Former SWTOR Lead Developer Wants Players To "Feel Good" About Spending

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor
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SWTOR_F2P_6

Star Wars: The Old Republic isn't exactly held up in most gaming circles as an example of free-to-play done right, in the same vein as games like League of Legends or Team Fortress 2. It makes you wonder how much the people who implemented its F2P design were aware of exactly what they were doing.

At least one person seems to be. Speaking at the recent Game Developers' Conference, former SWTOR lead developer Damion Schubert had a few interesting things to say about free-to-play design that would seem to be at odds at the direction BioWare went with its MMO. According to Wired, Schubert understands how the market has largely shifted to free-to-play/freemium model, saying that "Not only is free coming, we’re going to see things get more free" and how "absurd" it seems these days that the majority of games used to charge up front for boxes.

But his most telling statements come near the end of the piece, a combination of paraphrasing by the article's writer and a direct quote from Schubert:

...free-to-play evangelists... warn against going down the slippery slope of chasing microtransactions. In his talk, he emphasized the importance of free-to-play designers always having someone in the room to advocate for players’ interests; someone to ensure that conversations don’t shift too far into methods of squeezing players for every penny.

"You want people to feel good about every dollar they give you," Schubert said.

It makes you wonder if there was that kind of "advocate" in the room when SWTOR's F2P system was under discussion, or even whether Schubert took up that role. If he, or someone else did, it seems to have gone largely unheeded.

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About the Author

Jason Winter
Jason Winter, News Editor
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

Discussion (15)

Danny 7 years ago
That was hilarious... i dare to say SWTOR has literally the WORST business model out of all "f2p" games. It's just a clunky trial that doesn't even let you take off your helmet or show your achievments. I played SWTOR after release for months and it was awesome (the game really is) but their free to play model is pure crap, it's unbearable even with "prefered" status. Just check their website about the differences between sub and f2p and then look at this article :D What a joke really.
They aren't very creative about their ways, instead of rewarding people who pay for it, they punish people that don't spend by denying them basic features that are essential in a game to be playable. How can anyone be proud of a system like that?
Not to mention, it's a huge cash grab. The original Buy + sub every 30 days actually costed LESS than it does now to do have everything you need. They charge you for every single imaginable thing that makes any sense in the game :D
Being able to buy that stuff with in-game money did help it but you can still only get the absolutemost important things.

TL;DR It's the worst "free to play" business model on the market currently, and it's creators being proud of it shows extreme ignorance and money hunger from their part. What a joke.

Urs-00 7 years ago
"It makes you wonder if there was that kind of “advocate” in the room when SWTOR’s F2P system was under discussion"

no it doesn't, it is EA games, they only have business people talking about money, gold and diamonds xD

NeoS 7 years ago
Content? What the hell is that? Just buy this "Sword of Bling +5" and be grateful you even have a game to play.

Terranova667 7 years ago
I'm willing to bet it was brought up but with EA being the publisher there is no way in hell they would do a proper F2P model, just look at the bs they tried to pull with dungeon keeper, you would think after all this time they would change to a proper F2P model but i guess to many are willing to sub so they couldn't give a shit what happens with the F2p side of things

NAnboisgawd 7 years ago
Proof of P2W scammer company. Putting the blame on players in passive aggressive lingo: "F2P avangelist"...yes because in the darks or on some side line are a F2P controlling the market. Horse poo. They went F2P because they know their product does NOTHING that warrents 12 dollars a month. This is not the players fault. F2Pers are potential subbers and payers, and instead of creating an ideal world for them to play in, they create poo, and create lines "You are F2P or not, so fight it over"...it oddly is like today's politics. "You are not for lady gaga barfing on other women or you are anti and not obama lover cool like us"....It is so twisted and disgusting. Mid 2015 and I am a converted private server man. Like music, prices to high, they wanted us to buy CDs only (20 bucks a CD back in the day). "Hackers" smart people, shared music for free online. THAT FORCED the companies to go digital or lose. So they made it criminal...This happened around the time they tried selling "micro CD"s" fooling the public we will still be using encoded discs well into 2000's but "mini"...The "F2share" people brought the business to the knews, and companies lost millions in mini discs (plastic producing corporations, encoding, etc.. all went bye bye). And things all went MP3. Look at your MP3 player. THANK A HACKER for it. You consimer idiots. Private server greedy peoples diheareah. I am LOVING my favorite game done right on a private server right now (vanilla wow, and Blade n Soul English). The rest suffer a greedy mans poo fest.

cacalips 7 years ago
Proof of P2W scammer company. Putting the blame on players in passive aggressive lingo: "F2P avangelist"...yes because in the darks or on some side line are a F2P controlling the market. Horse crap. They went F2P because they know their product does NOTHING that warrents 12 dollars a month. This is not the players fault. F2Pers are potential subbers and payers, and instead of creating an ideal world for them to play in, they create SHIT, and create lines "You are F2P or not, so fight it over"...it oddly is like today's politics. "You are for lady gaga barfing on other women or you are anti gay and not obama lover cool like us"....It is so twisted and disgusting. Mid 2015 and I am a converted private server man. Like music, prices to high, they wanted us to buy CDs only (20 bucks a CD back in the day). "Hackers" smart people, shared music for free online. THAT FORCED the companies to go digital or lose. So they made it criminal...This happened around the time they tried selling "micro CD"s" fooling the public we will still be using encoded discs well into 2000's but "mini"...The "F2share" people brought the business to the knews, and companies lost millions in mini discs (plastic producing corporations, encoding, etc.. all went bye bye). And things all went MP3. Look at your MP3 player. THANK A HACKER for it. You consimer idiots. Private server greedy peoples diheareah. I am LOVING my favorite game done right on a private server right now (vanilla wow, and Blade n Soul English). The rest suffer a greedy mans fuk fest.

RyuKaiser 7 years ago
I wanted to love this game so much. I just don't play sub games, and I'm so tired of them trying to milk me dry with PvP and Flashpoint locks that I have to pay to break that I just stopped caring entirely. With games like Neverwinter Online, which has not only a Foundary (create your own dungeons/quests), as well as rewarding dungeons themselves, and PvP, all unlocked for everyone, not just on a weekly "limit break"/sub, I went straight to that game.

I've never felt like a customer to SWTOR, only a cow ready to be squeezed, and it shows in the model. Weird thing is, since this game came out, and flopped as hard as it did, a lot of other games released that actually did it right. For those games, I am deeply thankful, as it showed me that EA/Bioware didn't manage to sway the industry itself into the shenanigans it put forth.

Honestly, I would play this game again if they'd just get rid of the limits, or put in a pack that would let you remove limits permanently. I agree that subbers need bang for their buck, but not the end game content. Going F2P doesn't help anyone or anything if you keep endgame PvE and PvP locked away from the masses.

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commanderhavoc 7 years ago
It would have been A LOT better if they went buy to play instead.
That business model is much better as it doesn't require the developers to make restrictions as they would have if they went with the free to play model.
Honestly it would have helped SWTOR a lot if followed the example of the Guild Wars games, a simple one time fee and the whole game is open to you, no restrictions that prevent you from having fun with your friends and just about the only thing you would need to pay for would be the expansion packs.

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HolicAlco 7 years ago
Yes, that was possibly the worst solution for SWTOR to make. You either make it f2p or p2p. They did neither. Payers got angry that people got to play for free, free players got angry for restrictions. Don't even know how it is still alive today.

And in regards of the topic. They can speak as much as they want, but I doubt they will ever understand. If you don't play MMOs all the time yourself, you will NEVER understand or feel what is needed in order to be great. Developers don't think how to make a game great, they think how to get money. That is their job I understand. Yet don't expect a game to be good if you don't make to play and enjoy for yourself.

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