The MMO community has had a lot to say about Tuesday’s announcement since it went live. Many opinions are negative, many are encouragingly positive, and many lie somewhere in between. Most of us, I think, knew in the back of our minds that this may very well happen– the warning signs were there, after all– but the news nevertheless stung for many fans.
Star Wars: The Old Republic was a massive idea with a universe of awesome material to work with. BioWare started out strong, boasting a large budget and staff, and gave marketing plenty of attention. “It’s Star Wars. How can it go wrong?” many people rationalized. Sometimes a strong IP isn’t enough, and even the best of intentions and marketing tools can do nothing to stop a ship in need of repairs from hurtling toward the nearest docking bay. Does this mean SWTOR won’t be able to recover? Of course not. On the contrary– many fans think this is just what SWTOR needs– a totally new game plan.
Yesterday, among the reactions pouring out through the Internet relays, a couple investment groups had a few words to say about SWTOR’s switch to a duo free-to-play business model. Massively reported on the matter, saying that the preliminary investor reactions were “incorrigibly positive.”
Yesterday’s bombshell from Star Wars: The Old Republic has prompted the usual spirited debate among fans over the game: Is this a last gasp before it dies or a smart move in the current MMO marketplace? Wedbush Securities believes it’s the latter, with analyst Michael Pachter stating that the news from Electronic Arts is positive and that the change in business models should result in a significant profit for the game.
The full article can be read here.
This news might seem a little reassuring to SWTOR fans who are currently debating about whether to stick with the game or not. If the free-to-play model works well for SWTOR, and players of all gaming styles are satisfied, the greater our chances will be of seeing BioWare keep that “more frequent Game Updates” plan that was referred to multiple times on Tuesday.
On the flip side, there has also been plenty of negative feedback since the news. Many fans are completely against any type of microtransaction shop, which is an understandable viewpoint but also one that will probably make choosing MMOs more and more difficult as the market continues to advance in its current direction. Cash shops, microtransaction menus, and DLC packs are– for better or for worse– here to stay. The task to ensure SWTOR remains balanced in light of the Cartel Market lies in BioWare’s hands.
GameSpy posted an interesting article yesterday about some reactions to the news. According to the author:
To me, then, the failure of Star Wars: The Old Republic’s subscription model springs less from the clear shift toward free-to-play payment structures over the last couple of years than BioWare’s failure to provide the frequent updates it promised throughout the MMO’s development. BioWare had long promised that SWTOR would justify its subscription plan with such updates, but the reality was that simple bugs that could have been written off as launch-day stumbles took months to fix and genuinely fresh content was disturbingly rare.
This is another common viewpoint among many fans of the game, and honestly– it carries considerable weight. If the game had been launched with some of the features we saw added months later, and content updates were more consistent, overall, things may have been different. Regardless, BioWare’s PR department is going to announce this model shift in a positive light in hopes of keeping a large portion of the current playerbase as well as attracting new players. Players are free to think whatever they wish to think.
And that’s exactly what fans are doing. We all have to decide for ourselves whether it’s worth it for us to remain fans and followers of the game, and if so, which pricing model is right for us. Be sure to check out the full article. The author also includes a very accurate timeline of some of the official statements made by BioWare and EA, paired with major Game Updates. It’s an interesting aid in viewing the whole picture.