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The Argument for Free-2-Play

By on Jun 5, 2012 at 9:06 am, in Buzz, SWTOR  |  Comments: 7 comments

As more and more MMOs’ release, it is evident that World of Warcraft’s success has been an anomaly. Remember when SWTOR was strutted as the next “WoW killer?” But ultimately a large exodus occurred, and layoffs followed. Many have since begun questioning the success of any subscription based MMO to follow. If Bioware is struggling with a subscription model when they have the biggest IP you can attach to an MMO, what hope is there for any other MMO that follows the same model? Essentially, Bioware needs to convert to the Free-to-Play model if they want to increase their profit and player base.

The future of MMOs is Free-to-Play with microtransactions.  Playing Diablo 3 has made this evident. I know what you are thinking, Diablo 3 isn’t an MMO. Technically you are right, at least in the traditional sense. MMOs are generally defined by hundreds or thousands of players simultaneously playing in a persistent world, but there are other factors that define MMOs. Other common features include some form of progression, social interaction, in-game economy, character customization and crafting. Diablo 3 has all these traits; it allows players to group together from a pool of thousands of other players. Players are able to socialize using the in-game general chat and friends list. Also, there is an in-game economy established by the Auction House. Diablo 3 will be generating income post launch through the real-money Auction House, an alternative to the in-game gold Auction House. It allows users to sell items for cash for a modest 15% transaction fee, but only when items sell successfully. Although the Auction House hasn’t been implemented yet, the plan is to implement it soon. SWTOR can use the same model for their NTN.

The Free-to-Play is being used successfully by Everquest II, Dungeons and Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online. Many have speculated that the next MMO from Blizzard, Titan, will be Free-to-Play.  So why do MMOs still use subscriptions over the Free-to-play model?  Many publishers look at World of Warcraft’s numbers and think if they can allure away 10 percent of World of Warcraft’s subscribers they will be successful. Looking at Rift’s add campaign slogan: “You aren’t in Azeroth anymore?  Makes this prevalent. Even though many new MMOs attract a good portion of players away from World of Warcraft, most of them either go back or jump onto the next big MMO.

SWTOR would be perfect for the Free-to-Play model because of the Legacy System. One only has to look at the black market to support this. The exchange rate the day before patch 1.3 was about nine dollars for 1 million credits. After 1.3 released it went up to almost twenty dollars for 1 million credits, demonstrating that players are willing to pay real money for in-game Legacy unlocks.

With so many great MMOs on the market, bunny hoping from one to the other is becoming the thing to do. It is one group of players that play all these MMOs, and I doubt most will subscribe to multiple MMOs simultaneously, but they will likely spend a few dollars a month on microtransactions on various MMOs. Obviously, Bioware is banking on patch 1.3 to turn the tides in their favor, but if it doesn’t the Free-to-Play model would be their best option. Sound off in the forms bellow and let us know if SWTOR should stay a subscription based MMO or change to Free-to-Play.

  • Alexandru Taras

    In my opinion it should remain a subscription based MMO

  • Alexandru Taras

    In my opinion it should remain a subscription based MMO

  • Kerhold

    It could be mixed as well. Pay Premium subscription and you get some legacy unlocks out of the box. If you don’t have subscription, you have to earn credits either through grinding or buying with microtransactions. And I could do both as well. :)

  • Rackem

    Swtor is fine at subscription based. Remember they said pre launch the game would be profitable at 500,000 subscribers and they are currently at 1.2 million. The F2P argument shouldn’t even be brought up until/if they dip below that 500,000 mark. Oh also 1.3 has not come out. 1.2 is the patch so you should correct that in your article.

  • Tiana Stauffer

    No. No. No.  I absolutely loathe the F2P model, with its nickel-and-dime bullshit, where only the people willing to shell out big bucks are the ones on top.  It removes the requirement for skill, and replaces it with the requirement to pay big or go home to let the ‘big boys’ top the raids and pvp boards.

    If SWTOR goes F2P, I’ll finish up what storylines I care to…and then I’ll just stop bothering with it altogether.  There are enough good subscription-based MMO’s that I don’t need to go F2P at all.  Speaking of, if they were to have trouble with a subscription model…it would say a LOT for how much their game would need to improve.

  • Jeff

    No, not just no.  Hell no. F2P is great on paper.  But developers and publishers have proven time and time again they can’t help but abuse the players with it.  It’s predatory and all too often game breaking.  Why put good loot in raids when you can make people pay real money for each individual piece.

    I have no problem with cosmetic micro-transactions or game service charges.  WoW, Tera, and GW2 all have something like this.  But I will never spend a minute playing a game that has a micro-transaction model that destroys the game for the sake of bleeding players for every penny possible.

  • Randeth Corinth

    I stopped playing Swtor after 2 months, so I know my opinion doesn’t carry as much weight as current subscribers. But if it went F2P I’d likely reinstall Swtor. Bioware has addressed some of the problems I had with the game, and while I wouldn’t play a lot I’d probably play some. Which is more than I do now. I started playing Star Trek Online to get a SciFi MMO fix recently and they have a very solid F2P model going that doesn’t break game balance. Swtor could too.