Freeloaders in SW ToR

Star Wars: The Old Republic

It’s old-ish news now that SW-ToR is going free to play, where a freeloader can get almost all the content, and the raiders pay our way. I started thinking about what it might mean. For me its a win-win that is very attractive – I plan to freeload on it.

As a positive the populations on the servers will increase, and that may assist with keeping a sense of community and an economy flowing. Having five times the players in a zone is a great thing when you are looking to “live” in a setting.

What I don’t understand is how the “all but raids” free play will generate revenue. Tobold posted a similar thought, and the comments seems to think this too. So what do the SWToR Devs know that we don’t?

My thought is perhaps the raid content will soon be the defining feature, and the next set of raids will be good enough to act as a revenue stream. If the devs can create compelling raids for raiders there is an angle. They might be so good that people play for fun for free, but pay for raids. That would be a big call. Raiding in WoW is considered good enough to generate revenue, and a segment of these serious raiders are likely to be targets for that strategy if it is right. An advantage is that money is no barrier to entry to the rest of the game right up to raids, so many people can have high level characters who are raid ready. A disadvantage is the raid history so far, so the content will need to be amazing, and then also well communicated to the wider community.

It does ignore though that there is an opportunity cost of a free game, where the time spent playing is not played elsewhere. Free is not enough for some players when they miss out on something that is valuable, even when it costs money (I’d rather eat good food that costs something, than free junk).

Or if not raids then what else? Vanity gear and pets? Rubbish. Sure they get money, but its still not enough to keep the game floating for 1-2 years.

Pay to win model where good gear is purchasable through a backhanded cash sale? Even worse, and would be a kick in the guts to the subscribers.

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No dk updates, harumph!

Aside

I just read the summary of the beta changes for the recent beta release for MoP. It contains nothing about DKs (except in relation to non-account wide mounts, duh). Now that might be an over statement, except that 9 other classes are represented, many questions and tweaks are outstanding for Death Knights, and I think this is not the first beta update with nothing for DK characters. It’s odd.

Many of the updates are correcting balance issues (for everyone and balance druids) so perhaps its a blessing in disguise. There are some switch-around on which mounts are account wide which really can’t be taken as final, some changes for Druids and Hunters which look like downward tweaks, and changes to Shadow Priests which look like even more serious nurfs if you believe the comments.

In the recess of my mind I can recall that DKs were near last out of the gates in the Cata expansion beta process too, and their final form (particularly for Blood/Tanks) was innovative and is powerful in the current game. This post is not doom and gloom, but an observation based upon a fixed release date and very little information about what they will be like, given the questions that remain. I’ve mucked about in beta with the DKs to see what is different, but have not tested at 90, so perhaps a relaxed attitude is needed. I am sure that greater minds than myself, such as the folks on the EJ-DK forums would like some clarity and adjustment. BloodTap in particular seems odd, and adding abilities which require Death runes specifically makes my brain hurt.

Perhaps (ahem) a future patch will be all about the DK – to the point where instead of using a version number (like build 15952) it will contain the release version info of, “there DKs I fixed it”. The Death Knight Rises! /dry