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Star Wars: The Old Republic Adding Free-To-Play Option In November 135

Posted by Soulskill
from the couldn't-pay-me-to-play-hutt-ball-again dept.
EA and BioWare announced today that Star Wars: The Old Republic will be getting a free-to-play option later this year. Players using the F2P option will be able to reach the level cap and play through the full class stories, but their access will be limited for other parts of the game; they will only be able to play a certain number of Warzones (their PvP battlegrounds), Flashpoints (their instanced dungeons), and space missions each week. Access to travel functionality and the game's auction house will be limited as well. F2P players won't be able to participate in Operations, the end-game raids. Subscribers will retain access to all of these features. There will also be cosmetic items sold through the 'Cartel Market' using a virtual currency.
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Star Wars: The Old Republic Adding Free-To-Play Option In November

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  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @05:36PM (#40834743)

    I'm not being sarcastic, I really am curious. There was a HUGE amount of hype around the release (the usual "WoW killer" stuff that seems to accompany any major MMO release these days). Reviews seemed generally positive. Everyone was talking about it for a week or two after release. But then I stopped hearing anything about it. Don't think I've heard anyone mention it for a while. Considering this was supposed to be the game that finally fixed Sony's Galaxies [wikipedia.org] fiasco, I expected more enthusiasm.

    I do like the free-to-play stuff, though. And this might lead me to try it out. I just hope they don't cripple it to the point where it's hard to get an idea of what the paid game looks like (like some MMO's do--some that have initials like "W.O.W.," maybe).

  • by spire3661 (1038968) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @05:46PM (#40834871) Journal
    The combat was not fun at all. Very clunky and missing the Blizzard polish. Mechanically, no one can beat Blizz. The depth they put in their controls is really outstanding and often over looked. Playing a wow character is like playing an instrument in some cases.
  • Re:Dear Bioware (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @05:46PM (#40834875) Journal

    That's what I came to say. Add a single player scenario, playable offline, and you'll get my money. Don't, and you won't. Simple as that.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @05:58PM (#40835019)

    Hence the whole "free to play" thing, they are trying to salvage it.

    There were multiple problems with it, but the big one is a lack of endgame. It was basically an online single player game. The questing was pretty good, and the story was way better than your normal MMO. However then you hit the top level and there was fuck-all to do. PvP was very bad, dungeons were poorly done and finding groups was problematic, there was just little reason to keep playing.

    I bought it and enjoyed leveling, I'm not sorry I spent the money on it I was entertained. However there was nothing worth staying around for. Hence it has been dying off. Well that is particularly problematic to EA given how incredibly much was spent making it.

  • by AlienSexist (686923) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @06:09PM (#40835179)
    I've played SWTOR for a while. It is a pretty game and does a great job immersing you into the Star Wars universe. If you're really into story, the problem becomes that it really does feel like the most expensive single-player game you'll ever play. It is as if other players only exist to chat and trade with. It is very easy max out a character of each class to burn out the story lines, then there is nothing to do but grind away endgame gear for PVE or PVP. That is my biggest complaint is that levels 1..49 go by rather quickly (so quickly that it is barely worthwhile to equip properly) and all that is left is to grind and raid for prettier shineys.

    The PVP Warzones were really neat and quite frankly the best PVP activity I've yet seen in an MMO. However there is presently a rash of cheating going on that BioWare is having difficulty combating.

    The entertainment value wasn't worth the subscription price and naturally players have been leaving in droves. This exodus was exacerbated by the fact that BioWare did not have a tool to help find groups after 7 months of going live! Whereas most MMOs start with one nowadays. To make matters worse server populations were crashing and it took BioWare a considerable time to effect character transfers. The first waves of consolidation did breath new life into the game temporarily... but even those servers are in decline now.

    There was some press release or statement from BioWare a number of weeks back that described subscription levels. At launch there were something like 1.5 million and in recent months had dropped to like 700k or so. 400k was stated as the minimum to retain profitability. Since then, I imagine, subscriptions continued to plummet and now they are offering F2P. Some might consider that desperation but in fairness I'd say that the true market value of the game is being established.

    If you like Star Wars it really is worth a look. The F2P offering may actually be very attractive for Story players.
  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @06:30PM (#40835451) Journal

    Well my oldest was in the beta and subscribed to it for about 5 months afterward before quitting and he said by the time he quit it had become pretty badly unbalanced. He said the empire could just camp and slaughter the jedis at the spawn points. But other than that he said the same thing, front of the game was nice but once you got your character up there really wasn't much to do.

    Kinda a shame, the Star Wars mythos has enough there you could build tons of new stories out of it but I just can't believe they spent a couple of hundred million on an MMO and thought they could take on WoW. With WoW its got network effect, where many i know play it because that's where their friends are, so trying to compete with that is kinda stupid. Its like FB in that it won't go down until they seriously fuck it up, just like how MySpace got greedy and turned it into a giant ad ridden spam dump and ran everyone off. As long as they keep adding new content WoW will have the big numbers although the F2P games do seem to be slowly lowering their stats but not by much.

    With those MMOs they are such time sinks that people rarely play more than one at a time and I just can't see enough Star Wars nerds willing to shell out a monthly fee to make up a 200 million dollar development budget.

  • by kenp2002 (545495) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @06:38PM (#40835563) Homepage Journal

    It was an embarrassment to EA to say the least. They lost over 50% of their subscription base within 90 days actually surpassing the industry's worst launch\retention Warhammer. It was a single player game with an MMO bolted on and after everyone beat it in 30 days. less then 1/2 people bothered to subscribe.

    Think of this as a resturant: 50% of the customers didn't like the food enough to come back. Doesn't sound good. Prior to Warhammer, retention at 90 days was about 80% by estimate with players usually averaging 6 months before attrition. The problem is with the market saturation the demographic changed when WoW came into the picture. The Old School MMO players (pre-WoW players) had a much longer attention span in regards to rewards. The pacing, the very core was a longer experience. A novel. WoW came along and transformed that experience into a Short Story. Both enjoyable in their own right, but with the advent of the Theme Park and Sandbox styles (rather then the Virtual World model of Everquest in contrast to say WoW or Eve respectively) and the addition of a structured tread mill. The demands to engage this new demographic are not, IMHO, sustainable via a subscription model.

    The problem with F2P is without safeguards, every troll douche and his inbred cousin can just script up and troll, ban, repeat. F2P is a recovery and long tail approach to MMOs and I see the industry needs to change.

    MMOs should be more like muds and Counter Strike servers. More intimate, targeting 200-300 people a shard and allowing people to "roll-their-own" shards much like a counter strike server. Transform the MMO industry into a hosting industry where a few of you "Roll-Your-Own" and throw in what mods you want then invite people. Open it public, set a level cap, or an age limit, customize some rules, or make it invite only. Oddly I am seeing an uptick in Muds once again courtesy of CoffeeMud and newer Diku\Merc\Rom derivatives. Maybe a second golden age of MMOs is coming, perhaps the MMO will die and the GMUD will be revived. Who knows.

    What I can say is that the original demographic of EQ players are as a majority, parents (statistically, they should all now mostly be about 35 years old) and the time commitment for old school MMOs (you know Virtual Worlds rather then Theme Park\Sandbox MMOs) means devs are left with the ADHD FPS converts that can't stand waiting more then 4 seconds before something spawns.

  • by DL117 (2138600) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @07:48PM (#40836211) Homepage

    is SWG. SWGEMU is in a playable state now, it will be perfect once they put in the faction missions.

  • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @10:24PM (#40837325)

    " It's one of those touches that I see often overlooked in games..."

    And it shouldn't be. Game designers should be taking "The Uncanny Valley" into account when working on such things as animations, facial expressions and such.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley [wikipedia.org]

    I think the focus is more on fluidity then accuracy. I honestly don't understand why motion-capture isn't used more often then it is. Maybe someone can explain why it isn't used in 3d modeling (based on the animations I've seen in games so far), but is used often in motion picture CG. Seems to me that technology could be applied, but perhaps I am unaware of a crucial limitation inherent to 3D modeling--I don't do it for a living.

    Speaking of "The Uncanny Valley", does anyone besides me think that people that have had a lot of cosmetic surgery are back-sliding into that Valley? Some of that shit is getting a little creepy. Michael Jackson is the first thing I think of when I hear the words "uncanny valley".

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @04:10AM (#40839627) Journal

    The class story line is pretty much the only reason to play. It is a classic black and white Bioware storyline complete with all the standard plot elements and binary characters that have become the staple of recent Bioware RPG's.

    Limitted access to flashpoints? Only the first one is anything like what was shown in the teasers, a story rich, choice rich, not endlessly long instance. The rest? One moral non-voiced choice in the middle, that is it for story telling.

    Travel was never that hot to begin with, for F2P, you can make do without it.

    Fewer space missions? Oh NO! Those were like the best part of the game!!! Not! The only value they had was that for people with an insane boredom treshold, they were a way to level up with ease. Just very very boring. Mind you, there are bots for them. Anyway, since the class story is the best thing about the game and you would miss that if you just auto-levelled to 50 and there is no end-game... I can't quite see the point.

    Bioware screwed up. They already become something of a joke once they started releasing more RPG's because they all had the same story and the same support characters but that was okay in a 60 then 40 then 20 hour game. Then you can ignore that one support character gets upset if you don't kiss a kitten while saving the world, the other gets upset you don't kill said kitten while saving the world and the third says he has meaningful advice on saving the world but never actually gives it.

    This can carry a single player story but a MMO that is supposed to have infinity playing hours? Not so much. Bioware and indeed many single player RPG's already suffer from dungeon creep. The Bard's tale was extreem in this. In the beginning you get 70% story and 30% dungeon, near the end you get 1% story and 999999% dungeon. 3 fucking levels of endless monster slaying without a single story advancement for the Bard's tale.

    For SWTOR, actually getting from class story point to class story point is a very long slog. At one point I was already level 50 I was just passing all the side quests and getting really fed up with yet another dungeon crawl having to defeat mindless mobs randomly played along copy and paste hallways I had already defeated a thousand times before.

    SWTOR for story is as if someone took Kotor and increased the non-skippable fights by a factor of 10 and at the same time increasing the "didn't I meet this side character before" by three.

    Bioware has never made games with really good combat systems. This has been true since the Baldur Gates series where a wizzard has to take a nap after every fight to be of any use. Might be true to the table top game but in a computer game with endless dungeon's it just gets boring.

    MMO's typically have trash mobs who come in groups, regular mobs who can be pulled alone or come in 2-3 groups, harder mobs that usually are alone or two and elites who represent mid bosses.

    SWTOR contained far to many hard mobs. Hard isn't hard as in good AI but as in use every skill on your skill bar three times before they finally run out of hit points. THAT IS NOT FUN!

    It is Quake all over again with its shamblers requiring 3 rockets to the face. Except it ain't 3, it is 30 with a lenghty reload cycle every 5th rocket. It isn't fun, exciting or a challenge, it is WORK!

    The reason realistic military shooters are now completely dominating FPS is that other people apparently too got tired of emptying clip after clip into enemies. One shot, one kill is just more rewarding.

    For MMO's the same goes, ONE high health mid boss is a nice challenge. An entire hallway filled with them, is not.

    For me, I stopped with SWTOR when I saw yet another hallway with a ten or so single hard mobs and just didn't want to fucking do them just to get another cookie cutter story bit.

    In the days of quake, the only way to make a hard monster was to make it have lots of hit points, same with Everquest. But single player games have advanced, MMO's often haven't. Even new games like TSW a

If a thing's worth having, it's worth cheating for. -- W.C. Fields

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