Quote of the Day – Defending SWTOR… Badly August 21, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, MMO Design, Quote of the Day, Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Tags: Free-To-Play, Massively
Was this supposed to be sarcastic?
That was my exact thought when reading the Massively Hyperspace Beacon post Six misconceptions about SWTOR free-to-play.
The post purports to defend the SWTOR free to play model from people who “make it out to be something that it’s not.”
And yet, for me, the article managed to damn the game through defensiveness and hair splitting to the point that I really had to question if the author was secretly trying to undermine the game while pretending to be a fan. Was this SynCaine writing under a pseudonym? The author seemed more keen to reinforce than debunk a couple of his assertions. For anybody looking to play the game for the first time, the post is not much of an endorsement.
I certainly had some trouble reconciling that post with the words of SWTOR’s lead designer, who says he has gotten religion about free to play, and who recently wrote:
One of my mantras about being a free-to-play game is that, in order to call yourself that, your evangelists have to feel good about telling their casual friends, “Yeah, you can totally play for free!”
I guess you can still feel a little guilt for not telling your casual friends that the restrictions on free will come early and often and will seem at times like they are specifically designed to make the game frustrating to play unless you pay.
Not that such methods makes SWTOR unique in any way. I seem to recall that at one point somebody from SOE came right out and said that their model was to drive people to subscribe if they really wanted to play.  And LOTRO, which I have been playing a lot this summer, sure seems to have its hand out all the time, reminding me there is a cash shop almost constantly.
It comes with the territory, and doubly so with a subscription game that has been retrofitted into the model.
I have rambled on about my ambivalence towards the free to play model as currently implemented in popular MMORPGs. I can see the upside. New players, for example, are the life’s blood of such games, and free to play seems to be the only way to keep them showing up. But I can also see the cost, the fact that revenue generation always gets a primary focus. So if your model is based on unlocks and cash shop companions, that becomes the top priority and anything beyond that shares whatever resources are left.
The free to play model is certainly here to stay. I am just not sure if were “there” yet when it comes to the model maturing into something I am really happy with. But that might be a futile hope.