Tuesday, July 31, 2012

SWTOR Going Free to Play

** UPDATE: The F2P option will run on 'Cartel Coins', a virtual currency similar to LOTRO and DDO's Turbine Points.  The points will be used to purchase content, customization options, and convenience features.  Current subs, as well as CE owners, will start accumulating points immediately.  I'll break it down once I read the FAQ. **

** UPDATE TWO - CARTEL COINS: Here's the breakdown; 150 coins per month you've paid since launch, 200 coins from August to November (supposed F2P launch), 1000 coins for CE owners, 250 extra for F2P launch players in good standing.  Essentially, a Day 1 CE Owner can expect to have (6*150)+1000+250+(200*3) = 2750 at F2P launch.  Remember not to add your first month (free with game) as well as the free month you earned (if you earned it) a couple of months ago for 'veteran rewards').  So, CE owners can expect ~ 2750 Cartel Coins if they have been active since Day 1, non-CE owners can expect ~ 1750 Cartel Coins. **

** UPDATE THREE - F2P CHART: See the screenshot below for the F2P restrictions. **

On today's EA earnings call, SWTOR was announced as going 'Free to Play' as of this fall.  Here's the SEC filing.

EA Expands Award-Winning MMO Star Wars(TM): The Old Republic(TM) with Free-to-Play Option This Fall

New Free-to-Play Option Will Open Up the Critically-Acclaimed MMO from BioWare and LucasArts to Millions of Additional Star Wars™ Fans and Gamers Worldwide
AUSTIN, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- BioWare™, a Label of Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: EA), announced today that it will be expanding the story-driven, massively multiplayer online game Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ by adding a new Free-to-Play option this fall. This option will give players access to each of the eight iconic Star Wars character class storylines, all the way up to level 50, with certain restrictions*. Unlimited game access, including new higher-level game content and new features, will be made available through individual purchases or through a subscription option.
"Players want flexibility and choice. The subscription-only model presented a major barrier for a lot of people who wanted to become part of The Old Republic™ universe," said Matthew Bromberg, GM of BioWare Austin.
Jeff Hickman, Executive Producer of Star Wars: The Old Republic added, "Since launch, we've been listening to feedback from our fans and adding new content and refining The Old Republic at a breakneck pace. We believe we are in a position to help improve the service even more, not only by continuing to add new content, but also by expanding the game to many more Star Wars fans, increasing the populations on worlds and the vibrancy of the community."
Starting this fall, there will be two different ways to play Star Wars: The Old Republic:
  • Subscription — A service designed for players who want unrestricted access to all the game features via ongoing subscription or by redeeming a Game Time Card. In addition to gaining access to all game content as our current subscribers do now, subscribers will receive ongoing monthly grants of Cartel Coins, the new virtual currency that will be introduced later this fall. Cartel Coins can be used to purchase valuable in-game items including customizable gear and convenience features that will enhance the game play experience.
  • Free-To-Play — The first 50 levels will be Free-to-Play, with restrictions on access to new content and advanced player features. Some restrictions can be "unlocked" with Cartel Coins.
As the first step towards adding the new Free-to-Play option this fall, Star Wars: The Old Republic will go on sale in August for $14.99 USD, including one-month of free subscription.
Current and former players will also find additional benefits as part of this program. BioWare will be increasing the frequency of game content updates, with the first of many new releases coming in August. In addition, current subscribers will receive Cartel Coin grants and qualify for access to special in-game items. Even former players who re-activate now will qualify for special benefits. To learn more about these rewards, please visit www.StarWarstheOldRepublic.com/FREE.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is one of the most critically acclaimed MMOs of all time, having won MSNBC's "Game of the Year" award in 2011, "Editor's Choice" awards from IGN, PC Gamer and "Best MMO of 2011" awards from Game Informer, GameSpy, AOL Massively, Ten Ton Hammer and more. The game is set thousands of years before the classic Star Wars movies, with the Galactic Republic and Sith Empire locked in the middle of an epic, galactic war. Players choose one of eight iconic Star Wars character classes, including the Jedi Knight, Jedi Consular, Smuggler, Trooper, Sith Warrior, Sith Inquisitor, Bounty Hunter and Imperial Agent, becoming the hero or villain of their own personal Star Wars saga.

Here's the chart of F2P options; basically, subscribers will be unaffected.  F2P folks will have limited access like limits on Warzones, Flashpoints, Space Missions, no access to Operations, etc etc.

Hey look, Bioware's hubris pays off!

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