The Burning of Star Wars: The Old Republic

I really haven't ventured into Star Wars: The Old Republic a whole lot since it was launched less than a year ago, so my curiosity was piqued as I read through this three-page editorial on Gamasutra that talks about the "hindrance and impairment" that BioWare Austin has leveed on the players looking for a free-to-play experience. In short, it doesn't sound too inviting:
The real shiv-to-the-gut is the ongoing weekly cost to play SWTOR. SWTOR has five main content avenues: the single player story, the single player space missions, the group Flashpoints (four-player dungeons), the Warzones (PvP battlegrounds), and Ops (20-person raids).

You have to pay for four different passes to unlock four of the game's five content avenues (all but the story) and each weekly pass is 240 cartel coins. As each cartel coin costs a little over 0.727 cents USD each, 240 per pass, four passes per character, two characters, four passes a month = 7680CC, or $55.84.

Now obviously, no sane person is going to actually pay $56 a month for SWTOR. They're going to pay the $15 subscription fee, or they're not going to pay at all. Which makes one thing very painfully obvious: SWTOR's F2P isn't meant to be a free-to-play MMORPG; it's meant to be an excessively contrived demo to get people to sign up for subscriptions.


BioWare's goal, thus, was to continue to sacrifice existing subscribers in the hope of getting new subscribers. The utter disdain for past customers is exemplified in all the "return to SWOTR" nonsense. "Get all these bonus Cartel Coins for all the months you paid for!" is the claim. Sounds like a way to bring them back, no?

No. What BioWare left out was the fine print: "You only get them if you subscribe again."

So maybe BioWare did want to get old subscribers back subscribing, but decided to do it in the sneakiest way possible. I'm surprised BioWare hasn't just emailed every past subscriber with the following ultimatum: Subscribe again or we'll delete your account. That would probably get SWTOR at least a few more subscribers, and BioWare's reputation couldn't exactly get any worse at this point.

BioWare's plan forward is clear: it has written off old subscribers, decided the game is a rapid churner, and is mainly looking for fresh blood to run through the churn. Which, aside from being an unsustainable practice and something that most assuredly drives your brand into the dirt, is also very ill-served by the crazy F2P implementation BioWare actually put in place.