Posted by: L1H | June 4, 2009

TOR: Let the Bothan Out of the Bag

I admit I’m a little nervous about Bioware’s upcoming MMO, SWTOR.

We know so little about the game, I’m afraid of even putting forth a working opinion.  I once drove to Georgia to meet Funcom at DragonCon and hear about AoC – a full year before it launched.  I got to meet several developers, ask questions, and actually played a capture-the-flag demo for hours over the course of the weekend.  I felt confident about speculating what AoC would be like at launch – boy was I wrong!

Even with “hands-on” AoC experience, I could not have predicted the game’s shaky launch, the content/polish disparity “post-Tortage”, the 800k MMO tourist exodus after 30 days, and I also couldn’t have foreseen how Funcom would adapt as a company and attempt to address many of these issues a full year later.

With TOR all we’ve got are some promotional videos (read: propaganda films), screenshots, and a few interviews.  The real question on my mind, and it’s kinda sad, is what business model is TOR going to feature?  

I believe that this “bomb” is being sorted out now, the details being finalized as I write this, and eventually Bioware is going to have to let the “Bothan out of the bag” and let us know how we’re going to spend our hard-earned credits on their game.  This all feels like an infomercial where they don’t tell you the price until AFTER they make their pitch, not until after they list all the benefits and features of their product, and ONLY THEN show you how 4 easy payments of 19.99 gets you a lifetime supply of Oriental Pearl Cream – but wait there’s more . . . 

The subscription model works, has worked, in the past because it eliminates the need to make a value/pain decision every month.  The payment is automatic, debits your account, is almost invisible and painless, and you don’t have to ask yourself every billing cycle, “do I really want to spend 14.99$ this month on this game?”

Don’t get me wrong, MMO’s are one of the best values around, hours and hours of entertainment for 50 cents a day, you can’t beat it – especially if you compare that to a night at the movies!

Yes, subscriptions are an elegant model from a more civilized time.

However, the theme of the era are micro-transactions, not limiting your highly active clients from just spending 14.99 – you can spend more if you want more goodies!

Playing Wizard 101 and buying content a la carte has really opened my eyes to the micro-transaction model.  I see how it benefits casual players that don’t want the burden of carrying another subscription – but there is nothing casual about Star Wars and me.  If a SW game comes out I’ll buy it, I can’t help myself, and a Star Wars MMO makes me doubly vulnerable to greedy execs who want to leech as much of my disposable income as possible.  That’s why when I hear about TOR I just want to know: will it be the carrot or the stick?

All I know for sure is that when SWTOR is launched I’ll be playing it and at the same time George Lucas and Bioware execs will be eating sushi off a naked stripper and giving each other high-fives across the table.


  1. […] 1 Human’s biggest concern over The Old Republic?  Subscription plans. […]

  2. couldn’t we join them for the sushi?

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