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[Massively] GDC 2013: James Ohlen on how F2P saved SWTOR

post #1 of 21
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As is common at the Game Developers Conference, developers speak candidly to other future game-creators about the inner workings of their studios' biggest projects. Sometimes those tales are cautionary; some are inspiring. This time, Ohlen's told the story of SWTOR, the game that currently holds the record as the second largest subscription MMO ever, and how free-to-play turned what could have been a tale of utter failure into a story of success.

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post #2 of 21
I find it funny how so many people used the act of a game going F2P as evidence for failure, when really this was just a time when pretty much the entire MMO-esque business model was shifting towards F2P, to much success, during this period.

While I don't play SWTOR anymore and very well may not again, it still is a pretty good game, especially if you're in it to experience the story arc.
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post #3 of 21
I just found it awfully boring somehow. All I want is a proper, well made single-player sequel with absolutely no multiplayer crap to KotOR series, but it seems like that's too much to ask for nowadays...
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post #4 of 21
I finally tried it. Is my first MMO game and it took the Star Wars universe to get me to even consider playing such a genre. But so far, I like it.

I just haven't found enough time to dedicate to it. (my main reason for never trying MMO's to begin with) But I am very hopeful that I can get emerged in this as the story is supposed to be top notch and to me that's worth it's weight in gold.

The community is also very helpful as well. I wish this game all the success it deserves. Good job on the F2P choice here BioWare, keep it up.
 
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post #5 of 21
Honestly, I used to love the game, but the F2P was the last straw for me and I quit.


It's not that I have anything against having a F2P option, I was actually looking forward to it because I didn't really play frequently enough to justify the subscription, but when I DID play, I enjoyed actually playing thoroughly. You just can't do that with the HUGE restrictions they put on free players. It's just no fun for non-subscribers.

Furthermore, I can't really justify subscribing again now that there IS a F2P option. $15 a month is just too expensive for half of a game that I don't play daily - and as if to exasperate that issue, even subscribers now need to throw money at the cash shop to get half decent items. It's like actually playing the game is a optional and non-prefered alternative to just paying yourself to the top.



Now, if they had done the F2P option correctly, and from the start of the game (or at least as soon as subscribers started dropping like flies), this would be another story. The only good thing I can say about F2P is that it brought on a LOT more players, which were very much needed as most people I know actually dropped their subs just because they had no one else to play with and the game felt like a giant ghost town.

They also really should have handled server merges and stuff better - was a HUGE kick in the nads to those of use who pre-ordered the CE in part to reserve names in the 7 day early access, only to lose them all along with our legacy titles, guilds, etc just because we happened to get randomly placed into a server that didn't have a cool sounding name.
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post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaldari View Post

I find it funny how so many people used the act of a game going F2P as evidence for failure, when really this was just a time when pretty much the entire MMO-esque business model was shifting towards F2P, to much success, during this period.

While I don't play SWTOR anymore and very well may not again, it still is a pretty good game, especially if you're in it to experience the story arc.

They only went F2P when their monthly subscription plan didn't work. If it had worked, and they raked in quite a decent amount of dough, they would have stayed with the subscription based system. So yes, F2P was due to failure.

Also SWTOR has the most restrictive F2P model ever: http://www.swtor.com/free/features

You're pretty much forced into the subscription model if you want to play the game and have fun. If you don't have the subscription plan you can't even participate in Operations. You're even conned into questing more because it takes longer to level if you don't have a subscription (yeah, more XP is required to level.). This model pretty much slaps you in the face until you either A) get a weekly pass or B) subscribe. It's terrible.
post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by cipp View Post

They only went F2P when their monthly subscription plan didn't work. If it had worked, and they raked in quite a decent amount of dough, they would have stayed with the subscription based system. So yes, F2P was due to failure.

Also SWTOR has the most restrictive F2P model ever: http://www.swtor.com/free/features

You're pretty much forced into the subscription model if you want to play the game and have fun. If you don't have the subscription plan you can't even participate in Operations. You're even conned into questing more because it takes longer to level if you don't have a subscription (yeah, more XP is required to level.). This model pretty much slaps you in the face until you either A) get a weekly pass or B) subscribe. It's terrible.

My point was that pretty much any new game released in the genre likely would've failed with a pay model. It's a dinosaur that, while profitable in its time with a fledgling genre that pigeon-holed people pretty much into a single game, is not the way to go in the current state of the industry and that genre.

I do agree that their current restrictions for both free and monthly subscribers are pretty craptastic, it's still apparently working for them. I probably won't be playing the game again, but that still doesn't take away from the fact that it's still a decent game in it's true form.
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post #8 of 21
The game is worth the price of admission, but not a subscription.

I played for awhile and it's a great game. I just don't think it's worth playing past maybe a month after you max out. If the F2P model was actually free to play a full version of the game I would probably still be playing it. I'd be more than happy to pay for occasional new content as they release it, while still having full access to the entire game.

You should be able to buy a game and play it without a sub. They can easily cover cost of operations with in game sale items (fun stuff, not competitive balance items) and the regular release of expansions they sell.

I personally am over long term subscription based gaming. After 15+ years of playing a multitude of MMO's at various levels of "hardcore" I just don't see myself stepping into that arena again.
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post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zero4549 View Post

$15 a month is just too expensive for half of a game that I don't play daily - and as if to exasperate that issue, even subscribers now need to throw money at the cash shop to get half decent items.
No, subscribers absolutely do not need to do this.
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post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wavefunction View Post

No, subscribers absolutely do not need to do this.

I was still subscribed for a month or two after the F2P change, I'm fairly sure i would know.

Maybe if you're happy with sub-optimal equipment that looks like a bunch of old dishrags that someone used as a tampon before draping over your head to dry, you could consider the pay shop "absolutely not needed", but that's just not a realistic for successful MMO endgame.
Edited by Zero4549 - 3/30/13 at 4:27pm
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