SW:TOR F2P releasing soon, and will likely fail.

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If you are unaware of the crippling restrictions put on F2P users in the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic free-to-play model, here's a quick summary of the important points:

-Three Warzones a week
-Three Flashpoints a week
-Two actionbars (initially they made it just one)
-No hearthstone-esque ability
-You have to pay real money to equip epics
-No raiding
-One profession instead of three
-A cap on your money
-No bank access

There are more limits, but those are the important points. This is a recipe for failure, not revitalizing a dying game. Bioware/EA once again proudly display that they are incapable of doing anything on the management end of TOR correctly. I don't object to some limitations on what a F2P user can do, but they appear to be doing their very best to suck the fun out of TOR for people who want to try the game free.

I'm sure a lot of people around here who have a fetish for the word "entitled" will balk at that statement, but it's true. Yes, I know it's free. Yes, I know you aren't entitled to anything from them if you aren't paying them money*. The problem here is that by grossly inconveniencing players who want to try the game free they aren't giving them an incentive to pay, they're giving them an incentive to go play another game.

The free-to-play model they are using really is a great illustration of TOR's major problems in a nutshell. Bioware does not know how to please MMO customers, and they do not change bad design decisions fast enough. The amount of time it took for Bioware to merge dead servers is an enormous factor in why the game hemorrhaged subscribers at the rate it did. They chose to save face and stall merging servers until well after it became absolutely necessary. In an MMO you just can't sit on critical problems and expect people to wait on you. When a large part of the community leaves, it adds a snowball effect that applies more and more reason for the remaining players to leave because they have fewer people to play the game with.

Right now Bioware should be making the free-to-play option extremely appealing to new and returning players, not attempting to do everything they can to make the experience tedious. Every new player who returns is another step in the direction of TOR rebuilding its lost community. The right way to go about fixing TOR (in my opinion) is to offer positive reinforcement to subscribers using cool vanity items and perks from the Cartel Market, not punishing F2P players.

*Hell. Some of you people who overuse the word "entitled" don't think that even paying entitles you to anything, even the right to complain about a bad ending. I don't understand this mentality.

Captcha: Gift horse. The irony is not lost on me.

The thing is, The Old Republic was not designed as a free-to-play game, so they have to adapt. Of course it's not going to be ideal. There have to be restrictions on free players, otherwise no one would pay and EA doesn't get any money.

The goal of the free-to-play model for The Old Republic is to get a lot of people to start it for the solo content. From what I understand (I have never tried TOR, so I may be completely wrong) the solo content doesn't really need the things they're restricting to subscribers. Then, presumably most people will try out the warzones and flashpoints. If they think it is fun, they'll subscribe. If not, they'll just play the solo stuff until they get board or run out of content.

Will this work? Well, we'll have to see. At this point though, it can't really hurt.

LotRO wasn't designed as a f2p game either, and Turbine's handled that fairly well. Come to think of it, pretty sure DDO wasn't either.

And when you say no 'bank' access, do you mean no item storage at all? If so, that'll probably kill it faster than anything, except maybe the lack of the map home/hearthstone/etc ability.

It's a little ass backwards, to be honest. The best thing to do would've been to open up FTP for the warzones and flashpoints and what not in order to populate them and make running them easier for everyone. Make the game feel full and social. Then you sell people the stories and some cosmetic goodies, and Bob's your Uncle. Instead they're giving away what is unarguably the most succulent piece of their content (the personal storylines), putting all the stuff that needs a population boost behind lock and key, and then stripping away basic functionality to make everything tedious.

As FTP models go, it's not exactly a Master's class.

JaceArveduin:
And when you say no 'bank' access, do you mean no item storage at all? If so, that'll probably kill it faster than anything, except maybe the lack of the map home/hearthstone/etc ability.

Dude, FTP players don't even get SPRINT. They can't rez in the field. Basic functionality like chat is locked down until you spend at least a little money. Until a day or two ago, they didn't even let you have a second hotbar.

Bank space? That's a flat out luxury in the bold new world of TOR FTP.

BloatedGuppy:
It's a little ass backwards, to be honest. The best thing to do would've been to open up FTP for the warzones and flashpoints

Agreed. Faster queues for people who subscribe is a good thing for them. By restricting the F2P so ridiculously they are also hurting the subscribers.

I have the feeling charging for the story instead of basic functions would have been a more sensible choice - I very much doubt that (most) people who decide to pick up the game once it goes f2p would be looking for anything other than the story. After all, anything TOR can do WoW can do better; the only thing that makes it stand out is the story and voice acting (well, and the SW setting). Why offer that part for free, of all things? Not that I'm complaining.

And to think, all that money could have gone to creating several decent non-MMOs. TOR is sinking without trace now.

While it's not ideal, I'll be giving it a go when it goes FTP because I'm pretty much solely interested in the more solo aspects of the game. I put it off earlier because of RL commitments, but it'll be going f2p around the time a lot of those commitments die down, so it's a bit of a win for me. If I enjoy i'll get into the MMO side of things, but realistically as long as I get to play through the stories I'll be happy.

If it fails I won't be happy if people lose their jobs.

I will be happy to see Bioware and EA get a well-deserved kick in the ass.

Honestly it was doomed from the start just because its Starwars. Despite what the popular myth is, the Starwars franchise isn't that popular. It has rabid fans, the movies do well enough, but its not the kind of thing that the average person absolutely has to have all the merchandise of.

Maybe back in the early 80's when I remember having a Yoda shampoo bottle, yeah it was quite popular. This has everything to do with the first 3 films, and people liking THOSE characters.

Then the new films came and the same people took their kids to see them, and then those kids watched the clone wars tv show (which I quite liked. Way more than ep 1-3).

But once again its love comes from the characters and Anikin's story I think rather than the universe at large. To even be all that familiar with it, you would need to have read a lot of mostly garbage books that are mostly non canon, or played KotoR.

I have done neither, and contrary to the general assumption on internet forums neither have most people.

So the prospect of making an MMO, which need millions of subscribers to be viable with as much money as Bioware has obviously sunk into it, on a franchise that's popularity consists of 2 major peaks which coincide with the theatrical releases and a steady downward trend thereafter seems shortsighted. If they had released this like within a year of ep.3 they would have made a lot of money.

At least until people realized that there is vertually NOTHING from the films they like in the game. Its set waaaaay before anything they would remotely be familier with, and (I would imagine logically) has absolutely none of the characters they are invested with.

I mean it would be like if they made an MMO based on the Silmarilion, and tried to attract all the LotR fans to it. Very, very few people that love The Hobbit and the Trilogy, are gonna sit down for a bazillion hours and pay each month to wander around Numenor and endure the millennia before Sauron lost his ring. Maybe Ungoliant would be a raid boss lol.

Now, rather than cut their substantial losses, they are going with the "built to fail" F2P model. i.e. make new players that want to try it out (because they mistakenly heard something positive about it) regret their descison by presenting them with the poorest and most broken and incomplete piece of trash you feel comfortable parting with for free.

I play PWI, and have since 2009. Its totally free to play. Really. I CHOSE to pay for several things over the years, and others chose to spend HUGE amounts of cash on it each month, well in excess of 30x or more what a P2P MMO charges per month. They make serious bank off of it.

The secret is giving ANYONE complete access to your entire game for free, then giving them extras that are worth wasting all their money on. Also, when you have a free product people are considerably more forgiving when you only have major new content around 1-2 times a year and if there are technical issues you don't have any obligation to compensate people.

Its simply a good game, full of mostly happy players, that buy what they want when they can. I'm sure it has a very low overhead, and its basically turnkey.

So Bioware...you are doing it wrong. Again. Make a game people want to play next time, preferably one without an established canon that is well past its popularity peak. Or well before its next one assuming the new Disney owned films are any good. Since Once Upon a Time is about the only thing decent they have done in a long time I'm cautiously pessimistic.

Um well... I did play star wars Tor up until they announced it was going f2p so i dropped it to wait, then gw2 came along. Anyways most of those restrictions aren't that bad. If you just play the game to see the stories you really won't be affected too much by the restrictions. You will feel them a little bit, but most classes can fit the abilities they need on 2 bars and bank space wasn't really needed, unless you horde stuff.

Basically it looks more negative seeing a pile of restrictions, but it's not really as bad as it looks. If anything i would just go back and do the stories as if it was another kotor game.

I have a solution:
F2P to level 15.

Done.

I don't know why this isn't default for all games a year after release.

If it doesn't work they'll change it again in a few months, no big deal.

That doesn't sound too bad to me, either. Based on how quickly I got through TOR, 3 flashpoints and warzones a week will probably do me grand. Will probably mean I get more of the stories finished, too. So yeah, quite happy with this.


let swtor die already. no one cares about it anymore.

Eh, with the addition of an extra quickbar it sounds like it'll now be playable just to experience the storylines with a few friends or alone. Which was the best part of SWtOR anyways.

I'll probably download the game again at some point, the levelling experience was one of the best I've seen in recent MMOs and the stories were pretty good.

This lets me get to the good parts of SWtOR for free and skip paying for all the not-so-good parts. Not too bad a deal.

I'd take from what you can. It's definitely not the grand Star Wars MMO people, EA included, were hoping for. But it's a pretty decent cooperative online RPG, considering it will be free.

Wait, did Guild wars 2 not sink all hopes for ToR to become relevant in any way again?

I played TOR at release, it was already a relic back then, with its aged gamedesign and several things were infuriating (all the walking...) and no they not only do not fixed up that tedious crap (yeah so my party member can link in via holo but there still has to be one guy running to the crackpot who can't get his own job done and needs to send you around - uh huh. Why can't i just call up this failure via holo myself?), they also PILE on restrictinos and demotivators onto an already struggling game.

*clap* *clap* *clap*

Even Handsome Jack has had better business accumen than EA.

i might have a go at the story side but yeah the rest doesnt interest me in the slightest.. people ewww cooties

I'm just gonna play it for the story once and then I quit.

Well, the big thing about "Free To Play" games is that despite the claims they do not seem to be being run to survive or bring more people in, but to maximize profits. "Free To Play" generally amounts to "pay for everything". If a company creates a game that is a good, solid, fully enjoyable experience for no money invested, they don't make anything. In most cases the desician is simply because $15 a month isn't enough for the guys developing the game in an industry driven by monster profits as opposed to simply making a decent one. It's also easier to blame the subscription model and put the game on "FTP" status than to actually develop the new content needed to fix problems. Probably 90% of the subscription based games out there could have been saved simply by creating more endgame content since that is why they "failed" to begin with.

The biggest issue I have with FTP games is that they rapidly become a valueless money pit. What begins with the claim of being needed for survival, and raising money to create new content and keeping the servers running, tends to turn into an endless cycle of pay to access content in the form of overpowered items, lockboxes, and other issues. I don't think I've seen any FTP games actually take the money they made feed it back into the game and release substantial amounts of new content for free, the most I've generally seen is the release of "grindcore" content with little or no intristic value (this is said by someone who understands that grinding is the core of MMOs, but the trick is to make it a high quality and enjoyable grind).

I'd be surprised if ToR's model actually works to be honest, to me it seems like it's taking some of the worst ideas of other FTP MMOs and intergrating them into it's own model.

All of this rambling aside, it seems unlikely but I've kind of been hoping with the relative failure of ToR, and the aquisition of Lucasarts by Disney that we might see a return of Star Wars Galaxies in some form. Unlikely, but these discussions always seem to get me back to how much I miss my characters there (I played during the last six months).

I'll also add, that companies tend to be full of crap about how much money it takes to run an MMO, something I'm increasingly seeing with EMU projects. Right now there are a bunch of EMUs of dead MMOs out there being run entirely by fans off of random donations, with a lot of the coding being done by the people running them in their spare time. Granted a lot of these EMUs are hack jobs, and are missing a lot of the content as they are re-constructed off of install discs and such so the quality varies, but you still see people actually running the servers, doing maitnence, patching, etc... These games might take a lot of money to develop initially, but I think the costs of continued maitnence once they are out there are exagerrated to say the least.

The way I see things is that something like TOR doesn't need to get ultra-greedy, at this point what's been spent has been spent, taking the game down is relatively pointless. I see few reasons why they couldn't do things like charge $5 a month, or instead of limiting access the way they are, run almost entirely off of donations. The overall project would be a loss of course given the development dollars which I'm guessing they never recouped which is why there has been so much drama, but I figure making something is better than nothing in the big picture. Of course then again I've never been a big believer in the corperate "play big, or go home" mentality.

thatonedude11:
The thing is, The Old Republic was not designed as a free-to-play game, so they have to adapt. Of course it's not going to be ideal. There have to be restrictions on free players, otherwise no one would pay and EA doesn't get any money.

...."not ideal"?

No bank space is "not ideal"?
Restricted chat functionality is "not ideal"?
Dude, you can't even SPRINT without paying them.

I can't actually think of a game on the internet which restricts such mundane things (things that pretty much every MMO offers) to paid players. There are a lot of good ways to do a F2P model, and EA is not doing any of them.

"Not ideal" indeed, it's a bloody obvious ripoff. And it's going to frustrate people into quitting long before they get "hooked" on the story content. The OP's right. Unless they change this model fast, it's not gonna work. I had originally been thinking of trying the game once it went F2P, but after seeing how little of the game I actually get to enjoy, I decided that GW2 is more deserving of my funds. And I suspect many people will think the same and spend their time and money elsewhere.

CriticKitten:

thatonedude11:
The thing is, The Old Republic was not designed as a free-to-play game, so they have to adapt. Of course it's not going to be ideal. There have to be restrictions on free players, otherwise no one would pay and EA doesn't get any money.

...."not ideal"?

No bank space is "not ideal"?
Restricted chat functionality is "not ideal"?
Dude, you can't even SPRINT without paying them.

I can't actually think of a game on the internet which restricts such mundane things (things that pretty much every MMO offers) to paid players. There are a lot of good ways to do a F2P model, and EA is not doing any of them.

"Not ideal" indeed, it's a bloody obvious ripoff. And it's going to frustrate people into quitting long before they get "hooked" on the story content. The OP's right. Unless they change this model fast, it's not gonna work. I had originally been thinking of trying the game once it went F2P, but after seeing how little of the game I actually get to enjoy, I decided that GW2 is more deserving of my funds. And I suspect many people will think the same and spend their time and money elsewhere.

Wait, what? No sprint and limited chat access? Okay, that's bull-shit. Bioware might be smart if they changed that.

As for the no bank space, I haven't played TOR, but I remember when I was playing World of Warcraft, I hardly ever used my bank, especially when I was doing solo content. I just kind of assumed it is similar in TOR. I may be wrong.

The conditions aren't crippling at all. The endgame is very meh in swtor. The main story line is where it's at. And that is all free. So play the game through the story, then drop it again is what I plan to do.

I was going to do one playthrough of this when it went f2p and then never touch it again.

After reading the restrictions, I'm not even going to bother with that now

Can you unlock that stuff though? Lotro is nice in that there are a lot of restrictions but for a reasonable amount of money the game is for the most part entirely playable. Or is this essentially a glorified trial and if you really want to play you need to suscribe?

I think the legacy system is ripe for account unlocks that expand f2p options. It was pretty meh when I played (yeah 1 million credits for a robot on my ship!) but I could see legacy levels unlocking account features that would actually be fairly neat.

sanquin:
The conditions aren't crippling at all. The endgame is very meh in swtor. The main story line is where it's at. And that is all free. So play the game through the story, then drop it again is what I plan to do.

You still have to get through 50 levels worth of content to experience the main story, which requires a lot of questing and slogging around planets. Doing that with all of the niggling restrictions they've put in place would be the living definition of tedium.

This isn't about "end game" at all. This stuff would be annoying 5 seconds after logging in. Actually before that, since character customization options are blunted as well.

It seems to me that they're trying to make the "KotOR III" part of the game free, but with a few MMO parts added on to entice people into actually paying. I doubt it will work.

ToR is doomed. There can only ever be two "relevant" MMOs at one time, and one of them will always be WoW. The other is, at the moment, Guild Wars 2.

Also, can somebody tell me how the fuck Rift manages to both hold onto its subscription model and churn out endless updates, despite the fact that I haven't seen a single person admit to playing it for almost a year?

No entitlement to it. Sure, nobody playing for free is entitled to any of the game. Still a shitty business decision if it means nobody playing for free even enjoys themselves enough to buy it.

BloatedGuppy:

JaceArveduin:
And when you say no 'bank' access, do you mean no item storage at all? If so, that'll probably kill it faster than anything, except maybe the lack of the map home/hearthstone/etc ability.

Dude, FTP players don't even get SPRINT. They can't rez in the field. Basic functionality like chat is locked down until you spend at least a little money. Until a day or two ago, they didn't even let you have a second hotbar.

Bank space? That's a flat out luxury in the bold new world of TOR FTP.

Are you serious? No sprint? Even with it walking around felt like a slog, I was thinking about going back but all of this is just ways to punish people for having the audacity to try out their game

The Plunk:
Also, can somebody tell me how the fuck Rift manages to both hold onto its subscription model and churn out endless updates, despite the fact that I haven't seen a single person admit to playing it for almost a year?

Low overhead, I'm guessing. Last I heard they had around 200K subs, but that might have dipped in the last year.

The Plunk:
ToR is doomed. There can only ever be two "relevant" MMOs at one time, and one of them will always be WoW. The other is, at the moment, Guild Wars 2.

You're underestimating the genre a tad, and neglecting to remember regional differences. There are quite a few Korean/Asian MMOs that are still quite popular and holding down a significant sub base overseas, like Aion and Lineage. There are plenty of FTP games turning a very healthy profit. EVE is doing extremely well.

Even TOR's sub numbers are actually very impressive by the industry average, they're just completely insufficient for a game with TOR's price tag.

People blame WoW for a lot of things, but the one thing it did that really pisses me off is it completely skewed everyone's expectations for what a successful or "relevant" MMO looks like. There are games turning a profit with <100K subs. MOST MMOs (I'd say all but I can't be 100% certain) are at the very least cash positive, and most have made back their initial investment + profit.

None have matched WoW's breakaway success, but WoW is up there with the Sims as the most successful PC property of all time. If we hold every game to that standard of course we're going to think they're all failures, which is pretty stupid when you think about it. There's a reason people keep making these games. It's not because 98% of them have failed.

Captcha - Vote pancakes. I will!

Let the game die, and display its body as an example of what not to be.

http://www.swtor.com/support/helpcenter/6449
http://www.swtor.com/free/features

Sprint is available, just F2P is gained at L15, while subs at L1.

Not sure what the restriction on inventory and cargo holds are, but it seems you have to unlock it using cartel coins. Subs can use in-game credits OR cartel coins to expand their inventory or cargo.

Chat is just reduced frequency, seems to be once a minute, to stop the gold farmers.

None of this is set in stone after all, once the feature goes live and it doesn't work out, they'll change it and see the results to smooth over the transition.

ThriKreen:
Sprint is available, just F2P is gained at L15, while subs at L1.

I find this to be a particularly baffling inclusion all the same. What subscribing player is going to look over and see a FTP player running faster than a crawl and think "grrr, I have to pay for that!". It seems needlessly punitive. You're supposed to make the subscription/cash shop tantalizing, not actively take the rod to your FTP players.

BloatedGuppy:
I find this to be a particularly baffling inclusion all the same. What subscribing player is going to look over and see a FTP player running faster than a crawl and think "grrr, I have to pay for that!". It seems needlessly punitive. You're supposed to make the subscription/cash shop tantalizing, not actively take the rod to your FTP players.

Excuse me? I don't see how it's that bad. It's like a 30% boost over run, and only available out of combat.

The original sprint ability was offered at level 15, you hit L15 about midway on Coruscant or Drumond Kaas, after your starting world. They've since changed it awhile back to offer it right at the start at level 1. And now they're making it so the F2P players get it at the original point. It's pretty quick to get to that stage in the game and hardly a game changer. And superseded once you get your speeder at L25, unless you're indoors.

And all I ever wanted was KotOR 3...

The combat and quest designs are irritating enough; hope all the new shit doesn't doesn't make my "I'm just gonna play this for the story" plan too annoying to bother with.

ThriKreen:
Excuse me? I don't see how it's that bad. It's like a 30% boost over run, and only available out of combat.

The original sprint ability was offered at level 15, you hit L15 about midway on Coruscant or Drumond Kaas, after your starting world. They've since changed it awhile back to offer it right at the start at level 1. And now they're making it so the F2P players get it at the original point. It's pretty quick to get to that stage in the game and hardly a game changer. And superseded once you get your speeder at L25, unless you're indoors.

We're going to have to agree to disagree. I did a brief google search on Sprint and found this gem:

Are you serious? The only reason people look forward to getting sprint is because not having sprint is absolute ****. Sprint is not some fun bonus ability. It's not like getting rescue, or guardian leap.

If you make your 30% run speed boost a base level 1 ability, then remove it from the FTP game, you have hit your FTP players with a 30% run speed penalty for 15 levels unless they pay up. This is the kind of little QOL hit that taken in the aggregate can make just playing the game a complete and total pain in the ass. I'm not going to get into the semantics of whether or not 30% is a big deal and "oh hey it's just a video game", we're talking about whether or not this is a sensible way to build a FTP model. I've mentioned elsewhere what I think the right way of structuring a tempting FTP model is, and this isn't it.

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