paired Rift next to TOR as well, comparing the totally opposite approach of the same thing, the f2p switch. Now that would've been an interesting column :)

    (ps. and it's coming from someone who doesn't really like Rift, and more or less like and occasionally play TOR. TOR's f2p is a bad joke. And it's still better by lightyears compared to the initial state.)

    The problem with this reasoning is that TOR's F2P is the second most successful of any game offering a subscription.  Only WoW's cash shop makes more money than TOR's (in the market of games which include subs)

    So you can think it's a bad joke all you want, but EA is laughing all the way to the bank.

    Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
    Through passion, I gain strength.
    Through strength, I gain power.
    Through power, I gain victory.
    Through victory, my chains are broken.
    The Force shall free me.

  • cronius77cronius77 Fairfax, VAPosts: 1,347Member Uncommon

    no other game I can think of restricts players to gaining 25% less experience if you do not pay 15 bucks a month. No other game I can think of gives you less action bars and UI if you do not pay 15 bucks a month. You people rationalizing this restrictive garbage shows you cannot be objective nor are even trying to be rational. Its garbage period for anyone that does not pay a sub for the game. People on this forum never seem to amaze me at the amount of stupidity in rational thinking or excuses they make in a bias way because they either hate or love their game so much they play or do not play. 

    As for game play its not terrible nor is it great and why they lost all the subs as its a on rails star wars experience that was hyped beyond belief and is why they lost so many subs. If they would of just stuck to the truth showed more of the game before release and listened more to their beta testers it would still have probably a couple million subs. Im not in the sandbox SWG bandwagon either , I thought SWG was utter crap also so I judge the game on what it offered when I subbed to it. I still enjoy going back to it once in a while to play it but the fact you have to pay 15 bucks a month for two more action bars and normal experience gains makes me sick to my stomach and why I havent been back in a very long time. It reminds me of a shady used car dealer trying to milk every cent out of a person. They might even get a sub out of myself and others if they didnt seem like they want to nickle and dime you by restricting everything. Some of us are not impulsive and can stand up for our principles though we still enjoy a games story etc.

  • cronius77cronius77 Fairfax, VAPosts: 1,347Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by CazNeerg

    Nice one :) 

    And I agree with Ryowulf's notion of "Also notes that the games SWTOR was put next two were old games." True, STO's one is a much better model, but to the truth, it gets either cash-shop heavy or grind-heavy in the end, and it's full with lockboxes, sadly. LotRO is also much better, especially for a former vip, but in there you need to buy (or grind the TP for) the expansions. 

    My favourite part of the column was the ending (Everyone knows the adage about honey getting better results than vinegar), I keep saying the same since TOR switched to f2p. It was, however, only a theory without an actual example, until Rift switched. Rift's model is awesome. Jean should've paired Rift next to TOR as well, comparing the totally opposite approach of the same thing, the f2p switch. Now that would've been an interesting column :)

    (ps. and it's coming from someone who doesn't really like Rift, and more or less like and occasionally play TOR. TOR's f2p is a bad joke. And it's still better by lightyears compared to the initial state.)

    The problem with this reasoning is that TOR's F2P is the second most successful of any game offering a subscription.  Only WoW's cash shop makes more money than TOR's (in the market of games which include subs)

    So you can think it's a bad joke all you want, but EA is laughing all the way to the bank.

    show some facts to back up your statement or do not post this sort of stuff because I think you are so full of it. There is tons of free to play games out there making way more money than even wows cash shop let alone a little 500 k sub game. Look at Korean and Chinese revenue for example. 

  • IsomanIsoman Muir, PAPosts: 31Member Common
    If both the subscription and F2P models of SWTOR is a disappointment, there is another option to get your mmo Star Wars "fix". Purchase a copy of Star Wars Galaxies from Ebay or Amazon and install the emulator from SWGEMU. The emulator has been a work in progress for around nine years by a small group of enthusiasts who want to relive the glory days that was SWG. If you missed out on the experience back in the mid 2000's, now is your chance to see what all the hype is about. 
  • CazNeergCazNeerg Puyallup, WAPosts: 2,198Member
    Originally posted by cronius77

    show some facts to back up your statement or do not post this sort of stuff because I think you are so full of it. There is tons of free to play games out there making way more money than even wows cash shop let alone a little 500 k sub game. Look at Korean and Chinese revenue for example. 

    If you read what I actually said, I said it was making the second most on it's cash shop *out of games which include a sub* - several pure F2P games make far more on their cash shops than any sub game.  And there aren't "tons" - there are exactly seven games, including WoW, which make more on their cash shops than TOR.  There are several threads here about the data already.

    http://www.superdataresearch.com/blog/us-digital-games-market/

    Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
    Through passion, I gain strength.
    Through strength, I gain power.
    Through power, I gain victory.
    Through victory, my chains are broken.
    The Force shall free me.

  • Po_ggPo_gg Twigwarren, WestfarthingPosts: 2,714Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by CazNeerg

    So you can think it's a bad joke all you want, but EA is laughing all the way to the bank.

    There's no disagreement between us. It's obviously good for EA, that's why they're sticking to it. And it's good for a decent chunk of the remaining subs as well (I wouldn't be surprised if the major part of that cash-shop income / year happened to arrive from the subscribers). Until they're spending the monthly sub + shop purchases on top of that, EA is fine with the current state.

     

    McD's also make a truckload of money, still, I can call their products junk :) As a customer, (unless being a devoted fanboi) noone should really care about the profit margins of a company. Personaly, all I care about is the quality of the product, and the pricing of it.

    As the owner of 2 TOR boxes I cancelled after the second month. I like the game (somewhat), but it doesn't worth 15/month. For me, I mean. Of course there are folks who are on a different opinion and stayed subbed, which I respect. (on a sidenote, there were about 1.5million others with my views, based on the number of cancelled subs)

    Since the switch I looked back maybe 3-4 times, and always left after a week. With this model (even after the revisions), I still don't feel to give them any money - let alone subbing. Again, there are other opinions, of course (and on a sidenote again, I don't really see those 1.5 million were rushing back to the game either...).

     

    To put in a contrast, I'm not a huge Rift fan, but after it switched to f2p I checked back, and dropped in the $15 sub. Simply because of the afforementioned honey vs. vinegar aspect. Rift's model is fully free for anyone, with minor advantages to former players, and with huge bonuses for subscribers. So much better than TOR's model, I can't even compare them, except saying TOR's f2p is a bad joke :) (regardles of EA's income)

  • CazNeergCazNeerg Puyallup, WAPosts: 2,198Member
    Originally posted by Po_gg

    There's no disagreement between us. It's obviously good for EA, that's why they're sticking to it. And it's good for a decent chunk of the remaining subs as well (I wouldn't be surprised if the major part of that cash-shop income / year happened to arrive from the subscribers). Until they're spending the monthly sub + shop purchases on top of that, EA is fine with the current state. 

    McD's also make a truckload of money, still, I can call their products junk :) As a customer, (unless being a devoted fanboi) noone should really care about the profit margins of a company. Personaly, all I care about is the quality of the product, and the pricing of it.

    As the owner of 2 TOR boxes I cancelled after the second month. I like the game (somewhat), but it doesn't worth 15/month. For me, I mean. Of course there are folks who are on a different opinion and stayed subbed, which I respect. (on a sidenote, there were about 1.5million others with my views, based on the number of cancelled subs)

    Since the switch I looked back maybe 3-4 times, and always left after a week. With this model (even after the revisions), I still don't feel to give them any money - let alone subbing. Again, there are other opinions, of course (and on a sidenote again, I don't really see those 1.5 million were rushing back to the game either...). 

    To put in a contrast, I'm not a huge Rift fan, but after it switched to f2p I checked back, and dropped in the $15 sub. Simply because of the afforementioned honey vs. vinegar aspect. Rift's model is fully free for anyone, with minor advantages to former players, and with huge bonuses for subscribers. So much better than TOR's model, I can't even compare them, except saying TOR's f2p is a bad joke :) (regardles of EA's income)

    Perfectly fair opinions.  But as a practical matter, TOR's F2P is objectively "better" than Rift's no matter how many people share your opinions, because it is making more money.

    Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
    Through passion, I gain strength.
    Through strength, I gain power.
    Through power, I gain victory.
    Through victory, my chains are broken.
    The Force shall free me.

  • BadOrbBadOrb ManchesterPosts: 791Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Po_gg
    Originally posted by CazNeerg

    So you can think it's a bad joke all you want, but EA is laughing all the way to the bank.

    There's no disagreement between us. It's obviously good for EA, that's why they're sticking to it. And it's good for a decent chunk of the remaining subs as well (I wouldn't be surprised if the major part of that cash-shop income / year happened to arrive from the subscribers). Until they're spending the monthly sub + shop purchases on top of that, EA is fine with the current state.

     

    McD's also make a truckload of money, still, I can call their products junk :) As a customer, (unless being a devoted fanboi) noone should really care about the profit margins of a company. Personaly, all I care about is the quality of the product, and the pricing of it.

    As the owner of 2 TOR boxes I cancelled after the second month. I like the game (somewhat), but it doesn't worth 15/month. For me, I mean. Of course there are folks who are on a different opinion and stayed subbed, which I respect. (on a sidenote, there were about 1.5million others with my views, based on the number of cancelled subs)

    Since the switch I looked back maybe 3-4 times, and always left after a week. With this model (even after the revisions), I still don't feel to give them any money - let alone subbing. Again, there are other opinions, of course (and on a sidenote again, I don't really see those 1.5 million were rushing back to the game either...).

     

    To put in a contrast, I'm not a huge Rift fan, but after it switched to f2p I checked back, and dropped in the $15 sub. Simply because of the afforementioned honey vs. vinegar aspect. Rift's model is fully free for anyone, with minor advantages to former players, and with huge bonuses for subscribers. So much better than TOR's model, I can't even compare them, except saying TOR's f2p is a bad joke :) (regardles of EA's income)

    Well at least SWTOR doesn't sell P2W items in it's cash shop , so maybe you think the SWTOR F2P model is garbage but their cash shop is far superior to Rift's , for that reason alone.

    Cheers,

    BadOrb.

    PSO 4 years , EQOA 4 months , PSU 7 years , SWTOR launch ongoing , PSO2 SEA launch ongoing , Destiny 360 launch ongoing.
    "SWG was not fun. Let it go buddy." quote from iiNoSkillzii 10/18/13
    The original propoganda pixie dust villain :[]

  • CypruskaCypruska San IsidroPosts: 45Member

    I believe that every game should be for free. This game in particular makes you wanna punch the wall. Because every player that pays for the game gets every race, and I'm stuck with Human, Cyborg and Zabrak, the worst.

    If SWTOR is gonna charge up to $ 10 for this things, then don't charge any money at all. It's useless.

  • GhernGhern Shingle Springs, CAPosts: 134Member Uncommon

    The ardent SWTOR defenders that show up in every thread about this game make me laugh.

    Somehow, this pile of a game at launch, that this article references "HAD" to make the switch to f2p very early in its lifespan because it was bombing so badly these ardent defenders act as if it is now some crown jewel to gaming.

    What a joke.

  • TorvalTorval Oregon CountryPosts: 7,187Member Uncommon
    The F2P setup is pretty abysmal, at least compared to my other games. But with a sub I don't feel hounded by the Cartel market. I'll probably drop the sub when I'm done leveling through the stories and quests. Hopefully the Preferred status won't be too bad. I'll buy unlocks if necessary after that.
  • Dreamo84Dreamo84 Niagara Falls, NYPosts: 3,437Member Uncommon
    Really does feel too restrictive without subbing. At least it doesn't pop up a window asking you to sub every 15 minutes like EQ2 that gets annoying really quick.

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