Thursday, 22 November 2012

Star Wars: The Old Republic is Free to Play ... Sort of

And by sort of I mean kind of not really?

I mentioned a while back that Star Wars: The Old Republic was going to go free to play, and yesterday it finally happened. You can now play the MMO at no cost to yourself, but what experience are you getting into?

Well, this page probably says more than I ever could, really.

Now, some sites would show you an image of that page and say that the difference is glaring, and while I admit that it is quite large, it's also not entirely obvious just based on what's highlighted and what's not. For example, when I saw that image I balked when the character creation option seemed to be block off for free to play users. This isn't truly the case though, free to play users are just limited to three species and two character slots, while subscribers aren't limited in any way whatsoever.

I'm not saying that's exactly fair or particularly enticing per se, but it's a hell of a lot better than what I originally thought it meant, that is not being able to make a character at all, just being given a pre-rolled one to use throughout the game. It may sound extreme, but EA hasn't exactly engendered much faith in the past with these sort of things.

I do realize that the point of introducing a free to play version of the game while still keeping the incentive to subscribe is what EA is going for here, but I can't help but think that they're going to have to let up more than a little. The way I see it is that the restrictions will probably come off as stifling at best, and probably cause some people who were drawn in by the offer of free to play to quit at worst.

I know that the argument can be made that since you're not paying a dime you shouldn't complain about what you are or aren't entitled to. It's a valid argument, but I believe that it's also missing the point of why they did this in the first place. SWTOR's glory days seem far behind it, which is kind of a sad statement when you consider the fact that the game launched less than a year ago. People have simply moved on, lost interest.

That's why this decision seems to be something that EA is considering as trying to get people to play, then upgrade to full accounts or at least shill out five dollars to buy a semi-upgraded account that has a couple more perks then just straight free to play. The thing is that by kneecapping so many of the aspects right out of the gate, you're not offering a whole lot of incentive for people to bother in the first place.

Maybe I'm wrong, and this will actually draw people in, and perhaps even bring people back to the galaxy far, far away. Something tells me though, that even if I don't tell anyone the odds, that they still aren't very good.

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