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Star Wars: The Old Republic Going, Going, Gone Free to Play

Following the line of would-be MMO giants such as DC Universe Online, Vanguard, and Age of Conan, Star Wars: The Old Republic is now free to play.  Though the game may have failed to win over the hearts of paying customers, that does not mean that EA and Bioware have given up on you paying to play.  Or, rather, paying to enjoy SWTOR.

There are heavy restrictions on travel, playable races, experience, vendor prices, and much more.  That is, unless you decide to become a subscriber.  Like a virtual gold digger, SWTOR offers players baubles and services should they open their wallets.  An immense list details what is offered between subscribers, preferred F2P players, and the cheapskates who refuse to spend a single dime on this game.  This list, however, is obscene and incredible.  Obscene in that players just wanting to enjoy the game for free may as well envision themselves to be a replica of Sisyphus rolling his boulder uphill.  Each time you expect the game to ease up on the fact you haven’t given any money, you are shown a new way of describing in detail that you are nothing but a mooch.

You feel punished for playing the game for free.  Your second class citizenship is broadcast to you upon entering any rest area.  A bold and illuminated message explodes on your screen stating, “Only Subscribers gain Rest Experience while in a Rest Area.”  Upon looking at any vendor’s ware grants a fine print message that, “Vendor prices are increased for Free-To-Play players.”  Such F2P MMO’s as DCUO, while still limiting the player, remain enjoyable.  At least in most F2P online games you are able to perform simple commands as /who, except in SWTOR.  For a game that failed as a subscription required game, its developers seemed to not have learned from their mistakes and continue to fail where others succeed.

While it is doubtful that either Bioware or EA will ever to admit to wanting to reach such heights as League of Legends, but that is what the bar seems to be set at lately.  SOE has admitted that Riot Games’ business plan inspired Planetside 2 in being sans subscription.  But, the experience with those games would be equal to going to an auto body shop.  You don’t have to get a better paint job for your car, unless you want to, since your car runs just the same with the factory paint.  With SWTOR, it is the equivalent of going down a seedy alleyway known for underhanded dealings.  You go there, get what you want, enjoy it for a short time, then you come to a fork in the road.  You either keep pouring money towards your next fix or you realize your mistake, regret the money you wasted while mourning the lost currency, and then move onto better things.

Paying for a subscription or Cartel Coins, the game’s form of points purchased from your real life money, is the equivalent of burning a wad of money just to keep your hands warm. SWTOR failed on so many levels and disappointed even more fans, so why would you want to help a dying game?  If it were up to most of the gaming community, we would put down this mortally wounded mutt and then go home to play something worth our time.  There would be no surprise if, in the near future, SWTOR decides to have a permanent de-buff to all F2P players called Penny Pincher or Cheap Skate.  The only cure for such a volatile disease is to become a subscriber or use Cartel Coins for temporary relief. 

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