26 October 2012
| | iTZKooPA
Having to take a title designed as a subscription game from the start and morph it into a free-to-play game cannot be easy. Nothing can be shoehorned or half-assed. You don’t want to alienate customers – new, old or current – yet you can’t have the game be too open or two velvet roped. BioWare is juggling this exact problem with Star Wars: The Old Republic right now. Lead Designer Damion Schubert has just announced some changes ahead of the November (re)launch.
- Free players receive two quickbars, up from one.
- Free players can participate in five PvP Warzones a week, up from three.
- All players will see reduced Cartel Coin item locks (cash shop cooldown timers). Free players have been reduced to three days while subscribers are down to two days.
The changes have been made after analysis of the action on the test server.
Schubert spends a substantial amount of the post explaining the delicate balancing act of the subscriber vs. free-to-play experience. In fact, he believes that the PvP Warzone queue should increase despite the restriction, since many titles have seen subscriber numbers increase after converting business models. The past doesn’t guarantee future results, so Schubert was quick to state that if Warzone queues do go the other way, the restriction will be modified to correct it.
Still have questions? Check out the extensive “expansion to F2P” FAQ.
24 July 2012
| | Mike
As posted on GamerTechTV, an anonymous Bioware Austin employee has lashed out against Star Wars fans blaming them for the failure of Star Wars: The Old Republic. The employee also confirms that SWTOR is being converted to free-to-play and confirms that Star Wars Galaxies was shut-down for no other reason then to remove it as a competitor for SWTOR. The BioWare employee states:
EA blames us and to some extent they’re right to. but it was fan feedback from the day we opened the forums that encouraged us to design it for the fans the way it is and that included making it more like Kotor then an MMO like Wow. Also from what I have heard in the halls, Starwars Galaxies was shut down due to the fact are talks with LA, EA suits ecouraged the new guy at LA to increase the licensing fee at renewal time. it was a move to remove any direct competiton to TOR.
I don’t want anyone to be upset by this. but many of these changes had been in the “planning stages” for many months since the sharp drop in subscribers. many parts of the game will cost money to access. for example you can unlock the new “cathar” race in your legacy. but buying the unlock, it will cost 10$ US
As far as I’m concerned fans cannot be blamed for the failure of SWTOR, only Bioware and EA. If you don’t have a vision for what your game is supposed to be, maybe you shouldn’t be spending hundreds of millions of dollars making it. If you do decide to listen to fans, pick one person, hire them, and make them the project leader for that game. Maybe they have a real vision for what the game should be.
Fan feedback is important, but creating a game shouldn’t be based on it. The developer needs to be the visionary behind the game and create what they believe would be a fun game. I can tell you right now, no great game has ever been created based on fan feedback because most fans, despite what they say, don’t even know what they like.
BioWare, feel free to email me if you need someone to create your next MMO game because you guys have no clue.
13 July 2012
| | Pherephassa
It’s been a busy week! The Secret World continues to keep me entertained, as can no doubt be seen in all the blurbs I put up about it. Next week I’ll be putting up the second and final section of my review, as well as starting a weekly TSW-related article. I’ve flopped around on it so much, but I think I’ve finally decided what I’ll be focusing on! Huzzah! So stay tuned for that, if you like reading what I have to say or The Secret World. Or both. I’m good if you like both of these things. I may even do two, if there’s enough interest.
This week brought more SMITE divine lore, tons of interesting things for The Secret World, musings on stocks and CEOs, as well as a contest, a giveaway, and some interesting opinions! Click the button below to check it all out!
18 June 2012
| | iTZKooPA
After a rather poor cover-up by Electronic Arts/BioWare, the original GamesTM story breaking the news of a F2P Star Wars: The Old Republic has been confirmed from the highest ranks of Electronic Arts. EA Labels president Frank Gibeau clarified the company’s intentions as a long term standpoint. Meaning the company will make whatever changes necessary to keep SW:TOR profitable.
“We’re going to be in the business from a long term standpoint so absolutely we’re going to embrace free access, free trial, ultimately some day we can move in and embrace that model. It’s all a matter of timing and thinking things through.”
Gamers looking to experience a F2P SW:TOR – yours truly among that contingent – will have to wait awhile. Gibeau doesn’t see the writing on the wall quite yet. Continue Reading
15 June 2012
| | iTZKooPA
With BioWare and Electronic Arts reassuring players and analysts that Star Wars: The Old Republic is doing fine – both in terms of content and growth – the company has shown quite the opposite. Actions like free time, server mergers and layoffs generally point to disgruntled players and underpopulated servers. Clearly, the companies have taken actions to stem the bleeding, but few expected the idea of free-to-play to come out of Lead Designer Emmanuel Lusinchi’s mouth.
In a since-pulled interview with GamesTM, Lisinchi stated that “We are looking at free-to-play, but I can’t tell you in much detail. We have to be flexible and adapt to what is going on.”
Talk about a bombshell.
Lisinchi goes on to say that the investigation isn’t specifically related to the drop in subscription numbers. The main issue is competition coming from the F2P sector. Perhaps the first outright admission by a AAA game, Lisinchi states that “there are definitely good games out there and good games coming out.”
I’ll say. Firefall, the subscriptionless Guild Wars 2, SMITE, End of Nations and many more point to the F2P business model finalizing its stance as a disruptive innovation. Ushering in MMOGs as piecemeal consumption items instead of a retail product with Software as a Service (SaaS) attached.
Why the article was pulled? That’s a completely different story. Without a specific retraction coming from GamesTM, the safe bet is that the news wasn’t supposed to get out in this fashion.
4 June 2012
| | Mike
The E3 EA conference presentation is still going on, but Star Wars: The Old Republic fans already got the info they’ve been looking for.
EA announced information about the next major content update which includes the following:
- New Planet Makeb: Story revoles around the Hutt Cartel
- New end-game Operation: Terror from Beyond
- New playable race: Cathar
- Increase in level cap and new abilites
- New PvP warzone
- New companion: HK-51 assassin droid
- New space mission: Space station assault
- Permanent free trial up to level 15
24 May 2012
| | Mike
In an interview with PC Gamer, Lead Game Designer for Star Wars: The Old Republic Daniel Erickson, replied to a question about the group finder and whether or not it will support cross-server searching at launch. Daniel replied stating, “They will not be cross-server as we are coming up on a huge move to servers with massively higher population caps than we have today.”
Now this is not the first MMO game to merge all their servers into a few. DC Universe Online did this last year when they merged all their servers into four massive ones as the player population fell. So it seems BioWare has the same idea. This is all good and fine, but are mega-servers really anything to be excited about?
Mega-servers do sound like they’d be awesome, ten of thousands of more players all on the same server, I mean, that sounds awesome to me, right? However looking at it logistically, there’ really won’t be any noticeable impact to players. Illum is not all of a sudden going to be able to support thousands of PvP players at the same time. Hell when I was playing, my frames per second dropped to single digits once there were more than 50 players there.
Dungeons in SWTOR are also mainly instanced, so again this has no greater benefit than a cross-server group finder would have. The only conceivable difference I can think of would be that the auction house would have more activity in it and people wouldn’t have to worry about server-transfers to join friends.
On top of that SWTOR is basically an co-op MMORPG at best, so more players really doesn’t make a difference. I soloed the entire game, grouping maybe three times total. For a game like SWTOR that is very single-player oriented, it just doesn’t seem like Mega-Servers would matter at all. But then again, it’ll save BioWare some time from constantly having to merge servers.
22 May 2012
| | Mike
BioWare announced today, via the Star Wars: The Old Republic forums, that they are restructuring the development team and laying off workers. The post was made by BioWare co-founders Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka who had the following to day about the restructuring.
Sadly, we are bidding farewell to some talented, passionate and exceptionally hard-working people who helped make SWTOR a reality.
We still have a very substantial development team working on supporting and growing the game, and we feel we are in a strong position, with your continued involvement and feedback, to continue to build Star Wars: The Old Republic as one of the most compelling and successful online experiences in the world today.
This of course is no surprise, many development teams shrink a few months after launch, so this can a reflection of that. Of course it could also be due to the fact that SWTOR subscription numbers have been plummeting, even though the official numbers seem to be pretty strong at 1.3 million.