F2Pmeter: Is SWTOR Truly Free-to-play?
Are free-to-play games truly free to play? A couple of weeks ago we began our new F2Pmeter series testing the free-to-play-ness of TERA and today it continues with Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR). Buckle up, you are in for a bumpy ride.
Remember that games start with a 100% of free-to-play-ness. And that percentage will vary depending on the answers to our questions. Get ready!
When it was launched, SWTOR got one million subscribers within three days but in the following months the game lost a huge share of its subscriptions, which made them to adopt a free-to-play business model with an optional subscription. Nowadays it’s a pretty popular MMO. Now we’ll test the current model with our F2Pmeter.
No. SWTOR was originally launched as a pay-to-play title that required a monthly subscription fee after purchase, but didn’t even manage to keep this business model running for an entire year before switching to free-to-play. Players may now create an account for free and play up to level 50 with some restrictions but without having to pay anything.
Yes (optional) ― -15%. Besides offering the opportunity to play for free, the game still maintains a subscription-based system with different options, such as a non-recurring 60-days membership ($29.99) or regular monthly/ quarterly/ six-monthly subscription ($14.99/ $13.99/ $12.99 per month), which grant access to more content, ways to level up more quickly, better customer service support, higher login queue priority and fewer restrictions. Players moreover have the option to upgrade their free player status to Preferred by making any purchase of at least $4.99 at the cash-shop.
Yes and No ― -10%. That’s a tricky question, as SWTOR’s first digital expansion, The Rise of the Hutt Cartel, is only available for free to subscribers whereas other players have to pay a regular price of $19.99. In contrast, other expansion packs, which are released at a regular basis, are obtainable for free by everyone (at least for the time being), with early access for subscribers and Preferred status accounts.
Yes ― -5%. The game features the so-called Cartel Market where players can trade their Cartel Coins, which have to be bought with real money, for items and unlocks such as XP boosters, gear, vanity items and item packs of rare goods.
No, but… For any purchase of $4.99, your free-to-play account is upgraded to Preferred status, which grants access to bank storage, a raised in-game currency cap, enhanced chat, mail and trading options, 6 instead of 2 character slots and more. The items sold as such may only serve as time-savers or may even be acquired through other means/ bought with in-game currency (Credits). Due to the Credit cap for free-to-play users and Preferred account holders, it is arguable if they can afford them.
Yes ― -5%. While subscribers have unlimited access to UI customisation and can have up to six quickbars, Preferred accounts are restricted to four and free players to only 2 quickbars.
No ― -15%. Although the f2p option grants access to all classes, the available races for each class are limited.
Yes ― -10%. Subscribers may post up to 50 items simultaneously on the Galactic Trade Network (GTN) while free-to-play users and owners of a preferred status account can only post a total of 2 and 5 items respectively.
Yes ― -10%. Free-to-play users only get access to bank storage via the in-game market GTN or Cartel Coin purchase. Preferred status grants bank access and the option to purchase additional slots with Cartel Coins while subscribers may expand their bank storage with either in-game credits or Cartel Coins. The same restrictions apply to the expansion of inventory slots.
No ― -15%. As free-to-play users are unable to level their characters past level 50, they don’t have access to zones or dungeons designed for players above that level cap. Moreover, players with an F2P or Preferred account may only enter 5 Warzones a week and have to purchase a pass to unlock additional entries with Cartel Coins whereas subscribers’ access to Warzones is unlimited. Ranked Warzones are completely unavailable for non-paying users.
Yes ― -15%. As already mentioned above, the free-to-play option doesn’t allow players to level their characters past level 50, which means they are unable to access end-game content.
Yes ― +10%. In spite of all those restrictions applying to non-paying players, it’s possible to enjoy SWTOR. Players can play all the main class-story-quests, which it’s probably the best thing within the title. This feature makes SWTOR a real treat and gives players hundreds of hours of fun for free.
Nevertheless, the free-to-play option appears to rather be an appetizer to lure players and then seduce them to spend some money in order to be able to fully enjoy the MMO.
Our F2Pmeter test of SWTOR results in a feeble 15% of free-to-play-ness.