Price Tag Precedent
If you’re not a SWTOR fan, the short version is that the expansion costs $20, and doesn’t require you to subscribe. The XP bonus for subscribers is there, but all the actual benefits come from preordering, not subscribing. I think this is a move in the right direction for a game advertised as ‘Free to Play’. I think Bioware is coming around to how much their preferred playerbase impacts their game, and their bottom line. They have taken their vehement push for subscriptions down a notch, which is nice. I’ve always thought it was terrible reasoning not to lessen their F2P restrictions, just to make the game seem like a good value for subscribers. If you actually offered subscribers something worth $15, then it wouldn’t matter if free players could hide the hideous helmets they design on a nearly constant basis. Make content good, not less bad. Returning to the subject at hand though, charging F2P and subscribers the same price is a big win for F2P players. They don’t miss out on anything just because they don’t have as much disposable income.
Expansion Comparison Revelation
There is a big difference in the pre-order bonus for subscribers. between expansions. Shadow of Revan offers 12x character story XP. Rise of the Hutt Cartel offered $10 off for subscribers. This means Bioware thinks 12x character xp for 2 months is worth $10. I think this is a little too coincidental to be an accident. People praise this game for the story, and rightly so. The stories are amazing. I see people on Reddit wanting to try the game just to play the stories. It’s the one universally praised feature about this game that Bioware has gotten right. Story, story, story. This bonus has opened the door for Bioware to offer a Character Story Boost in the Cartel Market for $5 that lasts one month. So for $5, new players will be able to level solely through class stories. A brand new player can try the game, pay $5, and get hooked on the best SWTOR has to offer. With the advent of disciplines, skill trees will be quick and painless as well. Bioware can roll up a huge value into a $5 package. Even veteran players may pick up a $5 boost here and there to enjoy a new class story, or even a new path. The possibilities are endless, and the price is right.
My Expansion Thoughts
I am not a fan overall, so skip this paragraph if you don’t want to hear my personal QQ misgivings. That said, I do plan to preorder, but absolutely no plans for subscribing. I guess I save $15 so I should be happy, but this is a truly underwhelming expansion. I am mildly interested in the new stories, but that’s it. I feel forced to preorder so that I am not stuck at 55 for warzones. There is no new PvP content for me. So while I save $15, i’m forced to pay $20. I see even the ‘new’ flashpoints are just reskinned for hardmode/tactical. Where’s all the new content? I am a bit excited about disciplines, but I will only be happy if it actually does balance things better. Otherwise, it’s just a clever marketing ploy. They advertise Disciplines as part of their expansion content. Meanwhile, even brand new F2P, unsubscribed, non-expansion players will be getting use from it. They mentioned in their Dev blog how it’s going to cut down on their development time. Which is good, don’t get me wrong. If I am your customer though, why would I buy something that would save YOU time and money? Shouldn’t I be paying you to save ME time and money? I think Disciplines belong in a regular content patch, not touted as an expansion feature. Smoke and mirrors. This whole expansion just seems like Rise of the Hutt Cartel reskinned.
F2P Long Game
While I think in the short run, this is going to be a supremely lack-luster expansion, it has a lot of long term potential. It signals the beginning of a new mantra for dividing free and subscriber content. Less emphasis on making the game worse for F2P players, and more emphasis on offering good content at reasonable prices. I know that as an F2P PvPer, i’m in the minority. I know PvE rules the roost. I did get GSF for free though, so i’m probably being a little dramatic about paying $20 for SoR. Guess it doesn’t matter when they get my $20, as long as there’s a reason to keep logging in. Do you agree with my F2P predictions? Or am I just a wild conspiracy theorist?