There are a few things in life that we can classify as absolute certainties. These consist of the fact that:
1.) You’re going to die
2.) At some point, you will have an active Facebook account
3.) Unless you’re World of Warcraft, you can’t launch a successful MMORPG with a monthly subscription fee without an option to play for free.
In light of these haunting truths, Electronic Arts and Bioware have reacted to the utter face-palm inducing decline of paid subscribers to their Star Wars The Old Republic MMO. Coming this Fall, the game will allow users to download the game and play it entirely free, albeit with some strings attached. For instance, one can play any of the 8 available character classes with ease up until level 50 at no charge, but then will be restricted once reaching said point and will not receive all of the bells and whistles they may desire unless they pony up some microtransaction fees. There will be a new Cartel Coins currency system added to the game, and it appears that users will either be able to purchase said in-game currency (along with other items and toys) individually. In contrast, users will still have the option to pay the $15 monthly fee, granting them an automatic transfer of monthly Coins in addition to easier and faster access to exclusive game updates and available content. Basically, if you already bought the game and are a subscriber, you’ll be grandfathered into receiving more content for your loyalty, with no restrictions. If you just want to download the sucker and play to your little heart’s desire without spending a dime, you can do that until the cows come home as long as you’re not offended by not getting access to everything possible upon hitting level 50. Then again, if you like the game enough to get a character (let alone multiple characters) to level 50, odds are you’re already paying a subscription fee and/or have no problem purchasing microtransaction items.
Bioware have stated that as of August 7th, they will sell a “Standard Edition” digital copy of the game for $14.99 that gives you the game and one month of free subscription based bonuses. Then again, unless I’m confused here, there’s nothing stopping you from just playing the game for free as long as you don’t care about those other “bonuses.” You’re not getting a month of free service in this deal when you’re essentially paying $15 that just gets you what the subscription fee would get you anyway…the game is otherwise FREE. The full F2P option will be implemented at some point “this Fall,” although they are of course endorsing players who haven’t purchased the game yet to still do so because of the incentives this will provide. Sorry guys, if I haven’t bought the game yet, it’s for a reason, and I don’t care what you’re offering, if I know it’s going free and really want to play it then I will wait to play it for free. DUH!
I am…amused. One of the most expensive games to be developed in recent video game history launches with arguably one of the most popular IP names attached to it, and still can’t break even with a decent profit without offering a free to play model. Is it just a buzz word, or the FUTURE!?
Some things gain popularity, only to fizzle out over time. Other things, however, become a bona fide phenomenon, and they shape the future of the realm in which they exist, never fading, and forever changing the landscape and culture around them. That’s free to play, in my opinion. My example: Star Wars. 35 years later, and they’re still making video games based on that shit! F2P is to business models as Star Wars was and STILL IS to film. It ain’t going anywhere, and let’s hope the games continue to be worth playing, since you get what you pay for, after all…
Star Wars The Old Republic goes FREE 99! [Destructoid]