SWTOR F2P: An Awesome Single-player RPG

SWTOR Cartel CoinSWTOR is officially going free-to-play.  I am not surprised at all.  It’s a good move for the game.  You’re lying to yourself if you think SWTOR was/is a success, and they have to continue making money and moving forward with the game in a way that will make it grow instead of continuing to shrink.  As I have always said, F2P is what happens when the boat begins to sink.

For players interested in giving SWTOR a try, you’re actually in for a treat.  The best part of SWTOR is going to be free: The leveling and story experience.

If you’re a F2P player, you’ll be limited on quite a few things.

  • Limited number of Flashpoints (dungeons) per week. Trust me, you’re not missing out on a lot.
  • Limited number of Warzones (BG’s) per week. Again, no real loss.  Worse than WoW’s.
  • No Raids (boo hoo)
  • Limited access to travel (who knows what this means?) and auction house stuff.  Typical F2P restrictions.

The 1-50 gameplay and story remain untouched and unrestricted by the F2P conversion.  Ironically, now the game really can be a single-player experience that will only cost you a box price of $15.99.  In a way, one could argue the game is now an amazing low-price RPG based on what you get for the price.  I can’t figure out if Bioware knows this or not.

I may actually return and play if bored.  Unfortunately, or conveniently for them, this F2P conversion happens around GW2’s launch.

  • I too think this is a good move for the game. Even after all this time, though, I have to shake my head at how much crap these companies expect us to believe though.

    “Since launch, we’ve been listening to feedback from our fans and adding new content and refining The Old Republic at a breakneck pace,” executive producer Jeff Hickman said in today’s press release.

    Breakneck if you consider snails competitors in the NASCAR circuit.

    Anyways, this probably means good things for the game. It’s *not* bad by any means, it’s just not worth the subscription fee when compared to other offerings out there. And maybe this will push them to release content quicker.

  • Sucks for everyone that paid top dollar for the box/subs.

    Good for everyone that already knew EA combined with anything is doomed. Honestly probably still won’t try it if I have to fork over $15 to enable access.

  • I may take another look at SWTOR in the future, I do like F2P games. I imagine the limited travel will be similar to how LOTRO doesn’t let free players use fast travel.

  • Agreed Keen

    I’ve said it over and over again TOR is a good single player RPG and now that it goes F2P I may actually get back in the game next year after I inevitably tire of GW2. Only because I enjoyed the leveling up portion of the game. Will give me the financial motivation to actually get back in and finish some of my toons I left at sub 20 when I quit 2 months after the game launched.

  • It’s not TOR so much as a rapidly changing industry. What game isn’t f2p at this point? Rift, WoW…TSW (really for how long?)…and I suspect Rift will become part of a package sub once Trion gets its other 2 games online.

    Which leaves WoW.

    It has been an amazing ride watching the rise and fall of the classic mmorpg model. I am curious…beyond moba’s…what the next iteration of social games will be.

  • I won’t play a poor game, even if it is free. And SWToR was and is the epitome of a poor game in my opinion. Lazy, uninspired design from the start.

    I must say, I do find it hilarious that there were so many people proclaiming that SW:ToR would be the death of Rift, yet Rift is trucking right along and SW:ToR has sunk. Goes to show you what a great Dev team can do for an MMO. One that actually cares.

  • To everyone saying the for is a terrible game without ever playing it, give it a go. This is a bioware game before its an ea game. As k&g said, the levelling game is great. I’d also add that the combat is better than wows (although its the same hotkey style) because of the multiple mobs over wows 1 at a time method.

    I also don’t agree that the PvP is meh, I’ve always had great fun with it, and on PvP servers there is actual open world PvP happening (illum is still broken though). The first 2 man flashpoint is also great as are the last few and space combat is fun for a while at least

    Maybe going ftp will give people an opportunity to give tor a go rather than sitting in their ivory towers listening to everyone telling them how terrible it is and ignoring or berating those that have played and enjoyed it

  • @overbyte

    I have played it. Tried numerous times, I just found it terribly uninspired. A paint-by-the-numbers MMO with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Rift can be paint-by-the-numbers at times as well, but the content is so well done and is released so quickly that I can live with it. Rift, at least, FEELS like a MMO. SW:ToR doesn’t at all and when they try to actually be a MMO, they fail….miserably.

    SW:ToR is exactly what I feared and thought it would be, an uninspired cash-grab that EA (and Bioware) thought could exist and excel through the strength of its IP. They were wrong and they have found out, the hard way, that players are looking for more than an uninspired WoW clone with broken “features” and poor implementation of the single-player/MMO combo.

  • @buster

    That’s fine mate. I’ve had the polar opposite experience.

    To me, Rift felt bland and uninspired (and brown) once the excitement of the rifts had worn off and I didn’t get past the first 2 months whereas SWToR has had me captivated since beta (almost 8 months).

    I’ve loved going through each class’s storyline and seeing how it interacted with the other classes. I’ve enjoyed the more concise storylines of the flashpoints (although the early-midgame flashpoints are pretty rote) and geeked out about seeing characters from the other media / games turn up in them. I’ve also enjoyed the fun of the objective-based PvP warzones.

    My point is that SWToR seems to be like Marmite – you either love it or you hate it – but I believe that everyone should have a go and see for themselves and going free to play is a brilliant way to do that.

  • So, they’re finally making SWTOR free to play – but when will they make it…

    *sunglasses*

    …fun to play?

  • @buster:

    Are we playing the same games here? Sure, SWTOR’s gameplay is formulaic, but what isn’t? I’m playing it now, and at least it has an atmosphere, a fleshed-out new feature in the whole voiced story shindig and factions that are actually different.

    Rift is just appallingly bad. A dev team who cares? Well, yeah, they’re good with their content updates, but that doesn’t change the fact that their entire game is so uninspired, so woefully dull to play and so poorly designed (here’s an idea for great gameplay: let’s make everyone use 2-4 macros each with 5+ abilities on them!) Honestly, for all its haters, there is nothing fundamentally *wrong* with SWTOR: they cloned what they could and put their own lick of paint on it. And, remarkably, it works, it isn’t buggy as hell (hi TSW) and it isn’t dull to play.

    What’s amazing about Rift is that they copied everything so perfectly, yet the moment they tried to do their own thing (adding more talent trees and renaming them souls) they fucked up the gameplay so spectacularly it actually pains me to see what the game could’ve been if even the combat was half decent, nevermind the fact that the games lacks atmosphere, lacks good animations, audio and a visual style and just lacks diversity in general. Oh, you want a grand total of three races (since two are shared)?

    Ugh. SWTOR may not be great, but it’s enjoyable for what it is. Rift is just…dreadful.

  • I enjoyed my first month with TOR but not enough to sub after my 30 days were over. I found what I enjoyed most was the fact that it was Star Wars, the gameplay itself however did not do anything to knock my socks off.

    I recently wanted a Star Wars fix and replayed KOTOR and there is just no comparison. KOTOR is a great single player RPG. While TOR has good story lines for the classes the space between is just nothing to me but a grind that no amount of lightsabers or blasters can make me enjoy anymore.

    The only MMO with Star Wars at this point I could see myself playing again would be a truly immersive world I can feel invested in and a part of… Galaxies 🙁

  • SWTOR’s 10 – 49 PvP is a blast, saying it is worse that WoW’s is really amusing. Try playing Warsong Gulch in the low brackets and have a great time being one shotted by rogues camping the graveyard.

  • Regardless of what you think of TOR, here’s the reality: it’s bleeding subs. What’s baffled me this morning as I peruse the blogosphere is that some folks seem to be buying the rubbish that the sub model is the problem. It’s not. TOR not being a good game is the problem. Yes, some of you have already said you love it. I understand. Most people don’t (per the sub figures).

    My first thought when I heard the news was maybe I’d finally go back and get one of the classes to 50. Then I thought about it for a bit longer and realized that wouldn’t happen. The money wasn’t the problem. I’ve had a six month sub that’s running out soon and I barely played a month of it. None of this news changes the myriad of poor design decisions and bad aspects of this game that turned me off of it.

  • The F2P thing is a surprise to no one. The larger issue the way I see it is how it will be interpreted by the industry as a whole. They won’t look at the failure of SWtOR as a design failure (which is what it is), they’ll interpret it as a failure of the genre itself. The claim will be that it is F2P because that’s how the MMO genre works, sell 2 million copies and then after 3 months expect to lose most of your subscriptions because people move onto the next game. BS. We moved onto the next game because your PvP system was designed by monkeys, because 48 different forms of CC per class is a bad thing, because having 1 central hub for everything is just being lazy, because instances and the same boring raid content is. . .boring, because badges are dumb etc. etc. etc. The failure of SWtOR will be seen as confirmation of their theory and that will result in MMOs getting even worse, design wise, as they will now design even thinner MMOs based around a 6 month life cycle.

    Gone forever are the days of the original EQ, UO, and DAoC. The MMO genre has gone and is continuing to go in a direction 180 degrees opposite of what it was. No longer can I say that these games have huge potential, they don’t. Unfortunately, what they DO have is levelling that can be done by a 6 year old, linear quest hubs, PvP that means nothing and feels like a minigame, giftwrapped gear that only requires you have a pulse in order to obtain, 8 minutes of endgame. . .

  • @Dril

    I guess we are not. I see Trion as a model of the Theme Park style of MMO. They have just about perfected it. In doing so, they added a lot of really neat features. Chronicles, Instant Action and the like have all added to the genre immensely. They have taken the theme park style of game play about as far as it is possible to take it, without it becoming an entirely new genre.

    I have my problems with Rift but Trion has done an excellent job working within the constraints of the theme park MMO style and still coming up with some new and fresh ideas. Which is a whole lot more than can be said for SW:ToR, whose lone “innovation” is the fully voiced cut-scenes which everyone skips anyway. Other than that, they have done nothing to advance the genre. Nothing at all. Nothing anywhere near as innovative as instant action, the soul system or Chronicles.

    Bottom line, you may dislike Rift but you can not deny that Trion has attempted to advance the genre, whereas Bioware has done nothing to advance the genre. Not one single thing.

    SW:ToR needs to die and I am glad that it has died so quickly. With that huge budget they were totally afraid to take any risks whatsoever. Rift is a great game, especially considering the fact that it was the first game from Trion ever. I expect them to be a bit conservative with their first game and I expect that their next MMO (Defiance) will take quite a few more risks.

  • I wonder how they will limit travel… I mean, on many planets like Coruscant, Nar Shaddaa, Dromund Kaas, Corellia, and even Tython, some places are only accessible via the speeder system.

    Maybe they will simply not give the “recall” spells (to visited place and to fleer) to the free accounts?

  • I’m thinking only the basic speeder (mount) with the simple look and slowest speed will be available. It would be like saying no epic mount in WoW unless you pay money.

  • @Buster:

    How are any of those features innovative in the slightest? Instant Adventures are pretty much open world group quests with a dungeon finder queue; chronicles are challenging solo/duo instances (hi AoC); the soul system is literally reducing the number of classes but adding more talent trees, whilst at the same time making most of said talent trees so similar and generic it’s saddening (I mean, the Warlord, the Riftblade, the Saboteur, the Bard, the Archon, the Dominator; why aren’t all of the soul trees that interesting? Those are genuinely different from other staple classes, but they’re so few compared to the pile of generic trash).

    For all its problems, the voicing and the morality stuff really did make the character so much more than a different type of healer/tank/dps with differently coloured spells and differently coloured armour (albeit the feature was somewhat ruined by questionable morality assignments and fucking awful paraphrasing of the response). That alone has pushed the RPG part of the genre far beyond what it had been in the past.

    All Rift did was prove that you could actually release a polished game, with the caveat that the game wasn’t fun to play, wasn’t interesting in any way and had its real gameplay potential gutted in the beta. I’d rather a game release with crippling bugs but solid gameplay underneath that rather than release well polished but with nothing underneath it that’s compelling.

  • The sub model is fundamentally unfair, because it rewards those who consume the most by getting those who consume the least to subsidize them with one blanket price. The bulk of any MMO’s player base is made up of casual players. The F2P model caters to them. This is why hardcore players hate it and think its an abomination, when in fact it’s really no different than a utility bill; use more, pay more, use less, pay less.

    WoW can pull it off, but what history has shown us, through the list of would-be MMOs repeating the same super-hype followed by collapse cycle, is that WoW is different. WoW has 10 million players, but those players are not MMO customers. They are WoW customers. The bulk of those players are not up for grabs by another MMO. You can argue quality, but the reality is that it doesn’t really matter. The new MMO starts dying before most people even encounter the horrible game breaking problems (that are usually no worse than what people put up with from WoW).

    For most players, $15/mo is a pretty expensive form of entertainment, especially for a genre that, almost by definition, treats casual players like second class citizens. And that is where the money is, not catering to the kind of people who read this blog. Sub games wither, f2p games grow. That tells you all you need to know about which model is really the best from the clients perspective.

  • I don’t see how $15/mo can be expensive for the majority of players. 30 days of entertainment for the price of going to a movie (alone) to be entertained for (at most) 2 hours.

    30 days…. 2 hours…. hmmm.

    Even “casual” gamers that spent no more than 2-3 hours per week playing are still getting their value at that rate. Honestly, even 1 hour per week is still “worth” it.

    I agree that the f2p model caters to the majority though, because of the mindset it brings with it. People never really do the math to see how much a subscription is worth.

    Ah well, things always change. They’ll continue to change. Someday there will be something else.

  • It’s not 30 days of entertainment. 12 hours a month adds up to over a dollar per hour. For internet entertainment that’s pretty shoddy. It’s not like they didn’t have to buy the box too, right?

    15 bucks is 15 bucks. You can have Netflix and Hulu Plus for around that much, and I can tell you you’ll get a lot more real entertainment for your sitting in front a computer entertainment budget. Or you could mess around in a F2P game that is at least as, and probably more entertaining and that doesn’t particularly penalize you for being so casual.

    It’s a poor use of the money.

  • I’m not sure I follow the logic. If you only play 12 hours a month, you’re not at all qualified to even attempt to persuade or influence the design of a game to meet your needs.

    I don’t want people who dip their toes in the water to be the ones dictating to the developers how a traditional MMORPG should be played.

    $15 may not be economical for you, but it’s a downright steal for me. I can put 6 hours into a game in a single day without breaking a sweat. That’s 8 cents per hour of enjoyment.

    It’s also cheaper than MOST F2P games. Any veteran of the industry can tell you that the cash shop games rake in more per capita than a sub game — why else do you think the model is growing? It’s not because publishers think to themselves how wonderful it would be to provide people with a free game.

  • “you’re not at all qualified to even attempt to persuade or influence the design of a game to meet your needs.”

    The casual player is as qualified as anyone else, since you are putting up the same amount of money as everyone else. Your needs count just as much as anyone else’s, no matter how many toes are in the water. And of course you are free to quit if your needs are not deemed worthy of consideration.

    I understand your point of view; 15/mo is cheap as hell for you. But people like you make up a very small but extremely vocal part of the MMO playerbase. And apparently the playerbase has spoken; in large part they are happy to play these MMOs that are supposedly horrible failures, just not at 15/mo. They’d rather play for free and maybe drop a fiver every now and then. That’s the message behind all these games going F2P— there ARE millions of customers for these games, but only at the right price. 15/mo is a huge barrier to millions of players. They just have better stuff to do with their money. It’s a bit odd there’s more money in free to play than in subs, don’t you think?

    Basically the sub model is all well and good, and if that works, fine. But don’t act like you have the moral high ground over F2P, because you really don’t. You like the sub model because it lets you get cheap entertainment on the casuals dime. I understand that, and hell, I respect it. But the sub model is not somehow fairer or more pure than F2P; it’s just the model that benefits you the most.

  • An analogy:

    You invite everyone to a pizza party. Everyone has to chip in $10 bucks to get access to the pizza. There’s 9 people who eat half a pizza. You eat four pizzas and then brag about how cheap the pizza is. It’s true that you paid $2 bucks a pizza, but only because the other 9 guys paid the equivalent of $20 per pizza. Then you tell the other 9 guys they aren’t even qualified to pick the toppings because they don’t eat enough for their opinion to matter. That’s the sub model.

    The other 9 guys realize they are better off if they paid by the slice so they don’t have to pay for the fat guys pizza. That’s F2P.

    You are the fat guy.

  • “The casual player is as qualified as anyone else, since you are putting up

    **the same amount of money as everyone else.**

    Your needs count just as much as anyone else’s, no matter how many toes are in the water. And of course you are free to quit if your needs are not deemed worthy of consideration. ”

    So by that logic, F2P games should be entirely dictated by our minority, while Sub games are dictated by the desires of the majority.

  • In a F2P game, the guys who actually pay the bulk of the fees would get the consideration you apparently feel you deserve. So it would seem that F2P would encourage the sort of game design that caters to hardcore players. However, that comes at the price of paying your freight.

  • And all within the most insanely crowded launch season in MMO history.

    Things are about to get VERY interesting. All the AAA titles in one ring with a launch or expansion. FIGHT!

  • Your pizza analogy is flawed. We all pay 15$ to get “access” to the pizza, no matter how much I eat it isn’t taking any pizza away from you. A more accurate analogy is that we each pay 15$ in order to get a plate at an all you can eat place. I eat those 4 pizzas, you take three bites of pizza and don’t bite into even 1 of the toppings on that slice. However, because there’s alot more of you 3 biters than me and the chef knows even if he burns the pizzas you guys won’t know the difference he asks YOU what pizza he should make next.

    The problem is for the last 10 years you guys have been ordering plain cheese pizza so to fat guys like me it really doesn’t matter if you charge me per slice or for an all you can eat plate, the pizza tastes like shit.

  • ILk, it’s not that pizza is being taken away from anybody. Everybody gets to eat as much as they want— it’s just that the guy eating half a pizza is paying the same share for the overhead, bandwidth, and development costs as the guy who eats a lot more pizza. But he gets way less in return than the fat guy, and in fact gets treated as a second class citizen by said fat guy. That is where the subsidy comes in. The hardcore gamer is free loading at the all-you-can-eat buffet of the subscription model, because the casual guy is helping defray the expenses, thereby making it cheaper for the fat guy. I don’t think that can be denied.

    Simple change to the sub model: everyone pays .20 cents per hour of playtime. No competitive advantages, no accelerated advancement, just pay to play:

    Casual gamers bill: $2.40 (12 hours a month x .2)
    Keen’s bill at, lets say, 3 hours a day: $18.00 (3x30x.2)
    If we use his six hours a day statement, lets give him the weekend off, so 5x4x6x.2= $24.00.

    You see what I’m getting at? For every Keen, there’s two or three slubs helping cover his bill, and he thinks they are too lowly for their opinions about the entertainment product they are paying for to matter! If this weren’t a fundamentally trivial topic I’d think that was really creepy. And of course as a hardcore player, he’s more likely to buy a six month or year sub, so his subsidy becomes even more pronounced!

  • @ Andrew – I agree, the TOR WZs are more fun then WoW’s sub-85 BGs. I love Star Wars, and I still like TOR. I just finished getting my 2nd character to 50, an Operative, I had so much fun leveling him in WZs. And my first 50 was a BH. And in comparing TOR to WoW, how many BGs did WoW have at launch? Give TOR 7 years, if it survives, and it will match WoW in some areas.

    I agree, TOR is flawed in many areas, but I still enjoy the game. Also, in going F2P EA can now report their numbers in accounts, its a nice little way of them hiding how badly the game failed. I would love to hear what LA thinks of all of this. They killed SWG for this.

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