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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SW ToR – No Australian Pre-Order

Get early access to Star Wars: The Old Republic. Pre-order Now.

Why on earth would Australia not have a pre-order capacity?

Maybe because we’re a tiny population, maybe they’ll have no AU servers, distribution rights are complex, or maybe it is just because there is limited coppies…of a digital product. Even the digital version has:

Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ is not available in your region

What a total buzz-kill and fail, and some other aussies agree and are already taking it to the forums. Not the best sign of Aussie support or compassion. This cartoon from the forums says it all, thank you Static52.

There is a thread from Bioware on the discussion too,

To all of our fans outside of North America and Europe:

Today we’ve announced the pre-order details for the initial launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic, and as you may now know, we’ve taken the difficult but necessary decision to limit our initial launch supply for the game. BioWare and LucasArts are completely focused on building an exceptional game and an exceptional game service to go with it. We decided to constrain our launch capacity to ensure we deliver a great experience to every player.

Part of the reason this decision was made was because of the overwhelming demand for The Old Republic, and we’re humbled by that level of excitement and anticipation. We fully intend to deliver to you an amazing game when we expand our service post-launch, but right now we cannot commit to any timeframe for when that may happen. As soon as we have more information about additional launches in more territories, we’ll let you know.

We are committed to delivering Star Wars: The Old Republic to BioWare and Star Wars fans around the world, and to growing a truly global community.

They’re not humble, that is marketing speak for “opps, we’ll fix soon”. Guess I’ll just keep playing World of Warcraft. Grumble.