SWTOR’s Free to Play: “Y U no encourage me 2 play?!?”

I’ve been out of the SWTOR loop for a little while now, but I’ve been interested to know how the Free to Play option that is coming in will be implemented. We have a decent amount of info about it now, and the question has to be asked, “will this be the first free to play game to fail?” This is, without a doubt, the most restrictive free to play model that there is.

The leveling game is totally free. That is awesome. However, every single aspect of endgame is restricted. You have the ability to play three Flashpoints and three Warzones per week only. You have no access to raids at all. You can buy a “weekly pass” to gain access to these things, but here is the real kicker.. there are restrictions on the gear you can equip. That’s right, if you buy a weekly pass to run a raid and get some shiny purple gear out of it, you can’t actually equip it unless you pay for a license to do so. Already got a max level character in purple gear and want to go the free to play route? You are either going to be playing naked or forking over extra cash to play it. You’re shit out of luck dude!

The best part about SWTOR, is without a doubt the story mode that you experience with leveling. Even it’s worst critics praise this aspect of the game. The fact that this is free and unrestricted (with the exception of character creation restrictions) should do a lot to get new players into the game. Like it did for all of us who purchased the game at launch, the strength of the story will get a lot of people to subscribe for endgame. The problem that arises however is that the reason people unsubscribe from the game has not been addressed (endgame sucks), so people will still be dropping thier subs, and the super restrictive free to play model doesn’t encourage players to stick around at endgame. What we have here is a free to play model that encourages high player churn rate. Suck em in, spit em out, rinse and repeat.

Once you level a character or two to max level you will no longer want to do it anymore and you will be forced into endgame (leveling alts in this game is more tedious than any previous MMO). Once at endgame, why would you continue to play when you are being treated as second class citizen, especially when there are far better FREE alternatives on the market *cough* Guild Wars 2 *cough*.

If SWTOR had gone a free to play route like LOTRO I’d be all over that. I’d be dropping hundreds of dollars in their cash shop, just like I did (and still do) in LOTRO. I was looking forward to doing the same in SWTOR, but with such a restrictive model it will not only lose me as a subscriber (that runs out in Feb 2013), but also as a free to play customer. Rather than get hundreds of dollars from me, Bioware/EA will be getting none. This just leaves me shaking my head in disbelief. I guess it’s back to the Guild Wars 2 cash shop for me…

Subscription Verse Free to Play Features

Free to Play FAQ


  1. Shintar says:

    leveling alts in this game is more tedious than any previous MMO 0_0

    I would have thought that should say “fun” instead of tedious, what with the different class stories and all (sitting on 4 50s myself and happily chugging away on more). For all the criticisms that I’ll accept about TOR, hearing someone say that the levelling isn’t fun just confuses me…

  2. Alo says:

    I love the Story Quests. They are the most fun I’ve had during the level game in any MMO. The bit I find tedious (and this is a complaint I’ve heard a lot), is that you are doing the same zones, in the same order, with the same quests (non story quests) over and over. That is where it gets tedious. In other games, for example, you can choose different starter zones, different level 20-30 zones, and the like. You could minimise quest overlap a lot in many other games. Not so in SWTOR. After the baby zone, it is the same zones with the same quests everytime. Conversation choices can put a slight twist into things, but it still essentially the same experience.

    For leveling more than 2 alts of the same faction, I ended up resorting to just doing the story quests, and PvPing in between to fill the XP gap.

  3. Siha says:

    leveling alts in this game is more tedious than any previous MMO

    I actually think this is a bigger problem than “endgame sucks”. There’s not actually that much less to do than endgame in, say, WoW – which has had no problem keeping people interested. There’s large-scale PvP (Ilum/Wintergrasp et al), small-scale instanced PvP, normal instances, heroic instances, raids, achievement-hunting and dailies. (The only thing WoW has that SWTOR lacks is faction grinding, and I don’t think most people find that a motivation.)

    So there’s got to be some other explanation as to why WoW has little problem with endgame player retention and SWTOR suffers so badly there. And I think that’s the lack of replayability. In WoW (or, presumably, RIFT or LotRO or any of the other games of this ilk) if you’re an endgame player on a non-raid night, it’s easy to entertain yourself with alts while you’re waiting for people to turn up for a heroic or whatever. That keeps you logged on and logged into guild chat, helping to contribute to a critical mass. In SWTOR, playing same-faction alts (beyond the first couple of times) is much less appealing because of the lack of redundant content, which means people have less to do to keep them online, which depletes player numbers below the critical mass you need for random spontaneous instance runs and the like. So people get bored, they don’t log in on non-raid nights, so you can’t do instance runs because there’s nobody around to do them with, and you log out too. It’s a vicious circle.

    Just MHO, of course.

  4. Alo says:

    Interesting points about “non raid nights” Siha, and I tend to agree. That’s not an angle I’d previously looked at it from. I can see how that really would factor into things.

    The problem is certainly bigger than “endgame sucks”, as you note. But that is the place where people drop off. There ARE problems with endgame. It’s not that there is a lack of content. I’ve never bought into that argument. There is plenty to do. From my perspective it is the way that it is implemented. As an example (and this is the thing that turned me away from SWTOR), PvP warzones are plentiful and well designed, but the expertise changes brought about in 1.2(?)made gear the primary determining factor in a fight. Not as fun as when it was more skill based (see 10-49 bracket).

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