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Star Wars: the Old Republic manager explains shift to free-to-play

Thursday, 30 August 2012 11:54 GMT By Dave Cook

Star Wars: The Old Republic is shifting to a free-to-play model after trying to capitalise on subscriptions from launch. General manager at BioWare Austin Matthew Bromberg has revealed to CVG why it’s making the switch.

With dropping subscription numbers, SWTOR’s move makes sense, but why has it taken BioWare Austin so long to see what we’ve all been thinking from day one?

Speaking with CVG, Bromberg explained, “Well we looked at it and thought, what is the size of opportunity for your brand? There are tens of millions of Star Wars fans, how many have tried our game? How many would like to try it? Clearly the awareness of the brand is really high so what’s standing in the way?”

“We did a lot of research and found that people who gave it a try but left found the subscription to be the biggest barrier. So it was a pretty straightforward decision for us.”

With less subscriptions to monetise, it’s unclear how BioWare Austin will respond to the drop in income. Bromberg explained, “Yes there is that risk, but we feel our existing subscribers see the value in the premium experience we are offering. We want to keep that full experience for them.”

“One thing we’re doing is rewarding subscribers with in-game currency for all the time that they’ve been subscribers,” Bromberg added, “and lapsed subscribers will have currency for the time they were there, which offers them a reward for coming back.”

“So our subscribers are going to be advantaged in this world, and from the feedback we’ve got from our subscribers they seem to be happy with it. But it’s not just about how we are charging people for the experience; we are also looking at creating very frequent content updates as well,” Bromberg concluded.

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17 Comments

  1. Hirmetrium

    And what about those who bought the game? That’s £40 that has fast gone down the crapper for most of us. That’s the biggest insult. My £40 has bought me nothing. Even my half used 3-month left me disappointed, with the first patch seriously lacking the legacy enhancements that were promised/expected (delayed to 1.2) and very little in terms of new content. My subscription had ended by that point, and so had my excitement.

    Broken PVP based on some stupid powered up gear ATTAINED BY RANDOM ROLLS, artificial daily lockouts from PVE instances preventing you to gear up for raids, and a silly raid loot system where loot is auto-assigned. My guild had a fit when they first found this out, and we were gone within the month.

    And, so far, this move has proven to me what a waste of money it was to buy the game on release. There has been no incentive to come back. My retail box will remain an expensive paperweight.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Phoenixblight

    @1

    Opposite for me and what they give for the subs for when the switch would make DCUo or various other MMO that switched blush. I can’t wait until it goes f2P and I get over 3k of cartel coins for subing and getting the collectors edition.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. DSB

    I guess I’m part of a dying breed, but I don’t mind subscribing to a good MMO, if it means I’ll be free of artificial scarcity.

    I just think it serves to make the games themselves better, instead of a pseudo-storefront that’s constantly trying to goad me into buying something.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. viralshag

    @3, It’s funny that while I wouldn’t and don’t want to pay a sub for most of the MMOs that have launched lately, I would happily do so for GW2 which doesn’t ask for one.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. GrimRita

    Its incredible to think that those poor suckers left paying for this turd havent had anything new added since April. Yet, they are expected to wait on more shallow promises of new content at a price.

    Bioware/EA are keeping their fingers crossed that F2P will see an uplift – which it wont. The game engine already prevents a majority of players joining and when they do, like the 1 million other players – they quit because its simply shit.

    Paying for an MMO isnt something that is dying – players want to see value for their money and if its worth the investment, they will pay. But if you launch a crap product, charge top dollar, and provide 1 major content update – is it any wonder?!

    Guild Wars 2, which is free – simply puts SWTOR to shame. The game is just vast, well thought out and has fantastic WvW elements and crafting.

    Yes, I am pissed because the Auction House is still broken and I am getting close to becoming a huge deal but the difference between GW2 and SWTOR is night and day

    #5 3 years ago
  6. viralshag

    @ Grim, If there are many more people like you and me that have already spent the equivalent of a couple of months worth of subs in GW2, within the opening week, I expect new content by the end of its first month. ;)

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Talkar

    @5
    No new content since April? suuuure….

    #7 3 years ago
  8. GrimRita

    @7 Name the updates that have added new flashpoints, warzones, etc -

    ONE.

    Since then, its just been bug fixes and adding functionality that should have been there since day 1.

    @6 Yeah, I am up to £50 now. Purchase some armour, and mostly bank slots as I am trying to grind Chef but just do not have any more storage left.

    WvW is just fucking awesome!

    #8 3 years ago
  9. DSB

    So you’re actually spending way more right now than you ever would on a subbed MMO during the first month :P

    I guess it makes sense when there’s no real endgame. For me it’s probably going to be a case of maxing out a character or maybe two, and then putting it away.

    But then in the meantime I’ll still have to look at all that artificial scarcity driving the gem sales.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. viralshag

    I’ve definitely spent more than I would normally. Of course I don’t actually need to spend real money as I could trade a couple of gold for some new character slots or bank space.

    But like Grim says, with the AH being down the only way to make real money is questing, selling in chat or selling to vendors. None of which really make money fast unless you have some decent stock of materials.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. Talkar

    @8
    You didn’t say it had to be flashpoints or warzones, it just had to be content. But the recent world event is new content. No matter how you twist it to make the game look worse than it is.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. GrimRita

    @11 a so called ‘live’ event isnt content update. Im talking about ACTUAL additions to the game for those PAYING their hard earned money. As of today, 1 update @ £8.99 doesnt offer value for money.

    And I dont need to make the game look worse, its done a good job doing that itself. After all, over 1 million people have quit in record time.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. Talkar

    @12
    So let me get this straight, adding new stuff to the game that a player can interact with for hours and days isn’t content, unless it is on your arbitrary list of what is and isn’t content?

    #13 3 years ago
  14. TheWulf

    @3

    Yeeeeah but that’s intellectual dishonesty, isn’t it? In fact, it’s so brazenly so that it makes you look a little foolish for even saying it. I mean, any MMO fan is going to be able to call you on that because there’s artificial scarcity in every subscription MMORPG.

    Now, it comes down to whether you understand what artificial scarcity is. If you do, then you already understand that having gear which has a 0.05% drop rate in WoW raids is artificial scarcity. So paying a subscription for World of Warcraft doesn’t avoid that, does it? And every subscription MMORPG I’ve seen has a similar system.

    What you’re saying, which is intentionally false (or just woefully naive), is that if you pay a subscription, the MMORPG hands you everything on a silver platter and doesn’t ever hold anything back from you. That’s simply not true.

    And before you choose to argue with me, ensure that you understand what artificial scarcity is: “Artificial scarcity describes the scarcity of items even though the technology and production capacity exists to create an abundance.” That describes WoW raid gear that you have to spend months and months of your life raiding for in a nutshell.

    So whilst WoW might not goad you to buy something from a store, it instead goads you to spend your life (and your monthly fee) raiding for the same end result. Think about it, it’s the same thing.

    Though, contrarily, Guild Wars 2 has avoided this issue by allowing you to exchange in-game money for store gems, both ways around, so that even kind of sidesteps the idea that a game without a subscription has to have artificial scarcity too, doesn’t it? In other words, your post is misleading because according to my own experiences, the opposite is true. WoW forces artificial scarcity upon me, GW2 does not.

    You’re part of a dying breed because you keep woefully hoping that you can con yourself into believing that your own intellectually dishonest nonsense is true, and that it isn’t the opposite of reality as we know it.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. TheWulf

    @9

    The difference is the choice. Here are the realities as we know them:

    Reality #1: You pay your monthly subscription or you have your game taken away from you. This means that you have to maximise the amount of time in the game in order to justify the subscription. Goodbye social life, goodbye job, goodbye responsibilities! It becomes worse when you have peer pressure from a guild or some such to not quit. Does this describe you?

    Reality #2: You can buy some stuff on a store. It isn’t mandatory, but it’s there as an option and it presents a direct money for goods trade system. You pay something, you get something. Thus far, I haven’t had to spend a penny in GW2, but I’ve spent money on the store because there are some cosmetic outfits (like the pirate one) that I decided I wanted. Mostly because I felt I wanted to give ArenaNet more money. That was my choice.

    One is representative of choice, the other is not.

    —Edit—

    Oh, and keep in mind that you can trade in-game money for gems, as I mentioned in my prior post. :P

    Geez, I’m sorry DSB, but ArenaNet has you over a barrel.

    #15 3 years ago
  16. OrbitMonkey

    ^ Methinks you’d like DSB over a barrel… If you know what I mean ;-)

    #16 3 years ago
  17. DSB

    Honestly I’d be glad to have TheWulf come along whenever I’m looking a little foolish :P

    I don’t think I could actually write a better parody of a fanboy.

    #17 3 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    Isometric shooter LA Cops is coming to Xbox One on March 13. Already on Steam Early Access, the game looks like it’s been heavily inspired by Hotline Miami. Walk into a room, open fire, leave bloody puddles in your wake. It’s being published by Team 17. Check out the video below for some 70s cop […]

  • We have $500 of Steam Wallet funds to giveaway!

    We’re giving away 10 Steam Wallet prizes worth $50 each to VG247 readers, courtesy of Bundle Stars. All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning $50 Steam credit is to enter your details below. Join the Bundle Stars Steam group for entry in the sweepstake, and gain extra entries for […]

  • Lapsed Final Fantasy 14 players tempted back with 10 day freebie

    Square is offering lapsed FF 14: A Realm Reborn players a chance to come back to the game for 10 days worth of free adventuring. Provided you’ve already bought and registered an account you’ll be able to play free of charge from Feb 27 to March 9. Square wants you to sample the new content […]

  • Advanced Warfare: Sledgehammer looking at “opportunities” to recreate classic Call of Duty maps

    Sledgehammer Games has told VG247 it’s looking at opportunities to recreate classic Call of Duty maps in Advanced Warfare. According to co-founder Michael Condrey, players of the latest Havoc DLC are asking how Exo abilities and verticality can be added to classic franchise maps. “We’re taking a look at some opportunities to really highlight the […]

  • GTA Online reader playlist week 7: and the winner is…

    Stuff was shot. But only one player emerged victorious. GTA Online player e031271 won last night’s VG247 reader playlist, beating myself, Matt and regulars solidorwot and Revolting. Congratulations, Mr e031271. A deserved victory. We play a GTA Online playlist in an open session every Wednesday on PS4, because it’s both funny and fun. Anyone’s welcome […]

  • Leaked screens reveal The Reef as Destiny’s new “social space”

    A handful of leaked Destiny screens seem to confirm that The Reef location will be the new social space in Destiny. The new addition is likely to be revealed as part of the upcoming House of Wolves expansion. Reddit user Megamanexe4 dropped the screens on the site earlier this morning, along with grabs that reveal […]

  • Darksiders creator teases Battle Chasers game

    Joe Madureira, creator of Darksiders, has released art that strongly suggests a Battle Chasers game is in the works. Battle Chasers was a comic book from the late 1990s that suffered notorious production problems between issues and was never finished. Madureira formed Airship Syndicate after the collapse of THQ, where he co-created Darksiders. His latest […]

  • Infamous video nasty Axe recreated in GTA 5

    The trailer for notorious horror movie Axe has been recreated in GTA 5. The shot for shot remake is the work of gigerbrick who has previously recreated exploitation flicks like Machete and Hostel using Lego. The original Axe movie was banned in 1984 in the UK but passed with cuts in the late 1990s. Movie […]

  • Payday 2 for PS4 and Xbox One includes “a year’s worth of paid DLC” for free

    Payday 2: Crimewave Edition will include a year’s worth of paid DLC from the PC version of the game for free. The new-gen version of the game will be available June 2015, and includes almost all of the paid and free DLC released so far for Overkill’s popular first-person shooter. That DLC includes The Big […]

  • Yes, Mortal Kombat X will require Xbox Live Gold or PS Plus

    Mortal Kombat X won’t bypass Microsoft and Sony’s premium online play requirements. Reports that Mortal Kombat X wouldn’t require PS Plus or Xbox Live Gold started circling earlier this week thanks to a communications error. Answering fan questions on Twitter, producer Shaun Himmerick accidentally gave the impression that premium console subs would not be required […]

  • This is what Destiny players most want next

    Destiny patch 1.1.1 has resolved or at least addressed a number of complaints voiced by the community, but there are plenty more. des Destiny community manage David “Deej” Dague has put out a call for Guardians to share their concerns – or rather, what they think the community is most concerned about. “Set aside your […]

  • Google AI can play games now, so we’re probably all going to die

    Google has brought us one step closer to our inevitable slaughter or enslavement by machine overlords. Google has developed an AI that can learn to play video games and devise brand new strategies. Let me just rephrase that: Google has created an AI that can teach itself new skills, including how to play video games. […]

  • First footage of Renowned Explorers: International Society surfaces

    Renowned Explorers: International Society is a turn-based strategy game from the team behind Reus, and it looks great. Renowned Explorers was announced almost a full year ago, but has been pretty quiet since then. Developer Abbey games has now announced that the game has hit alpha, and will be open to select testers soon. You […]

  • Cities: Skylines developer commits to mod support

    Cities: Skylines will fully support the modding community. Hailing from famously mod-friendly publisher Paradox, Cities: Skylines is a no-brainer for mod support – especially as a lack of mod support is one of the things SimCity was so heavily criticised for when it firts launched. In the developer diary below, Paradox’s Jakob Munthe is joined […]

  • Nosgoth update adds Vanguard, many fixes

    Nosgoth, the free-to-play multiplayer brawler set in the Legacy of Kain universe, has been given a significant makeover. The major feature of the latest Nosogth game update is a new playable human character called the Vanguard. “Equipped with mighty throwing axes and a shield, the Vanguard can take more punishment than any human class that […]

  • Xbox Live Gold 12 month sub $40 on Microsoft store

    Microsoft is offering $20 off 12 month Xbox Live Gold subscriptions at the moment. An Xbox Live Gold 12 month subscription will normally set you back $60, but a Microsoft Store promotion has it on offer for $40. The offer is restricted to the US store. Although you can opt to grab your sub as […]

  • Tomb Raider movie script to be penned by TMNT writer

    Tomb Raider will be Evan Daugherty’s second reboot of an established universe. The Tomb Raider movie reboot has signed on a writer and a distributor. Deadline reports Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Divergent, Snow White And The Huntsman and G.I. Joe 3 writer Daugherty will write the film. Additionally, Warner Bros. has signed on to distribute, […]

  • Shelter 2 pre-orders open, launch trailer debuts early

    Shelter 2 is a game in which you are a mother lynx and must protect a den of kittens. Yes, it’s delightful. Shelter 2 is coming to Mac and PC on March 9. Pre-orders are now available on Steam at 10% off or on GOG.com with a free skin and soundtrack, or 20% off if […]

  • That Batman: Arkham Knight trailer is full of codes

    Batman: Arkham Knight’s trailer is like a Transformer – there’s more than meets the eye. The new Batman: Arkham Knight trailer contains a number of codes. Eagle-eyed users have spotted four so far, and work on cracking their meaning is progressing. According to an /r/games thread rounding up results so far, the codes pertain to […]

  • Assassin’s Creed haystacks won’t save you from a fall

    Assassin’s Creed fans, don’t try this at home. Assassin’s Creed characters can survive falls of almost any distance as long as they aim for the haystacks scattered handily throughout the environment. As you probably deduced from your familiarity with common sense, this isn’t a real thing: falling from heights kills you, the same way a […]

  • Why are people buying PS4 and not Xbox One?

    PS4 is outselling Xbox One – but why? A new report may have the answer. Last month, the PS4 outsold the Xbox One in the US again, returning it to the top of the charts after just two months away. Why? What has caused this reversal in fortunes in Microsoft’s home territory? According to a […]

  • Toejam and Earl are back with a new Kickstarter

    The early 90′s are alive and well in a new bid to bring back Toejam and Earl. Toejam and Earl released for Mega Drive (Genesis, Americans) in 1991, and the eponymous characters went on to count among Sega’s best-known characters. They appeared in a platformer, a light gun shooter and finally a 2002 Xbox game […]

  • New Wander trailer shows off Azertash form

    Wander is a collaborative, non-combat MMO in which you can take on a number of unique forms. Wander players begin as an ambulant tree called an Oren and can progress through several different bodies as they explore the environment, learning its secrets. One of these, which we’d not seen before this trailer, is the amphibious […]

  • SOMA approaching beta phase on PC and PS4

    SOMA, the new horror game from the Amnesia: The Dark Descent crew, is getting close to playable. Frictional Games has apologised for its recent silence over the project, but said it’s focused on reaching beta. Sorry all for the silence! We're closing in on Beta and everyone's working hard to get there. Once that's done, […]

  • Square Enix does not condone Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest HD Remaster

    Square Enix has said it’s not involved with a fan remake of Final Fantasy spin-off Mystic Quest. 1992 SNES game Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest is being remade by Dark Design as Mystic Quest HD Remaster. The developer is even taking pre-orders for the project. Unfortunately, it looks like it is in no position to be […]

  • New Hunger teaser released by LittleBigPlanet Vita co-developers

    LittleBigPlanet Vita co-developers Tarsier Studios have released a teaser trailer for Hunger, which was announced in May 2014 at the Nordic Game Conference. The game has been rumored to be the firm’s unannounced Sony project since 2010. Platforms are still to be announced, but the studio became a first-party SCE developer a few years back, […]

  • Here’s two Mario Party 10 overview videos, one featuring amiibo

    Overview videos for Mario Party 10 and the amiibo which work with the title have been released by Nintendo Japan. Obviously each one is in Japanese, but you get the gist all the same. Mario Party 10 releases on Wii U March 20 in North America and Europe. Thanks, AGB.

  • Clan Raids announced for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Companion App

    Activision has announced a new Clan Raids mode will be made available through the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Companion App. According to the CoD community blog, raids are time-based challenges where success earns you a spot on the Clan Raids leaderboards and new Clan Raid-exclusive in-game gear like the Equilibrium set. Clan members will […]

  • Play Battlefield Hardline starting March 12 through EA Access

    Xbox One users with an EA Access subscription will be able to play 10 hours worth of Battlefield Hardline starting March 12. EA Access members will are being granted access to the game five days before the street date, with full multiplayer and all saves transferring over into the main game. It was announced yesterday […]

  • This video summarizes the contents of Destiny patch 1.1.1

    With Destiny patch 1.1.1 now available, here’s a video summary of what to expect. In the video above, Arekkz Gaming gives you a rundown of the important bits in the update. Subscribe to Arekkz Gaming for more Destiny tips and trick through the link.

  • Destiny 1.1.1 patch notes out, update is live

    Destiny’s 1.1.1 patch arrives today, so if you have been kicked from activities, it means you will need to download the patch now that it’s live. We will be pushing the 1.1.1 patch for Destiny shortly. Players will be kicked from activities and required to download the patch. — Bungie Help (@BungieHelp) February 25, 2015 […]

  • Payday 2 packs based on Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number coming

    Starbreeze has announced another collaboration with Dennaton Games which will see masks based on Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number appear in Payday 2. The collaboration consists of two free updates when you acquire Hotline Miami 2 or its deluxe version on Steam from February 25. The two updates, called Hotline Miami Mask Pack and Jacket […]

  • Velocity 2X making its way onto Linux, Mac, PC and Xbox One

    Velocity 2X will be released on Linux, Mac, PC and Xbox One Futurlab has announced. The developer is in charge of the port, which will be published by Sierra. According to Futurlab, the deal with Sierra came about when self-publishing proved to be difficult due to spending “more time doing PR and marketing on Velocity […]

  • Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number finally has a release date

    A release date for Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number has been announced, finally. The game will arrive on Linux, Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, PS4 and Vita March 10. It is now available for pre-order on GOG, Humble and Steam for 10% off for $13.49/£10.99. There’s also a Digital Special Edition available which includes tracks from […]