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SWTOR – F2P option in fall, subs drop below 1M

Tuesday, 31st July 2012 20:24 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

EA and BioWare announced today that it will be expanding Star Wars: The Old Republic by adding a new free-to-play option this fall.

This option will give players access to each of the eight character classes and storylines up to level 50, with certain restrictions.

Unlimited game access, including new higher-level game content and new features, will be made available through individual purchases or through a subscription option.

“Players want flexibility and choice. The subscription-only model presented a major barrier for a lot of people who wanted to become part of The Old Republic universe,” said Matthew Bromberg, GM of BioWare Austin.

The game will also go on sale for $15 in August with a free month as an incentive to get people playing.

“Since launch, we’ve been listening to feedback from our fans and adding new content and refining The Old Republic at a breakneck pace,” added Jeff Hickman, the game’s executive producer.

“We believe we are in a position to help improve the service even more, not only by continuing to add new content, but also by expanding the game to many more Star Wars fans, increasing the populations on worlds and the vibrancy of the community.”

Starting this fall, there will be two different ways to play:

  • Subscription — A service designed for players who want unrestricted access to all the game features via ongoing subscription or by redeeming a Game Time Card. In addition to gaining access to all game content as our current subscribers do now, subscribers will receive ongoing monthly grants of Cartel Coins, the new virtual currency that will be introduced later this fall. Cartel Coins can be used to purchase valuable in-game items including customizable gear and convenience features that will enhance the game play experience.
  • Free-To-Play — The first 50 levels will be Free-to-Play, with restrictions on access to new content and advanced player features. Some restrictions can be “unlocked” with Cartel Coins.

During its Q1 FY13 call to investors, CEO John Riccitiello called “sales of SWTOR disappointing”, but it was offset by sales of the Battlefield 3 Premium Service.

Star Wars: The Old Republic has less than a million subscribers, at present, and the firm said during its call 40% of players didn’t like paying a subscription, and many said they would come back if it went F2P.

EA announced during its Q3 FY12 call the sub base went from 1.7 million subscribers to 1.3 million, which is a 25% decline.

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38 Comments

  1. Erthazus

    HAHA.
    I said about that when the game showed first screenshots! I knew that it will embrace F2P at some point.
    Looool! LOOOL! Super Mega LOL. I have no words to be honest. This is EA at it’s best. Congratulations!

    I won’t play this even for free because the game is so horrible that i don’t know where to start.

    Guild Wars 2, WoW:MOP and Everquest Next is all the way.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Talkar

    This is so great! So many more players to kill :D And i get a party jawa ^^

    EDIT:
    Might i point out this handy dandy chart? http://www.swtor.com/free/features

    #2 2 years ago
  3. DeyDoDoughDontDeyDough

    @1

    Actually, it’s pretty good and like you say, you haven’t played it. However, the writing was definitely on the wall. I gave up with it two months after launch because there weren’t enough players to party with. I remember trudging round Hoth with nothing but party missions in my log and only three other players on the whole planet.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Patrick Garratt

    Wow. It’s the EA financial call tonight, remember. Kicks off in 45 minutes.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Anders

    Almost surprised it took this long. Quite the shitstorm for EA.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Erthazus

    @3, “you haven’t played it. ”

    i played it and i bought Deluxe Edition at launch in Origin.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. GrimRita

    This line should win the nobel bullshit prize – “Since launch, we’ve been listening to feedback from our fans and adding new content and refining The Old Republic at a breakneck pace,” added Jeff Hickman

    1 actual content update 1 patch introducting stuff that should have been there at launch… Dont push yourself now Bioware.

    But again this proves that EA havent a clue about the MMO market. The part about paying for ‘unlimited access’ to warzones is interesting. People only play them because they have to and there is no other pvp in the game /forceyawn.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. freedoms_stain

    Shit, don’t let GrimRita see this, the sheer force of the gloating will crash the site.

    edit: fuck that then.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Patrick Garratt

    @8 – :D

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Patrick Garratt

    It’s the death of the subs-based MMO, right. No one will be able to do one again. The Secret World will be F2P in 10 minutes.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Erthazus

    *FanBoy mode*

    They should have just made KOTOR 3.

    Or maybe they will?

    @10, 10 minutes? K. Let’s see… 9 minutes and 35 seconds left…

    P.S. actually i disagree. Subs-based mmos are not dead if you have something good. Something that is not WoW 1.5

    What is SWTOR? WoW 1.5 with SW brand.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Ireland Michael

    This should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone.

    @8 Too late.

    @10 I expect an inevitable “The Secret World goes F2P” news post in about six month, give or take.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. DSB

    Really, I think the sub-based MMO has been needing a revamp for a very long time.

    It makes absolutely no sense to set up a 50 dollar paywall when you’re relying on a subscription to fill your pockets.

    Why not let absolutely everyone who want to play to play, do so?

    It’s an anachronism, and it has been for a long time.

    Then again it doesn’t help that everybody is aping after everybody else. That’s not exactly the way to keep your base energized. The genre itself is dead in the water.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. silkvg247

    So what will I get as a person who paid full rrp but did not sub? the same as a person not paying a penny? fuck that shit, then.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. Erthazus

    @DSB, it does not need a revamp, what needs a revamp is a MMO genre in general. So far you get WoW 1.5 games and you want 15$ a month for a Rip Off? Good luck pal.

    Everquest Next will be sub-based in most cases and these guys know what they are doing and as Smedley said: “It shouldn’t make them worry,” he says. “We want to get it right. That’s the pillar of our company and we are going to get it right. We’re also making the next generation of MMOs, not an evolution — and everyone says that, but in this case, we’re zigging every other company’s zag. Everybody’s making WoW 1.5. We’re doing something else.”

    these guy are making the next Everquest and Planetside 2.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. Talkar

    @14
    No you will get a bunch more. First off there are the items you’ll get, but there is also all the ingame content that is only available to subs, such as operations. Basically, in a very rough draft, the free players can only level to 50 and that is it. Have a look here http://www.swtor.com/free/features

    @OP
    According to this document from the upcoming investors call, the F2P model will go live in november: http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/ERTS/1975707183x0x587374/05e497e8-ca3a-4f0a-8f80-4a2d3216ad79/Q1FY13_Earnings_Release_w_PressTables_FINAL.pdf

    #16 2 years ago
  17. DSB

    @15 Planetside 2 is F2P on launch though.

    It doesn’t make any sense to charge 50 dollars per user. All it does is ensure that more people won’t be making the jump. You’re making a short term profit and losing out on the long term, which is really the whole point of an MMO.

    If you look at most other businesses, their models are based on an average user count that they need to maintain to make x amount of dollars per user.

    It simply doesn’t make sense to turn people away. If they want to pay for the first month, let them play. In return, you get a fair chance that they may stick around. And at the very least you avoid empty servers.

    I’m sure you risk losing on someone making an account, downloading the client and only leaving 15 bucks, but I’m pretty sure you’d make that back by expanding your userbase to the furthest it will go.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. Hunam

    I’m not sure how I feel about this… but I’ll probs keep my sub going into the F2P transition and see how it is then.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. Erthazus

    @DSB, “It doesn’t make any sense to charge 50 dollars per user. All it does is ensure that more people won’t be making the jump. ”

    Blizzard’s Jesus says otherwise and i will say that now they offer a Limited Deluxe Edition of Pandaria that sells better than Standard edition on Battle net. Limited Edition have just shitty pet/mount and that’s it.

    “Planetside 2 is F2P on launch though.”

    Well, d~uh. Planetside 2 won’t work for 15$ a month.

    but wait for Everquest Next. Trust me you are going to be blown away. To use PhysX in MMO “RPG” genre is already Something at the level of “Next Generation”.

    #19 2 years ago
  20. GrimRita

    @10 Not really. People just cant justify paying for a shit product – which SWTOR clearly is. Lack of content, shit game engine, poor end game, lack of updates, the worst community team in MMO history – look at all that and you can see why.

    Gamers are BORED SHITLESS with linear themeparked MMOs.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. DSB

    @19 Well, that’s great, but until someone other than Blizzard pulls it off, I don’t think it’s a very good proof of concept.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. NocturnalB

    I’ll be keeping my sub going, i am just happy that it isn’t going 100% F2P. When a game goes totally F2P (In my PERSONAL experience i’m not speaking for anyone else.) it kills all hope of any future content to have any substance.

    I am not a “huge” fan of swtor, but i will happily admit i do enjoy playing it, but casually. It’s no WoW Tuesday night raider to me, not by a long shot, but i still enjoy it.

    I’m with the general consensus here that i am waiting for something new that is WORTH playing, and paying. I hate that everyone chases after Blizzards legacy, i love and have played WoW for 6 years and would love a NEW game that has as good of gameplay, but that doesn’t mean i want a terrible attempt at a duplicate.

    Gameplay, and substance, not linear.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. Maximum Payne

    @19 I was blown away with Lineage Eternal especially with physics
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXhcK7KEuGo

    #23 2 years ago
  24. Stephany Nunneley

    From the financials: Star Wars: The Old Republic has less than a million subscribers, at present, and the firm said 40% of players claimed they didn’t like paying a subscription, and many said they would come back if it went F2P.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. GrimRita

    ‘Less than 1 million’? LOL Maybe they will enter the record books for the fastest loss of a player base in MMO history?

    40% said they wont pay, meaning 60% would? Odd. At the end of August, the 6 monthers will end – meaning even more loss of players. TORtantic sinks to the bottom of the MMO tree

    #25 2 years ago
  26. NocturnalB

    Wow less than a million? I don’t know why i’m surprised.. there’s a reason all but 7-8 servers on my login screen are locked down. But wow still.. So much time this game had in development, look at it now.

    Edit: Thanks for the clarification.

    #26 2 years ago
  27. DSB

    Is there any way they can avoid taking a beating tomorrow? Did investors know about this in advance?

    Sounds to me like EA are going to be trading below 10 dollars a share in the morning. That’s pretty disastrous.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ricitiello out soon unless it bounces back.

    #27 2 years ago
  28. KrazyKraut

    dont get it how hard they failed.
    Played Kotor for the first time of my life last week on the xbox. and having already the second one in my shelf. How even Bioware could failed so hard? Dont understand this. I spoke to the German community manager of TOR in 2010 and he said: “It will be the greatest and biggest MMO ever…” Umm sorry dude…doesnt look like that.

    Even a game like FFXI Online is still profitable…and not even after 9 years Square Enix is thinking about a f2p option. Btw…started with FFXIV and its amazing.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. viralshag

    Ouch, it can’t even claim to have had a really successful year. It was just an uninspired effort as a game and didn’t push any boundaries or ideas that people could really get behind. As a lot of people say, it’s all stuff we have seen before with a few new twists.

    I’m going to keep playing until I’m well and truly bored of it. Then I might just carry on F2P every now and then.

    #29 2 years ago
  30. Malmer

    And the other series Bioware has running suffered for it. :(

    #30 2 years ago
  31. TheWulf

    Players finally realising what a rip-off subscriptions are.

    Will wonders never cease?

    #31 2 years ago
  32. Puggy

    Actually it is kinda sad. I mean I had great hopes for this game when it was announced, but it really ended up being quite bland and so clunky and boring. Sure there was lots of spoken dialog, but I just could not get to care about any of the characters, not even my own. It was a pile of stats and nothing else. No mind, no personality, no nothing.

    I wonder why it was so bad. Was it because there were too many servers at the beginning and you did not meet more than 10 people on most planets? Or was it the absent LFG tool (yes, there was one, but be serious, nobody really used it and writing tells to get a group… well you have seen how well that works (would love to rub it into the face of some people on the swtor forums).

    However it is kinda curious don’t you think. The biggest sell point, THE game, the story from 1-50 is free and the endgame, the raiding, HM FPs… well you get to pay to get those.
    So you saying the things you spend least time on (and I know you have, since I have seen the Ops in the early days with all the bugs) should be paid for now?

    Oh well, lets see where it will be heading. Guess that means no more SW MMOs anymore for the coming years and BioWare might have a hard time to get back on the good side of the people. And they are not Blizzard who can release Diablo II and still get whole armies of Fans defending them.

    #32 2 years ago
  33. GrimRita

    @32 There are several reasons why this game is utterly shit and deserves to bomb.

    1 – EA/Bioware arrogance. They thought by releasing an average game, paying off the gaming media to yield high ‘review’ scores would do the trick. Wrong!

    2 – Clunky game engine. One of the reasons why WoW was so successful so quickly, was because it could play on almost any PC/laptop. SWTOR uses the ‘Hero Engine’ and already this has prevented most playing(and will ensure it wont be a successful F2P either).

    3 – Content. This is king. Biowares top pratt speaks of ‘breakneck speed’ releasing of content – but thus far since launch in December there has only been ONE true update.

    This added just one addition warzone, one flashpoint and well, thats it. If thats breakneck speed – there are in serious trouble. Where is all the end game they spoke of prior to release? More bullshit?

    4 – Community Management. Yet another example of how NOT to manage your community. No events, no community promotion, no fan/guild/podcast support, just a pointless weekly Q&A – BIG DEAL.

    If you look at other MMOS, their very foundation is built upon its community.

    EA and Riccitiello can claim all that want that Subs based MMOs are dead. They are not. But if you charge a premium price, players expect a premium service and SWTOR was far from that.

    Going F2P might save this short term but wont help it longer term unless they address the game engine. But hey, Star Wars Galaxies lasted 7 years as a PAID 2 PLAY MMO and was only ended because EA demanded it.

    December 2.4 million sales
    January 2 million actually installed and played
    Feb – 1.7 million ‘active subs’
    Q3 – 1.3 million subs
    July – Under 1 million( my guess its around 700k) And these numbers include those poor suckers who paid for 6 months(they were given 1 month free earlier this year) so the picture could be even worse.

    Now EA, give up on MMOs – you simply do not understand the genre.

    #33 2 years ago
  34. LoLTheOwl

    @33

    Couldn’t say it better myself. Just agree with everything you said.

    Let’s not forget that SWtoR is a COMPLETE WoW rip-off when it comes to game mechanics (with just some minor exceptions, like the cover system).

    With a US$200 million budget and more than 5 years in development, they surely could come up with something much better than this, but hey, it’s EA, what should we expect from them? They’re the guys who ruined brilliant franchises such as Dragon Age and Mass Effect.

    #34 2 years ago
  35. Puggy

    Hm, I don’t know about the pay the press thing. I would say playing it for about 10-20 minutes might seem like fun, but it gets old very quickly. In fact as soon as you get off the starting planet I actually was already bored with the dialog and skipped most if not all of it, only picking the important bits from the subtitles because… well it did not matter anyway what you chose. You were sent “there.” in any possible decision. No noticeable branching at all.

    I rather had the feeling there was no flow to the game. It was more like a normal “kill stuff” with some more or less boring videos in between.
    Don’t know why but I disliked the animation and how it was presented. Your character has like 10 stock animations in those Sequences that are looped over and over. Kinda ruined the whole experience for me. either you don’t do it at all and just have talking heads like in DCUO, or you make the movement of the models believable.
    Admittingly you do not have any sequences in WoW, but they do not pretend to have either or try to convince you to buy their game that way.

    And again, there was no reason to group up to really do anything in the game. Sure FPs, but you wasted lots of “play time” to gather a group. Sure some see this as community building and all, for me it was just wasted time, so I stopped doing it. Operations… yeah okay your everymmos grind, not too thrilled there.
    In the end, you have no more reason to log in… at all.

    Ah well, another one down the road, lets see how guild wars 2 will fare. Or maybe try the Secret World this weekend…

    #35 2 years ago
  36. GrimRita

    @35 – Of course they ‘paid’ the media. They didnt hand over cash but advertising. Wherever you saw an advert for SWTOR, you saw a ‘review’ score of between 8-9. Like this game was ever a 8 or 9?!

    GW2 will be more popular and probably hold its own during the same time period. There’s just so much more to do. I cant stand the PvE grind so thankfully, Arena.net have considered people like me, so I can level up in World vs World pvp = SALE!

    GW2 is a different beast and I enjoyed the final Beta weekend in WvW and cant wait for launch. I’ve already bought the Deluxe version, ordered the pizzas and beers, sent the girlfriend to ‘Oprahville’ – so I am set lol

    #36 2 years ago
  37. Timurse

    I’ve never really understood MMO as it is. The one and only such game that really turned my attention in last 20 years is Day Z. And that’s not really a MMO game.

    #37 2 years ago
  38. Joe_Gamer

    It’s my opinion that the failure of SWTOR can be laid at the feet of the pencil pushing administrator who got suckered by the the “hero” engine sales pitch. buggy, unoptimized, slow, and worst of all, downright ugly, you had to have low server pop because the engine couldn’t handle ten people standing in the same room, hi rez textures? Uh oh it’s crashing the engine better take em out, lol.

    Shitty art styling would take second place, is that a vibrosword? it looks like a giant dildo? Funny how they were more sword like in KOTOR 1/2. Oh you want races? Uh we got human humans, blue humans, green humans, red humans, and we’ve made “cyborg humans” a race because we don’t actually know what a cyborg is.

    The legacy system was a god damn joke as well.

    Server transfers killed it for me, I gotta change my names? but…but…who am I anymore?….I’m so confused.

    Bioware….you were supposed to be the chosen one….

    #38 2 years ago

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