BioWare Considers Free-to-Play For The Old Republic

 Pages 1 2 3 4 NEXT
 

BioWare Considers Free-to-Play For The Old Republic

image

BioWare Lead Designer Emmanuel Lusinchi says The Old Republic studio needs to be "flexible and adapt to what's going on."

Things have been going perhaps not quite as smoothly for BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO as Electronic Arts had hoped. After charging out of the gate with 1.7 million subscribers in just six weeks, which EA claimed made it the fastest-growing subscription-based MMO of all time, the publisher revealed in May that the figure had dropped to 1.3 million. Shortly thereafter, layoffs followed.

BioWare had previously insisted that subscriber numbers weren't falling but with the cat out of the bag, it now appears ready to take drastic action to turn things around, including, possibly, a switch to free-to-play. A number of other big-name MMOs have made the transition and Lusinchi suggested that they, as much as World of Warcraft, are putting the pressure on The Old Republic.

"If it was just free-to-play games and they weren't very good it wouldn't even be a question but there are definitely good games out there and good games coming out, so of course all of this competition impacts your plan with what you want to do," he told GamesTM.

"The MMO market is very dynamic and we need to be dynamic as well. Unless people are happy with what they have, they are constantly demanding updates, new modes and situations," he continued. "So we are looking at free-to-play but I can't tell you in much detail. We have to be flexible and adapt to what is going on."

Free-to-play is a perfectly valid and viable approach for MMOs to take, as evidenced by the post-F2P success of games like Dungeons & Dragons Online, Age of Conan and Lord of the Rings Online, not to mention the growing number of games that are built on the free-to-play model from the ground up. Even so, it'd be hard to see a changeover of a marquee game like The Old Republic, especially so soon after launch, as anything but a huge defeat and climbdown for EA.

For some reason, the original interview with Lusinchi has been pulled, but fortunately Joystiq was able to dig up some scans, which can be seen here and here.

Source: Gamasutra

Permalink

As much as I enjoy SWTOR and continue to play it, the whole MMO genre is getting tiresome. I can't even find enjoyment from WoW anymore, and this is coming from someone who has played the same character on the same server since the original release day.

Monthly subs in general really need to go, or at least reduce the cost.

Waaghpowa:
As much as I enjoy SWTOR and continue to play it, the whole MMO genre is getting tiresome. I can't even find enjoyment from WoW anymore, and this is coming from someone who has played the same character on the same server since the original release day.

Monthly subs in general really need to go, or at least reduce the cost.

I have yet to find one game that does "Free-To-Play" right. It always ends up as "Free-To-Pay" instead. Even LOTRO or D&D didn't do it right. I don't want to pay to get the good stuff, or have to pay to unlock certain areas. I want to pay a set amount each month for EVERYTHING. Not have content stripped away to have to pay for.

I would be interested in this if it went free to play so I hope it does.

I would be tempted if it went f2p but only if it didn't need origin, I passed on bf3 because of that and I'm not giving in for some mmo based on a property I don't find particularly interesting anymore.

I'm guessing EA didn't want people to know this just yet and was scared of investor reactions to this so they're trying to suppress it for now and trying to come up with a way too spin this

Sneezeguard:
I'm guess EA didn't want people to know this just yet and was scared of investor reactions to this so they're trying to suppress it for now and trying to come up with a way too spin this

Likely, but there's been further comments from EA themselves here

""We're going to be in the business from a long term standpoint so absolutely we're going to embrace free access, free trial, ultimately some day we can move in and embrace that model. It's all a matter of timing and thinking things through. We have a great business right now and we're not looking to make any abrupt changes."

So it's not going to happen overnight.

It's not a bad game and I'm glad to see they're willing to look at this rather than run it into the ground entirely with stubborn refusals to admit there's anything wrong. Given EA's track record that wouldn't have surprised me at all.

But... unless their latest sub numbers are staggeringly bad I'm still surprised they're even willing to talk about it. Fallen Earth, a much smaller indie MMO, lasted two years from 2009-2011 on a P2P model, so to see EA even thinking about making the shift after only 6 months or so makes me wonder just how far below their real expectations TOR has performed.

Everyone who had bet money on TOR making it 6 months before going F2P just felt a weight come off their shoulders. It's only 5 days away.

I'm guessing they wait until the 21st though.

We all called it.

You can't charge a subscription for an MMO that is in every way inferior to WoW and expect it to work.

If it wasn't for the Star Wars brand, TOR would've been F2P 2-3 months ago.

GW2 could possibly get away with it, but part of their plan is to not have subscriptions anyway. TERA could last using a subscription model too, if they sort out their PvP and a couple other minor/important issues soon.

Sixcess:

Likely, but there's been further comments from EA themselves here

""We're going to be in the business from a long term standpoint so absolutely we're going to embrace free access, free trial, ultimately some day we can move in and embrace that model. It's all a matter of timing and thinking things through. We have a great business right now and we're not looking to make any abrupt changes."

So it's not going to happen overnight.

It's not a bad game and I'm glad to see they're willing to look at this rather than run it into the ground entirely with stubborn refusals to admit there's anything wrong. Given EA's track record that wouldn't have surprised me at all.

At first they were like that with the refuseal to merge servers but they've decided a more subtle aproach by offer free server transfers, one of EA's better moves but I'm suprised it took them so long to do it. It was quite simple (I and I assume others were thinking of the months ago).

I do agree it wasn't a bad game. It was a bit grindy but I could live with that. What kill it for me was a lack of endgame content, at start it began with 6 Hard mode Flashpoints and 1 operation compared to cataclysm which had 10 dungeons 3 raids and 1 mini (one boss) raid.

And the pvp was unbalanced (yes I know "the PvP player says the PvP's unbalanced" but it really was!) playing a sith marauder was painful at times, I have no idea how they greenlit a nearly 100% melee class who only had 2 range moves (both were range only range 10) and no way to break out of slows except a 2min cd and slow was very spammable by range, also force jump was kinda useless because evey range class had a knockback and it had no CC!!

In short melee (mainly the marauder/jedi knight) was too kiteable and had very little up time on range.

And the pvp maps were a bit poorly designed, so was the world pvp on ilum.

And lack of standard MMO features.

But... unless their latest sub numbers are staggeringly bad I'm still surprised they're even willing to talk about it. Fallen Earth, a much smaller indie MMO, lasted two years from 2009-2011 on a P2P model, so to see EA even thinking about making the shift after only 6 months or so makes me wonder just how far below their real expectations TOR has performed.

I'm guessing they will go F2P because to prevent people jumping ship to GW2 mainly due to hype/it's F2P.

Paragon Fury:
We all called it.

You can't charge a subscription for an MMO that is in every way inferior to WoW and expect it to work.

If it wasn't for the Star Wars brand, TOR would've been F2P 2-3 months ago.

GW2 could possibly get away with it, but part of their plan is to not have subscriptions anyway. TERA could last using a subscription model too, if they sort out their PvP and a couple other minor/important issues soon.

The WoW subscriptions will most likely slowly leak into one of these 3 overtime, and the tiranny of WoW over the market is on its twilight.

Cool. Maybe if Bioware swings a successful swap to FtP for ToR, war will get one. Also, CALLED IT!

Capitano Segnaposto:

Waaghpowa:
As much as I enjoy SWTOR and continue to play it, the whole MMO genre is getting tiresome. I can't even find enjoyment from WoW anymore, and this is coming from someone who has played the same character on the same server since the original release day.

Monthly subs in general really need to go, or at least reduce the cost.

I have yet to find one game that does "Free-To-Play" right. It always ends up as "Free-To-Pay" instead. Even LOTRO or D&D didn't do it right. I don't want to pay to get the good stuff, or have to pay to unlock certain areas. I want to pay a set amount each month for EVERYTHING. Not have content stripped away to have to pay for.

uh..dc universe did it incredibly well actually.

I hope they do. I bought the game at release date, got 14 free days and the complimentary free first month, so about 6 weeks worth of play. At that time I managed to play through the Sith Warrior story and a few other characters to mid lvl. I had a great time doing it, but then school kicked in and it really wasn't worth to pay for a subscription.

So, good news for me if they do. I actually kind a liked the writing in the game.

Just make sure you do it right though. No 'pay-to-win' or other such stupid sh*t! Have players pay for conveniance; like the ability to carry around more stuff or to lvl up faster. Since this is a bioware game, you may also ask them if they want to pay for additional stories besides the main one, or even interesting new companions. Sort of like (good) dlc, not essential, but fun to have.

Capitano Segnaposto:

Waaghpowa:
As much as I enjoy SWTOR and continue to play it, the whole MMO genre is getting tiresome. I can't even find enjoyment from WoW anymore, and this is coming from someone who has played the same character on the same server since the original release day.

Monthly subs in general really need to go, or at least reduce the cost.

I have yet to find one game that does "Free-To-Play" right. It always ends up as "Free-To-Pay" instead. Even LOTRO or D&D didn't do it right. I don't want to pay to get the good stuff, or have to pay to unlock certain areas. I want to pay a set amount each month for EVERYTHING. Not have content stripped away to have to pay for.

Um, you can continue to play LotRO like it was a subscription based game, due to the fact it kept it's subscription system (and you have to have it to take your 'freep' into th Ettenmoors anyway) It unlocks everything that came with the original game, Shadows of Angmar, just like most other subscription games. If you want to play Mines of Moria as a subscriber, you still have to buy the expansion. They also give you 500 or so points a month, which you can use to buy the expansions and such off the store. Then you earn more points for just doing deeds.

Honestly, do you really expect a company to make the entire thing Free to Play? They've got to make cash somehow to keep the content coming so they can keep players.

Not at all surprised that F2P is on the table. If Bioware goes this route and sets up a micro-transaction system they could make a lot more money than the standard monthly sub system allows. The thing is still wont help them much if they can't get more end game content in the game and fast.

Zaik:
Everyone who had bet money on TOR making it 6 months before going F2P just felt a weight come off their shoulders. It's only 5 days away.

I'm guessing they wait until the 21st though.

Yeah a buddy of mine is sweating cause he is about to owe me $100 bucks.

Doesn't matter, sooner or later they'll all come crawling back to C.O.D. Multi-player.

Worgen:
I would be tempted if it went f2p but only if it didn't need origin, I passed on bf3 because of that and I'm not giving in for some mmo based on a property I don't find particularly interesting anymore.

It doesn't need Origin. You download the client from the SWTOR site and activate it on an account with their site. You can BUY it off Origin, but you can buy it in any store anyway. I play SWTOR and I don't have Origin, Steam, Impulse, or any DD system on my computer.

On the subject of SWTOR considering Free to Play...

I'm trying to remember if I've heard the phrase "we need to be dynamic" used to mean "we need to switch to doing the same thing as virtually everyone else in our sector" before... Maybe if I spent more time in board rooms...

I liked this game, but after paying 70-something dollars for the special edition, I wasn't in any position to pay 15 bucks a month to play the game. I'd be down for it if that month of playtime only counted while I was playing. As it stands, I played the game for about two weeks out of the free month I got before I decided I'd rather play something else, and the other two weeks went unused. I'll play this game to death if it goes free-to-play, and I may even be able to join up with some buddies who are interested but have no disposable income to speak of.

Here's hoping.

Waaghpowa:
As much as I enjoy SWTOR and continue to play it, the whole MMO genre is getting tiresome. I can't even find enjoyment from WoW anymore, and this is coming from someone who has played the same character on the same server since the original release day.

Monthly subs in general really need to go, or at least reduce the cost.

Maybe you should give Guild Wars 2 a look at.
Guild Wars 2 is going to do what more MMO's need to do, no subscription but a micro transaction store that isn't pay to win and the ability to gain all the MT benefits by playing the game and not spending a cent.

INF1NIT3 D00M:
I liked this game, but after paying 70-something dollars for the special edition, I wasn't in any position to pay 15 bucks a month to play the game. I'd be down for it if that month of playtime only counted while I was playing. As it stands, I played the game for about two weeks out of the free month I got before I decided I'd rather play something else, and the other two weeks went unused. I'll play this game to death if it goes free-to-play, and I may even be able to join up with some buddies who are interested but have no disposable income to speak of.

Here's hoping.

See, I really don't get people like you. You spent MORE money on the special edition only to stop playing two weeks into it. I find that idiotic on a spectacular level.

As for the F2P thing... I doubt it's happening soon, but I've been wrong before. This is coming out before they're even starting the F2P up to lvl 15 in July, so yeah... don't expect anything serious concerning F2P for a while.

They're already doing something that really helps matters, and starting free server transfers. This week friends of mine actually had to wait in queue briefly to get onto Ebon Hawk server, so I'd call that a good sign. Seems to me they're gonna try condensing the subscriber base, then get more to show up through the free prologue.

I have no issues with this game, as I'm not someone who played WoW, or plays MMOs like a second job. My highest character I think is 40 right now. Seriously, don't expect anything more drastic from EA or Bioware until the first expansion at the end of the year.

Only 5 hours after a member already posted about it.

The news team is getting quicker.

OT: Shrug. I might give it a go if it ever goes F2P, but it's still unlikely.

banksy122:
Maybe you should give Guild Wars 2 a look at.
Guild Wars 2 is going to do what more MMO's need to do, no subscription but a micro transaction store that isn't pay to win and the ability to gain all the MT benefits by playing the game and not spending a cent.

As long as the game doesn't force me to pay for content, I'm good. The only thing a cash shop should charge for is vanity type things.

Considering just how drastically the game's population dropped over its six months of existence I'd say Free To Play is just around the corner especially since TOR was an utter failure and free to play is literally the only way to redeem it in any way financially speaking.

Waaghpowa:

banksy122:
Maybe you should give Guild Wars 2 a look at.
Guild Wars 2 is going to do what more MMO's need to do, no subscription but a micro transaction store that isn't pay to win and the ability to gain all the MT benefits by playing the game and not spending a cent.

As long as the game doesn't force me to pay for content, I'm good. The only thing a cash shop should charge for is vanity type things.

It is all cosmetic stuff or account stuff such as extra character slots or re-customisation. There is also some boosts such as XP, etc but to no real benefit and you can get it in game and you can buy gems with real money, and then trade gems with in-game gold, but it is player driven, and allows you to get gems without paying real money, and high end weapons/armour is bought with another in-game currency which you can only game from playing the game.

So it isn't exactly -just- vanity type things, but you don't have to spend money on any of it to gain it.

The main reason The Old Republic is failing to meet expectations is the same reason nearly every other big-name MMO released since WoW has failed to meet expectations, or even survive in some cases.

You can't beat WoW by trying to out-WoW it. World of Warcraft just has such a massive lead, in both subscriber base and developer experience at this point that trying to do what it's done "but better" is just not that viable. It's just like how trying to beat Call of Duty or Gears of War by doing the exact same thing "but better" just isn't going to work. You gotta bring something unique to the table, or people are generally going to stick with the more polished, more popular game.

That's why I've stuck with EVE Online myself. For all of it's flaws, and occaisional annoyances, it has legitimately tried to do its own thing, and not conform to the common rules and norms of nearly every other MMO out there. It doesn't have millions upon millions of subscribers, sure, but the player-base is generally passionate and the devs work closely with their players to provide regular patches and the twice-yearly free expansions.

You gotta try to bring something new to the table these days. That's why, as much as a truly dislike the idea of an Elder Scrolls MMO, I have to at least give The Elder Scrolls Online some credit for seeming to try something a bit different with their PVP Imperial City conquest thing. Hopefully they'll roll with that, and other elements and not just try to be WoW re-skinned as The Elder Scrolls.

draythefingerless:

The WoW subscriptions will most likely slowly leak into one of these 3 overtime, and the tiranny of WoW over the market is on its twilight.

Much as I enjoy your optimism, I highly doubt this would be the case.

I think I'd be more inclined to play subscription games if there wasn't the big initial fee to register,
pay $45 to buy the game is just such a huge investment that it really puts me off trying out newer MMOs,
If I could simply make an account, download the game and pay a $15 per month (or w'eva) sub fee I could find out whether it appeals to me or not without sinking $60 if I didn't like it.

Obviously the game makers like the big one off cash payment on release as I'd imagine many are scraping the bottom of the financial barrel by the time an MMO's released.

Capitano Segnaposto:

Waaghpowa:
As much as I enjoy SWTOR and continue to play it, the whole MMO genre is getting tiresome. I can't even find enjoyment from WoW anymore, and this is coming from someone who has played the same character on the same server since the original release day.

Monthly subs in general really need to go, or at least reduce the cost.

I have yet to find one game that does "Free-To-Play" right. It always ends up as "Free-To-Pay" instead. Even LOTRO or D&D didn't do it right. I don't want to pay to get the good stuff, or have to pay to unlock certain areas. I want to pay a set amount each month for EVERYTHING. Not have content stripped away to have to pay for.

Take a look at the games from Perfect World Entertainment. Pretty much everything is availible to you even if you don't want to give into micro-transactions, you just have to work a little harder on the game to get it. The only things that aren't are total vanity items like a new outfit or mount, nothing game changing or anything that'd give you an advantage over other players.

Serious question: why does anyone care what Bioware says anymore?

They've had basically this to say since ME3:

"We're not horrible, and we're not greedy, and we're not ignoring you. And we're especially not just saying whatever EA tells us to as they quietly shut down our studio."

And lo and behold where have we arrived? Their BS MMO's going belly up (like everyone predicted), ME3 became a byword for false promises and anticipation for the next Dragon Age title is at an all time low.

I have a feeling this will be successful. All they need is idiots like me. I have spend over $80 on tf2

rcs619:
The main reason The Old Republic is failing to meet expectations is the same reason nearly every other big-name MMO released since WoW has failed to meet expectations, or even survive in some cases.

You can't beat WoW by trying to out-WoW it. World of Warcraft just has such a massive lead, in both subscriber base and developer experience at this point that trying to do what it's done "but better" is just not that viable. It's just like how trying to beat Call of Duty or Gears of War by doing the exact same thing "but better" just isn't going to work. You gotta bring something unique to the table, or people are generally going to stick with the more polished, more popular game.

That's why I've stuck with EVE Online myself. For all of it's flaws, and occaisional annoyances, it has legitimately tried to do its own thing, and not conform to the common rules and norms of nearly every other MMO out there. It doesn't have millions upon millions of subscribers, sure, but the player-base is generally passionate and the devs work closely with their players to provide regular patches and the twice-yearly free expansions.

You gotta try to bring something new to the table these days. That's why, as much as a truly dislike the idea of an Elder Scrolls MMO, I have to at least give The Elder Scrolls Online some credit for seeming to try something a bit different with their PVP Imperial City conquest thing. Hopefully they'll roll with that, and other elements and not just try to be WoW re-skinned as The Elder Scrolls.

Yeah EVE is the only MMO I'm willing to pay for because of the nice free expansions twice yearly, that and fact that all the "end game content" is pretty much just players throwing around vast amounts of resources and people to basically just screw with other players. EVE's PVP ranges from random fights that take place even when you really don't want to fight to all out war that requires logistics and planning normally only seen in actual wars.

Fly Safe

kajinking:

rcs619:
The main reason The Old Republic is failing to meet expectations is the same reason nearly every other big-name MMO released since WoW has failed to meet expectations, or even survive in some cases.

You can't beat WoW by trying to out-WoW it. World of Warcraft just has such a massive lead, in both subscriber base and developer experience at this point that trying to do what it's done "but better" is just not that viable. It's just like how trying to beat Call of Duty or Gears of War by doing the exact same thing "but better" just isn't going to work. You gotta bring something unique to the table, or people are generally going to stick with the more polished, more popular game.

That's why I've stuck with EVE Online myself. For all of it's flaws, and occaisional annoyances, it has legitimately tried to do its own thing, and not conform to the common rules and norms of nearly every other MMO out there. It doesn't have millions upon millions of subscribers, sure, but the player-base is generally passionate and the devs work closely with their players to provide regular patches and the twice-yearly free expansions.

You gotta try to bring something new to the table these days. That's why, as much as a truly dislike the idea of an Elder Scrolls MMO, I have to at least give The Elder Scrolls Online some credit for seeming to try something a bit different with their PVP Imperial City conquest thing. Hopefully they'll roll with that, and other elements and not just try to be WoW re-skinned as The Elder Scrolls.

Yeah EVE is the only MMO I'm willing to pay for because of the nice free expansions twice yearly, that and fact that all the "end game content" is pretty much just players throwing around vast amounts of resources and people to basically just screw with other players. EVE's PVP ranges from random fights that take place even when you really don't want to fight to all out war that requires logistics and planning normally only seen in actual wars.

Fly Safe

I liked the idea behind EVE, but the gameplay just bored me to death. Not really being able to fly your ship made me sad, and watching it orbit objects for hours just didn't appeal to me

Free to play? Hell & YEAH! Wait, that's not a MMORPG's death sentance, is it? And is Age of Conan really still running? I admit, I didn't read everyone's comments.

 Pages 1 2 3 4 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here