In news that is so two days ago, Bioware announced that Star Wars: The Old Republic will be getting a Free to Play option coming this Fall — Spring for us Australians. I think it’s safe to say that the decision to switch to a F2P model shocked approximately zero people. I had heard a lot of players moan that there are serious issues with end-game; encounters were buggy and PvP far too reliant on gear. Apparently content updates provided too little and were too far apart and those at end-game lost interest quickly. That meant the game hemorrhaged subscribers faster than anyone would like, with the game dipping below 1 million players. I, of course, can’t testify if any of these comments are accurate, as little old Nerisanda never made it past level 10 before I unsubscribed.
No Service With A Smile
I have quit this game not once, but twice now, and both times it wasn’t the fault of the game itself, but rather the blame falls square at the feet of the Customer Service department.
My reasons the first time I cancelled were 20% Disconcur‘s fickle interest in playing MMO’s with me and 80% because I was made to feel a fool when my account had been frozen for too many incorrect security answers. I only figured this out when I noticed that no-one else was bitching about the constant maintenance and I logged into my account via their website. I received no email about a potential security breach and the actions that had been taken, and no error message when I tried to log in saying I was frozen out, just a generic, ‘This game is down for maintenance’ error. I brought this up in my ticket requesting my account be unfrozen, and it was completely ignored by the automated response.
I unsubscribed that night.
The second time I cancelled my decision had nothing to do with my treatment at all, but it was the same half-arsed excuse for customer service all over again. Many of you may remember Battlechicken’s fight for her account a few months back. Essentially, she was incorrectly banned for botting, and when she appealed wanting to know more details she was met with a wall of automated emails. It wasn’t until the blogosphere exploded with outrage and threw their weight behind her that a Customer Service Representative contacted her to work out a resolution. It irrationally aggravated me that it took a mass public outcry for anyone to speak with her directly. What chance does the average player have of receiving fair treatment if it takes the possibility of negative publicity to get the attention of Customer Service?
Third Time’s The Charm
With all my complaints about customer service, I really did enjoy the game. The thing is, I was only really interested in the story and so I played it more like a single player game. Now that the game is going free to play and the storyline is included at no charge, I can continue my adventures without spending any more money on it. I was very impressed to see that they had included the storyline, and I believe that this will bring people back to the game, at least initially. I’m no game designer and so I can’t speculate whether or not this will help them keep the lights on, so to speak, but I am interested in seeing where this leads.
Congratulations, Bioware, for doing the impossible and putting this game back on my radar. Now I have yet another game to put on my MMO play list, and I’m really not sure where I’m going to find all the time! Mists of Pandaria, Guild Wars 2, TERA and now Star Wars: The Old Republic. Please excuse me while my teeny tiny little brain tries to process all this time management I’ll need to do!
How do you feel about Bioware’s decision to move SWTOR to a F2P model? Are you excited, or do you feel it is too little, too late? Have your say in the comments below!