The other shoe has dropped for BioWare’s infamously up and down MMO, and it is officially going free to play by the end of this year, with a player marketplace and raids being two of the few reasons remaining for paying for the game.
On some level, I think we all knew this was coming. Whether or not you want to avoid it, World of Warcraft is the only subscription MMO that’s remotely viable anymore, and that’s only because it’s built up so much momentum over the past 8 years, that it’s going to take another decade for it to finally die out.
Star Wars has done a lot of different things (this isn’t a post-mortem, I think they made the right decision here and free to play will extend the life of the game by at least another five years), but unfortunately I don’t think the market learns anything from this now. If anything there will be detractors that either go one way (people aren’t looking for story-based MMO gameplay, so we’ll get rid of that!) or the other (their subscription model didn’t work but ours will).
I am not looking forward to the microtransactions that EA and Bioware are no doubt slobbering over right now, partly because it reminds me how much I wish this game had been a single player direct sequel to the rest of the series. I am…partly…happy with what we got, but in the weeks leading up to my forced server transfer, I realized that I didn’t miss having people around. I liked not having to fight over spawns, over resources, having to zone out of all the annoying chat memes. It really is a great single player experience.
I’m looking forward to more story packs, expansions, and what free to play content in this universe they’ve created really means. It is throwing up the white flag a little bit, but at the same time it’s a new start, and one that we’ll have to pay for $2.99 at a time a few times a month instead of $14.99 a month. I don’t necessarily know if I like that, but I’m willing to stick around a little longer and give this a chance.