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merera's Avatar

01.06.2013 , 03:42 AM | #351
Dear Jeff,

As of now the free-to-play seems to work well, at the time of writing there is a ton of players on Red Eclipse server in most locations and finding company for a mission is usually a matter of minutes, not hours.

This (second) wave of popularity comes with a price tag attached, since most of these new players are reluctant to pay for playing at all and some of them come from countries where the $10 monthly subscription fee is a considerable sum, several days' earnings in some cases.

Still all these new players are willing to donate to the game their most precious resource: their time. The mere presence of these new players is the fuel that drives the game today. And the fact that fiscal reasons force the company (I mean Bioware) to restrict these players' activity in so many ways is a great disappointment for me. I mean - these guys are already sharing their ultimate treasure so why force them to pay? Well, yes someone has to pay for the lightsabers and the great stories and voice acting and stuff of course, I understand. But can't we make it a bit less direct, maybe the rich players can pay for the poor? We'll see...

I think that all these chat restrictions, limits on the amount of in-game currency and (especially!) limits on character running speed do little to encourage new players to pay up. Arguably they seem to piss off a lot of new players who would otherwise happily spend a lot of their time in the game (is it only me thinking of time as the ultimate irreplaceable resource?).

I suspect (only the company books could prove me right or wrong) that the biggest trade goes on in vanity items and other non-F2P stuff: cartel random packs, nifty armor sets, speeders, pets and (oh yes, this one) the artifact unlock. The latter is the only item really required for an F2P player to access the endgame character gear.

If my guess about the bulk of sales is correct (and I have a feeling It is) it could open a new perspective for the company on directions to evolve the policies regarding F2P players.

I would ask developers to kindly consider the following idea: introduction of a game item that would be a monthly subscription ticket (in EVE this item is called a Pilot License Extension or PLEX) and let rich players buy these items for real money and sell them to the poorer but more active players for in-game credits. This way a new F2P player would be able to access full game features spending only their time, not money while the richer player would pay for both subscriptions.

Further on I would like to ask developers to lift most of the restrictions on F2P, the only real restriction should be access to warzone and endgame. And all the permits should be tradable and auctionable in-game. The ultimate goal thus could be to have everyone pay for play, either with dollars or with galactic credits.

The idea itself is anything but new, it has been successfully implemented in several MMOs, one outstanding example being EVE online (yes, I love the game).

And one natural outcome of the introduction of such items is that they are a legal and sound way of purchasing in-game currency. This option deals a mortal blow to third-party farming and real-money trade aka RMT, that has ruined many a good game.

To sum it up: (1) please introduce a game item that would be the equivalent of a monthly subscription. Players should be able to buy the item for real money and then sell it in-game via trades or auction. (2) please lift the restrictions that make F2Ps feel they are second class passengers, namely: the limit on wallet size, chat restrictions, sprint and speeder handicap, market slot restrictions, craft skill restrictions. Limits on war zones, ops and flash points can stay, provided there are in-game permit items that can be bought for in-game currency. Arguably, the FP restriction could be tighter, allowing entry to 3 FP a week only, rather than limiting only drop access.

Yes, this will create in-game billionaire speculators that will live off the in-game market. Yes this will call for competent governance of in-game economics. But it will also fuel the game with the energy of players now so severely curbed. Let us hope we will see some of these issues addressed in the coming expansion.

Meanwhile I have recently received and reported my first spam mails with offers to buy in-game money and power level a character - which means that RMT merchants have finally recognized SW:TOR as a target of their destructive work. Hopefully the expansion will be about something like PLEX and will do something to address RMT.