Quote of the Day – Defending SWTOR… Badly

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. [citation needed]  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.

11 thoughts on “Quote of the Day – Defending SWTOR… Badly

  1. Ardwulf

    Syncaine is not that subtle.

    But yeah, this particular article did read very rah-rah go SWTOR. I understand wanting to be a booster, but that kind of thing is out of place on a site that tries to be a home to real MMO journalism, and even succeeds some of the time.


  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Ardwulf – Massively a home to real MMO journalism? I like a lot of the people who write there, but it is an opinion site for the most part. It is more paid bloggers than serious journalism.

    So another rah-rah article… or another article where the author’s bias is obvious… is no big deal. My jab at this was that despite the rah-rah attitude, the author ended up defeating his own purpose by confirming that the things he wanted to debunk were pretty much true for any new player.

    And I am sure he is complaining about the comments he is getting now.

    @Stabs – Not sure how that relates to this post. I wrote about that as well previously, so it isn’t something new to me.

    It isn’t like Bobby Kotick wasn’t already running Activision-Blizzard. And, while as a person he compared badly to current and former heads of EA, I find EA as an overall company to be considerably more noxious. The EA label stands as a barrier between me and games they publish.

    And, finally, while Bobby appears to be lining his own pockets as part of the deal… which happens in any such deal, the rich get richer… he is at least trying to take ActiBlizz out of Vivendi’s control. Vivendi is in trouble and has been looking for ways to plunder ActiBlizz.


  3. SynCaine

    How are they still selling hotbars…

    That aside, I think I’ve figured out the whole StarWars IP thing; the bigger the garbage, the more SW fans like it. That’s why SWG failed; it was too good for SW fans. They needed something as bad as SW:TOR to match up with how terrible the movies are. That group just loves the abuse, and SW:TOR delivers!


  4. Shintar

    Well… people do have a fair amount of misconceptions about the model. For example his #1 is something that I, as a subscriber since launch thought was true for returning players just because I’d seen so many people moan about it that I’d come to accept it as far. Imagine my surprise when my significant other came back to the game under preferred status recently and and we found out that he could continue to wear all his gear just fine.

    That said, yeah, that article isn’t too well written, though I think it would actually have come across a lot better if it had simply had a different title, such as “misconceptions former subscribers might have about the new payment model”, instead of claiming to explain the game’s F2P mode in general.


  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @SynCaine – Is that why Bobba Fett remains so popular? All Star Wars fans secretly want to be thrown into the sarlacc pit?

    @Shintar – Though, at least initially, BioWare itself helped instill some of those misconceptions. It wasn’t all SWTOR hate, there was a lot of BioWare stupidity mixed in. My friend Gaff, who bought the box and played at launch, went back after the free to play conversion only to find himself with one hot bar and no clear indication as to how to get more.

    And the article itself might be a boon to returning players, but it certainly does so by pointing out how much less new players get. Hard to find a win in that, no matter the title. I am no fan of SWTOR clearly, but that article didn’t seem to be doing the game any favors.


  6. Jenks

    “But I can also see the cost, the fact that revenue generation always gets a primary focus. ”

    It also destroys your ability to be immersed in the game world, for those of us who still care about that sort of thing.


  7. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Jenks – Indeed, I have mentioned that in the past and that is always the thing people shit on immediately. Basically, I have found it not worth mentioning unless that is the immediate discussion at hand. Immersion is a vastly underrated aspect of MMOs in my opinion.

    Basically, to my mind, a free-to-pay cash shop environment is a game focused structure, which makes it somewhat antithetical to there being a virtual world of any depth.


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